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I've become a chew Toy - Advice please!


Hi. I have an 11 week old Tibetan Mastiff, Maggie. She came to us at 8 weeks and was a little timid but very loving and gentle. She's definitely come out of her shell now and loves biting. Me in particular (she seems to really love my partner which stings my ego a little bit and I'm wondering if there's a way to get Maggie to want to cuddle up to me instead of using me as a chew toy?)
As soon as she sees me she seems to get excited and runs up to me but then she just starts to play- and by play, I mean bite. I've been given lots of advice but its conflicting. To begin with we were saying "NO" and giving her a toy she can chew and rewarding her when she turned her attention to the toy. Then when that didn't work we would yelp and walk away. That's not working for me. When my partner says "NO" she backs off and starts licking him but she just wont do that with me. I trainer I know said to not even say "no", just to ignore it and reward her when she does the right thing but its really hard to not push her away and say 'no' when she just keeps coming back. I push her away and she thinks its a game. I yelp and she thinks its a game. I even growled and bit her (really softly) as suggested by my vet but that didn't work. I have been told holding her muzzle closed works but then have been told its seen as a threatening gesture. I'm just so confused and I really want to do the right thing by my little Maggie-bear. I don't want to confuse her by trying different techniques but I'm starting to get really upset- she doesn't do this to my partner (who doesn't even really like dogs!) I'm the animal lover and have never had an issue with bonding to animals before (not just dogs but even wild native wildlife seem to bond to me) but Maggie just doesn't won't stop biting/playing and it's starting to get to me. I'm afraid it'll turn into a dominance thing. Is she trying to make me submit to her?
I'm at the point where I just need help desperately. I live in a town which is really behind in terms of obedience classes. I've enrolled Maggie in puppy pre-school at the vet's but that doesn't start for another 2 weeks.
Any help or advice by people who have a TM or have experienced this problem would be greatly appreciated. Also if anyone has any tips on how to make Maggie bond/warm to me a bit more I'd be so grateful.
Thank you all in advance.


Well-Known Member
No experience with TMs but my non mastiff was horrible for biting as a puppy. I tried the redirection, ignoring, yelping and none of it worked with him. I was able to use yelping to create a soft bite when it came to skin but anything else was fair game. What eventually worked for him was a combination of a few things. I would push whatever he bit INTO his mouth and press back until he released and then praise him. The other thing that he seemed to need was an understanding that biting hurt so what I would do was give a moment of discomfort just as he bit. If my finger was in his mouth I would press my nail either under his tongue or into the roof of his mouth. If he had grabbed something else I would lightly pinch the skin between his torso and the front of his hind leg. The goal was for him to associate his 'pain' with the bite and therefore stop.
I would say she likely bonding to you but sees you as more of a playmate than someone she needs to listen to. I can see a similar dichotomy with my two between my roommate and myself. I did all of the training. Both dogs seem to have more respect for me because they obey my commands even when they don't want to and defiantly see her as more fun than I am. That said both dogs are clearly mine in their behavior and will choose my side when given the choice. Chances are a TM is going to be different but my recommendation would be to start training her (even before the class starts) and make it a fun process for both of you. Good luck.


Well-Known Member
We tried every technique as well but finally had to settle on one. Best thing that worked for us...& sounds very similar to your situation...we left the room. We had to set up baby gates in the kitchen as her safe room to be left alone if she bit us. Sometimes it was every 30 seconds it seemed like but when she bit, we used our correction word "eh eh" or "no" for most people and immediately left the room. Stayed out of site behind a wall for a minute or so. It took about a month of consistency on our parts but she learned. If I bite, my buddy leaves. Then we gradually increased her freedom from the kitchen to other living quarters but always leashed. She gained total freedom & sleeping outside of her crate by 6 months of age. We were on her with everything as what we expected and what was allowed, she was a quick study.


Well-Known Member
I'd say just keep at it.
Denna seemed to keep trying the bite/nip tactic longer than our other puppies (or I may have selective memory).
She finally stopped using her mouth for good, probably around 8 months old (it did slowly get better and better after about 3 months old).

We did "yipe" and stop all movement when teeth hit skin, and then after a breath, stuffed a toy in her mouth as redirection... when we gave her the toy and she took it, we'd play some tug, so there was a reward for biting the correct item.

I think we also did as smokeycat suggested a few times... if she bit a hand, that hand got pushed INTO her mouth until SHE wanted it OUT. Made the bite itself anti-rewarding for her.

I'd also do some "wait" exercises and the "it's yer choice" game (see the youtube video of that name) - those are all good for making the puppy think before grabbing with their mouth.


Well-Known Member
Patience. You've only had her 3 weeks. Thats nothing, and at that age they have NO serious attention span. You've got AT LEAST a few more weeks of this ahead of you.

Most of that "playing bitey" sort of thing is when the pup is over stimulated. You said that it happens most often when you get home. So, when you get home, don't greet her. Have your partner put her on a leash when you're due and ignore her till she's calm. When she's calm you can reward her by gently and quietly greeting her, if she starts acting up you walk away and ignore her till she's calm. Or if you crate, don't let her out till she's calm, and don't act excited when you let her out, if she immediately ramps up when you let her out put her right back in.

