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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our pup is not playbiting me anymore. She is really fully biting me now out of the context of game. Whenever I reach down to take her, either for potty or to remove her from a situation, she snaps around to bite me to release her. The bites have been getting more and more intense, and she's really close to piercing skin. I'm writing this in quite a bit of pain from the last situation where she managed to climb on top of a piece of furniture and I had to quickly remove her. She chomped down on my hand 3-4 times, fully sinking in + growling to release her before I could even put her down on the floor.

I will also add that she only does this to me, not to my partner. I already noticed she is acting much more excited towards him, even though I train with her, hand feed her every day, and reward her for good behavior pretty much all the time. Also, before you ask, I haven't hit her or anything like that, and we make sure she is always pottied, not hungry or tired.

Is still within the realm of normal puppy behavior or should I be worried? I'mobvisouly very worried already and keep asking what I could have done within one week to already damage my relationship with her but nothing comes to mind. She is definitely more gentle and non-chompy with my boyfriend so I'm super sad.
 

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When Bun Bun was a puppy and biting during play, we would "yelp" (kind of like a puppy) and pull our hand away and ignore her for a few minutes if she bit too hard. After a while she stopped and now only applies gentle pressure when playing. She is also VERY gentle when taking food from our hand. She never bit out of playing context, so I don't know how to address that. Someone else may have a good recommendation.
 

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I can’t remember where you are located, is it feasible to to consult with a behaviorist in your community right now? Even a remote consult would probably give you a better idea of whether it falls in the realm of normally puppy behavior to continue shaping or if you will need additional help. Does it happen often enough that your partner can film it without intentionally triggering the puppy to bite? If it started suddenly I would take him to the vet as soon as you can. Behavior changes that seem completely unrelated can come up even with simple medical issues like ear infections or UTI’s.

I do know some dogs do not like to be picked up, and can be reactive to it. In the meantime maybe work on recall and other skills so that you don’t have to pick her up? I generally prefer removing my Havanese from the situation rather than calling him when I know he won’t listen, so I get why you’re doing it that way. But until you figure out what’s going on, I’d try to minimize picking her up if that’s what triggers her.
 

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I'm not an expert by any means but this sounds a bit worrisome, particularly that she bit you MULTIPLE times during the outburst.

My puppy has only ever (lightly) playbitten when roughhousing/playing and never with any pressure to feel anything.

You're right in that this is not a playbite. She didn't want to be moved so lashed out. It'd be less concerning and rather normal imo if she just grumbled or growled at being moved when she didn't want to be. To me the fact that she went straight to biting hard multiple times while skipping growling and even air snapping, makes me think you need to talk to a professional for advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I can’t remember where you are located, is it feasible to to consult with a behaviorist in your community right now? Even a remote consult would probably give you a better idea of whether it falls in the realm of normally puppy behavior to continue shaping or if you will need additional help. Does it happen often enough that your partner can film it without intentionally triggering the puppy to bite? If it started suddenly I would take him to the vet as soon as you can. Behavior changes that seem completely unrelated can come up even with simple medical issues like ear infections or UTI’s.

I do know some dogs do not like to be picked up, and can be reactive to it. In the meantime maybe work on recall and other skills so that you don’t have to pick her up? I generally prefer removing my Havanese from the situation rather than calling him when I know he won’t listen, so I get why you’re doing it that way. But until you figure out what’s going on, I’d try to minimize picking her up if that’s what triggers her.
It definitely happens often so we can try to film it indeed. I will try to see if it gets worse and in that case we will try contacting someone to ask for advice. I wanted to check here first with all of you knowledgeable havi owners.

I'm working on recall and it's been going pretty okay indoors, but she really gets herself in sticky situations, even though we did our best to puppy proof the area where she is and we keep an eye on her. So in those cases I really have to physically remove her.


I'm not an expert by any means but this sounds a bit worrisome, particularly that she bit you MULTIPLE times during the outburst.

My puppy has only ever (lightly) playbitten when roughhousing/playing and never with any pressure to feel anything.

You're right in that this is not a playbite. She didn't want to be moved so lashed out. It'd be less concerning and rather normal imo if she just grumbled or growled at being moved when she didn't want to be. To me the fact that she went straight to biting hard multiple times while skipping growling and even air snapping, makes me think you need to talk to a professional for advice.
Yes it was multiple times and each time harder. She also wouldn't let go and I had a feeling like she was almost trying to tear away a bit of flesh. Don't know if I'm explaining it well.

I'm just so sad to already have to seek advice for a 9 week old puppy who's been with us a little more than a week. 😞
 

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So sorry to hear you’re having this challenge. I agree that it’s a good idea to ask your vet, especially if it started suddenly. My mom has a 6 month old puppy who is turning into an absolutely WONDERFUL dog but he had issues with biting for a while and we were concerned. He would get very worked up and cute her clothing and hands. The ‘yelping’ tactic worked well with my first Hav when he was a puppy as he has always been very sensitive, but my current puppy and my mom’s puppy had the opposite reaction- it just got them more hyped!

The thing that eventually did work was time outs (removing yourself from the situation rather than trying to remove the puppy) as soon as the biting starts. They generally did it because they wanted attention, and removing the attention worked. The biting when you pick them up is a little different of course, as they’re trying to keep you from doing something. I am not an expert by any means, but it sounds like maybe they’re uncomfortable with handling? Have you been working on touching all over, picking up, etc, with lots of reinforcement? It can also be helpful to warn small dogs when they’re being picked up, since it can feel threatening to them.

I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to get too into your head about it. Puppies are HARD and it’s totally normal to seek advice the first few weeks and months. That’s what this forum is for, and even when we may not know the answer with your specific pup, people here are ALWAYS great with moral support! ❤
 

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It definitely happens often so we can try to film it indeed. I will try to see if it gets worse and in that case we will try contacting someone to ask for advice. I wanted to check here first with all of you knowledgeable havi owners.

