Dog Training Mishap… Or Desperate Cry For Help?

I was teaching her owner the intricacies of working with the long line– guiding a five month-old Australian Shepherd to come on command.

She was small for her size.

The owner dropped the line and she ran underneath a chair and then wrapped herself up.

The owner ran to her and attempted to get her untangled but couldn’t.

I reached in and unhooked the leash and then pulled her to safety– but that’s when she panicked and got defensive. I had to hold her down so that she wouldn’t bite me, but in the process, she scratched me up pretty good.

So, no… this isn’t some kind of desperate cry for help, but rather an unexpected byproduct of working with dogs.

dog obedience training

Crazy Puppy Biting: Is Your Puppy Crazy?

IStarr wrote to me about crazy puppy biting.  It’s a question that many new puppy owners ask: “Is My Puppy Crazy?”

Crazy Puppy Biting

She writes: “We have a 9 week old olde English bulldog. He, for part of the day will be manageable, but at times for long periods of time he goes crazy, running crazy, growling, barking… and then becomes unmanageable with his crazy puppy biting. We purchased a kennel run for him to play in and before I tried to keep him in the bathroom with a baby gate but he absolutely goes crazy nuts when hes in there, he gets aggressive, barks uncontrollably, growls, bites the cage and everything in sight and runs from one end to the other sliding into the gate and also digs a lot, I am continually making corrections all the time by clapping loud and saying a firm “No,” and also resorting to a quick pinch on the back of his neck where his excess skin is.  I’m being consistent and I’m wondering if its possible if he is over stimulated when he is in a larger area to play in, or does he just need to get used to it like the crate?

Is There A Way To Stop This Crazy Puppy Biting?

crazy puppy bitingHe does pretty well in the crate which is where I keep him sometimes when I cant watch him or need to calm him down but the bigger areas are a no go.  I play with him a lot during the day to keep him occupied , I play with him after he eats or after he goes to the bathroom… is all this normal behavior? He gets lots of praise and treats when he is a good boy doing good boy things like going to the bathroom in the right spot, and I know he is a puppy so he is going to be a little nuts, but man!! I was raised with puppies and dogs and have never in my life seen such crazy puppy biting.  He was so out of control the other day that I literally read your dog training book cover to cover since last night because I was desperate for an answer.

Adam G Katz Explains
How To Stop Crazy Puppy Biting

It’s not uncommon, per se. Frequently it’s an indication that the puppy needs to go outside and potty, but sometimes it’s just a result of generalized rambunctiousness.

In the case of the later– and because he’s a bully breed– the typical scruff on the back of the neck will likely be ignored by him. I recommend getting a small prong collar and fitting it as I describe in the book. The mother dog would correct the puppy in the same way, but she would use her mouth. At this age, you’ll want to only use the collar for nipping and biting. Do not use it for obedience exercises, as he’s still too young.  (I recommend that you wait to start formal obedience training until the puppy is 4-5 months old).

Because he’ll likely chew the tab if you’re not watching him, you can let him wear the collar when he’s in his indoor enclosure and then attach the leash when you need to correct him– assuming there is nothing he can snag the collar on.  If this still doesn’t phase him, it’s okay to use an e-collar but you’ll need to be intelligent about matching the stim level to his temperament so that you’re not over or under correcting the behavior.  This is the easiest and quickest way to stop crazy puppy biting.


My Dog Bites Me

I went for a walk in downtown San Rafael a couple of weeks ago and saw a man walking a Siberian Husky. When his dog saw us, he started flailing around at the end of the leash and barking, hysterically.

I asked this man why he put up with such behavior from his dog? After all: He feeds the dog, he gives the dog free room and board. He even lets this dog defecate on his lawn. So, why put up with this behavior?

“My dog bites me,” was his reply.

To which I answered, “Well… what happens when he bites you?”

“It hurts.”

Yes, I’m sure.

I’m also sure that this behavior didn’t start from one day to the next. It gradually built up, over time. It was a behavior that– inadvertently– got reinforced.

I tried again: “How do you respond when he bites you?”

He again replied, “I respond in pain.”

He laughed, nervously… perhaps a bit embarrassed.

This man’s problem was that he was viewing the behavior from one side of the coin: His own. Instead, he should have been thinking to himself: If my dog bites me, I will correct him the way the mother dog would– and in such a manner that he won’t ever think of biting me, again.

