Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Chocolate Labrador Retriever is Biting - part II

This is part two of a two part e-mail, to read part one, visit: My Chocolate Labrador Retriever is Biting - part I

Subject: 4 month old Chocolate Labrador Retriever biting and attacking -part II.

From: Amy (USA)

Labrador Retriever name: Tybee

Reader's E-mail - Amy"s Response:

Hi. Thank you for your response...attached please find a photo of "Tybee".

We got Tybee on our vacation in July in South Carolina. My husband saw an ad, we went to the persons house, and drove home with the dog. We didn't know to ask any questions. I've never had a dog and my husband only had one when he was a little boy.

-Don't know if he was being aggressive, I think he may have been. He has bitten me from behind when I am doing dishes or not paying attention.

-Have taught him to sit and give paw. We make him do that before he eats.

-We just switched from a retracting leash to a 6 foot.

-Yes, we have a crate. He sleeps in it every night and hangs out in it during the day. We have been told to never use it for time out.

-I am a stay at home mom and except for errands, am home all the time with Tybee and my sons when they aren't in school.

We just started training a few days ago and they gave us the pinch collar to use but I am afraid if i keep it on during the day, it'll hurt him? Am I being ridiculous? I use it though when I walk him.

Thank you for your help.

All About Labradors Answer:

Hello Amy,
Continue Reading...
The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

Thanks for the great picture of Tybee, he is just so cute!!

Based on your letter, I'm putting Tybee somewhere in the 16 to 19 weeks of age period. What you must understand is Tybee going through a critical period right now.

Labrador Retrievers between the age of 12 -16 weeks go through a phase called Seniority Classification Period. During this period Tybee will challenge you to see who the pack leader is going to be. He will bite you in play and as a challenge to your authority. He will try to dominate, may grab leashes, may growl, and can often become over excited. Basically, what he is trying to do, is to figure out exactly where he stands in the pack order, and see if moving up in the pack will work. What is important here is that you establish yourself as the pack leader or the Alpha.

Obedience training and the Alpha dog - obedience training (basics: sit, heel, stay, recall, down) doesn't solve all behavior problems; however, it becomes a foundation for solving just about any problem. Effective communication is necessary to instruct your Labrador Retriever with what you want him to do. What the Alpha dog basically comes down to is - Who is the leader.

Dogs see all the people and other dogs in the household as a pack. Each person in the pack has a rank, with a top dog. Your Labrador Retriever's rank should be at the bottom of the pack. You and everyone in your family are ahead of him and he must understand this.

Here's an article on Alpha dogs with rules to follow to let your Lab know his place:

Establishing and keeping Alpha Position

Amy, the training has got to be consistent, might be frustrating, and won't happen overnight. You will have to keep on correcting Tybee, possible hundreds of times.

Whenever you want Tybee to do something, you must TELL him, not ask. Remember, you are the boss, the top dog. You (and your family) are the one that makes the rules and give the orders. Stand up nice and straight, and in a firm voice TELL him what to do. Always remember this!

It's great that you taught Tybee to sit and you are using it before he eats. What you have to continue to do is make sure you get him to sit before getting any rewards (his food, playtime, etc).

When it comes time to feed Tybee, walk him, play with him, your going to TELL him to sit. When he does, praise him with the Good dog, or Good boy, give him the permission with an Okay and then give him his reward (his food, playtime, etc...).

What happens if he doesn't want to sit?

If Tybee doesn't sit, you’re going to walk away from him and ignore him. Remember, No Sit, No Reward. Make sure you state your sit command in a good firm voice and if he doesn't obey, walk away and ignore him. You will try again a little later.

What you are teaching him is to respect and obey you. His place is at the bottom of the pack, nowhere else.

Time for your Labrador Retriever to be fed... SIT, OKAY then feed him. Time for him to go out...SIT, OKAY and out you go (you go out door first, not other way around). You’re the boss! Practice, practice, practice. It might take much ignoring for him to get it.

You also want to make sure that you do not play aggressive games during this phase. (Tug of war, wrestling, etc). If Tybee becomes over excited, mouths or growls, make sure all activity stops. I would also advise against leaving small children unattended with him. Make sure all members of your family are consistent with training and any corrections.

The next stage of development for Tybee is called the Flight Instinct Period (4 - 8 Months). During this period, your cute little Labrador puppy will decide he is ready to go off by himself. He will become more independent and will ignore your commands of come and stay. He will try to venture off and be clever in attempts to run around loose.

