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    Thread: Puppy biting!

    1. #1
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      Puppy biting!

      Labrador retrievers are mouthy breeds. Usually at around 10 weeks old, they start putting everything in their mouths. This is how they explore their new worlds, how they communicate with other dogs, and often they are teething and that hurts. What this means for you is that your perfectly adorable puppy is suddenly a no-fun-at-all biting machine. Those puppy teeth are razor sharp and hurt! Now, some lab puppies never bite, and some stop after a few redirections, but a lot are what we call on this board "piranha puppies." They bite and bite and bite until their adult teeth come in (around 4 months). So first:

      1) Your puppy is not "aggressive." New owners, especially those with small human children, worry that this biting phase means their puppy is unbalanced and evil. No, this is just a (very unpleasant) phase. But also a really important phase, because this is the time you'll be teaching your pup bite inhibition.

      2) Bite inhibition means your dog will learn that as soon as human skin comes in contact with her mouth, she needs to be very, very gentle. Labs have an amazing soft mouth; they can carry eggs shells in their mouths without breaking the shell. But this ability comes with training from you and any other dogs she encounters.

      3) Patience, patience, patience. People with biting puppies often post to the board reporting they tried x, y, or z, and it didn't work! No, this is one of those problems where there's no quick or instant fix. Get ready to settle down and redirect, correct, and train for 1 month+. You'll say "no bite" a million times, and you won't see improvement. But keep doing it, over, and over, and over, until you're saying "no bite" in your sleep. It *will* click. But puppies are babies, and you need to be patient and consistent.

      The most often-used strategies for dealing with a land shark puppy:
      *Yelp when the puppy bites you. This mimics the feedback they get from other puppies, but the noise can actually excite some.
      *Redirect to another toy. When you get bitten, (gently) shove an appropriate toy in the puppy's mouth.
      *Time outs. Put the puppy in a crate or safe place if she is too wound up or overtired.
      *More exercise. Sometimes a puppy needs the opposite of rest and it's time to go run around the yard to release some energy.
      *Come to this board and vent. Many of us have been through this and know the pain!

      I invite fellow members to share their techniques for getting through this stage.
      Miss Kimber, CGC, birthdate 6/15/2005

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    2. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to kimbersmom For This Useful Post:

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    3. #2
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      Our Jaxson is just about 5 months. Your description is spot on with the biting. He really got bad about 10 weeks. We tried everything you can imagine and nothing is a cure all. The most "help" was a play date with a 4 year old female Golden. She is very patient with him and we noticed right away that he was starting to have a softer bite. We continue with those play sessions at least once a week and it helps more and more each time. But, I'm sure he thinks his name is "No Bite" or "Here, Bite This!" The time outs worked best during the witching hour in the evening when he was over tired.We also have to watch him very close on walks because if he sees it, "it" goes right in the mouth.

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    5. #3
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      My experience with Emma it got really bad at night when she was tired and she need to sleep but we were still doing things around the house and would start nipping at us a lot. We would then just put her in her crate and she would go to sleep within 5 mins.

      We stuck with redirecting and sticking a toy in her mouth, so we always had a toy within arm distance or someone would toss a toy from across the room. Yelpping worked for me, but when she nipped at my GF it got Emma more excited. And we also took her to play with other dogs, that would usually put her in her place if she bit them to hard.

    6. #4
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      This is from my original article, Puppy Biting (Sticky maybe?) listed post by post.

      1. IGNORE
      I know, I know. Pup lunging at your face, ripping holes in your clothes and biting your skin can be painful! Try wearing boots and long pants (jeans might be preferable) during this horrid phase.

      Be a tree. Stand still. Arms crossed. Stare at the sky. Ignore pup.

      When pup is calm and no longer biting, you can resume.

    7. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Halcyon For This Useful Post:

      Deacondog (07-12-2016), LucyTudeOn4Feet (06-04-2014), Maeve (06-14-2014), Maxx&Emma (06-14-2014), sipsi (02-19-2015)

    8. #5
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      2. OVERTIRED
      Ever raised kids? Remember how horrible they were when they were too tired and were too stubborn to go to sleep? Pups and kids are not so different. Some pups are great and fall asleep whenever they are tired. Others, not so much. Bobby was in the latter and he would not fall asleep on his own accord.

      We had to crate him to force him to nap. When he woke up, he was a million times better behaved. Remember at this age, puppies are still babies and need their sleep. They are going through a rapid growth phase and need energy to feel revitalised.

      They need to sleep.

    9. #6
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      3. REDIRECT

      When pup lunges or starts biting you, shove a toy in pup’s mouth. Most likely, pup will spit the toy out and come charging back. The aim of this method is to show what pup can chew on. Rinse and repeat.

      Personally, what I did, was distract with a high value, smelly treat. I would wave it under his nose and he would stop. I commanded a “watch me” and he would obey and I would give him a simple command. This was usually a sit and paw. I rewarded for this and afterwards, offered a toy to him when he was in a calmer state of mind. If he took it, I praised, praised and praised.

    10. #7
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      4. LIP CURL

      This is a popular method I see recommended often. Basically, when pup bites, you fold their lip over their teeth until they whine whilst saying a stern “no bite.” The aim of this is to tell pup that when pup bites you, you bite back. It can give you quick results if you time it and do it correctly. I believe that when pup comes back for more, you just rinse and repeat until s/he learns that every time s/he bites, you bite back.

    11. #8
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      5. REWARD FOR WHAT YOU WANT

      When pup is chewing on his own toys, reward for the behaviour! I would randomly drop a treat when Bobby chewed on his own toys and he soon reached the point where he would carry toys around. If I didn't have treats, I would enthusiastically praise.

      Over time, he was rewarded so often for this behaviour that he would deliberately go and find a toy to carry before coming over to greet me.

    12. #9
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      6. LET PUP MOUTH

      I know, it sounds very strange but this is what worked for me. I would first teach the “gentle” command by holding a treat between two fingers. He was welcome to mouth, nip, lick and nudge but if he bit painfully, I would withdraw my hand and offer it again. If he bit, hand and treat was withdrawn. He only got it when he was licking, being gentle with his teeth and taking it nicely.

      This teaches pup that licking = treats!

      I would then put this to the test by letting Bobby mouth my hand and arm. If he bit down painfully, I would say a stern “no bite” and he would resort to licking. If he did, I rewarded. Initially, I allowed teeth on skin as long as he did not hurt me. Eventually, I phased it away to no teeth on skin ever.

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    14. #10
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      7. TEACH PUP TO BE CALM

      At the start, it was hard to distract Bobby without a high value treat and even then, he would ignore me and go psycho. I started working on teaching him calm behaviours, anticipated when he was going to go into crazy mode and acted before he did.

      Play dead seems like just a cool, fun trick to teach your dog, right? I found that it has another useful application as well. When I “banged” him, he would fall on his side as trained. However, I would only release and reward him when he calmed. I observed his breathing and when it slowed to a calmer pace, I released him.

      Head down is another command to calm pup down. This involves getting pup into a “down” position and then getting pup to put his head onto the ground and only to move when released.

      Unless your pup has bulletproof obedience, this is a technique that has to be done before pup goes into psycho mode. If s/he is already in the zone, it’s next to nothing that it will work.

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