Of course, we use a dog training collar to do that– instead of our mouth, like the mother-dog would.  And we recommend adopting a “Nothing In Life Is Free” approach to your relationship with your dog, around the house– because these types of behaviors seldom happen in a vacuum.

But at it’s core: We’re talking about looking at your dog’s aggression with a fundamentally different attitude.

How To Stop Dog Biting When A Stray Dog Confronts Your Dog

So, you’re living overseas and you’ve encountered a stray dog while taking your own dog for a walk. And you’re wondering: “How do I stop the other dog from biting my dog?”

Yes– it is your responsibility to keep other dogs away from your dog. And it’s especially unfair to ask your dog to stay in a submissive position (not to mention dangerous) if a strange dog approaches her.

It’s your job to keep the other dog, away.

When I lived in Costa Rica I had similar problems. I used a stun gun (note: Not a taser!) and it was usually just the crackling sound it makes that was enough to keep the other dogs, away. But eventually it became such a nuisance that I only worked my dog in enclosed areas– like football fields, school yards and our condo complex.

But that was Costa Rica, where “callejeros” (street dogs) were found on almost every corner.

You cannot set your dog up for failure by putting her in a position like the down-say around stray dogs and have unrealistic expectations.

If I took you to a foreign country where you did not speak the language– and I said, “Trust me… Now, sit here and don’t move,” and then I disappeared. And a strange man walked up to you and started touching and grabbing you… how would it affect your trust in me? Would you sit and take it? Or would you get up and try to come find me? Or run away? Or fight back? What would you do, the next time I asked you to sit and wait for me?

There’s no merit to letting your dog “work it out” with a stray dog, on their own. It’s easier to prevent a dog bite than to stop dogs from biting once it happens.

Do whatever you have to do to keep stray dogs away from your dog. Carry a big walking stick, a stun gun… a .38 … whatever you need to do. We’re not talking about Poodles on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, remember.  We’re talking about dangerous dogs that may bite.

Stray dogs can have rabies or other diseases. They could be dangerous and aggressive. It only takes one stray dog biting your dog in the eye and your dog will be blind for life. Even if no physical damage is done, your dog getting biten by a strange dog can make your dog “dog aggressive” for the rest of her life.

Just don’t put your dog in that environment, if possible. Like I said… work her in an enclosed area, and modify your expectations. Probably a lot of other people in the culture of your host country have a more cavalier attitude toward dog ownership, but I’ll bet it you pay attention a lot of those dogs are not in very good health and physical condition, either.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a pain in the neck. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, as the expression goes.

Dealing With Dog Biting and Aggression

Vellsworth writes to me about dog biting and aggression:

There is no consistent ‘mitigating pattern’ to his dog aggression – first time he jumped up and drew a drop of blood from a man’s inner thigh, a man with a leg prosthesis (other dogs also went for this ‘wounded animal’ – Skippy was immediately leashed and made to walk around the park with the man for about 20 minutes – never another problem). 2 other times, men were walking away from him (trying to get their attention seems a bit out of the question as Skippy was busy playing with dogs) he just jumped up and snapped – but he did bruise one man – the other, nothing. Again, I caught up to him – no – he came on command and I gave him a time out – once we left the park and another time I knew the guy and we stayed – I distracted Skippy with one of his playmates and kept close watch on him. Since he is extremely bonded with me, I’d like to say he is just being overly protective – HA! He is nowhere near me when this happens – which is why I have (finally) gotten my e-collar.I also bought a mesh muzzle today – which I promised in order to go back to the park.

re: e-collar. is he supposed to think that the shock is coming from me or the man? I assume I watch closely for him going Toward a man – command him ‘no!’ then shock if he doesn’t obey. Correct?

BTW – he used to nip at dogs’ heels and we thought he had some sheep herder in him – one day with the shock collar eliminated that. Hope the same with men.

Adam replies:

Hi, Virginia:

RE: The stim from the collar: He needs to know this is coming from you. You use it the same way you would use the leash and collar: By saying, “No!” and then giving the correction. The e-collar just allows you to more accurately match the motivation level of the correction with your dog’s temperament and the situation.

I think using the muzzle is smart. It sounds like you’re on the right track. Regardless of why he’s nipping (peg leg, a guy with a hat, herding instinct) you’ll correct it, just the same.

