Monday, June 11, 2007

My six month old Labrador Retriever Bites - part II

This is part two of a two part e-mail in regards to Ace, a six month old Labrador Retriever / Terrier mix who has a problem with biting.

To read part I of this e-mail click: My six month old Labrador Retriever Bites - part I

All About Labradors Answer:

Puppies need to learn what we call "bite inhibition". - the amount of mouth pressure that can be used without causing pain or harm. A puppy learns "bite inhibition" from their mom and littermates. If you watch a litter of puppies playing with each other, you see them biting one another all the time. When one puppy bites another one too hard, the hurt puppy will yelp and stop playing. Gradually, with repetition, the puppies learn not to bite too hard so that the play can continue.

How old was Ace when you got him?

Where did you get him (pet store, rescue, etc.)?

Are there any patterns of when the biting or mouthing behaviors start (Certain time of day, overexciting, rough housing)?

Does Ace get plenty of exercise?

How does Ace act with the veterinarian?

You stated he tries to bite when someone pets him. Are these people strangers or family doing the petting?

Without me seeing Ace in action, I can only go by what you tell me. I have seen plenty of pups continue to mouth, nip and bark when corrected and with proper training they turned out fine.

In your opinion, do you think Ace is being aggressive and/or do you feel threatened by him.

Get back to me when you can. I will be here to help all I can.

Karen's Response:

Hi again and thank you for helping us out! Ace was 6 weeks when we got him......although our vet thinks he was more like 4 weeks. We adopted him from the North Shore Animal League, which I believe is a rescue facility. Ace seems to be biting in a play manner but he is very strong and it hurts! It doesn't seem to phase him to yell "Ouch" or say no bite...he just continues. Sounds weird but he is worse with females.

Continue Reading...

We don't fear him but we do react in a scared manner when he does this simply because he really hurts. In the last few days out of nowhere, he has started to go for your feet while you are walking....either with him or without him.....again it is painful! I am just looking for the correct way to teach him NOT to do this....that it is unacceptable! If I put him in the crate when he does this, he will be in there forever during his play time. We can't sit on the couch or floor to play with him without him doing him a rawhide seems to help.

Whenever someone comes to pet him he is happy to see them but rather than lick he mouths. First he'll jump, then grab for a hand.

Again, any advise you can give us will be greatly appreciated!!

Oh I forgot to mention, I walk Ace only one a day for about 15 minutes, cause that's all the time I can fit in. You asked how he acted with the vet, well he was younger the last time we took him and he was not doing this.


All About Labradors Answer:

Hi Karen,

Thanks for answers to my questions, as sometimes certain answers can help me in identifying a certain problem or condition with your Labrador Retriever.

I know you feel Ace might be in the cage for a while, but I still believe you have to try the cage/ignoring method for a while. When he does bite, say "no" or "ouch" in stern voice and then place Ace in his crate for ten to fifteen minutes. If he persists in the behavior upon release, repeat the discipline again. This will teach him that he will not have anyone to play with if he continues his biting and nipping.

If you don't want to go that route, try holding his mouth closed when he does bite. Simply hold his mouth shut for fifteen seconds (start with five seconds and work up to fifteen seconds) while saying something like "No Mouth", "Good No Mouth". You do have to be consistent and stay with this over a period of time to get really solid results. You must also maintain this consistency every time Ace puts his teeth on you or another. You can't think "well he didn't bite to hard, so I will let him slide".

Remember Karen like a child, a dog will test the limits and to see who's boss. You have to establish yourself as the head dog in the pack. Read this Who's Leadin Who? Becoming the leader for a better understanding of what I mean (scroll down page to find Who's Leading section). There is also a piece on jumping which you can use with Ace. There is also another good article here Who's in Charge Here?

Once again, make sure he has plenty of physical exercise as well as mental exercise. I know you said you only have fifteen minutes to walk him, but maybe someone else in the house can help out, or possibly a friend.

As for mental exercise a simple game of fetch, basic training commands such as sit and lay all help with mental stimulation. I find the Kong toys to be quit helpful. The Kong will keep him occupied while it helps him figure out how to get his treats out of the toy.

As far as nipping at feet, Ace sees your feet as a play toy. Your feet are right at his level and they are "in motion", creating what he believes to be a great play toy.

If you are having trouble teaching Ace to stop nipping and biting, you feel that he has become overly mouthy, or you and your family feel threatened, I would look to seek some professional help. Consult with your veterinarian or you can even ask me and I will try to recommend someone for you.

Please keep me updated on how it's going and write with any other questions you may have.


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