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Biting ankles and jumping advice

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  • Biting ankles and jumping advice

    Hi, I‘ve just joined this forum for the first time looking for some advice with a 1 year old labradoodle, Duke.

    We’ve tried a number of different training methods, and in some instances we’ve had success. For example, although not perfect, Duke will sit, stay and come on demand reasonably well, and is ok with a ‘leave it’ command, albeit still more work to be done. Having tried different methods a food reward based training seems to have had most success.

    The problem is that Duke has some bad habits which we just haven’t been able to deal with. Most notably these are:
    1. If we are walking in the house or backyard not paying him attention he’ll often go after our ankles, biting at our heels and feet.
    2. Similarly, if he sees us for the first time in the morning or we go outside then he’ll jump and try to grab at our clothing which I am certain is to get attention.
    3. If you try to move him or get him to do something he doesn’t want to do (I.e. move him off a couch, take him outside, etc) he’ll snap and growl.

    We’ve tried ignoring the biting at our heels and clothes so that we don’t give him attention, but it’s not been overly successful (and it’s hard as the biting is painful at times). We’ve also tried using a ‘No’ or ‘Leave It’ command and then rewarding as soon as he stops. This worked for a short period, but I think now he knows that if he nips at us or our clothes, we’ll tell him ‘no’ and when he stops he gets rewarded.

    I am also conscious of trying to be consistent and not flicking between too many different things quickly, but to be honest I’m running out of ideas. The frustration is Duke is very compliant with taught behaviours such as sit, stay and come, to the point that if I say his name and just put my hand in my pocket he’ll come as he knows that’s generally where the treats come from. But, once he locks in on biting ankles or clothes it’s much harder to get him back under control effectively.

    If it helps, while I don’t really think Duke sees me as alpha leader, the behaviours are less pronounced and frequent with me, and much worse with my daughter (11), son (13) and wife (which is driving them all insane).

    Any advice would really be appreciated, as I think we’d hoped that by age one some of these bad behaviours would have begun to settle down.


  • #2
    I have dealt with this but generally as small puppies. I just dont tolerate it and make them stop, if it is painful I vocalise this. I dont use a food reward but as soon as they stop I praise them vocally. You can try using vicks or aeroguard on the bits he is grabbing as well or even a spray bottle of very dilute vinegar or water. If he is coming when you put your hands in your pockets this is just what they call luring. If he understands the behvaviour like come, sit etc, you need to put it on a variable schedule so sometimes he gets a treat and sometime he gets a voice praise.

    If he locks on you need to get him on a leash and get him under control by getting him to work obediently for a reward, or just give him some time out where he is not interacting with you. Dont ignore him just separate him into an area where he can cool off and realise that each time he does that the action will be taken.

    Snapping and growling is another thing that I do not tolerate. They would be out the door in a cool off area very quickly. I would not allow him up on a couch if this is what he will do.

    Labradoodles are smart energetic dogs so you need to make sure you are giving him plenty of exercise and training. If you are not then this could be part of the problem. Training takes a bit of dedication and repetition. Is there a dog club close by where you can do some obedience lessons.

    Age often makes things worse as they become hardwired the more you allow him to practice these behaviours. They become habit and a lot more difficult to stop. I always get on top of this the minute a new pup arrives. They are hard work but the more time and effort you put in as puppies the better it is.

    Is he crate trained?