As a side note: At this stage in his rehabilitation (I hate that word!) … you shouldn’t let him get more than 10 feet away from you, because we want him to know 100% that the correction is coming from you.

I’m assuming you’ve read the book already and understand the “three keys”?



Training Your Puppy To Stop Biting His Leash

Cokersmoses writes to me about puppy training to teach your puppy to stop biting the leash:

Hi Adam,

On a past post you gave the following puppy training advice with a older puppy biting their leash:

The easiest way is to use a leather leash, and then just pull the leash fast, across (and out of) his tongue, as he tries to bite it. It will give him a slight burning sensation. He won’t like it, and when he realizes this happens every time he tries to bite the leash, he’ll stop. You should also just say, “No!” when you do this

My question is does this advice go for a 9 wk old Rott puppy since he still has his baby teeth? I’ve been afraid to yank the leash out of his mouth b/c i’m afraid of breaking his baby teeth. I also need to get a leather leash b/c I only have the nylon kind.
Thank you


Adam replies:

Hi, Coker:

No, for 9 weeks, you can just say, “No!” with a low, firm voice and then cup your hand around the top of his muzzle and open his mouth and take the leash out… and then stuff something else in his mouth (a toy) or distract him with a “chewey”.

If you have trouble getting the leash out of his mouth, you can gently bend his lips around his teeth and he’ll open his mouth so you can take it out.

Keep me posted. There’s nothing in the world more adorable than a Rottweiler puppy. Someday in the next couple of years, we’ll likely get another one.

Coker Responds:

Thank you so much for getting back to me, Adam. I am in the middle of reading your book and on the posts. There is so much good info. However, do you have some page numbers for me to get fast info on what to do with my Rott puppy? I mainly need info on walking him and stopping him eating grass and anything else he will instantly pickup while out on our walks (and in his potty area in the yard). Also, biting is a bad habit i’m trying to deal with. It is hard to tell what advice you are giving for what age in your book. I know that you have said you can start to train after adult teeth comes in. Does that mean any advice in the book is for above the age of 5 months? I brought my boy home and I want so much to have him be everything he can be that I started out expecting too much and getting very frustrated (both of us). Sorry this is getting long…I’m planning on finishing your book but just need something to get me through this next couple months. What do I need to be doing (besides potty training,which is going pretty well) when it comes to my beautiful puppy? Thanks again for your help and your book.

Adam replies:

Hi, Lisa:

You’ve got the “Baby Einstein” syndrome. You’re expecting too much, too soon. Just like you wouldn’t put a 5 year-old in college, you can’t push a puppy through the process, too quickly. The pup isn’t mature enough.

What you want to focus on right now (before the adult teeth start to come in) is just:

– Housebreaking
– Crate training
– Using food to create associations with words (sit/down/come) — but ONLY AS A GAME, right now.
– Socialization to as many different sights, sounds and experiences. (No other dogs). Your vet will tell you to keep the dog indoors until you have the full series of shots. In my experience, it’s best to expose to as much as you can, but keeping the dog away from high traffic areas where other dogs are.
– Mild leash corrections for biting, if distraction or a scruff on the back of the neck is ineffective.

That’s all! No leash walking. No obedience exercises where the pup gets corrected for breaking a sit-stay, etc…

Make everything a game. Make everything fun. If you kick the side of a metal trash can and he recoils, then produce a toy and play with him IN AND ON TOP OF the metal trash can. Walk over a grate and it makes noise? YIPPIE! It’s play time!!!

Make sense?

Check out the “Puppy Primer” in our download library in addition to reading the rest of the Secrets book.

Keep me posted.
– Adam

How Do I Stop My Older Dog From Biting?

You need to learn how to give a motivational correction.

You should first properly size and fit a pinch collar and tab (a 3/4′ leash) on the dog, and anytime he bites, give him a “pop/tug” and “release” on the leash (tab). I can guarantee you that your dog will not continue to do a behavior which does not feel good.

This technique always works… just use common sense, read your dog, and be careful not to over-correct. But at the same time, make sure that the correction IS motivational. I.E., if the dog keeps doing the behavior, that’s usually a good sign that your correction isn’t motivational.

After you correct him, then offer your hand again, to see if he’s learned. If not, repeat the procedure with a more motivational correction. Make sure that you’re “tugging and releasing” the leash, rather than “pulling.”

