View Full Version : Question about Biting and Humping

4th August 2008, 02:04 PM
Hi everyone. I have a question. Bandit is 9 weeks old, and he is a real dynamo! I wanted some advice on the puppy biting and the humping he has displayed. He is very mouthy, as I know puppies are, and in the past, I usually did the loud yelp and remove my hands and stop playing for a moment with my pups so that realize their actions have ended their fun. Then I will play again when they stop biting. Bandit is the biggest biter I have ever had. He is also a very dominant I am wondering if I should be telling him no to the biting as well. I do several appproaches. I will redirect his biting to a toy, and I don't play tug-o-war with him. I will toss it for him. Sometimes when someone holds him, but he doesn't like it, he growls viciously and thrashes madly to be put down. He is a big-time humper and sometimes it is in play (like with his toys) but sometimes it seems to be a dominance thing. He ran straight over to a friend of mine last night who came over and started trying to hump her. She picked him up and he was being sweet at first, but then went bonkers growling and struggling to get down. He will hump me as well (and my daughter, and when the othter two get home today, I doubt they will be immune!) Right now neutering isn't in his future (for those who would suggest it). He is a show prospect, co-owned with the breeder. Neutering could be in his future if he doesn't pan out for showing. He is a sweet boy, loves attention and will play nonstop. He is very high-energy, too. He never just lays down and observes what is going on around him. It is go, go, go! (maybe he would do well in agility!)

Currently when he humps, I redirect him by tossing a toy to fetch, or squeaking one of them. It usually works. Is it best to continue this, or should I correct him?

I am wanting suggestions before the rest of the kids show up today, as I'd like to have us be consistant with our approach, and I really don't want him thinking for a moment that he ranks above anyone in the family. Since he seems quick to temper, I don't want to use approaches that provoke MORE temper in him.

Any suggestions?


4th August 2008, 04:59 PM
Ok, first off a 9 week old puppy won't be growling 'viciously' :) -- they do not know how to be vicious, which is a learned adult behaviour. A puppy this age also isn't being dominant in the sense that the word regularly gets misused -- this is just a really active, outgoing puppy and is likely going to be a major handful. I would consider whether this is the type of adult dog that you want -- you are going to need to keep an adult dog with this personality very active with constructive activity like agility, obedience, games and sports or he is going to very likely be bored and potentially, inclined to be destructive.

Assuming you spoke with your breeder about wanting a puppy of this challenging personality type, I'd start by recommending as always, Dr Ian Dunbar's After You Get Your Puppy as it will go into great detail on all you should be doing to manage a puppy.

'No' is not really of much help -- given that a puppy hears 'no' for 10,00o things in its life, it has no real idea what that means. Stop? Wait? Don't eat? Off? Come? Leave it? Drop it? Imagine saying only 'No' to a child when it does something you don't want the child to do -- a child would have absolutely no idea what you meant. Try it on your partner for example -- then remember a dog has no ability to infer from context in the way humans can. If people don't know why you are saying 'no' or what it is intended to mean ('No what?') how will a dog know? Using time outs as well as the 'yelps' is a better management strategy.

Humping is also totally normal for a young puppy. You can just distract him if it bothers you but really this behaviour only gets fixed as a behaviour issue when much older -- at adolescence for example. If you want him to stop, distract and transfer his attention to something desireable like a toy. There isn't much else you can do.

If you go to any of the training websites I have pinned at the top of the training section, you will find many articles on these topics and there are more in the Library section of this site. :thmbsup:

Please though, do not think about dogs in terms of 'rank' and 'dominance', especially a tiny puppy -- I will add some links on why this is a very misguided way to view dogs and how they fit into our lives. A 9 week old puppy is not planning to 'outrank' the family any more than a 5 month old baby is secretly plotting to control its parents. :) And actually, neither is an adult dog of any age. :)

I think if a puppy doesn't like to be carried, probably he shouldn't be carried a lot. Many dogs do not care to be carted around. You can;t really force a pup to hold still and be carried. I definitely would not allow young children to pick up carry a puppy especially at 9 weeks. And the puppy should only be handled in controlled sessions for very short periods, where the kids are sitting on the ground. The puppy needs a pen or crate for time outs from attention.

