Puppy Stage...........?

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog General Discussion' started by BearPhiv, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member

    Hi All!

    We brought home our wonderful berner pup in January, he's a 4 month old male now. His name is Bear--how fitting for this breed :) I've grown up mainly with German Shepherds but this is our first Berner and it's truly a wonderful breed, I can tell he's going to be such a wonderful companion...once we get out of the puppy stage :p

    I have lots and lots of questions but will chalk up some of his behavior to the puppy stage (I hope!).

    Some of the biggest issues we're having with our sweet, sometimes not so sweet little boy, is puppy nipping/biting. I'm pretty sure I've researched this topic I could write a book myself, have consulted our puppy class trainer and NOTHING helps. Maybe we're not consistent ENOUGH, and he's also teething--so I am hoping that's part of the issue and the mouthing will fade away once he's done with that. He typically will only do it when he's bored, wants to play, in the morning after a full nights sleep, basically whenever he has alot of energy :) we try to take him on walks, that's a whole other discussion itself! So we try to exert his energy any possible way we can. I will take any and all advice, personal experiences, but I guess want to know if this is "normal" and at this age for this breed since we don't have anything to compare it too, my German Shepherd wasn't nearly this mouthy!

    One last thing and this isn't that big of an issue, again I want to consult fellow Berner lovers, our boy is not a cuddler, at all, even when he's sleepy!! From what I researched with this breed is of course, they're affectionate, loyal, the list goes on. SO, imagine my surprise when our sweet baby doesn't like to cuddle up to mom and dad :) Have any of your pups turned out to be cuddlers when they weren't as puppies? Is this a phase, will he eventually live up to his "leaner" status? Or do I need to the face the fact that I will need to admire him from a distance??

  2. aje196

    aje196 Member

    Our Rosie is definitely a leaner/hugger/up close and in your business kind of girl, so no advice on that, unfortunately.

    But as to the biting, she's almost 9 months now, I would say her biting/chewing on hands lasted close to her 6 months mark. It lasted much longer than I thought it would, but she has stopped now. She'll mouth us, but the training we did early on with teaching her the strength to bite seems to have helped.

    Hang in there and it should get better! The stages seemed to last longer than I thought, but they were worth it in the end. She still chews things up occasionally, but has improved so much in the last few months. She's a true pleasure in our house!
  3. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member

    Thanks for your help, aje196! He's getting a little better but still resorts to his landshark self ;) He's still young and we just need to be consistent with training, etc. I'm hoping he'll evolve into a cuddly pup as he gets older. When I sit on the floor and hold his chew toys for him sometimes, he'll climb and sit on my lap to chew it and lean against my chest. Makes mom happy :) oh the little things!
    Amy H likes this.
  4. Mocha

    Mocha New Member

    Feeling for you, feeling just like you.

    I have to say we are having the same experience. We chose this breed because of its reputation for gentle and affectionate but so far we have a fluffy piranha in our house. All cuddling leads to chewing as does any extended petting. I have been training her extensively since we got her at 6 weeks and she has not improved with walking properly or stop nipping at all. Like you I have read and viewed every opinion available and have been consistent and a firm disciplinarian but yet so little progress. I have experience with other breeds but nothing seems to be working with this one. There is nothing relaxing about this pup at all and nothing cuddly. I know she is smart because of all the commands she can obey but she seems so stubborn on so many things. I am wondering if this will turn out to be a proper berner or is her behaviour due to the fact that i did not get her from a fancy breeder but rather is backyard bred. Where did you obtain your pup?
  5. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member

    Yep exactly, we call him the fury "landshark". We're from Iowa and I had just researched breeders around our area and found a breeder with really good reviews, she's not a "fancy" breeder either I wouldn't say, she lives on a farm with quite a few dogs of her own. Bear wasn't necessarily cheap but he wasn't as expensive as I think most are. But you're right, I'm hoping that isnt the reason for his behavior issues.

    How old is your pup? I've read some, that it does appear that the nipping/biting is somewhat normal for this breed? As much research as I've done on the breed though, nothing prepared me for the shark bites we would be enduring for...going on 4 months now :) In my original post I've grown up with dogs and none have been as bity/mouthy as him, even as puppies.

    I can sympathize with the stubborness too. He's very smart but extremely stubborn. When I take him on potty breaks, walks, just to play outside he does NOT want to come back inside. When he knows we're heading back that direction, he puts on the brakes, puts his head in the air, then leans to the side and falls on the ground. As much as we pull and tug him up, he's seriously a fish on the end of a hook. He wiggles back and forth and will not get up. When we go to reach for his collar then the shark bites come. EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING. When I'm ready to head back, I'll start training with "come", treat "come" treat, until we're to the house and he doesnt know it :) Not sure how long I'll be able to outsmart him before he realizes treats=home.