For other situations where she gets play-bitey, its almost always when the pups are over-stimulated, and frequently in need of a nap (just like a toddler). Learn the signs she's getting overly excited and redirect to calmer play. If you can't catch it in time, put her in a crate (or a puppy proofed room) with a chew and ignore her for a bit. 9 times out of 10 they'll be sound asleep in a matter of a couple minutes.

Pushing away is yes, very play like. Yelp, or yell OW (LOUD!), and then WALK AWAY. If need be, leave the room (or if, for example, you're cooking dinner and can't, put the pup out of the room). She's playing, she's trying to interact, so don't give her what she wants till she plays appropriately.

Start hand feeding her. If you have kids in the house do NOT involve them at first. Start out with just the adults. In the flat palm of your hand put a small amount of kibble. If she comes in roughly for it you close your hand over the kibble. At this point she WILL chew on your hand. Don't do anything till she either licks your hand or stops and sets back. As soon as that happens open your hand back up. Do this with at least part of as many of her meals as you possibly can. Once you're sure she understands the concept of being gentle gets her food you can include any children in the house. With smaller kids put them into your lap and put their hand inside yours, with bigger kids just supervise closely. Kids can be unintentionally cruel, so make sure they're doing it appropriately and not teasing her with her food. EVERYONE living in the house needs to be involved in hand feeding.

TMs are screwy dogs if you've never had any experience with the breed, or any of the other LGD breeds. Even as pups they can be aloof and drive you nuts.

Where'd you get her from? You've gotta post more pictures of her :p


Thank you everyone so much for your comments. I really appreciate it :) I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one (I realise all puppies bite but I just didn't know if there was a blanket rule for fixing the behaviour)

Maggie is getting much better. She's still playing lots but when she gets a little too 'hyper' I either put her outside or I walk away- just because it's honestly the easiest thing to do. Later at night after tea we have a play on the ground and when she gets too mouthy I either force my hand further into her mouth or we (this sounds really bad but I swear it doesn't hurt her) hold her still on the ground until she sort of gives up (god it really does sound awful but it works) and then I'll tell her to sit and shake or stay and when she does I pat her and reward her.. We're getting there :)

I know she hasn't been with us long and is still quite young but it just feels as though she's been a part of the family for ages!

I think I was getting a little oversensitive with the whole "she doesn't love me as much as you" thing. The dynamics of our relationship seems to have changed a bit. I usually am the one to spend more time training her and playing with her simply because my partner starts work early and I have mornings and my lunch break with her. She seems to almost want to impress him like little kids do when their dad comes home from work- its really cute. And she seems to treat me like kids treat their mum who they see most of the time- as in she still gives me kisses and cuddles and plays with me but when she sees Garry (or 'dad') she sees nothing else for a while.

I'm glad you brought up the food thing Ruthcatrin. We don't have any children yet (and wont for another few yearsI hope!) but I do have 18month old twin nieces and a 7 month old nephew and around the girls she just gets over excited and a bit too playful for them which I don't really know how to deal with, aside from taking her away from them when they come over to visit. Works for now but it would be nice if they could interact with Maggie a bit more without getting bitten, however playfully.

I have been hand feeding her though not as often as you suggested so I will make sure to do it more often. Had an incident with a bone the other day where she bit at me when I went over to her which resulted in her losing her bone. but other than that maggie has been quite good.

We are crating her but I don't think we're doing it right. She sleeps in it at night and does howl and whine for quite a while- then she calms down. I put her in for around 2-3 hours in the day while I'm at work and then let her out when I'm home. She seems to wee in it though. Especially at night. I took the blankets out that we had in there and that stopped the wee but made me feel bad for not giving her a nice cuddly blanket. She slept outside in her crate last night for the first time and didn't whine once (although I did) she really loves it outside which is great.

Thank you DennasMom I'll take a look at those videos tonight :)

Thankyou to SmokeyCat and danielleconn for your replies as well- you've all been so helpful!

Also ruthcatrin- We got Maggie from a breeder in Tasmania, Australia named Kathryn Hay from Shanti Soul. She's without a doubt the most wonderful and kind woman and takes such great care for her fur-babies. She's got the best TM's in Australia :)

I'll try and get some good photos of her- her face is just so dark you can never see her eyes in the pictures I take- although I'll admit I'm not the best photographer. I'll do my best to get some though :D

Thanks again Everyone!


Well-Known Member
Hand feeding has several benefits. It shows the dog that they'll get better things if they're gentle with their mouth. It shows them that you (the humans) are provider and controler of food (which, admittedly with a TM isn't a huge concern of their's but still). It acts as bonding time, it works very well for that. It can help with a surprising range of resource guarding issues (if I'm good the human will let me have it).....

Peeing in the crate: Is it possible she needed to have an extra out for potty on the overnights? Its not unusual for young pups to need to. Apollo (my TM) doesn't like blankets or beds in his crate, if I put one in he pushes it to the back, or out the door. He'd rather have the plain metal crate pan.

Be carefull with the "holding down" concept. It does work....for now. It wont' be long before you CAN'T do it though. I'd rather see a "time out" in the crate honestly.


thank you ruthcatrin! the weeing in the crate was fixed by taking out the blankets :)
she's doing much better. she's still mouthing a bit but its not too bad anymore and she does stop with a firm 'no' or even a growl (it is so much more effective when I do that! she responds instantly)

I really appreciate everyone's advice :)

Thank you all again