Labrador Puppies Biting : And How to Stop Them

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Find out how to stop a puppy from biting you and start enjoying him again.

Is your puppy biting? Being bitten by an 8 week old puppy is surprisingly painful. It is also very upsetting.

I’ve written this in-depth guide to Labrador puppies biting so that you can find out how to stop a puppy from biting you and start enjoying him again.

If you need to skip urgently to the training instructions, use the green ‘key contents’ menu on the right, otherwise, it is probably best to start at the beginning and work your way through the guide to the end.

Good luck with your training and don’t forget to ask questions in the comments box below!

Where did my puppy go?

Everyone knows that Labradors are the world’s most lovable and loving dogs.

So how come your adorable puppy has been replaced by a small, furry crocodile?

Let’s find out

Do all Labradors bite?

Anyone who shares their home with a ten week old puppy will tell you that Labradors bite!

And I can reassure you that this applies to all Labradors in the first few months of life.

Fortunately this is a phase puppies go through and not a permanent character flaw. And most adult Labradors are indeed very good natured dogs.

Before I set about showing you how to transform your Labrador puppy from crocodile to cuddly friend again, we’ll have a little look at what makes your puppy so bitey.

At what is normal, and what is not.

My puppy bites a lot

Worried new puppy parents will often say “but I don’t think this is normal puppy biting, he is biting such a lot, and mainly biting the children.”

And it certainly is worrying when the your children’s tears after playing with the puppy, are not the tears of joy you had anticipated.

When your new puppy is in full ‘biting mode’ and pursuing your terrified three year old around the kitchen, you can be forgiven for wondering if you have made a terrible mistake in bringing him into your lives at all. Let’s take a closer look

My puppy is biting my children!

If your children are in tears at being bitten every time they try to play with and cuddle their new friend, you may be wondering if your puppy is becoming aggressive.

You may even worry that your children might be at risk.

Fortunately I can reassure you that this is not the case. While your puppy may frighten your children with his sharp teeth and growling. The way he is behaving now does not mean he will be a threat to their safety in the future.

The way some small puppies bite and frighten children more than adults has everything to do with the way children behave around puppies and nothing whatever to do with the character of your puppy

Why do puppies bite children?

Some breeders will not sell puppies to homes where there are small children.  This is because puppies often bite children and teenagers harder and more persistently than they bite grown-ups.

It is normal for puppies to make small children cry, but before you rush your puppy off to the local shelter, bear with me a moment, because I can help with that.

Children give off conflicting signals to the puppy.  And because puppies are poor at interpreting children’s movements and vocalisations they respond inappropriately.

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Fortunately there are lots of ways to make it easier on yourself and on your kids. We’ll have a look at those in a moment.

But in short, you need to be a little patient at this point, and it helps to know that this phase does pass quite quickly. And that it is completely normal for all puppies to bite a lot, and to bite children with particular enthusiasm.

Why do Labrador puppies bite so much?

It has to be said, Labradors are even more bitey than some other breeds of dog during this stage in their development. In fact, retrievers generally tend to be very bitey as puppies.

We have bred these dogs for generations to be a little obsessed about putting things in their mouths, so maybe it isn’t so surprising that they are very mouthy when they are still small and very playful.

The constant biting can still come as a shock though, to anyone who thought that they had adopted a ‘gentle’ breed. As can the pain of being bitten.

“These are not ‘nips’!” say many new puppy parents “they are real ‘bites’!”

My puppy bites so hard!

“But wait a minute ” you cry “I am actually being injured by my puppy, surely that isn’t normal?”

The answer I’m afraid is, yes, it is. Puppy bites do hurt. And sometimes they leave marks.

Pain, bruising, scratching, little tooth marks on your toddler, these are all part and parcel of raising a puppy. Some very enthusiastic puppies will even draw blood on occasions.

All this is normal, but I will explain what you can do about it.

“Alright” you say “so the biting is normal, and the pain is normal, but the noise, the snarling, – that’s not normal – right?” Let’s find out.

I think my puppy is aggressive!

Perhaps the most serious concern that new puppy parents have, is the fear that their puppy is becoming aggressive.

marvin the mooseWe may have lived alongside dogs for thousands of year, but that doesn’t alter the fact that these are powerful predators with jaws capable of doing great harm.