4th August 2008, 05:14 PM
I'd suggest reading this thread. :)


Please especially note that the woman who is actually an expert in working with wolves notes that using the well worn dominance/rank reduction approaches with wolves -- on which the dog 'theories' are based -- regularly resulted in dangerous wolves that routinely challenged and attacked humans. It doesn't get much clearer than that, that rank reduction is terribly misguided and a misinterpretation of actual wolf behaviour and also canid behaviour. It may well work in some forms of training for some people -- but why punish a dog and set up such a poor and unhappy relationship for a lifetime of dog ownership when dogs respond with such joy to motivation? Anyone who has seen Jaspar do agility or clicker work -- that's all totally reward-motivated. :) And you can see how much Jaspar loves doing it. Training is never stressful or an angry business -- it is a pure delight for both of us.

I have long held that the vast increase in the past two decades in dog bites and attacks is directly related to the rise and rise of the Cesar Milans and other rank reduction/dominance TV trainers who have had enormous exposure to a mass audience. It makes for good brief TV segments to train in this way but if these approaches on the original 'model', wolves, results in dangerous and unpredictable wolves, isn't it likely that it also results in potentially dangerous and deeply unhappy dogs? After all, if the logic is that dogs must be trained this way because of some (now long since debunked) captive wolf studies, then it must also be accepted that if it obviously doesn't work with wolves it isn't going to work with dogs and actually risks producing more behaviour problems. And trainers regularly report that this is the case. Rank reduction training is the fastest way to exacerbate guarding behaviour for example, something I have regularly seen with misguided owners. And I've seen the problem solved in a week through reward-based training that motivates the dog towards the wanted behaviour. :)

The fact as has been known to wolf experts for several decades now is that wolves do NOT practice rank reductions, there is NO clear alpha leader, only the key breeders and a set of wolves that 'lead' in different kinds of roles, there is no such thing as an 'alpha roll' used to prove alpha position, there is no such thing as the 'alphas' eating before the others (indeed the lowliest of the low, the pups, are regularly allowed to eat first!), there are several leading breeders, and leadership is benign and achieved by the leaders/breeders themselves showing many appeasement behaviours, not just the submissive wolves.

Wolves, like dogs, are motivated to work together if there's a desireable goal and will pay attention to the wolves who can best help achieve that aim. With people training dogs, that simply translates to consistent training approaches based on a reward so the dog gets consistent motivation to choose the desired behaviour. Cavaliers are very easy to train as they are so food motivated; that's the good news! :lol:

4th August 2008, 05:28 PM
PS -- if this is a co-owned prospective show dog, your breeder would certainly be a first stop as well for advice. I am sure she has reared many puppies.


On a more serious note: I have been thinking about this ownership arrangement for a while today. Did you check out the breeder and the co-own arrangement with some other reputable breeders? Have you run it past a lawyer (I strongly advise this)? It is usually very difficult to get a co-own if you are not already involved in the clubs, so this is a highly unusual situation -- in your shoes, I'd want to really know what the contract actually means and why the breeder wanted this arrangement especially with someone she didn;t know at all, and what she expects from it, and has expected and done in the past with other co-own owners, and if it is normal for her to place intact show prospects into pet homes, which would really be highly unusual unless there's been a long personal relationship. icon_nwunsure

Some co-owns turn into serious nightmares for many reasons, especially if the dog is in a pet home where the dog will be viewed as an integral part of family life -- but not by the breeder. You might find your dog is suddenly reclaimed permanently as this has happened many times. Thus, co-owns are generally viewed with a lot of... shall we say concern even by very experienced breeders working with other experienced breeders -- unless there's a very long relationship between the parties. Most experienced breeders will not go near a co-own except with a good show friend which is why I am a little alarmed.

