Nibbling

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Postby jcoffey917 » September 30th, 2009, 8:54 am

Cooper has a bad habit of nibbling on loose clothing or blankets when he gets excited and wants attention- if we're sitting on the couch with a blanket on, he'll come up and start and start like flea-biting at the blanket, or pants, whatever he can get a hold of. It used to be very infrequent, but now it is getting to be almost everynight and is getting worse in intensity. Now he'll come running up full speed, start biting on whatever he can get a hold of, run away, bark at you, come back and do it again, until he gets the attention he wants. We've tried to just ignore it, but that doesn't work anymore. So now I've been grabbing him and putting him outside for a few minutes. But sometimes that doesn't work because he starts running away, wants me to chase him, then we just go back and forth. I end up yelling at him and eventually getting him outside, but I feel like this is just feeding the behavior because he is getting the attention he wants, when he wants it. Any ideas on how to stop this behavior or correct it without giving him the attention he's trying to get? My roommates are starting to get VERY annoyed, and people that don't know him get scared and think he is going to bite them when he starts barking and running at them.
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Postby Marinepits » September 30th, 2009, 9:16 am

All my guys do that "rat biting" to some degree, but Tucker and Shorty are by far the worst! :lol3:

If they get *really* out of control with it while rat biting each other, I separate them and move their focus onto a favourite toy. If they're biting on us, they get removed from the situation -- usually they bite on us when they jump into the bed in the morning, and get tossed out of the room if they bite too much or too hard.

I find that my crew does this behaviour far less the more exercised and tired they are.

How old is Cooper now? Could be he's just being a brat and in his "teenage" phase.
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Postby jcoffey917 » September 30th, 2009, 9:22 am

How old is Cooper now? Could be he's just being a brat and in his "teenage" phase.


He's just over a year and half, so he's still young. I just don't want it to keep getting worse. He gets walked everyday, but it's less exercise than he used to get when I was running with him. I need to get motivated and start running again. :oops:
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Postby Malli » September 30th, 2009, 12:51 pm

yep, he needs more exercise then that! Unless you can do like 4 hr walks daily.

Thats odd, Oscar only does the flea biting when he gets a good scratch in the right place on his neck, I never thought of it as an excitement thing (or maybe for him it isn't).

However, you still need to address the problem. I'm sure people with more training experience will chime in here, but I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd either quiety take the dog and put him in his crate(if you have a crate), make it an impartial deal, you just take him, put him in, and shut the door. Or, you could redirect him onto a chewy toy (but if he's that worked up I doubt that would work), or, teach him an obedience command, and make sure he does it (but this may involve a lot of repeated getting up from sitting in the first few nights).

Keep in mind, you may want to mention to your roommates that nothing will be instantaneous, I know a lot of people expect that. While you try your new method Cooper WILL test you to see if you are going to follow through or if he can go back to rampaging and terrorizing.

If he is like this then I'd say you've got your work cut out for you! But its not impossible, my dog was the same when he was younger and we made it through :wink:
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Postby BigDogBuford » September 30th, 2009, 2:43 pm

Alfred does it when he gets over stimulated from too much rowdy play or when you're scratching him 'just right'. Usually I just stop whatever I'm doing and walk away.....
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Postby Marinepits » September 30th, 2009, 3:30 pm

Malli wrote:Keep in mind, you may want to mention to your roommates that nothing will be instantaneous, I know a lot of people expect that. While you try your new method Cooper WILL test you to see if you are going to follow through or if he can go back to rampaging and terrorizing.


Agreed! And it's also extremely important to make sure all your friends/roommates/etc are on the same page with whatever you decide to do. You don't want poor Coop to get confused because everyone's treating him differently.
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Postby mnp13 » October 1st, 2009, 11:57 am

He's knows 'down' - so use it. :wink: If he does it when you're on the couch, try hooking a leash to one of the couch legs so you have some control. When he starts his routine, hook him up and put him in a down for a couple minutes. It's not "punishment" it just "is." Then let him up.

And yes, I think you need to start running again. :wave2:
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Postby tiva » October 3rd, 2009, 8:38 pm

Just so you know, this is called "nitting" and it's a very common form of allogrooming--social bonding behavior that evolved from mutual grooming in mammals (especially primates). Dogs do it to cement social bonds. From their perspective, it's a stress-relieving gesture that makes group members calm and happy. Of course, we lack fur, so it can hurt a bit.
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Postby jcoffey917 » October 4th, 2009, 6:56 pm

That's interesting, I never knew that. It definitely is NOT calming and does NOT make me happy, haha.
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Postby tiva » October 4th, 2009, 9:02 pm

I can imagine it's not too calming, since we unfortunately lack fur. Offering the pup a chew toy may be a useful alternative when he wants to groom you.
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Postby Marinepits » October 4th, 2009, 9:18 pm

Interesting that this is supposed to be a "calming" behaviour, because that is the *last* thing it is to Tucker and Shorty -- the more they "rat bite", the more excited they get until they're in full-fledged wrestling mode! :lol3:
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Postby furever_pit » October 4th, 2009, 9:35 pm

Dylan does this too but it seems to be much more the social bonding behavior that has been described. He tends to do it when he is really happy about just hanging out with me, like if he gets to come into bed and watch a movie with me. I love it.

But I agree with either placing him in his crate (not punishment, just matter of factly) or using your obedience to end the behavior.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » October 5th, 2009, 7:53 am

Inara only does it if I'm scratching her butt at just the right spot, then she twists around and alternates nibbling her tail and my hand. :giggle:
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