It is only natural for an inexperienced puppy owner to worry that their puppy’s behaviour might be a sign of a dangerous animal in their midst

The thing most likely to make people think their puppy is aggressive isn’t the constant biting, or how hard their puppy bites, or how much it hurt. What really worries people is the snarling.

My puppy is growling at me

When puppies play, they practice being fierce. They throw themselves into the whole play acting thing with huge enthusiasm. And they are brilliant at it.

Your puppy’s aim is to make himself sound hugely fierce and scary. It’s all part of the game. And the most important part of that game is to make as much noise as possible and to sound as angry as possible.

So, all puppies growl or snarl ferociously when they play, while they are biting, and sometimes when they are trying to entice their poor owners into yet another game.

Your pup won’t just sound fierce, he’ll look fierce too.   His little face will be all scrunched up, his lips drawn back, his teeth showing. It’s not surprising your kids have gone right off him!

Your puppy’s mother, and his brothers and sisters all understood this was a game and weren’t bothered by it. So he has no idea that he is frightening your children or that you are wondering if he is turning into a horrible aggressive and dangerous beast.

Please do be reassured, that however fierce your ten week old puppy sounds. It is just a game. He is truly just playing.

Normal puppy play behaviour

So, the hard truth is, all puppies bite. And many puppy bites are quite painful.

Labrador puppies bite more than most, and biting a lot, and growling or snarling at the same time is normal.

So is biting so hard that it makes your eyes water, and even occasionally breaks the skin.

Puppies bite at hands that go to stroke them, at bare feet, and happily tug away at clothing, all the while trying to sound as fierce as they possibly can.

All this is normal.

And you, quite naturally, will want to know exactly when it is going to stop! feeding2

When will my puppy stop biting?

Even if you do nothing, if you don’t play physically with your puppy very much, the biting will naturally begin to decrease at around four to five months of age.

This tends to happen without much active ‘no-bite’ training in families where there are just one or two adults, who are experienced with puppies and don’t get puppies excited.

It also happens in working dog families where the dogs may be kennelled or at least are not allowed unsupervised interaction with anyone apart from their trainer or main carer.

But, and it is a big but – in most young families, this is not quite what happens.

In many families, especially where the puppy is a novelty, everyone plays with the puppy, and often in quite a physical way. This gets puppies very excited and tends to make biting worse.

Inexperienced puppy owners also tend to inadvertently prolong the biting phase by rewarding the puppy with attention when he bites.

Things that make biting worse

To summarise, these are the three things that make biting worse in most Labrador puppies

  • Excitement
  • Attention
  • Poor bite inhibition

Let’s take each of these in turn:

Puppies bite more if they are excited. The more excited they get, the harder they bite.

Rough physical play gets puppies excited, rubbing puppies tummies, chasing puppies, grabbing at puppies.  All these things get puppies bubbling with excitement

Noisy behaviour can get puppies excited too, so children squealing, or crying, grown ups shouting or getting cross. All these things can send little puppies into a kind of ‘meltdown’

Rewarding puppies with attention

Rewarding puppies for biting also makes puppies bite more, and prolongs the biting phase.

You might not think you are rewarding your puppy for biting, but you probably are. And you are probably rewarding him with ‘attention’

Puppies love attention. Labrador puppies are particularly social and love attention more than most puppies do.

Any kind of contact with you, or other members of the family, including physical contact, talking, shouting, even eye contact, all reward your puppy.

And if you give him these things while he is biting, this will reinforce the biting behaviour and he will bite more in the future

Poor bite inhibition

What makes the bites hurt more, is poor bite inhibition.

So the next section explains what bite inhibition is and how you can help your puppy improve his.

What is bite inhibition?

At just eight weeks old, Labrador puppies are actually capable of crushing bones the thickness of your little finger, with their jaws.

But your puppy doesn’t break your fingers when he bites you! He probably doesn’t even break the skin.

This is down to a process called ‘bite inhibition’.

Your puppy has been learning to inhibit his bite since he was tiny. It’s the equivalent of ‘pulling his punches’.

His mother and brothers and sisters all helped to teach him how hard he can bite without hurting them.