Personally, I would never advise anyone take a co-own into a home with children who can bond strongly to a dog that suddenly disappears out of their life. Just be sure you understand clearly what you have gotten into and be sure to confirm this breeder's approach to and history of co-owns with some other reputable show breeders. Simply having 5 generations of dogs in your home, and showing, isn't enough information for this kind of contract, especially on a three hour acquaintance. I am so sorry to be saying that, but you have already been through a lot, and this arrangement on a surface view, would raise a few red flags (all may be above board but make sure this is the case). I don't want the breeder discussed publicly in further detail, nor this situation, so will close this thread -- but encourage you to perhaps PM some of our breeders on the board to ask more about co-own situations. :thmbsup:

4th August 2008, 08:31 PM
Further info:

For new owners who are not interested in showing or breeding their dogs, co-ownerships may not be the best option. If a breeder requires a co-ownership so as to maintain "breeding rights" on your dog, you may want to think twice. For the most part, co-ownerships of this type benefit the person who is NOT the primary caretaker of the dog (i.e.: breeder) . Be cautious of contracts that sell a puppy for the full purchase price and "require" that the dog be bred and that the breeder get puppies back. This is a very significant hidden cost to the new owner. Some unscrupulous breeders set up "puppy pyramid schemes" with new owners with a profit motive in mind. You should NOT BE REQUIRED to breed your dog!!! Breeding a litter of puppies should be a carefully planned event. It requires an enormous commitment of energy and time, not to mention the responsibility of finding suitable homes for the puppies. The most unfortunate consequence of these types of co-ownerships is the focus on breeding rather than the many other aspects of dog ownership. Think long and hard and consider all consequences of getting involved in a co-ownership of this type.




As a potential buyer, ask yourself why you want to get caught up in a co-ownership. Once again, there may be certain times when it makes sense. Starting a serious breeding program and need some help? Want to have a show dog but can't necessarily afford to do it yourself? OK. Maybe.

But, by and large, if you're buying the dog as a family pet and you think you might like to try your hand at showing it and maybe sometime down the road you'll breed a litter -- as mature adults, you ought to be able to do any or all of these things with your dog when and if you feel like doing it.

Have you considered what would happen if, two years hence, you say to the person who sold you the dog (and with whom you co-own it) "I don't think I want to breed Trixi after all, I think I'll have her spayed," and your co-owner objects? Are either one of you prepared to make a Federal case out of it? Or try this scenario. Despite your best efforts, your Norfolk gets out of the yard and is hit by a car. You spend $3,000 getting little Jimbo fixed up at the local veterinary hospital. Do you really expect your co-owner to step forward and offer to foot half the bill? Unless the person is extraordinarily generous, or unless you've got a written commitment to split any and all veterinary bills, I wouldn't bet the family jewels.

There are vaccinations against the flu virus, but the "co-ownership" virus may just have to run its course. It is best treated by wise decision making and asking yourself the simple question, "Why?" If you can't come up with two or three good reasons that will benefit both parties and the dog, then skip it. Take two aspirin and transfer the registration outright.

http://www.ncanewfs.org/education/pages/breedermentors.html :

Many lifetime friendships have been forged and partnerships created through co-owning a dog.

But buyer beware! For each successful co-ownership agreement made, there are dozens that end up in litigation, ruined friendships and a loss of love for the sport.

Before you sign on that dotted line, make sure you thoroughly understand all of the clauses that come with the ownership of your new puppy. Don’t assume anything! Ask questions if you don’t understand any part of the agreement. If you find something you absolutely cannot live with, be honest with the breeder that you have reservations. If it can’t be changed to your satisfaction, don’t sign it – even if it means having to forego acquiring a particular puppy!

Be careful and understand the document you are being asked to sign in exchange for that incredible bundle of love.