Extremely bad "mouthing"

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog General Discussion' started by Lovemybaby, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. Lovemybaby

    Lovemybaby New Member

    Hi everyone! I am a new member to the forums and also new to owning a Berner, but not dogs :)

    Our pup Champ is about 12wks old and a BIG boy. One of the main issues we are having with him is very bad nipping/mouthing. It is so bad that he draws blood on my 4yr old and myself. You cannot have a toe, or any body park hanging off the couch of he will bite it! He also bites as we are just walking in daily life. We are on constant guard of being nipped by his sharp puppy teeth.

    We have tried yelling "no", "ouch", putting a toy in his mouth and time-out. We currently do not use a crate, but I'm starting to think I should get one. I just never had luck training a puppy with one.

    Any suggestions for a new Berner mom? I have not seen this level of mouthing on other pups before.

  2. sa1821

    sa1821 New Member

    Molly was the EXACT same! We tried soaking ourselves in bitter apple and vinegar and what you tried and she would still nip at us. The only thing we found that worked was her crate or somewhere else for a time out. We would use different places, like tying her to the railing of our stairs or her crate. She's now 2 and she's an amazing dog! I'd say she quit that around 4 months or so, we also took her to puppy class tho which helped a ton too!
    Good Luck and enjoy your sweet Berner!
  3. easchaars

    easchaars New Member

    I would definitely recommend a crate. Our Pico was the same way with biting and chewing and still is, but not nearly as bad as he was. He's now 4.5 months old. When he would be biting us or getting too nippy, we would put him in his crate for a time out and a chance to settle down. It has worked very well and we haven't had to do it for at least a month. We always put a blanket over the crate for his time out so it was different from when he went to bed in there. He loves his crate and runs right in there at night or when we leave him alone. We have also been doing puppy class since he was just 3 months old and that has helped a lot. Hope this helps. -Beth
  4. Barneys Mom

    Barneys Mom New Member

    Barney went through a period where the mouthing was pretty bad, and we tried damn near everything. The "tsst" with a jab in the neck just seemed to signal playtime for him, same with the yelping.

    Eventually, we found that grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and picking him up, supporting his breastplate to avoid any real pain, and saying loudly "NO BITING", then placing him on the ground and ignoring him for 10 seconds (turning away from him, arms crossed, looking upwards) did the trick. He would still mouth a bit when he got excited, so we'd refocus him by making him do a few training exercises (sit, stay etc) and that seemed to snap him out of it.

    He's just finished teething, and no mouthing.

    You can also try correcting, and then giving him something that is okay to chew on - a toy, a bully stick, or a frozen Kong were Barney's favourites!

    We did crate train Barney, but he's never been sent to the crate as punishment...it's just his "office" where he sleeps and rests when we aren't supervising him.
  5. Lovemybaby

    Lovemybaby New Member

    Thank you for all the advice. I am home everyday with Champ and use the bathroom as a "safe place" to leave him if I have to run out. I also put him in there as a time-out if the mouthing gets too bad and nothing will settle him.

    He is such a love and so smart, that's why I can't believe he isn't picking up on the no mouthing. At 9wks old I taught him sit/stay in a matter of a day. He picks up on things extremely fast. We are currently working on "lie down", he's almost there :)

    I am in love with berner's already!
  6. frisssel

    frisssel Member

    Mouthing seems to take a while with these guys. I can remember getting discouraged and upset with it.

    storm still "grooms" us. when he is happy and content he lays there and "check's for bugs" I'm not sure how to discribe it but he nibbles up and down your arm, does not hurt you just does this nibble thing.

    have patients
  7. Barneys Mom

    Barneys Mom New Member

    I'm not sure that it's a matter of him not learning not to mouth - I think it's just that it's their instinct to communicate by using their mouths! It takes a while to de-program them from doing that with us, since it's how they'd play with other puppies.

    Just be patient, and be as consistent as you can be. Every single time he mouths you, there has to be a consequence. He'll put the mouthing and the bad thing together at some point.
  8. JBeaner

    JBeaner New Member

    I can absolutely relate, as our berner is 7 months and is still mouthing and also loves the toes. It can be very frustrating. Our vet said he will mouth/teeth until 8 months and our obedience trainer told us he is trying to "set his teeth into his jaw". We did crate train Truman and it's suppose to be his safe place (there was a previous post that called it their "office" which is cute), so when he starts to gnaw on us, we tell him "all done" and walk him to his crate, turn our backs to him and count to 20. Then we turn around and tell him he can come out if he's a good boy. This has helped him tremendously. It's amazing how smart they are :)
  9. Lovemybaby

    Lovemybaby New Member

    Yes, I agree, we have been very consistent with him and will continue to do so. I also noticed that when he plays with our other dog (13yr old Pom) that he bites down a bit hard and our Pom gets really mad. I guess its because of their coat? Their fur is so thick and fluffy they probably can't feel as much lol.

    Thanks for all the great advice, so glad there is a specific forum for this breed!
  10. Barneys Mom

    Barneys Mom New Member

    Hee. I think it's just the way puppies get taught what's appropriate behaviour. So he's learning that biting your Pom is rude when the other dog lets him know that he's out of bounds!
  11. BernaBernese

    BernaBernese New Member

    You must train the dog. I think training will correct that problem.
  12. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Bernese can be very mouthy (teething wise). Ollie was a year old before he started to settle properly even then he woul dmouth but gently. A person at a training clas we use to attebd said his was the same and it seems the norm with the Bernese.