Fur versus skin

Unfortunately, you don’t have a nice fur coat, so the level of force your puppy could use on his mother, is too painful for delicate human skin. But he doesn’t know that yet.

This is where your training will come in. You’ll be teaching him how much force is acceptable.

So, why don’t we just teach him not to bite at all from the get go?

Well, you can do this, but a number of experts think that staged bite inhibition training is very important in order to make sure that your puppy has complete control over the amount of force he applies at any time in the future. You can read more about bite inhibition and bite inhibition training in this article

What about teething

People tend to associate biting with teething.  So, is it true that puppies bite so much because they are teething? And how long will teething go on for?

In fact, most problem puppy biting is simply play.

Puppies may chew or mouth at fingers to help relieve the discomfort of teething, but this is not the major cause of the biting problems we find in homes with small puppies

Most puppies have their adult teeth by the time they are 7 months old, but biting does not usually last that long. You can read all about puppy teeth and teething on this page

Biting at 9 weeks or 10 weeks

At this stage your puppy’s bite is not quite as powerful as it will be in a week or two, but those teeth are still needle sharp.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because your puppy is so small. He is growing fast and by 11 or 12 weeks those bites will hurt a lot more.

The time to begin taking action is now!

How to train a puppy not to bite

So, now we have looked at why Labrador puppies bite, and some of the things that make biting worse, let’s look at how to make things better.   We’ll do this in stages

  1. Separate and supervise
  2. Stop making things worse
  3. Teach your puppy not to hurt you
  4. Train your puppy not to bite
  5. Safe play for Labradors

#Stage One: separate and supervise

The first step in this process is to protect any children you may have, or that visit and play with your puppy

You may well have had a lovely picture in your mind of your sweet puppy and children playing happily together whilst you relax with a glass of wine, or mow the lawn.

But for the time being, you need to put this image aside.

Children under five are simply not capable of playing with a puppy under four months without getting bitten. So you need to supervise every interaction between them.

Puppies and children –  Do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t let children take your puppy into their bedroom.
  • Do put baby gates across doorways, even if you no longer need them for your children.  Baby gates allow you to separate children and puppies when you are not free to supervise.
  • Do show children how to stroke the puppy gently whilst you hold one end of a rawhide chew and let the puppy gnaw on the other end.
  • Do make sure that children don’t get the puppy excited or run around squealing whilst he chases them.  It will end in tears.

Playful visitors

It is not just children that play inappropriately with puppies.  I have known grown men grapple roughly with a tiny puppy, rolling him around the floor,  making growling noises,  whilst the puppy gnaws on his knuckles.

It may seem like a bit of fun to him, with his work-roughened hands,  but there won’t be a happy ending when the puppy tries this game on your toddler.

Again, supervision or separation is the key,  and if your visitor won’t be calm around your puppy,  pop the little one in his crate until your boisterous guest has departed.

You can find out how to play safely with a Labrador in this article.

Saving your sanity and enjoying your puppy

If you were not expecting this, it can seem like a big deal,  but supervision and some separation is essential if you are to keep your sanity, and your children are to dry their tears and carry on enjoying their puppy.

With older children,  you need to teach them how to interact with the puppy without getting him overwrought.  Labrador puppies, like toddlers, are easily over-excited.  And when they are over-excited they start to be silly.

Don’t worry,  things will improve very quickly as the puppy learns to control his biting.

The next stage is all about making sure you avoid doing all those things we talked about which make biting worse

#Stage Two: stop making things worse

Remember how we talked about excitement and attention?

Your first job at this stage, is to keep your puppy calm. To recognise when he is getting over-excited and ‘break up’ the game.

Your second job is to stop giving your puppy rewards for biting.  Remember, a Labrador puppy’s favourite reward is your attention.

Make sure the puppy gets no reward at all when he bites someone. Especially no attention.  The next stage explains how you can do that.

#Stage Three: teach your puppy not to hurt you

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This is the ‘bite inhibition’ training we talked about above.

The process whereby the puppy learns to use his mouth gently on your skin –  and it takes a little while.

Bite inhibition is taught in stages.

The puppy learns to reduce the power of his bites gradually.

And is eventually taught not to ‘mouth’ human skin at all.

