Follow our trainer raising her own puppy.

10 weeks
58 Lessons
385 Students

Ultimate Puppy Program

Ultimate Puppy Program

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Comments (18)

  1. Carol

    Is it ok to put her in the kennel when in this crazy state? She seems to like her kennel and I do not want to make her think it’s a punishment? Should I invest in a playpen? Thank you

    1. Steffi Trott

      So the problem with putting the dogs into the kennel when in the “crazy state” is that often they are not able to calm down enough to be ok in the kennel. Then they perceive the small space as frustrating and get even more wound up.
      Of course, you know your dog best and should try it out if you think she can calm down in the kennel (if she already has a strong positive association that might work). If that works – great, keep on doing that!
      However, often puppies are just WILD and can calm down better with a little more space such as in a playpen.
      Before you invest in one, you can however try it out by e.g. using some big cardboard boxes and a corner of a room to make a makeshift playpen and see if she can tone it down in there.

  2. Maya Hendin

    How long should the puppy be in the play pen during this state to effectively interrupt the behavior?

    1. Steffi Trott

      So ideally your dog would settle down by being in the pen with having something really delicious to chew, and then just chew for a while and “chill out”. However long he enjoys chewing is good, and after a half hour or so you probably have to take him outside to potty anyway (if he is a young puppy). If you cannot engage him with his chew right away, do not let him out – at this point he is probably even more crazy. You can wait a little and usually once we restrict their access to biting us and racing around they settle pretty quickly and start to entertain themselves with their chew.
      To summarize: it is not so much how long you let him in the pen in terms of actual time (like 5, 10 or 15 minutes) but in terms of changed state of mind.

      If your puppy is really, really crazy you can also try tethering him: putting a leash on him and tying him up to e.g. a table leg. Again, the restricted motion will let him not continue with “spiraling out of control”. The first times you tether him he may take longer to settle, but after a few times it will be pretty quick.

  3. Morgan Mendel

    This actually happens to us a lot while outside on walks (we live in a city). He gets into this crazy barking, biting, attacking mode. What do I do when we are out on a walk? Should I pick him up and carry him home (he does typically stop if I pick him up -but I worry this is giving him a reaction). Please advise! 🙂

    1. Steffi Trott

      Is this a reaction to some kind of stimulus he encounters, such as a loud noise, traffic nearby, dogs approaching etc.?

  4. Bob

    Hi Steffi! We are having some biting issues with our 14 week old Border Collie pup. He primarily crazy bites me and my partner some of the time. He is completely fine with other adults, kids and other dogs. He does get bite-y during play time, but it seems more to be play turned into a crazy bite as he will not focus on any toy around him, even his favorites, and will go for my hands, arms, and if I stand or move away my legs and feet. We have had him since 8 weeks and only started your puppy program 2 weeks ago. I hope I have not reinforcing his crazy biting behavior by trying to offer different toys before putting him in his pen or crate.

    It has also been difficult finding chew toys that he likes. He loved natural chews like bully sticks, beef bones, and antlers… but after a couple weeks of chewing them he got very sick and had an emergency trip to the vet. Our vet recommended not letting him have bully sticks or beef bones until he is older because his stomach is too sensitive for them now. She recommended to only give him nylon bones or frozen Kongs with pumpkin or kibble in them. He has no interest in nylon bones. He will take a Kong most of the time, but he doesn’t really chew them. He will lick the pumpkin out and then be done with it, or bat the Kong around with his paws to knock all the kibbles out and then be done with it. We have even tried adding a tiny bit of peanut butter and that will keep his interest for a little while, but I don’t want to have to give him a ton of peanut butter each day!

    I’m not sure if licking and knocking a Kong around for 5 mins at a time if fulfilling his chewing needs. Hoping you have some advice for this!

    1. Steffi Trott

      As far as the chewing – I agree, 5 minutes are not enough. It sounds to me as though what you put into the Kong can be improved. First of all, don’t put the kibble in there as is, because that doesn’t even encourage the puppy to chew – he will just paw it as you say and be done with it.
      If you want to put kibble in there, soak it in water and use a food processor to chop it up it and put the resulting puree into the Kong. I would add some extra tasty parts as well, like some shredded cheese, chicken, ground beef, spray cheese, peanut butter etc. Pumpkin by itself is not really super tasty for a carnivore. I think if you add more flavor to it the puppy will chew longer!

      When you say he gets crazy biting during playtime – what toys are the favorite toys that you are using?

      1. Bob

        Okay great, thanks for your suggestions!

        We took your advice in the ‘Play Biting’ lesson and got the biggest, softest toys we could find. He does have some other favorites from before we started this course. His favorites are a 3 foot long fluffy, homemade tug toy, a ‘Go dog’ plush toy (40 cm long), a small Kong ‘Wubba’ toy (20 long cm), and a tug made out of fire hose material with a squeaker in the end (30 cm long).

        He has many other fluffy plush toys that are on the smaller size that I try to avoid playing tug with to avoid an accidental bite. He loves fetching and chasing those toys, and will run around with them in his mouth and shake them back and forth like crazy when he’s excited. I’ve tried throwing one of the small plush toys for him to chase when he starts to bite, and even one of his favorite toys but it seems like he goes from play time to ‘crazy bite’ time with no warning.