    We taught get a toy.
  13. Lovemybaby

    Lovemybaby New Member

    Yes, I understand a puppy must be "trained". I am trying to do that, however it takes time. I have trained dogs before, my main concern was what I could do to lesson the mouthing so no one gets hurt.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  14. Lovemybaby

    Lovemybaby New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I wanted to update the mouthing situation. I have been doing as some of you suggested and things seemed to be getting a little bit better, but not much. Today, I turned my back for 2 seconds to grab a toy and champ bit down on our son who is 4. He split his ear open and he required stitches (liquid glue).

    I have never experienced this intensity of nipping. I have been researching and it seems that I should try keeping him on a leash at all times and correct him that way. Has anyone ever tried this method with luck?
  15. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Sorry to hear about your little ones ear.

    Personally I think restraining the dog on a house line will excite or frustrate him further so when he is let off his pent up excitement will take over but worse.

    Do you have a crate or room that you can use a stair gate across the door ? He can be seperated if he gets boisterous but can see and hear you. If you use this method you must time it exactly right and put him out straight away after you have given him an indication you want him to stop and he doesn't. I would advise no shouting or interating just remove him quietly but firmly and only leave him for the maximum of 2 mins then let him out if he starts again then you will have to keep repeating the exercise till he realises what is expected of him.

    He will latch on quite quickly they do not take long to realise what you want of them and hate to be removed from the family.

    It will take time and hard work which when you have a young human child or baby too isn't always ideal thats why I personally never had small children and dogs. I like to dedicate my time to one source only and find I haven't the personality to deal with trying to train both. ;).

    Remember your Bernese is also a baby and needs dedicated time also. They take a long time to grow up and do not realise their strength.

    I take it you feel this was your Bernese being over playful and thats why the accident happened ?

    Remember when you let him out he is quiet reward heavily with praise and or treats or both.
  16. Lovemybaby

    Lovemybaby New Member

    Hi Lynn, yes we do have a gate that we use at bedtime. We are currently using the bathroom as his safe place, but am I really considering a crate at this point. Champ is quite strong now and with enough will he can knock that gate down. I do see what you mean about not wanting to be removed. That is what we have been doing and he hates it. I will try the gate technique and if all else falls I will purchase a crate for him.

    Yes, Champ did not mean to do it. He has no intention of hurting people, he just doesn't understand that his teeth are like razor blades. My arms are cut up, I have teeth holes all over and when he does this he does draw blood. My concern is that I don't want him to hurt my son again and have to bring him back to the ER for another "dog bite". My son has become afraid to touch him because every time you do you get bit :( It's a matter of seconds and it happens.

    You're right maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to get a pup with a child. I did, however, research for over 6 months of the breed and everywhere it says they are great with children, so that is why we went ahead and got Champ. I do believe both can be accomplished and a dog can mean so much to a child. I know mine did as a child.

    Thank you for all your advice I will try putting the gate up and blocking him off of the family. Hoping he realizes soon lol!
  17. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Bernese are good with children usually. I think the problem is Bernese love people and do not realise their strength and he is on a big learning curve. Little people get knocked over or like your son nipped but because he is young and his skin is not as tough as adults his breaks quicker. I remember the bruising well.

    He will settle down but of course it takes time and patience and I am sure your little boy is very good but any excitement from him is going to get Champ going. If he was with his litter mates still he would of got a yelp from the pup or dog he was trying to play with when he got too rough. I have always found though with any dog the yelping tends to wind them up so I use a stern Ah Ah and turn my back. Not so easy to teach a 4 year old but if you are supervising all the time you could try this and if he continues take him out of the sitaution as suggested. Then try and try again till he understands he is being too rough and needs to settle on command. Not easy with a boisterous young pup but I am sure achievable. Do remember do not smack him or you will end up with a shy bernese even more difficult to handle.
  18. sa1821

    sa1821 New Member

    Our Berner was the same. She's now 2 and is extremely sweet with our baby. Since she finished teething I have NEVER felt her teeth on my skin or clothing.
    I really think you should consider a crate. That way if you weren't able to supervise your pup for a few minutes you could put him in there and hopefully avoid anymore accidents. I trust Molly but still don't leave her alone with my little girl, if i need to go to the washroom etc. she goes outside or into her crate. She's almost trained to a point now that she won't leave her pillow though if I tell her to 'wait'.
    I know it's a hard stage to get through but Berners really are sweet dogs and I know with Molly she was terrible at the time but it did get better. This too shall pass :)
    Have you tried giving him a bully stick or anything like that to help with teething? We often gave Molly those and you could see the relief and soothing in her eyes when she chewed on one!
    Good Luck!
  19. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Other good things for teething are frozen carrots or tea towels made wet wrung out put in the freezer then when frozen given to the pup supervise with tea towels though as they soon defrost and you wouldn't want any bits of the fibre getting into his stomach.
  20. emmy

    emmy New Member

    Hello and congratz on the new pup!

    Our own pup (not really a pup anymore I guess at 80 lbs) used to be quite the nipper.
    We took him to puppy classes and grade 1 obdience and their method was keep him on a leash at all times and once he bites you pull up on leash just so they're up on hind legs.Then wait till they settle down. Once settled you reward the behaviour.

    Now I was uncomfortable with doing this because I felt like the bad guy and plus I felt his weight against the collar was hurting him. Plus what was I teaching him? Pain is not the solution to more pain, but rather tolerance and knowledge seems like the best route-- to my own experience.
    http://www.kaibabbmd.org/sites/default/files/documents/Biting and Nipping.pdf
    Read this, it's very insightful and I love her daily blog she posts regarding her Berners! She is a very intelligent breeder/handler/owner!

    The method that ended up working for us was to take Diesel out for long walks and tire him out. Upon arrival he was a cuddly teddy bear who wanted nothing more than to be with us.

    It is a tough time but trust that it is well worth the result!! I would go through hell and back for this dog :)

    Good luck!

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