Most experts believe it’s worth spending time on this.

We’ll being by teaching the puppy not to hurt us with his teeth.

What to do when your puppy bites

If your puppy bites and hurts you, remove your attention immediately.

This is where baby gates can be really helpful. If you are playing with your puppy and he bites you, you can step over the gate, thus effectively removing all attention from him.

All of a sudden his playmate has disappeared.

What about squealing

You may have heard that a puppy will stop biting if you yelp or squeal. And you can certainly try this, because it does work with some puppies.

But many puppies get even more excited by the yelping, and on others it has no effect. The strongest signal you can give your puppy is the loss of your presence and attention.

What about punishment?

Some people try and stop puppies biting by smacking them or shouting at them.  There are two problems with this.

Firstly, it tends to only stop the puppy biting the person who did the yelling.  So it won’t necessarily stop your puppy biting your grandchildren.

Secondly, punishment builds an association between an unpleasant event, and your presence, this can give you problems with teaching things like ‘recall’ later on.

And in any case, you don’t want your puppy to be scared of you, that just isn’t a great way to being your friendship.

You can find out more about the potential impact of punishing your Labrador here.

What if you need to move a biting puppy?

If you need to move the puppy away rather than stepping away from the puppy you may find he bites at your hands when you go to pick him up or take hold of his collar.

Here’s what to do if that happens

How to stop your puppy biting hands

Some puppies bite when they are picked up. Others bite when they are stroked or petted.

We are fond of wiggling our fingers at puppies, petting them and rubbing our fingers in their fur, not behaviours that dogs really understand. And many puppies see fingers and toes as something to chase and play with.

Hands are a particular target for puppy bites so teach your children to interact with your puppy using toys that he can tug and bite on, rather than playing with him using their bare hands.

Instead of using your hand as a toy, or rubbing your puppy’s tummy, use a long strong rope tug toy to play with him.

Distracting your puppy

If you want to sit and pet your puppy, or your children do, use treats or hold a rawhide chew with one hand so he can gnaw on the end.

Once he is calmly involved in eating or chewing, you’ll be able to pet him without being nipped

Using a houseline

If your puppy regularly nips at your hands when you go to pick him up when he is getting overexcited, you need a better way of removing him from what he is doing.   Have your puppy wear a harness and houseline so that you can pick up the end of the line and move him to where you want him to go without his grabbing at your hands.

#Stage Four: train your puppy not to bite

This is where we teach the puppy to let us stroke and pet him, or handle him in any way we like, without him putting his mouth around our fingers.

The best way to do this is with a clicker and some dog treats. But you can also use a word like YES instead of the click.

Here’s how the training exercise goes:

  • You move your hand a little way towards the puppy
  • If he doesn’t move his mouth towards your hand say YES! And place a treat on the floor in front of him
  • Now move your hand a little bit closer to the puppy
  • If he doesn’t move his mouth towards your hand say YES! And place a treat on the floor in front of him

You see where I am going with this?

Don’t stuff your hand right in the puppy’s face to begin with, set him up to win.

Build up slowly so that you can touch him anywhere on his head or body, pick up his paws etc. All without him grabbing or mouthing at you.

What do I do if he mouths at me?

If the puppy grabs at your hand, you got too close.  Make smaller hand movements further away from him until he ignores those, then bring the movements gradually closer.

There is a nice little video that demonstrates this technique on the Kikopup youtube channels


#Stage Five: playing safely

As puppies grow older biting can reappear.  Puppies between six and nine months of age, are extremely boisterous, and may start nipping with their teeth during play.

At this age, your puppy is more than half grown, and his size and weight are a significant problem if rough play is allowed.

The secret to avoiding and resolving this issue is to change the way you interact with your puppy.  And to ensure that children follow your example.

Boisterous and excitable puppies must not be allowed to play rough games with small people.  The consequences can be very unpleasant, and it is no coincidence that this is the age at which many young dogs are abandoned or given up to rescue.

The secret to avoiding these kinds of problems is ‘safe play’.   And you can read all about how to play safely with a large dog in this article: Playing safely with your Labrador

Summary

Biting is a frustrating and sometimes painful stage of puppy development, but however fierce your puppy may sound, and however hard he bites, it really is just playful and normal puppy behaviour.

