I have a four month old lab that never sits still. Constantly nipping and mouthing me. So much so that every interaction we have ends up escalating to roughhousing and a time out. I this normal at this age or is this out of control?
Most people I have asked have told he that I have to stop him but nothing I've tried works. Shake downs, holding his muzzle closed, scolding, bitter apple, etc.
I don't even know how to play with him. If I pet him he bites and wants to romp. If I rough house he gets so excited he bites harder and harder and if I stop him he gets even more excited running all over the house. Even playing ball or frisbee usually ends in him lunging at me and biting. I know I've asked this before and it probably sounds like a stupid question but how do most people play with their 4 month old puppy?
My Lab puppy is almost three months. How do we play? with toys. A kong, a ball, a chew toy. You have to make the toy the center of interaction between the two of you. No rough housing, no tug of war, no head locks. And praise your puppy for good behaviour MORE OFTEN then you discourage bad behaviour. You can discourage by folding in your hands and walking away refusing to play with him. Do not punish your puppy. Discourage the bad and praise the good and praise the good and praise the good.
BTW, puppies aren't born knowing what "good dog" "bad dog" and "no" mean. So reflect on what you are doing and saying and teaching.
One of the first things to work on is teaching him biting is not allowed. With mine I correct them by using the words 'no bite'....said sternly. When they begin biting, a light scruff shake or tap on the butt with a stern "no bite!" And play stops until the pup has stopped biting. When he returns to kissing, playing....then play continues. If he begins biting...same thing.
It will set in in time that biting means I anger my human and they wont ply...but kisses are great and they like that...it takes time and consistency and alot of patience.
You'll find that other play comes naturally when it isnt interrupted by the biting....lol. All of this behavior your experiencing is typical puppy behavior....welcome to puppy parenting 101...lol
***Edited By: lpn169 on 10/20/2006 12:18:29 AM*** Reason: add
I think Diane hit the nail on the head, except with tug o war, I think tug is a good alternative. This dog loves to use his mouth, capatilize on it. now you have a dog who is crazy for a good game of tug, does not bite you, and you have training reward.
Thanks for the advice all! That's exactly what I wanted to know, "Is it normal puppy behavior" or "Is this a monster that I have created?"
And you are correct, its difficult to play with him when play is constantly interupted with biting. I've tried a lot of physical corrections consistantly without much sucess but I don't think I have consistantly walked away and ignored him. We have gotten to a point where we get combinations of kisses and bites so there's some progress. But he hasn't snapped out of it yet.
I'm just afraid of creating a 75 lb dog that only wants to bite so I would like to nip this in the bud, no pun intended, but I am feeling a bit frustrated.
labguy, this is the problem with correcting that, The dog is happy and loving, and wanting to play. we do not want that to stop. just the biting. But when we correct we correct the emotional state the dog is in also.
here is another idea, lo0ad the dogs mouth with a small toy. if the dog spits it out and bites, stop the game and put him away, try to make the toy funner than your hand.
Labs are very mouthy puppies even as adults. The big thing is to get the nipping under control. Biggest thing to remember is that any attention is a reward to the pup. I have found that if the pups are removed from the litter too soon that nipping happens more often.
I love a good game of tug of war on a rope. But there is one run to follow in this game. NEVER NEVER let the dog win this game. Labs will group up and be very powerful in the game of tug against you if toned.
For the nips there are always the naps and spankings or nasty tastes, but I found if you are being nipped to force feed the bite. Place your fingers so that they are in the mouth and gently gag the pup like when the doctor takes a tonsil swab. This gives the dog a natural consequence for the nipping and they learn very quickly that biting is no fun at all. If it is your arm or leg "feed" the leg or arm into the pups mouth so that it automatically opens, gently of course. The feed the bit also works with kids that like to bite I found this to be the best thing for our labbies.
Start with basic training to teach the pup who is in charge and basic manners. And add a lot of play time to run like a crazy pup. Our 15 month old and 11 month old run laps around the house running from room to room playing tag. Even our 3 and 7 year olds run with ropes and whip them around. Then there is mellow Maymay 16 months old that would rather relax unless there is a ball in play. We even play ball in the house.
When playing ball try to teach the pup to drop the ball at your feet and leave it until you pick it up or release him to pick it up. Then move onto "please" to have the dog drop the ball in your hand and "thank you" when the ball has been dropped in your hand. Helps for others to play with the pup, so the pup isn't too excited and nips.
Giving food by hand or a treat offered. PLace the treat in your hand and if nipped use the back of your hand and thump the nose with a stern "no bite". re offer with hand closed if nips another no bite. if they finally just sniff, I offer the treat in my hand.