I'm working on recall and it's been going pretty okay indoors, but she really gets herself in sticky situations, even though we did our best to puppy proof the area where she is and we keep an eye on her. So in those cases I really have to physically remove her.



Yes it was multiple times and each time harder. She also wouldn't let go and I had a feeling like she was almost trying to tear away a bit of flesh. Don't know if I'm explaining it well.

I'm just so sad to already have to seek advice for a 9 week old puppy who's been with us a little more than a week. 😞
Piper never much liked being removed either. She often grumbled about it. What I did was try to minimize the times I removed her/picked her up to only when I HAD to and when i did have to pick her up I crouched down on her level (it can be a bit spooky for a new puppy to have us giants looming over them). I also would say "up, up, up!" before i scooped her so that she assoicated that phrase with being picked up (so she wasnt taken off guard). Sometimes if I had to remove her i'd also give her a little treat when she got scooped. It helped assoicate being picked up with good, enjoyable things rather than being picked up=mom/dad annoyingly taking me away against my will from something id rather be doing.

But like I said the most she ever did was voice her annoyance with an annoyed grumble. The fact that your pup is biting multiple times in succession and leaving multiple punctures and not letting go is worrisome imo (but again i'm not an expert so i could be wrong!). Don't feel like this is due to something you did or didn't do or somehow "messed up" though - you've barely had her a week. This isn't your fault. I'm sure someone here can point you in the right direction for getting help/training resources.
 

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I didn’t realize she was only 9 weeks! Has it really only been a week?! I think the holidays have messed with my sense of time even more than usual.

Between not liking to be removed and still adjusting to you and your home, and being a pretty young puppy, it’s not great but I don’t think it has to be a terribly bad sign unless she doesn’t respond to the things you do to address it. It must be discouraging, though - you’ve had a rough start! I hope you’re getting some sleep by now. I would continue the training you are doing to build your relationship with her, you’re still getting to know each other, and it sounds like she might be distrustful of handling, even though nothing has happened to make her so. I would work on handling her a lot, including her feet and everything, in a way that is nonthreatening and rewarding, and gradually increase it. Also as she becomes more comfortable, picking her up for rewards, or as part of play, so it’s not just being taken away from fun. I don’t think this is related to bite inhibition, but it can’t hurt to hand feed part of a meal, maybe as training treats. I remember reading about a puppy from a 2 pup litter with some reactivity and bite inhibition needed work as well, and you mentioned the nipping before. The article discussed the role of siblings in development between 8-10 weeks and some of it reminds me of what you’re describing. I’ll see if I can find it to link.

Very short time outs can help but if she’s already being taken away from “fun” it’s not effective. If it’s in the middle of playtime time out could help, but it sounds like it’s not most of the time. If you can distract her from her mischief with a toy she likes, maybe that would give you something to remove if she bites, then return when she stops?

Although I think it may resolve, if she has a vet visit soon, it might help to take a video so you can get a visual assessment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks so much for the insightful replies and support everyone. I have been doing rewarding handling exercises since day one, and I hand feed at least one of her meals through the day while she trains with me, I also touch her paws etc and reward... In those moments she seems okay (still tries to do a lot of playbiting).

I have to add that we have noticed a difference in her attitude towards me vs my partner. When my partner scoops her up in an emergency situation like this one, she won't be aggressive at all. We don't see a difference in the way I scoop her up vs how he does it.

We did notice already from when we saw her at the breeder's that she was the most bite-y puppy out of them all and didn't accept any corrections from older dogs (would keep on lunging at them and biting them) so maybe that's something to also consider? She also doesn't care much for distractions - so when she is biting on something inappropriate, she doesn't let go for any sort of distraction or interesting sound or other toy. So that has been challenging to say the least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Small update -

we just had the almost exact same situation happen. I was sitting on the floor and she jumped into my lap and started immediately excessively clawing and biting on my leg and clothes. I couldn't just stand up because she would then fall to the ground from quite a distance so I had to take her with my hands to place her on the floor. As soon as I did that, she snapped around to bite me. The problem seems to be that she snaps if she is removed from "fun" situations, but I am worried that she immediately goes to bite. 😞
 

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I know she's only 9 weeks, but I would seriously consider consulting a behaviorist (maybe your vet can recommend someone)? This sounds like more than play biting and the fact that she does it with you and not your partner tells me that there's something different that a behaviorist might be able to see that you two aren't seeing. They can also give you advise on what to do going forward to redirect.

In the meantime, if it were me I would probably carry a chewtoy around and, when you suspect that she will reach for you, be ready to stick the toy in her mouth :)
 

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The more you describe it the more I think it would be good to have her checked out soon. It sounds like something more is going on, medical or otherwise. You are clearly conscientious and engaged in training, more than the average pet person, and she is biting the person she has the most connection to. The fact that she wasn’t responsive to adults as a puppy could mean that she may have benefited form more time with them, or it’s a weakness that would benefit from specific training, lots of things. I don’t think her behavior automatically means you will need a long rehabilitation program with a behaviorist, or that it indicates she will be dangerous. The urgency is more that developmentally she is most malleable and teachable to this specific issue right now.
 

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When Bun Bun was a puppy and biting during play, we would "yelp" (kind of like a puppy) and pull our hand away and ignore her for a few minutes if she bit too hard. After a while she stopped and now only applies gentle pressure when playing. She is also VERY gentle when taking food from our hand. She never bit out of playing context, so I don't know how to address that. Someone else may have a good recommendation.
We do the same thing Kelly and it seems to work as well.
 
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