Age: 12 weeks
Weight: 33 lbs
Folks, Sampson is in the figurative dog house. Don't worry; he's still right downstairs on the cool bathroom tile, sprawled out over the air conditioning vent, sleeping in his baby Superman pose, front paws out, comme ça:
Oh, he is still charming and sweet with me, still follows me like Mary's Little Lamb and eagerly anticipates my commands. But this BITING OF MY PIPER HAS GOT. TO. STOP.
He never does it to me or J and only makes halfhearted nippy attempts at the boys, but his thing with Piper is obsessive.
It's not just being 'mouthy' or 'chuffy', as Piper calls it. He actively seeks her out and then lunges and bites at her stomach or delicious honey-brown limbs. Not aggressively, but like a littermate egging her on. Like the way her brothers poke-poke-poke each other in the forehead until they get a response. On walks, he will be as docile and obedient as you can imagine, and then suddenly he'll get a glimpse of her little buns and CHOMP. Last night, at the end of our walk he was tuckered out and being so well-behaved, I let him off the leash, and he went right for her, putting a hole in her bathing suit and a mark on her sweet olive skin.
I have read endless online articles and asked anyone with recent puppies how they have handled this. We have tried distraction, having Piper constantly have toys in hand. We continue to have her be the treat girl and do training sessions for sit, down and stay with him every day, during which he is great. But as soon as her supply of treats runs out, she becomes the biscuit and can yelp SIT SIT (which with her little four-year-old inflection sounds quite a bit like a curse) all she wants and end up rewarded with a solid chomp to the wrist.
I have had her YIPE like a littermate who has had enough. J taught her to hold Sampson off by the scruff of skin around his neck and tell him NO, but this only works so long as a grown-up can come and take over the holding while she scampers to the safety of the kitchen counter, the back of the couch or her room with the door closed.
The miracle here is that Piper still loves him, despite the scars, that she still starts out each day as though it will be better. But what kind of message is that for her? For him? The only other thing that works (temporarily) is to have J or me supervising them and then intervene, grabbing his scruff and holding Sampson back, telling him NO BITE loudly and firmly when we catch him in pursuit. Even then, sometimes he will bark defiantly at me, angry at being thwarted.
I do praise and reward the positive--the times when he lets her walk by without even attempting a nip. I do walk together with them, Sampson on a leash so that he can experience being out and about with her without biting, while keeping her safe. I am trying for vigilance and consistency, those hallmarks of decent parenting, because I want my two littlest to be able to live in harmony. I am ready for professional help, to sign them up together for obedience training where I hope someone who has seen this before will give us the right tool for our arsenal.
But while I am waiting for that, I'm hoping I have a reader here who has been there, done that, and has a solution? Please?
I am sure this is temporary. I asked a mother whose Newf is two years old now how they handled it and she couldn't remember it at all, so she said it must have passed quickly. As with all the unpleasant phases that our children have undergone-- toddler Max's horrific, purple-faced Ben 10 alien transformations that always preceded a solid, mortifying playground punch--we will simply love Samps through it. How could we not?