View Full Version : Biting and crate issues - help!

5th January 2011, 03:04 AM
Helio is going to be 15 weeks on Thursday, and he is a CRAZY biter. He'll bite hands, feet, legs, he even lunges for our faces if he's close enough to. We tell him no and push him away, yelp, completely ignore him like I've read on here, but unlike all the other people who say that works for them, he just doesn't seem to care. If we ignore him, he moves on to something else to chew on, if we yelp, he doesn't even pause and continues chewing. Another thing, if we take away something he's chewing on that he's not supposed to, he'll run after us, biting our calves angrily. I feel like I'm doing something completely wrong and I'm really ashamed of myself because I don't know what to do to fix it! :( We're planning on taking him to puppy classes, but he hasn't had his last vaccinations yet, so it's still a wait. Any help at all would be AMAZING.

Also, he's having some trouble with crate training. He whines to wake me up when he needs to go out SOMETIMES, but not all the time. More often than not, I'll wake up and he'll have peed the towel I put in there, but it's not like I'm waking up late or anything -- he'll wake me up at 4 in the morning, after having gone to bed just three hours earlier, crying because he's soaked his crate. I take his water up an hour before bed and I take him out a few times, and the crate area I have sectioned off is so small that it's almost getting to be TOO small with the way he's growing. What am I doing wrong with this too? :( I feel like I'm being a terrible mother to him because he's having all these issues, and I don't want him to hate me or anything like that!

5th January 2011, 03:47 AM
I would try to find a local trainer to help you with this. Instructions from a book/forum are nice, but being able to get feedback and individual attention are well worth the money spent on a good trainer.

You want to make sure any trainer you choose uses positive reinforcement training, no shock collars or other harsh methods.

There are medical reasons (diabetes, UTI, etc.) why a dog might have to urinate frequently, but given his age it's probably just a lack of control. Next time you're at the vet's you could mention not being able to sleep through the night.

A trainer should be able to help you with housebreaking advice also.

I believe that a tired puppy is a well behaved puppy. You don't want to overdo it, especially with young puppies, but 10-15 minutes once or twice a day of chasing a ball in the yard might help calm him down. How much exercise is he getting now?

When my pup was this age we were enrolled in a basic training class, it met once a week and we did 15-20 minutes of practice (plus smaller training sessions throughout the day). He started playing fetch indoors at 14 weeks old, I usually limited those sessions to ~15 minutes a time.

Also, if you haven't taken the time to read Dr Dunbar's book you really should. I read it for the first time this week, and I really like the way training is presented, and there were several excellent tips, especially about bite inhibition.

5th January 2011, 06:32 AM
Some puppies are definitely more mouthy than others. I personally had an experience with a pup who was a demon biter when younger! Don't worry, there IS light at the end of the tunnel in that aspect. What really kicked the habit for this pup was spraying bitter apple (a taste deterrent) straight into his mouth after a yelp or redirecting had not worked, followed by ignoring him while he ran off busily trying to get the bad taste out of his mouth. Yup...I'd say he got the message after about 1 - 2 weeks of that and then he was back to a normal dog. Thankfully with Coco, she has such a soft and sensitive temperament that a yelp or a "NO" has all she has ever needed, and redirecting works great for her.

Crate training at night. What you will HAVE to do is absolutely make sure your boy is empty as possible before bedtime. Coco gets no more water at least 2 hours before it is bedtime, and in those 2 hours before bed she is taken out ever 30 - 45 minutes to ensure she is empty as possible. When she was really young, I woke up once whether or not she cried to take her out. As she got older, I put a pen around her crate and left the crate open. Then pen was only big enough for a potty pad. DUring this stage I would say I would find piddle on the pad every other day, and it slowly lessened to the point where we had a full week with nothing on the pad. YAY!

Now she is doing fabulous at night, just turned 5 months old. I don't have to wake up in the middle of the night and I am not needing to rush outside anymore as she seems to have more control. Plus, she is sleeping in my bed now and never has wet the bed thus far! Our only bed accidents have been random times where we were playing on the bed and she just peed out of nowhere...but it seems she also outgrew that.

