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Chandra's Blog

 

Entries in biting (2)

Wednesday
Jul062011

Weekly Dog Blog -- Sampson, 12 weeks

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:

doing his best bearskin rug impressionOh, 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?

guzzling from the fountain at the 4th of July races

Tuesday
Jun142011

Weekly Dog Blog -- Sampson, 9 Weeks

Age: 9.5 weeks

Weight: 30.4 lbs

Yes, you read that correctly. In his first three weeks home, Sampson has almost doubled his body weight. 

 

The past week and a half have flown by with my husband's birthday and the arrival of my sister's family as they transition from full time Caribbean life to a US existence. I have hardly known how to handle myself, so many exciting things at once. If you haven't  read This POST about the fabulousness that is my sister, you might not get how giddy this makes me, to have her family shouting distance away... 

 

Piper and Quinn with their ongoing painting projectAnd Piper has been thrilled to have my sister's daughter Quinn, her sister-cousin. Both girls agree that Sampson's chewy phase is unwelcome. He loves following the little girls' flouncing skirts and thinks their delicious, sun-warmed forearms are just ripe for nibbling. Perched up on the kitchen counter out of the way of Sampson the other night, Piper told me:

"I have decided I don't want a puppy. I want a dog. The worst Jonah ever did was shake his wet on me."

 

Throughout this time of helping their family to settle in, Sampson has been a game little shin-high compadre, toddling cheerfully between their new house and ours. He should be relishing his final moments indoors at Casa Nowak because the white carpet comes tomorrow and it's not going to be much longer that J can do this: Over the Shoulder Puppy Holder

In addition, this past week we had our annual family reunion--a tradition my maternal grandparents started more than 50 years ago. From these two people, who had seven children, there are now 72 relatives--their children, grandchildren and great-grands with three new babies due. This year, we decided to hold it locally, literally in the common property. My grandfather celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday and we are all feeling blessed to have him as this winter he underwent treatment for cancer and beat it. The day before the fesitivities began, he played his first full round of golf. This is the cake my sister and I made to celebrate my grandfather's return to one of his favorite pasttimes:

Grandpa's Golf Cake

 Because of my grandparents' belief in family, because of them starting this tradition, my children know their second cousins more intimately than most people know their firsts. It was so fun to see the twenty great grandchildren traveling in a pack, fishing and bouncing and running wild. Sampson got to be underfoot for much of the family festivities in the backyard, scavenging under banquet tables, frolicking with my cousin's two-year-old Bernese Mountain dog and snuffling small cousins.

Our typical 4 am pre-dawn walks were spent restocking the hidden treasures for the weekend-long scavenger hunt and Sampson was a game little companion, sniffing out . In order to control him in such a crowd and monitor his bacon intake, I started attaching a leash to his collar. He mostly dragged it or carried it proudly in his mouth, but it was a start.

There was also time for a little bit of this--early morning writing with my sweet boy at my feet: 

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT THE FAMILY THIS WEEK... WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING WITH SAMPSON?

Holy Biter, Batman!

When I was growing up, conventional wisdom was that when a dog nipped or bit, you 'popped' them under the chin. Never over, so they wouldn't see it coming or get head-shy of petting. This doesn't jive with our parenting style or who we are as people so I have been researching some non-violent approaches to keep Samps from being too bitey with the under-four set. 

1. LICK

In this, we coat Piper's palm with a smear of peanut butter, and then she calls Sampson to her and tells him to 'lick', while repeatedly praising him. The idea is that when he runs up to her, mouth open, she can hold out her palm and say 'lick', and he will do that instead. This has about a 35% success rate. The rest of the time, he just looks at her incredulously like, "Wow, you're giving it to me? It's more fun when I chase you down and you squeal but okay..." before chomping down with his needle teeth. 

2. "YIPE"

So when that doesn't work, we have tried to teach her to 'yipe', high pitched and loud, like one of his litter-mates, to give him the message that that's too much. If you know Piper, and her big-eyed, soft-spoken ways, you know that this only works when I am right there and 'yipe' for her.

3. Mama Dog Says NO

This is another one that is only effective when I am around and comes straight from the Dog Whisperer. When he gets her, I make my fingers into a claw/jaw and close them over his skull like a mama dog's jaw and hold it there making a low growl until he lets go. This is the most effective of the three, though nothing quite beats the foolproff way of keeping Piper from getting nipped--carry her; everywhere. 

 

If you have a great puppy-training method, I'd love to hear it!