Puppies can be so gosh darn adorable, can’t they? One thing you will quickly learn that isn’t “oh so adorable” with is your new Lab puppy biting! Before you convince yourself that you’ve brought home a furry little alligator instead of a puppy, please know that all puppies come equipped with a mouth full of sharp, razor-like teeth. Ouch!
Labs, in particular, like to put their teeth to good use, which you will quickly find can be painful. Your job, as the proud parent of your new puppy, is to teach her that biting isn’t acceptable. There are a few things you need to know about your puppy and why they are biting prior to learning how to control their biting.
Are Lab puppies aggressive?
Labrador Retrievers are, by far, one of the friendliest breeds out there, which is why they are also the most popular breed in the nation. Labs are also known to be mouthy, and this can begin as soon as you bring your puppy home.
Generally speaking, Lab puppies are no more aggressive than any other breed of puppies. So, does biting necessarily mean you have an aggressive puppy? No, not at all! In fact, it means you have a normal puppy.
All puppies bite, and yes, they bite hard and it most certainly does hurt. The truth is this is just how they play. Puppies don’t understand that they must be gentle when it comes to human skin and clothing. It’s your job as a puppy parent to teach your fur baby not to bite.
Are Lab puppies hyper?
Labs have a lot of energy-plain and simple. Being working dogs, they thrive off having a job and burning off their energy. It is crucial that you give your Lab puppy plenty of physical and mental exercise to help let some of that energy loose. Training and socializing your puppy at a young age can help with its energy levels. Remember, a tired puppy is a good puppy!
Labs who aren’t exposed to daily vigorous exercise tend to become bored and destructive. Cue the chewing! Since they love to use their mouths, this means they will chew on anything they can sink their teeth into, including you.
At what age do labs calm down?
It may take a while for you Lab puppy to calm down. While this may not be what you were hoping to hear, it’s important to remember that Labs tend to mature a little later than other breeds. So while it may look like your dog is a full-grown adult, they may very well still act like a puppy.
A Lab may mature around a year old, but it’s delayed puppyhood can continue up until your Lab is 2-4 years old. The good news is there are ways you can help to keep your puppy calm.
How to Speed Up the Learning Curve
Begin Training Early
It is ideal to start training and socializing as soon as possible with your Lab puppy. Labs require at least an hour’s worth of physical activity a day, so make sure you are providing your pup with enough activity to use up their energy.
Mental stimulation also plays a big part in preventing your Lab from going into a frenzy. Be sure to dedicate enough time on a daily basis to your Lab so that they get the required attention that is necessary. The busier you keep them, the less time they will have to focus their attention on biting.
A lot of how your puppy acts depends on how you react around her. It’s important that you don’t reinforce her bad behavior. Try your best to send out a positive and calm energy throughout your household so that your puppy can follow suit.
Yelling, screaming, and hitting your puppy will not help to fix her biting problem. Rewarding your puppy when she is behaving correctly is a better approach than having a temper tantrum every time she does something you don’t like.
Remember, dogs don’t instinctively know what you are asking of them, it is your job to teach them what you expect.
Ways to Get Your Puppy to Stop Biting
The good news is there are a few options you can take to help teach your puppy that biting isn’t appropriate behavior.
We have said it before and we will say it again, your Lab needs exercise! This is a tried and true way to help prevent your puppy from biting, mostly because puppies will start biting if they haven’t had enough physical or mental activity.
It’s not recommended to run with your puppy until they are about 2 years old due to developing bones and joints; however, you can take your puppy outside for a rousing game of fetch, a long walk, or even a puppy play date. For puppies, it’s recommended that they get 5 minutes of exercise for each month of age, twice a day. So if you have a 6 month old puppy, they need 30 minutes of exercise, twice a day.
Again, it can’t be stressed enough that training will do wonders for your pup. When you find your Lab has latched on to you, literally, take this as the perfect time to incorporate some mental stimulation in the form of training. Labs are extremely intelligent dogs. Training paired with lots of rewards in the form of treats will help to set them up for success.
When your puppy starts nipping, revert their attention to some basic training skills. Try working on easy commands such as sit, stay, or down. As your puppy starts to do each command on demand, you can move on to a few more challenging commands such as leave it or come. Working on a “stay” or “wait” command will ultimately help your dog to calm down because they cannot leave their spot until you tell them it’s ok to do so.
One of the best resources that I’ve found for training is Brain Training For Dogs by Adrienne Farricelli. Adrienne has put together a fantastic online video training program covering all facets of training. She has broken the training into modules that allow you to work at your own pace AND from the comfort of your own home. Cost? $47! Try finding that locally!
Follow this link and you’ll have access to a free trial to check it out! Brain Training For Dogs
Don’t Lose Your Temper
Losing your cool won’t do anything but rev your pup up even more. Dogs are extremely aware of human emotions and if you get angry or irritated, odds are your puppy will too. That does nothing but leave both of you in a bad mood. So when you find your puppy’s biting is becoming too much for you, take a break. Let your puppy relax in its area, whether that be its crate or dog bed, and take a few minutes to get yourself together. Remember, your puppy is a baby and they are still learning.
When your puppy does something good, be sure to reward her for her positive behavior. Rewards can come in the form of toys, praise, or treats (Labs are extremely food motivated). Praising your puppy for successful behavior will help to teach him that this is what you expect. For example, if your puppy decides to pick up one of his toys and start playing with it on his own, instead of chewing on your sneakers, praise her. If she comes up to lick you, instead of biting you, praise her. You will be surprised how quickly they catch on!
Puppy Play Dates
Once your puppy is old enough and has had all her necessary shots, take her to a dog park or arrange a puppy play date. This is not only allowing your Lab to exert her energy by running around and playing with other dogs, but it also gives her a chance to socialize! It’s a win-win! Just make sure to keep an eye on your puppy in case she does start biting. Dogs are lenient when it comes to play biting; however, some dogs may not be as tolerant as others.
There are numerous products available to help deter your dog from chewing on your belongings. The one I recommend is Grannicks Bitter Apple spray, which can be sprayed on your belongings to help prevent your dog from biting. These anti-chewing sprays give off a very bitter, awful taste which will help to make your dog not want to chew or bite.
Last, but not least, get your puppy something to chew on! There are a variety of chew and puzzle toys available online and in pet stores that are designed to keep your dog busy. Some people like to give their dogs rawhide bones, and while this decision is completely up to you, please keep in mind that rawhide toys are difficult for dogs to digest and can cause stomach problems.
Buy a range of toys, like the KONG which I highly recommend, and see which one your puppy tends to enjoy playing with. Some toys are even designed to be filled with treats or food, such as peanut butter or yogurt, that you can give to your dog to occupy him. Once you find something that your puppy loves to play with, use that as positive reinforcement. When your puppy starts to bite, redirect him to his favorite toy.
This, Too, Shall Pass
Remember, biting is something that will take time and patience to overcome. Many dog owners typically don’t have the tolerance to deal with their dog’s bad behaviors, like puppy biting, and many dogs end up in shelters before they are a year old. Make sure you stay consistent and work with your puppy daily. It won’t be easy, but the hard work will pay off in the end, I promise.