        1. Steffi Trott

          So I would say if you are already playing with a toy that is really big and soft, and he still redirects at your hands, I would end the play session right then. BCs are very very excitable, high drive dogs – and as puppies they can definitely be intense! If you cannot “save” the session by using something that should be a lot more appealing than the hands, then play needs to stop at that point.
          A big danger with both play biting and crazy biting is that it is SO MUCH FUN for the dog once he gets into it. So interrupting the behavior in order to keep him from enjoying it will be very important.
          Another question form my side – does he mainly satisfy his playing desire with you guys? Or does he have any doggy friends he plays with?

          1. Bob

            Yes, he definitely gets that look in his eyes that he is having a blast nipping and biting me.
            He mostly plays with us, lots of fetch and tug. He has a few doggy friends but tends to be drawn to older dogs who don’t want to play with him (mostly just barks at them and jumps around).
            We had set up a park date with a friend’s 5 month old Doberman puppy. He was interested in her and tried to initiate play with her but when she tried to play back he was a little surprised and hid behind my legs! He warmed up to her as we were walking and would follow her around and chase a ball with her but didn’t play the way puppies typically do.

          2. Steffi Trott

            Thank you, that is good information. So often for puppies that have a lot of chase/wrestle desire, playing with other puppies or playful adult dogs regularly can “take the edge off” a bit. But it sounds like he still has to warm up a bit more 🙂
            How is he with the recall lessons (if you have tried them already)? Does he seem to enjoy this kind of long chase? Maybe you can satisfy his big need for chasing and playing with that as well (in addition to the “close range” tugging)?

          3. Bob

            We have been playing the ‘Food Chase’ and ‘Food Chase to Handler’ games, as well as running with a tug and having him chase us at the park. He loves all of these games!
            As for the doggy playtime, do you think off leash dog parks are okay to let him meet and play with other dogs? I have never really taken my dogs to off leash parks, but he hasn’t really clicked with any of the dogs or puppies we know.

  5. Alice Pace

    My 8 week old Scotch collie has an inner shark that comes out in the yard. Usually I can redirect but occasionally he becomes out of control (usually as soon as he goes out). Should I pick him up and carry him inside to his crate or just make sure I always have a toy to redirect with me?

  6. Tara Fears

    I’m at a loss with the biting (14 week schnoodle). Most times it’s directed at my kids. They are becoming pretty scared and cautious around her. I have picked her up and put her in her pen. But she seems to get even more crazy in there…so much that she now can climb out and the pen doesn’t restrain her.. I’ve hesitated to put her in her crate for various reasons (wanting her to enjoy her crate and not associate it with negative behaviors, and it also probably is not being big enough for her when she’s in this mood) but I don’t know what else to do. She seems to really enjoy going for my kids feet and it’s becoming a very regular thing any time the kids are around her.

    1. Steffi Trott

      I absolutely agree that going after kids’ feet is not acceptable. Sometimes puppies develop this attitude of just going “super crazy” when certain people (mostly kids) are around and they are indeed uncontrollable.
      First of all, separating the puppy when this happens from the kids will be crucial. I agree about the crate – is there any other way she can be restrained? Maybe in a different room or separated by a very high baby gate?
      Secondly – are the kids at all interested in playing with the puppy or do they mainly want to do their own thing? If the kids are interested in interacting with the puppy, you can help them train with him – such as the attention games from the beginning of this course or maybe teaching one of the tricks or lie down or an enrichment game?
      Puppies LOVE kids and often try to get any interaction with them that they can get, so if you can help them have mutually beneficial and fun experiences together that would be great.
      If they are not really interested in training/playing with the puppy, then I would keep them separated and only have them together when you know the puppy will be tired and calm. That way we can guarantee that 100% of the time they spend together, the puppy is in an appropriate mood and won’t nip. Preventing the behavior from being repeated and rehearsed is crucial. E.g. you could have the puppy behind a high baby gate, then take the puppy out for a walk and a playtime and a training time. That should make a 14 week old puppy very tired! At that point, you could let her be with the kids with a delicious chew toy so that she rehearses being around them, but minding her own business, being calm and (probably) eventually falling asleep.

      1. Tara Fears

        Thanks for all your suggestions! I am working on finding a better solution for an area I can safely separate her from my kids when she gets really nippy.

        My kids really love playing with her and are sad it doesn’t work out in a positive experience for them most of the time. I like the idea of having them help train though. That would be beneficial for all of us, I think.

        I HAVE been letting my kids help me with the recall training exercises…but when they run off with a stuffed animal/toy for her to chase after, she skips the toy and just goes straight for the child (biting their legs, feet, clothes, etc.) – She seems to really love this exercise. But I don’t know how to get her to quit going for the kids and start going after the toy.

        1. Steffi Trott

          Ah yes, I would let them help train … with everything that does NOT make them be perceived in a “prey drive related” way. At this point the recall exercises might be too close to her tipping point at which she just wants to go for their legs and clothes.

          Especially the attention and sniffing exercises will be good to link them to something else than the chasing and running in your dog’s mind. Maybe they can be in charge of setting up an enrichment game for her every day? The mindset she would be in for those would be very different to the chase/run/wrestle/bite mindset she has with them currently.

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