Training an Aggressive Puppy

August 14, 2007

I have a 16 week old male Labradoodle. His biting problems have gotten out of control, and I don't know what to do. He bites arms, fingers, arms are so scratched up and he draws blood often. Every time I try to discipline him, he thinks I'm playing with him. I've tried:


- grabbing his snout, shaking it saying no
- just saying "no" or "stop" sternly
- grabbing him and turning him over on his back, or picking him up like a baby
- using a spray bottle...he ends up pawing at the water or drinking it!
- caging him
- using a toy as a distraction

Either my techniques make the biting worse, or they are just a very short distraction. I can't get anything to work for a long period of time...and I can not take any more abuse to my arms and fingers.



By Boru (Guest Post)
August 14, 20070 found this helpful

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, has a book entitled "My Way" also a TV show on national Geographic channel. The man is phenomenal with dogs, and people too

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

This is the cutest dog ever! Good luck...

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By Me (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Grabbing the nose & rolling him over are bad bad OLD ideas. His punishment shouldn't be physical, ever. When he starts to get physical say no & walk away. Lack of attention should be his punishment. After a few minutes of him not biting you, regardless if you've been close to him, treat him. You can also take a rewards obedience class.


They are usually offered everywhere at a reasonable price. Besides, even if it's not cheap it's worth it for you & the dog for a lifetime of happiness. Crating should NEVER be a punishment. It should be his special den that he looks forward to & voluntarily goes into w/treats, chewies & a blanket in it.

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Yep, I second the Dog Whisperer, you can also watch him on TLC. Sadly, I think this is a big reason NOT to make up "cute" dog breeds, there is just too much of chance of getting dogs that two different genes mixed, don't make a good fit.

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Do not teach your dog that people are chew toys. Get him some real toys of his own. Give them to him when he has the need to chew or play.


Ceasar Milan is aces when it comes to teaching you how to deal with your dog. He has a website, too, and a newsletter.

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By Laura (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful

My son used vinegar in a spray bottle for his excitable Rottweiler puppy.

When the pup got too playful he would nip and get out of control. My son, without saying a word, would spray the vinegar in the air near the pup, never in his face.

Dogs do not like the odor of vinegar. His pup would immediately stop. He kept this up until his pup realized that whenever he was playing too rough, he would smell the vinegar. He soon changed his behavior.

I don't remember how long this took but it did work for his pup. Good luck.

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Puppies like to bite when they play - either with other dogs or with you.

I used Cesar's technique and my puppy no longer bites me (hasn't for months!), but bites my husband who won't use the technique. DH tries all the other techniques, but Buddy still thinks Dad's playing.


Here's the way I did it: Cesar says observe how dogs react when they are bitten during play with other dogs - they yelp, cower and whimper. Almost always the other dog(s) stops and starts to comfort them as if saying "I'm sorry, I didn't know it hurt."

I only did this twice with my puppy and his response was immediately licking and comforting me. After that, he no longer tries to bite at me when playing. He will "gum" my hand sometime, but no pressure at all. Mostly, he will lick me.

HOWEVER, you have to be convincing when you yelp, cower and whine. It's probably best to do it when no one is around - you could feel kinda' silly! Let me know if it works. CA

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By Paula (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful


Secondly, yelping when bit DOES may take several times and you DO have to make a big production but it does work.


My golden puppy was the same way and now she is so gently, she will gum me or play gently.

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

There is another view, which is to Be The Momma Dog. You observe a mother dog with puppies, and when one of them annoys her, she reacts with a roar and a nip that frightens the puppy and reminds the pup that Momma is the Alpha of the pack. Later in the dog's life as a pack member, the same harsh split-second put-down keeps the pecking order established. Not just engaging in playfighting with the dog, which perpetuates the biting, but such a loud and total response to the bite that he cowers and dashes away. Not at all to be confused with abuse that hurts the puppy and destroys the relationship, but a split-second reminder of the puppy's status as underling followed by a continuation of friendly loving bonding. In a difficult case, or in trying to reestablish your dominant status, you never let the pup be equal to you or higher to you. You sleep on the bed, he sleeps on the floor.


If you're sitting on the couch, he's on the floor, and if he nips you, you stand up!, roar a sharp short NO!, opening and closing a newspaper loudly and then walk away. You can reinforce that the biting behavior causes him to be reduced in pack order by putting him in a room or crate apart from you for two minutes.
I have an Australian Cattle Dog who still bites me many times a day, but the bite suppression that she learned was to bite very lightly. I shiver remembering her puppy teeth - they were like fishhooks. God bless you with your pup!
One other thought - many animal shelters do what they call a temperament test, where they lightly pinch toes and ribs and ears and nose, to see how the dog reacts, and if the dog nips or bites, then he is not placed for adoption. Training your dog not to bite could save his life, in the remote event that he is ever apart from you and in a shelter.