    I'm sorry for you that you have to go through this as well but somewhat relieved I'm not alone in this!!
  6. aje196

    aje196 Member

    One suggestion for the biting that I watched on a youtube video (I spent a whole evening watching youtube puppy training videos!) was associating the hand with a kiss/lick. So I'd have a ton of treats in one hand and I'd place the other near her mouth and say "gentle" (or insert your phrase here). As soon as she touched it/licked it rather than bite, I'd say "good gentle!" or "yes!" and give her a treat. And we'd do it over and over until she'd be licking/nudging/touching my hand rather than biting it and would get a reward each time. Just another suggestion to throw out there!

    My friend told me to teach her "gentle" when taking treats as well so they don't just snatch it out of your fingers. I started with saying "gentle" and I'd place the treat in between my lips (maybe this is for the non-skittish!) and lower myself to her and she'd grab it gently from my lips. I also do it with the treat between my forefinger and my thumb and say "gentle" and only release it to her mouth when she eases her teeth on it.
  7. Bernemom

    Bernemom New Member

    Puppy Biting


    Our boy BernE is 14 1/2 weeks. For about a week when we first brought him home those little shark teeth worked overtime. I worked REALLY hard providing him with acceptable things for biting/chewing. Teething puppies need to chew so I would hand him a soft cloth toy, a small raw frozen bone or a bully stick to teach him what was acceptable for chewing. Sometimes those poor puppies just get overtired and we would give him a gentle "time out" in our baby gated kitchen with a chew item and low lighting. I would sometimes join him on the floor and give him long soothing strokes as he was chewing on his bully stick (his favorite chew choice). That was when you could actually cuddle with him.

    Now BernE is quite soft mouthed and doesn't grab at food or treats in your hand - just gently picking it out of your hand.

    My lifesaver was the bully sticks. I would buy the full sized ones and have my husband cut them into 3 or 4 pieces. I like these because they last quite a long time unless my border collie cross finds it and "hides" it somewhere. They don't break or splinter and don't go mushy as much as rawhides. The ones I get have no preservatives or smoke.

    Good luck and patience!!
  8. Mocha

    Mocha New Member

    Our pup is 10 weeks. Today was actually a very good day. It started out nasty but she spent the rest of the day obeying and learning to do a down stay on her mat. She also was far more gentle mouthed than usual and didn't try to chew with every pet. It gives me hope that things can improve. We do time outs in her crate for bad behaviour and we have a three strikes and you are out rule. The only problems I had today were when I let her sit in my lap she got mouthy so she got dumped out and ignored. I have decided to make her work harder for my attention and affection and am prepared to get tough if she gives me a challenge. Better now than at 100lbs. No idea what tomorrow may bring but I am hopeful. If I find any tricks of the trade that pay off I will share and hope others do so as well.
    PS they love the taste of margarine or butter. Even a tiny amount gets you lots of licks. Works well for teaching 'kisses'
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  9. NurseJules

    NurseJules New Member

    I have a 15 week old male BMD puppy. He too is very mouthy - and vocal. He is also not a cuddly puppy. I'm not too worried because I can see him getting better, about most things, as time goes by.

    I also purchased my puppy from Iowa! Maybe that's the problem - Not really. Lol!

    I do think the problem I have with housebreaking and his eating his feces does directly have to do with his breeder's early influence and practices.

    Also, my puppy was probably not one of the more submissive of the litter, if I had to guess.

    Patience and persistent positive training will no doubt "cure" many ills before they mature, 2-3 years from now. : J
  10. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member

    It sounds like we all have some mouthy "teenager" pups ;)

    Aje196, thanks for the suggestions!! We started to go in for a pet, then treat, and keep repeating. Just need to keep doing it and hopefully he'll catch on. Depending on his behavior for that day, maybe I'll do the treat in the lips and pray he doesn't take my face off in the process!

    Bernemom, we tried the bully sticks but Bear doesnt seem to care for them, we actually do the beef tendons and he usually loves those. Lately he only wants me to hold them for him and if I'm not, which who has the time to sit on the floor for hours holding their puppys chew toys for them lol, then he doesnt want to chew them. I'm trying to figure out what he would like to chew on that's also safe for his growing adult teeth and puppy teeth. Patience is key I'm starting to learn!

    Mocha, we have started using the crate as a "timeout" if he's completely not listening and getting VERY mouthy. I make sure my "energy, etc. is calm and I'm not forceful with it because I dont want him to not like his crate since he does, but have read it's okay to use it as a timeout tool--I think we need to do it more often honestly! Thanks for the butter tip, I didnt know that--will definitely try it!! I hope your pup continues on the behaved path :)

    NurseJules, how funny they're both from Iowa! Maybe they're siblings :) We too had the problem of eating the poop issue when he was about 8-10 weeks old. Bear had Giardia the first week we got him which proved to be a few VERY frustrating weeks right off the bat. New puppy, new food, Giardia, stress=lots and lots of runny poops. He hate his feces because I believe he was malnourished because the parasites were attaching to his intestine walls stealing his nutrients, which resulted in him eating his own poop. I wanted to make sure he didnt carry over that habit after he was cured and thankfully he hasn't really. SOMETIMES he will try but I just pull him away. I haven't tried this yet but I read somewhere to put hot sauce on their poop, when they try to eat or lick it it will of course taste really bad, it's not supposed to upset their tummy but it's more of a deterrent and it will keep them from trying to eat theirs or someone elses. Gross! Good luck fellow Iowa Berner :)
  11. NurseJules

    NurseJules New Member

    We did the hot pepper flakes sprinkled on the poo, it helped a lot. He is much, much better but it's still a tempting treat for him on occasion. Then again, he thinks just about anything is a tasty treat. Especially sidewalk worms! :rolleyes:


  12. Bernemom

    Bernemom New Member

    BearPhiv these dogs are an interesting breed for sure!