Resource guarding is what it sounds like your puppy is doing when you take a "bad" thing away from him. He gets "angry" because of course, like any mad toddler, he wants it back, and wants to prevent you next time from trying to take it away. How to fix? Easy. Gotta teach him if you take something away, he is going to get something better in exchange. Never take something your dog views as high value away without some sort of swap. All you do by taking stuff away with no reward after is teach your dog to try to protect his stuff with more and more enthusiasm, in the hopes of succeeding in driving you off the next time.

Hope this helps!

5th January 2011, 01:02 PM
First off, have you had him to the vet to eliminate a medical reason? If he is peeing that heavily, so frequently, and in his crate I would want to eliminate a urinary tract infection first. :) Secondly, much of the success of house training and using a crate depends on the background the puppy came from so this possibly may be something related to that and thus a bit extra-frustrating even though you are trying hard. :flwr: If the breeder was a responsible breeder who kept a clean whelping box inside the house and the dogs were all living as indoor, much loved pets as opposed to kennel dogs or caged puppy farm dogs, then the puppies learn from their mother to want to keep the area of their “den” clean and this is what you build on with crate training and house training. Puppies who did not have this kind of start can be very difficult to house train and progress is much slower but most eventually get it. Sadly, a lot of puppies sold via the Internet or pet shops or backyard breeders are kept confined in small cages and the puppies and mother end up being forced to walk around in urine and feces and they don't have any association at all with “keeping clean”. it can be very hard to know how the puppies were actually kept as what people say on their website is often far different from the real situation, and many people who sell pet cavaliers will make things look nice when someone comes to visit, but once prospective buyers leave, the puppies and mothers go back out into small kennels or cages. It may not be relevant at all here, but is just one possibility for why there could be more difficulty than would be normal.

On the nipping –this is absolutely normal if frustrating!! It takes LOTS of time for a puppy to learn bite inhibition and some focused training really helps :) (see links below). The puppy is not “angry” that you have taken a toy off of him -- it is really important to understand this. He is just having a great time playing with you in the same way he would if a sibling puppy grabbed an item and ran off with it. This also is NOT resource guarding, he is just playing. :thmbsup: Resource guarding is actually a quite serious problem but it IS important to prevent it developing, and you would do the routine noted above, which is to swap one item for another not take something off a puppy and walk away, and again, use the training tips in the links below. You can take advantage at this time of teaching the puppy the command drop it for example, too. He is at a really critical age for learning some basics though and it is really important to address nipping. (Excessive nipping can again be an issue that came from the breeder–the older a puppy is went home, and the more normal and happy the breeder's home environments, the less likely puppies are to have any nipping issues. They learn very quickly from their mother and siblings to inhibit their bite. Puppies homed by only eight weeks and especially if homed any younger than that tend to have not had the time to be properly socialized in this way. It's why good breeders these days tend to home a pup at more like 10 to 12 weeks, when they have had a very good period of socialization and are well-adjusted and well on their way with house training too. :)

I am going to do what I always do and suggest you immediately download the free training book from Dr. Ian Dunbar, After You Get Your Puppy. I would suggest following his entire routine for house training and for puppy nipping and socializing–and follow through with his approach to puppy training too! :) He is considered one of the foremost experts in rewards-based training and pioneered the whole concept of puppy training. The book is the third download on this list:


Also see:




Hopefully those will both help!

Don't feel too frustrated -- puppies are very very very hard work (so much so that of my five dogs, only one was acquired as a puppy -- I just find them too exhausting to manage and prefer adults, but many people adore the work of puppy-rearing! At least it tends to be over fairly quickly so try and enjoy this phase as much as you can as soon enough he will be grown :) ). You are at one of the most difficult stages as well, when he is just a baby and only starting to learn, and kind rewards based guidance and training is going to help you get a lovely adult cavalier. :flwr: Puppies only learn if we teach them in a way they understand so using Dr Dunbar's guide is definitely the way to go -- and makes life so much easier!!!

16th January 2011, 08:01 PM
I could have sworn I replied to this, oy! Thank you all so much for your advice! I've read the Dunbar book and we've been doing things from it now. He's learning, and I'm so thankful that it's working out! I know it'll take a little bit, but he's a smart dog, so I hope he learns it all. He's been MUCH better about potty training and the biting is getting a little better too, so we'll keep working on it. He gets his last vaccinations this week, so we'll start puppy class soon after and hopefully that'll help too. But I appreciate everyone's help, thank you! :)