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

This has always worked for me. buy a dog crate big enough for him, when he bites or does something you don't want him too, stand up and yell no, then put him in the crate. Let him stay in there for at least 30mins. If he bites grab his nose and give it a gentle squeeze and yell no, put him in the crate right. He will get the picture after a couple of times and will stop his bad habits and will understand that no means no.
Cute Dog though.

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By Rosa (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Get a pop can, and wash it inside. Fill with small pebbles or pennies and tape hole on top shut. When puppy is bad, say NO in a very strong voice and shake the can. For some reasons, dogs of any age do not like the sound that this makes. Also when mama dog is teaching her babies, if they get out of line with her, she will grab puppy by the scruff of the neck and shake, this will work also. We have a large dog, Angel (her story is here under dogs eating gorilla glue), she just turned 7 this year, and she still has a very stubborn streak. I will grab her by the scruff of her neck, then she knows I mean business. she weighs 140, so got to let her know I am boss ! :-) Hope this helps. Rose

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By Melissa (original poster) (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Thanks everyone for your suggestions, it really is much appreciated.
I think I am going to try the whole yelping thing. He seems to be very scared of other dogs, so I'm curious to see how that'll work. Also, caging him for a few minutes when he bites seems to help, if I do it repeatedly. I also read about putting apple bitters on the places he bites, so it doesn't taste good to him, which I may try as well. I believe he truly needs puppy socialization/obedience classes, which I can now do since he's just finished all of his necessary shots.
He's got tons of toys, and walking away doesn't help because he just follows me, jumps and bites the back of my legs. He's definitely a challenge.
However, don't get me wrong, this dog has a great personality and I love him to pieces. I can't take him anywhere without getting compliments on him. I also noticed some blood on one of his toys today. He's losing his baby teeth, and I know it's only exacerbating the biting problem.

I'll keep at it.. Thanks again everyone!

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By PuppyLove (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Have you been through a puppy training class yet? It's a great way to teach your dog EVERYTHING. You will be able to work on the nipping and teach him the rules that you want him to follow for the rest of his life. Find somebody who used positive training methods. Your puppy shouldn't have to suffer physically during the process of training him.

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August 16, 20070 found this helpful

Your dog is adorable. He's a puppy. Is he teething? Give him a soft chewy toy every time he starts biting. He'll soon understand the toy and only the toy is ok to chew on. Keep it available to him at all times and he'll soon learn to chew on it to comfort himself, like a good doggie.

Doggie obedience classes are of course a good idea. I also like the yelping victim technique. Years ago, my terrier bit me one time - when I picked up his chewy bone. I yelped, clutched my chest, and told him in a very wounded tone, "How could you do that to me? I love you and would never steal your bone. I do my best to take care of you," etc. etc. He watched my melodramatic, martyred performance with great interest and never bit me again. He was a very smart dog, a superb companion, and years later I still miss him.

Don't forget that your doggie needs lots of exercise every day. Running and fetching a ball burns off some of his energy and builds a positive relationship between you.

I also agree that punishment is a bad idea - like torture, it just creates fear on the dog's part and guilt on the owner's part, which ruins the wonderful companionship that is, after all, the whole point of having a dog.

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August 16, 20070 found this helpful

We had a rotweiller puppy that loved to chew on people when she was teething. Teething can go on for a while, so we found that the best thing to do was to make a loud "OUCH" noise when she got a human body part in her mouth. She quickly learned that our skin was not meant to be chewed on. To this day (she is now 2) she will mouth us but no longer chew.

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August 17, 20070 found this helpful

Get a rolled up newspaper and smack him on the nose whenever he bites. You have to be consistant with it and also show him that you are the boss, he is not. After a while all you should have to do is pick up the rolled up paper and that should be enough to stop him. Best of luck to you. He looks like a cute dog.

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By bridget (Guest Post)
August 30, 20070 found this helpful

We got a Newfoundland. Our dog is very aggressive too and bruises up my hands but has not drawn any blood. He too thinks I'm playing. He now weighs 110 pounds and aggressively jumps my back. When you find the answer, please let me know. Thanks

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By (Guest Post)
August 26, 20080 found this helpful

You have to run him man! We have a labradoodle too and the secret it to exercise, exercise, exercise! Living in Alexandria is a tough place for a dog with so much energy but you have to run, run, run or put him up for adoption and get something like a pug or something. We exercise ours about 3 hours a day and he's very chill around the house. I can' t imagine if he didn't get this time out running around.

