“Ludo, my 3 month old Great Dane, bites all the time and everything he can get his mouth on, including people. We first tried acting like it hurts when he bites us and get disappointed with him. We have tried correcting him and then not playing with him. We have tried giving him something else to chew on instead. We have also tried a deterrent like bitter apple. Then of course we have the yelling that occurs when we get really really fed up. Nothing seems to phase him. He comes right back for more after about 2 minutes. I am just running out of ideas. Thanks for your help!”
- Ludo's Owner
Hi Ludo's Owner,
There is hope to solving your puppy’s biting problem. As with most puppies biting is a play thing. Ludo is a Great Dane known for prey drive - originally bred to take down wild boars - and as well a dog that needs this satisfied. A dog consists of four drives; food drive, prey drive (what Ludo’s doing now), pack drive and defensive drive.
When raising a puppy each drive must be addressed. Unfortunately many pet owners are never taught how to utilize these drives as a gateway to getting inside our dog’s head to make them more receptive to training. Many stay in the food drive mode and that is an infantile state of your relationship. Prey drive is the adolescent state and finally pack drive is your mature state. When we get into corrective measures then we increase the defensive drive and that is what Ludo is doing when he keeps coming back for more, so to say.
To solve Ludo's problem, first of all do not react since he is a strong-tempered, confident puppy. (It sounds like he is wonderful! This is what I personally look for in a dog.) This is clear with how much he comes back at you when you have tried all of the different reactions and nothing has worked. Nothing has worked because, without being rude, they are all acts of desperate frustration trying to instill control. Control comes from you being self-controlled. When he bites, stay calm and do not react. Many people don’t realize that yelling, screaming or acting hurt under predatorial rules is what prey acts like. To a predator, like a dog, it enhances the primitive need to overtake or take down. Try to vision a predator hunting and taking down an animal. How does the predator act, and how do two predators act together (you and Ludo)? Does a predator feel remorse? And finally, vision how prey would act. A wolf hunting an elk, see where your behavior fits in?
Stay patient and divert Ludo. Wait for him to stop biting then call him. Holding a ball, wait for him to sit. Take a couple of steps, do it again then throw the ball. This will satisfy his prey drive and have you govern it as well. Do you use a crate? This is important training tool, I can explain this a we go on.
What humans don't always understand about their dog is the dog’s prey drive. Used properly to the full extent (careful instruction is needed), you will find that a bond with your dog becomes incredibly strong and focused. It is the gateway to solving distraction problems and preventing aggression later. There is a progression in this drive that can get you to have a responsive, respective, patient dog that will obey and follow you unconditionally.