Nipping Our Heels

It’s been a week since I wrote about our efforts to curb Scout’s nipping, and we still haven’t been successful. To report, the Ouch method is a definite failure. Scout only gets more excited when we react by vocalizing. Yesterday night she actually scratched my skin for the very first time. She’s never actually caused us to bleed, though it has been painful sometimes. (Her little teeth are like daggers!) To summarize, we’ve tried:

  1. lemon juice
  2. the yelp-ouch-really-loudly-and-then-stop-playing method
  3. the ignore-what-you-don’t-want-to-encourage method
  4. the No Bite command method (we’re currently working on this)
  5. the Cesar claw hand method
  6. the pop on the nose method
  7. the pop on the rump method

So, after all these things, we are running out of ideas. (Tabasco sauce has been suggested.) I read somewhere today that you need to curb puppy nipping by 4 months or it’ll set in as an adult dog, and boy, did reading that freak me out. I’ve never read that in any of my puppy research or  books, but then again, everyone basically swears by the ouch-yelping method, so what can I say. We’re wondering at this point if we should pay for a training session and get to demonstrate Scout and her nipping to a professional and get their feedback as to what we aren’t doing correctly. One of the frustrating things about raising a puppy is the tagline, “Everything is your fault.” Basically what it means is that your puppy wants to please you, and if it’s continually doing something wrong, you are the one at fault. You aren’t communicating clearly enough what you want the puppy to do (or not do, in our case). Sigh. We can teach Scout to sit, but we’re failing at the no-nip task.

It’s interesting to hear people’s mixed philosophies on nipping. I’ve started asking every wayward person that stops to pet Scout what they did to stop their dog’s nipping. Some say to nix it early, while others (a surprising number), say to just let it be. “She’ll grow out of it,” they say. Some actually shove their hands into Scout’s mouth and encourage her! “Oh, you’ve got sharp little teeth!” they’ll coo at her while I stand there saying, “No bite, Scout! No BITE!” Good grief, people! You’re spoiling the lesson! What is there to do other than to say, “We’re actually trying to stop that habit…” and move on.

Move on to a trainer? The decision seems to reek of “I need help” desperation. I mean, B and I have taught Scout to Sit, Come, Leave It, Go to Bed (go to  your crate), sit for her food (still working on not crying for 20 minutes  before she gets it), and just yesterday, Scout climbed up the stairs for the first time unassisted. We can obviously follow some instruction ourselves, and Scout is a quick learner, especially eager when treats are involved.

But still, nipping is one lesson that’s proving decidedly tough to conquer. Perhaps some help would be nice. If it stops the nipping and prevents us from having a biting adult dog, it might be worth the cost of the session after all…


One response to “Nipping Our Heels

  1. Pingback: Scout Turns One « And Puppy Makes Four

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