Dog trains man

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love Bites

Tilde is doing great. So are we. Like I said before, she is settling-in rapidly, especially for a Hovawart, and we already earned her complete trust.

She is as self-assured as a pup, now 16 months old, can possibly be. Meaning some new things can still scare her, like roller-bladders and umbrellas we noticed so far, but with a little help of us and some desensitizing tricks she quickly overcomes them and bounces back. It's a joy to witness, and a huge compliment of how the shelter and her former family has socialized her.

Winning her trust and rising on Tilde's popularity ladder did present some issues though. Tilde is a biter. When she gets excited or wants to show her affection, you better rally, because it hurts like hell. The family is covered in bruises and bite marks to show for it.

First I tried, like we did with Kenzo, to say "auch" with a high-pitched voice, and stop with whatever we were doing. But Tilde is not a 4-month pup anymore, and has a lot more "prey drive" then Kenzo will ever have, so instead of stopping, she got annoyed, "why do you stop, we are having fun", and bit some more.

Thankfully she is an eager learner, and I could quickly learn her STOP. I noticed she showed some restraint, and from her own free will she started to sit down instead, while still wagging her tail, which is quite an accomplishment, so I reward her for that instead, which did wonders.

So far so good, although we lack the moments still where she is really excited, but I am sure we will work it out. Looking at my arms today, I can see only one of Tilde's love scratches.

In the end, it is not a big deal for me, but it is a big deal for Tilde. It is one of those things society expects. Therefore I have to teach her bite inhibition, to keep her out of trouble.

Secretly I hope Tilde reserves a little love bite for me alone, like Viva did too for her most favorite persons. When I was away from home for more than a day, Viva would take my arm all the way back in her mouth and give it a gentle pressure - a sensation I can tell you makes you understand the power of a dog's jaws - while making a simmering sound of equal panic and joy, saying "don't you ever leave again, I'll keep you right here".
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7 comments

  1. Tilde! I'm so glad she is settling. Sorry about the bruising, though. Ouch!

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  2. I like to always have some toy on hand, so the toy can take the heat.

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    1. Thanks, I know what you mean and that did also help a lot. Funny enough my worst bites - yes, with blood - happened exactly while trying a toy like that. I was too slow, and she is just so lightning fast ! So I ran to the shop and got a huge Kong, too big to bite both the toy and my hand in one go :)

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  3. You are a beautiful writer! It just made me tear up. Thinking of Viva and the new life in your hands and how they are so intertwined. I too hope Tilde saves a special gesture just for you. You will find it-together. That is was is so wonderful about dogs. :)

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  4. I remember how carefully we taught Honey bite inhibition as a puppy. I can't imagine having to do this important task with a grown dog. But it sounds like you have a good plan for working with Tilde.

    The high pitched "ouch" worked very well with Honey. But some people tell me the noise arouses their biting dog even more. When I've experienced that with foster pups, I substitute a low, throaty woof instead. It seems to work.

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    1. That's exactly what happened, the noise just aroused her more. I'll try the woof too, thanks for the tip.

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