Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hurley Bite-Monster

When we named our new puppy Hurley/Hugo, our "brilliant" idea was that he would really be Hurley but the dual name would give us something to call him when he was being bad without utilizing his name.  I know all the experts say not to use your pup's name during any reprimands but in practice, I find that next to impossible.  Our Moms pulled out the middle name to let us know we were really in trouble this time; Hugo was going to be our middle name. 

Well, Hugo has definitely gone by the wayside.  In its stead?  "Bite-monster."   Because he is a little monster with a big bite.  See, our Hurley has shown a tendency towards puppy temper tantrums.  He goes beyond normal puppy mouthing into a frenzied state where each bite is harder and harder.  He growls.  He whines.  He barks.  Repeat.  Luckily for Hurley, his mom and dad are masters of the google search and as we started seeing this happen more and more (never had this problem with the puppies we fostered!), we turned to our good friend google to help us out with some training techniques.

The first couple sites advised alpha rolls and picking him up by the scruff and giving him a good shake.  Umm...no thank you.  While puppy tantrums are brand-new to us, I am well-versed at how damaging dominace-based theories can be and often result in an aggressive dog.  And who on earth would advise alpha-rolling a 10-week puppy?  There is seriously some awful advice out there.

But the interwebs didn't let us down.  I found this posting from a veterinarian in IL.  It not only reminds and reinforces what we knew about puppy mouthing and chewing but it also gave some great advice on dealing with tantrums.  The good old time-out. 

We also have two great resources for bite inhibition in our house - Maggie and Sadie.  While being incredibly gentle with him, both are attempting to teach him how to play gently in their own ways.  Maggie lets him climb all over her, biting at her until he chomps too hard, at which point he gets a gentle correction.  Sadie prefers to engage in bite play, during which she gently bites him as if showing him the proper bite play.  But then she runs away any time he bites back.  Sadie shows; Maggie corrects.  Great teamwork, girls!

So off we embark on the use of time-outs to curb his temper tantrums.  He seems to have the worst tantrums when being handled so we're taking a step back with the handling and slowly introducing our touch with lots of praise and treats. 

Lest you think Hurley is nothing but bite monster, I'm happy to report that he's mostly house-broken, has done fairly well being introduced to a leash, learned to sit in 3 short sessions over 3 days and is becoming a model citizen during his days in the store with me (we're still teaching the difference between his toys and merchandise but he'll get there!).  He's got a quickly growing fan club at NoPo Paws and this tantrum thing is soon to be but a fond memory of crazy puppy days.  OK...it might not ever get to "fond" status!

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