My 9 week old puppy bites.
My puppy bites me, growls and shows his teeth when I tell him no. What can I do?
I tried yelping and turning away, walking away, and telling him no. I tried holding his nose and it makes him madder.
He is an Australian Shepherd. I raised a Shepherd Wolf 19 years ago and had no problems with him.
Puppy biting is really common, and generally it's just an attention-getting behavior, but sometimes it's also a dominance issue. Although your pup is only 9 weeks old, it may be that he is an 'alpha' type personality, and he's trying to exercise some control over you.
You've already tried the obvious, and much recommended tactics, he seems to be strong-willed and quite reactive. Holding the muzzle is usually fairly effective, but you need to do it calmly and hold it firmly, but gently until he stops struggling. Usually a pup will give a little whine when he's ready to submit. If you turn it into a conflict, he will react strongly. I would suggest that you continue to try this tactic for a little longer, you may find it does work in time.
In addition, I'd suggest that you try one of these tactics _
Buy a small spray bottle, fill it with water and set the nozzle to 'stream'. When your pup bites you, give him a shot of the water right on his nose. Be quick and accurate. The combination of surprise and the water is usually pretty effective. If he's not put off by the water, make a 1:10 solution of vinegar to water, and try that.
If this doesn't work, try using the tiny breath sprays that you find at the pharmacy. Again, you need to be accurate and quick. When your puppy tries to bite/nip, give him a quick spray INSIDE HIS MOUTH, aim for his tongue, you don't want this spray on his nose or in his eyes as it will sting. Most puppies hate the mint taste and it works very well. If by any chance he's not bothered by the mint, try a cinammon flavor.
One of the above should work and reduce the biting, but I think you'll need other behavior modifications as well. Your pup needs to learn to respect your authority and the sooner the better. He needs to realize that you're in charge.
I would suggest hand feeding him (piece by piece) for at least one meal a day, this teaches him to treat your hands with more respect and shows him how directly you're in control of his food. Also, make him 'work' for everything. Teach him how to 'sit' (if you need a refresher see my Puppy Training page )and make him sit for everything - food, treats, petting and so on.
Also, give him lots of exercise. Shepherds are extremely energetic dogs, often a bit hyper or high-strung. They NEED exercise to release all that nervous energy, without a way to burn it off they can be very destructive and difficult. As soon as he's had his shots I'd recommend taking him to puppy obedience classes (he'll be very smart and will probably excel at this) and then either onto intermediate classes or perhaps dog agility ( find out more about this fun sport on my Dog Agility page ), flyball etc. Something that will give him an outlet for his energy.
I'd recommend some really sturdy chew toys and a few of the interactive ones that really occupy a puppy's brain. He needs to be kept busy.
Hopefully a combination of these measures will help calm him down, and reduce the biting, nipping etc. If you continue to have problems, let me know and I'll see if I can help more. You can also discuss this behavior with your veterinarian who may be able to suggest some other remedies.
Best of luck!