The difference is that when you “pull” you’re not using slack in the leash. If, when you offer your hand, he refuses to bite it, then praise him as he’s made the right decision.


My Puppy Is Biting Me, What Should I Do?

The answer to this question really depends on how old your puppy is.

Many dog training books advocate the infamous “Alpha roll,” where you roll the puppy over and pin him on his back. Don’t pin him… even though the mother dog may do this… WHEN she does it and HOW she does it are things that the amateur dog handler…. even sometimes the experienced handler… will never be able to replicate properly.

If the dog is really young, like 7 or 8 weeks old, you basically want to redirect the biting behavior towards a toy or chew bone. If the pup is simply in an ultra rambunctious state, put him in the crate. This is not punishment, however, it’s just confining him to an area where he can’t develop these bad behaviors. Similar to putting a baby in a crib, or a play pen.

Sometimes, you can quickly bend the lips around the teeth of the pup and say “No.”… so that the dog learns if he bites you, the response is something that doesn’t feel good. Just beware that you don’t let this turn into a game.

If the dog is a bit older, like 12 or 13 weeks, you can put a small, light pinch collar and tab (a 3/4′ leash) on the dog, and give a light (caution:light) pop on the leash. Again, the dog will not continue to do a behavior which does not feel good. This technique always works… just use common sense, read your dog, and be careful not to over-correct. But at the same time, make sure that the correction IS motivational. I.E., if the dog keeps doing the behavior, that’s usually a good sign that your correction isn’t motivational. You’ll be fine.

Most likely, depending on the dog’s age, he’ll grow out of it even if you don’t do anything. But again, this depends on the temperament and breed.


My Dog Was Accused Of Biting – A Dog Training Letter From One Of Our Readers

“Adam, I read your article about losing one’s insurance policy and have to agree with you about discrimination. I lost my home owners [insurance] and my dog because of this.

My German Shepherd mix was accused of biting a 5 year old boy. Because he was ‘accused,’ we lost our insurance and had 10 days to get new coverage. No one would cover us as long as we had the dog. The local SPCA would not take the dog because it had a “bite record.” Sadly, the dog had to be put down.

After a year-long battle, we finally settled out of court for $50,000. (The people had been suing us for $500,000!) The sad part is that my dog was not even out on the day the child was bit, and we had a witness that was bitten the same day that said it was not our dog.

I don’t have to tell you that I am sure– to a five year old– every German Shepherd looks alike (the child only was bitten 3 miles from our house).

I wish insurance would look at the whole case. They ended up settling because it was cheaper than going to court. But if I had been allowed to keep my dog until the case was over, and had been allowed to have justice by going to court to prove my dog’s innocence, I would still have him today!

The insurance companies are only out to get our money. They don’t care about what is right!!!! Thanks for the great web sight. [name omitted] ” Something to think about.


Rosie’s Thoughts On How To Stop Puppies Biting

Puppies love to bite. They do it naturally but it is something that they must be taught not to do. This needs to be addressed while they are young because dog bites can lead to all sorts of problems including legal action.

It may seem fun and funny to have a puppy biting but a full-grown dog can do a lot of damage, particularly to children if they are in the habit of biting. Dogs have immense strength in their jaws and even a playful nip can do permanent damage to a child.

Generally, puppies are taught to control their biting from their mothers but in most cases we get puppies as pets that have been taken from their mothers at a very young age and it is up to us to teach them as puppies not to bite.

By letting your dog socialize with other dogs from a young age they will quickly learn from their elders, provided they have been taught well, that the desire to bite needs to be curbed to avoid retaliation and an ensuing fight. The sooner the puppy is taught not to bite by the owner or by interaction with other dogs, the less aggressive they will become as they grow older and the more pleasant they will be to live with.

Taking a puppy to a dog training school will allow it to interact with other dogs where it will quickly be corrected for any misbehavior. Puppies should generally learn to interact with other dogs within the first three months of their life. The longer this is left the more difficult it becomes for your dog to socialize correctly and they can become dangerous later in life. As with children, the sooner your puppy can learn correct behavior patterns the better they will be in the long term.

It is also wise to get the puppy to behave correctly in the presence of other animals including cats and any other pets that they might come in contact with over their life. There are many items that are available from the pet stores and vets that can give your puppy suitable satisfaction to chew and bite upon. This will allow your puppy to learn what is right and what is not right to bite.  

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.