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August 6, 20090 found this helpful

He is so cute! Yes, I know about the biting as babies. It sure is irritating, especially when it's a bigger puppy. I bought mine lots of chew sticks like raw hide that has the "bad odour" dogs love these and also bullwinkle sticks, which are very expensive but work wonders. Keeps them occupied for a while and helps the teeth. My toy poodle is teething right now and chews on toes and fingers but sure it's irritating but not as irritating as when my shepherd was teething. All I can say is he will get over this but drawing blood isn't a good thing because he may get a taste for blood. Give him the chew sticks to keep him away from the blood.

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6 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

December 18, 2010

We are fostering 2 Pitts, one male and one female, that are 6 weeks old. During play time together, they seem to be getting more aggressive with each other. Is this a trait that this bred has or is this normal behavior for puppies?

By Doug from Soquel, CA

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February 22, 2010

I have a 3 1/2 year old Jack Russell-male, an 8 month old male Jack Russell, a 10 month old male Pit Bull, and a female miniature Pomeranian, that's a year and 8 months old. They are all in the same house.

My female has recently gone into heat and the Pit Bull has attacked the older Jack Russell. But ever since I got the Bull, the Jack Russell has bullied the Pit Bull. He growls when they go to eat or leaves his treats in the floor daring him to take it.

I have since moved the Pit Bull out of the home. I have placed him in a dog lot at my mom's. I just need to know how to handle this situation, I love both of these males they're like my children.

My husband passed away August 13, 2009 he raised the Jack Russell with a firm hand. Since then the Jack Russell has became even more possessive of me. I need help. I love both dogs and I miss the Pit Bull, but I have become afraid of him.

By Tresa from Cherokee, NC


February 22, 20100 found this helpful

You are dealing with a case of k-9 jealousy! The older pet is trying to establish his Alpha dog role and won't tolerate (on his own terms)anyone getting in his way or getting close to you.He will protect you at all costs.You have to make sure each pet has their own space and separate feeding dishes. When he acts up you may try giving him a time out (just as you would a child).Put him in a create, until he calms down.It may take numerous times of doing so before he catches on- but he will finally make the connection bad behavior means time away from the group. Another thing you can try is getting the younger pets out and playing with them -while he watches and slowly incorporate him into your group. By doing so will show him that you are in command and that if he wants to join he will have to accept the others.

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June 17, 2014

My 11 month old Labradoodle has been jumping up recently and biting my lower and upper arms and clothes. This is extremely painful and frustrating. He has been doing this for two months. I tried saying no in a firm voice and getting him to lie down as soon as he jumps, but the minute we get going he starts biting at the leash and my hands again. I have also tried standing on his leash, holding his mouth, yelping, and ignoring him. None of these seem to work at all :( The only way I can deter him is to get him to sit then give him a toy so that he will be focused on something else, but I don't always have one on me.
Thanks for the suggestions.

By Mary K.

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June 5, 2013

My husband and I have a Boxer puppy named Nena. She's three and a half months old and is very aggressive. We are currently living with my parents and my seven year old sister while our house is being completed.

Nena is an extremely sweet lovable dog. Everyone that sees her falls in love with her. She's not usually aggressive, but lately my seven year old sister has been playing with her very roughly making Nena aggressive with us. She bites everything and everyone in sight.

My parents have a nine year old Corgi and Nena just loves to bite her stubby tail and get on her back. We're very concerned about her behavior as I am eight months pregnant. We do not want her to be this aggressive with our soon to be JR. Please somebody help us! My husband is at his breaking point and wants to sell her:( I adore my little Nena and just want to train her to be a good dog. Please somebody help!

By manda

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August 1, 2013

I have 2, 8 month old, puppies who are sisters. We rescued them from a pound, but while I walk them they always show very aggressive behaviour towards other dogs we see. I tell them shush and try to carry on walking to show I am not concerned with the other dogs, but they are big and strong and find myself dragged about. I am trying halti leads which helps me control them, but not their aggression. It is always the same one that starts it. Please help.

By Tina

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May 16, 2018

This is a page about working with an aggressive pit bull puppy. The most important thing in dealing with an aggressive puppy is to find a good trainer and be very consistent in your training. Socialization in a safe and controlled environment is often beneficial too. The earlier you address these concerns, the better!

Pit Bull puppy looking at the camera.

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