    BernE is NOT food motivated AT ALL! I was surprised that he would touch the bully sticks too. He doesn't attack his food (something I think I was expecting growing at the rate they do).

    We are attending a puppy socialization class and we need to find "THE TREAT" - something that they will drop all and everything for and I haven't found anything he would respond like that for - until today. Quite to my surprise he was by my feet and I dropped a peanut which he promptly ate. This surprised me as he didn't show a big interest to peanut butter. I offered him another one and I had his attention 100%. I decided to push it and pulled out his brush. I got him to lie on his side and he completely ignored the brush whereas he always wanted to chew/play with it. I even offered him a peanut in one hand and a piece of steak I had been saving for training treats and he wanted the peanut - the crazy boy!:
    Now.....whether he will show that much interest in them tomorrow....?????:rolleyes:

    BernE also likes me to hold the food in my hand for him to eat. lol He doesn't care much to eat it out of the bowl so I fill his kong or just put a bit directly on the floor. I think he finds the hand feeding soothing or - maybe he's trying to train ME!!! LOL
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  13. bernermom

    bernermom Administrator Staff Member

    LOL at Bernemom.. I think you got it figured out. YOU are the one being trained.:) We all are.
    Amy H likes this.
  14. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member

    Bernemom, Bear is the same way! He does like his treats we use for training but as far as food he's got to be hungry to eat, and when he does eat, he eats slow and I even have to hold the bowl for him to get him to eat or out of my hand. My husband said maybe he just likes the connection :) lol. Maybe your pup is the same way! He doesn't seem to want to eat that much in the morning but everyday at 4pm he tells me he's hungry and waits by the closet door patiently and sometimes smacks it with his paw :)

    That's great you found peanuts that work! I haven't tried that but Bear likes peanut butter ALOT. He didnt at first, and when he was small we didnt use treats because he never responded to anything. As he's getting older he definitely has his favorites. Our puppy class trainer suggested Happy Howie's, He LOVES them, they come in different flavors. They look like regular sausage but they're for pets. You can probably find them in any local pet healthmarket. I dont think they're at your petsmarts/petcos? He also suggested freezing jars of baby food, then the "lick" is the treat. If they do something really praise worthy they get alot of licks from the jar. Haven't tried it but planning on it!
  15. Lindsey

    Lindsey New Member

    BearPhiv--I feel like we have the same dog! Minus a gender difference, our BMD was born in January and came with a case of giardia. She also loves to nip, but I think things are getting better. Slowly, but surely she's learning not to eat our hands, feet, and clothes!

    I'm curious--were you able to clear up your puppy's giardia quickly? We've done one round of medication, but I'm worried the giardia is still in her system. I've read that it can be quite difficult to get rid of...
  16. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member

    Hi Lindsey!

    We were actually able to clear it up with the first round of meds. I was definitely worried after reading up on it that some people had to do 2-3 rounds of meds or more :/ It was absolutely terrible when Bear had it. It was his first week home and he was so sick. When we went to just touch him he would CRY and scream LOUD. It nearly broke my heart he was in that much pain. I couldnt understand why if it was just a parasite, but apparently when the parasites attach to their innards it causes discomfort, gas, bloating, etc. He was only 8 weeks old and I'm sure didnt understand why he was in pain. BUT during meds, we were diligent to keep his crate clean, toys washed, and tried to take him to a different place to poop/pee.

    Is there a reason you think she still has it? Does she have runny poop, try to eat her poop, acts likes she's in discomfort?
  17. BearPhiv

    BearPhiv New Member


    Here's a picture of our "furbaby" :) Just graduated from one of his puppy classes. He's 4 1/2 months old.

    Attached Files:

  18. aje196

    aje196 Member

    Congratulations, Bear!
  19. bernermom

    bernermom Administrator Staff Member

    He is so adorable ! He looks so proud of himself ! Way to go !
  20. Lindsey

    Lindsey New Member


    I'm not sure the giardia has cleared up because Scout hasn't had a "good" poop since we got her. Her poops aren't nearly as runny and awful as when she definitely had the giardia, but they are always loose. More of a pile than anything! We're feeding her Acana so I'm not sure if she's just getting used to the food or it's something else. Other than loose stools, Scout doesn't have any belly tenderness, never seems to be in pain, and only expresses an urgent need to go once she's outside ready to potty. We've also been bleaching our floors, boiling the toys, and doing extra doggie laundry, but when you read about giardia online you start to think it might never leave! Hopefully it's gone, but we'll do a final check this week.

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