There’s nothing quite like bringing home a new puppy. The love, connection, fun and excitement that surrounds it is something that every family should experience. Bringing home a new puppy, however, requires a lot of work as well. We start the puppies off on the right path and do our very best to make sure they are on their way to being wonderful family members, but there are a few issues that will no doubt arise when you have a young lab puppy.
The biggest issue that we’ve heard back from our Elite families over the years is probably the issue of puppy biting. Puppies use their mouths to play, feel, communicate and since they are teething, it feels good to chew on things. Some of that is really cute, unless it’s your fingers of children’s hair, shoes or pant leg. There are several things you can do as a new puppy owner to make sure the biting doesn’t get out of hand.
The number one thing to do is to be consistent. Labs LOVE to be trained, and training takes consistency. Doing what I’m going to describe to help cure over biting will work, but only with consistency. It make take 200 training sessions with your puppy until he learns what you’re teaching him, but as soon as he learns it you’ll be so happy that you stayed consistent. Kids are generally more excitable which encourages the puppy so we advise adults to do this training alone for the first couple of days and then once the adult gets the hang of it, they can teach the kid’s what to do.
So, when a puppy is playing with you and starts to go for your hands, you need to recognize if it’s something that needs a quick distraction of a toy to get him not to go for your hands or if it needs correction. If he just goes for your hand quickly and you can grab a toy and distract him, then no correction is needed. Just grab a toy (we like squeaky ones for this) and get his attention with it and continue playing. This will happen a lot and its okay, not every time he goes to bite your finger needs to be corrected.
The difference when he needs a correction is when his mind is set on biting your fingers or any part of a kid’s body or clothing. What you are going to teach is to stop his state of mind from getting to the point where he is fixated on biting you and if anything you do to get him to stop only encourages him even more. The key is stopping that state of mind and it will be very healthy for the puppy when you do so.
If the puppy gets fixated on biting you, be very calm and assertive. Imagine what you’d like him to do (stop biting you) and slowly get up and turn your back to the puppy. If he continues to go after your feet, slowly back him away from you with your foot (do not kick or make any fast movements) until his attention is on something else. Then go back and play with the puppy. Do this every single time he gets fixated on you instead of a toy. He will learn (normally in a week or so) that he doesn’t get attention if he bites you. It works! The KEY is to be calm and assertive when you get up and turn away from him and stand still. If you yell “ouch!” or run away, it will encourage him to chase after you and continue to do what he thinks is playing.
Once you learn how to do this correction, teach the kids. It is imperative that you teach them how to react calmly, even if he bites one of their fingers. Once the kids understand when and how to do the correction, you’ll be free of puppy over biting until those little shark teeth fall out (4-5 months old) and he doesn’t really bite anymore anyway.
Good luck with training! It’s so rewarding when you connect with your puppy in training and you realize that he is listening to you and wants to please you. Once you’ve made that connection, training is even more of a breeze.