During this period, teaching Tybee to stay close and to come when he is called is critical. Failure to do so can lead to major problems as Tybee grows into adulthood.

What you want to make sure of during this period is that Tybee is on a leash every time he is in a unconfined area. You also want to train him the "come" command and make sure it is reinforced and that it becomes a positive experience.

For Tybee's problem with nipping / biting:

Your going to have to train him that this nipping / biting is wrong. By ignoring this problem and believing your Labrador will grow out of it, you are risking the chance that a serious injury could occur as your Lab puppy reaches adulthood.

Here is a copy of an article (it's posted on the All About Labradors blog) I have written on this subject.

Labrador Retriever – Training your puppy to stop biting and nipping

You have brought your new Labrador Retriever puppy home and all is well, except for the occasional biting from your pup. Sure the biting hardly ever causes serious harm or injury, but by ignoring this problem and believing your Labrador will grow out of it, you are risking the chance that a serious injury could occur as your Lab puppy reaches adulthood. If your Labrador puppy does have a habit of biting, nipping, or "mouthing" you or your loved ones, try some or all of the following to help correct its behavior.

1. Teach your Labrador Retriever puppy that biting hurts. When he does bite, let out a sharp "no" or "ouch" while maintaining eye contact with him. It will teach him that his play is to rough, and you will not continue to play until he is gentler.

2. Close Your Mouth – gently hold your Labrador Retriever’s mouth shut while stating "no".

3. Time Out – while maintaining eye contact with your pup, state "no", or "ouch", and then get up and move away, stopping interaction with your Labrador. You can also place him in his crate, if you do use one for training. By walking away, or placing him in his crate, you teach him that he will lose his playmate if he continues to nip and bite.

4. Rough Housing – Do you let your Labrador puppy grab your hands in its mouth while playing? Then when he bites your hand to hard, you scold him and state "no". You’re encouraging him one minute and scolding him the next. What your doing is completely confusing your poor little Labrador puppy.

5. Teach your Lab pup the "off" command.

Helpful Tips:

Make sure your Labrador puppy gets plenty of play time and exercise daily. These are great distractions and may help reduce your puppies biting.

Be consistent with whatever methods you use to help break the nipping and biting habit. Make sure family members are consistent also.

Have plenty of chew toys for your Labrador puppy.

Always reinforce your Labs good behavior. Whenever he plays nicely or licks you without biting and nipping, shower him with love and praise.

Watch the tone of your voice with the "no" and "ouch" commands. They should always be sharp and to the point.

A Word of Caution:

If you have small young children, never leave your Labrador Retriever puppy alone with them until he has learned biting and nipping are unacceptable.

Games like tug-of-war and rough housing encourage your Labrador puppy to bite. Waiting until he is fully trained in the "off" command until introducing these games. You must discourage any and all biting because such biting is a sign of dominance!

If for some reason your Lab puppy becomes more aggressive when he bites, or your training methods don’t seem to be working, seek help from your veterinarian or professional trainer.

Apply one or more of the above training procedures, be consistent with your training, and shower your Labrador Retriever puppy with praise for doing good, and you’ll be on your way to nipping your Labradors biting habit in the bud.

As far as chew toys that I mentioned in the article goes, I do highly recommend and love the Kong toys (make sure you get the proper size for your Labrador). The Kong toys that you can stuff with treats can keep him busy (and out of trouble!) for long periods of time by encouraging him to get the food reward inside. They also provide plenty of physical as well as mental exercise for him. You can stuff them with peanut butter or other treats, freeze them overnight, and it will make it that much tougher for Tybee to get the treats out, again keeping him busy.

Nylabone also makes very good toys. Many pet stores are full of garbage toys that your Labrador will quickly chew up and choke on or cause intestinal blockages. Rawhide is especially bad because it swells after being swallowed. You want to make sure you always inspect your Labradors toys, when pieces are starting to break off, it's time to discard them.

As for leashes and controlling Tybee, I recommend the Halti or Gentle Leader collar for him, as opposed to the pinch collar, for I believe they make it very easy for you to control him.

One last thing Amy, as you can see from number three in the nipping / biting article, I do recommend using the crate as a time out as opposed to others that may not.

Hope some of this will be of help to you and Tybee. If you have any questions about anything (training commands, leash training, etc) please don't hesitate to ask. Please keep me informed along the way.

Take care of yourself and Tybee,



To see the way to adorable Tybee visit: Tybee 10/18/08


Labrador Retriever – Training your puppy to stop biting and nipping

My six month old Labrador Retriever Bites - part I

My six month old Labrador Retriever Bites - part II

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