Use the five steps above to help your puppy pass through this phase as quickly and comfortably as you can.  And don’t forget to join the forum to get support from other puppy parents!

More information on puppies

Happy-Puppy-jacket-image1-195x300For a complete guide to raising and caring for a happy and well adjusted puppy, don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

Published in April 2014, the Happy Puppy covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.

The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.

The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.


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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.

75 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, my puppy is 18 weeks old now. He is extremely loving and pleased to see everyone, but he nips and bites! He has sometimes drawn blood on my daughter ( not on purpose ). When my husband & son come home from work he is extremely pleased to see both of them, which is lovely to see but then the nipping/biting starts!! I just need to know what we are doing wrong!! We toilet trained him with in a week, so why can’t we stop this problem?

  2. hi,
    one more thing i have to Ask shall i give my 9 Week Puppy chicken vegetable egg or fruits??? because as i m giving her pedigree her stomach is not getting full she look like hungry after eating , I m give her starter pedigree for Puppy’s and mothers, Can you please suggest me what shall i do.

    Thanks

  3. Hi Pipa,

    I have yellow Lab she is right now 9 weeks old(Ciya) i read your article pule i have took your book name The Labrador Handbook it is took help full to train my cute puppy but i just want to ask that I have a small rabbit whose age is 4 years is she safe with lab

    • Hi Titiksha, This will depend entirely upon your puppy’s personality. Some dogs are fine with rabbits, considering them friends, others see them more as playthings or dinner! Introduce them very slowly and carefully. Best wishes, Lucy.

      • Thanks for your Advice but some time he play with my rabbit and some times he think to bite her so shall stop taking my lab to words my rabbit

  4. Hi I have a 10 week old puppy who bites a lot and when I pick him up he seems to get very aggressive and growls and snarls and bites at my face and it just makes me nervous he’s gonna be aggressive when he’s older. I love him to deal but sometimes I can’t even hold him because he growls so loud and seems so vicious and it makes me nervous. I tell him no but it doesn’t seem to help…

    • Hi Jordyn, At the start of this article we explain that puppy biting is normal and not a sign of aggression. The article contains lots of advice on reducing this behavior too, which will help you dealing with this common issue.

  5. Don’t give up… My lab is now 2 years old and so sweet and loving. As a puppy she was just a little monster and I was really desperate, even thinking about bringing her back. She was biting everybody, people were bleeding… She seemed agressive, growling and seemed really dominant. You just have to live through it and hold on. I used to read this article and it really helped, although I could not believe my lab woud turn into a normal lab. But she didç Thanks Pippa!

  6. Hi Pippa,
    I enjoyed your article on puppy biting. My puppy, Cocoa Loco is a 13 week old chocolate lab. After reading your article I am resting easier on the biting issue. My issue is how vocal Cocoa gets when being told “NO”. She seems to go into a funk and turn into Cujo. She starts barking and snarling at me. She won’t attack, just makes a lot of noise then starts chasing her tail and biting it. What’s up with that? How should I react to it?
    Thank you in advance for any suggestions you might have.
    Sue

  7. Hi Pippa!
    I have a 3 month old Labrador mix (a little german shepard and border collie in him as well). He gets very bity some times! I try to ignore him but he usually follows me and bite my knees :/

    So i have some questions:
    1. Is it normal for a puppy to jump up (when you play with him on the floor) and bite you in the face? He does this when I lift him up also, and it is really not funny…

    2. Is it a good distraction to give him a bone to eat/bite? And can you give that several times of the day? I have a lot of toys for him but he rather bite me… And often when he plays with them he shakes them, and not so much bite them.

    3. I have biting toys that he doesn´t want to bite at all… How do I teach him that theese are good for him? He likes mostly teddy bears but as I said he mostly just shakes them.

    4. Sometimes he bites himself also, like on the front paws or butt. Is that normal? Or is he stressed?

    Thank you for a good article! Hoping for answer soon, I´m really worried and kind of have lost my temper now…

    //Alice

  8. Hi pippa,

    I am Maheer from Pakistan. I have almost 6weeks old female English Labrador puppy. She is living with me from one week and this is my first experience to have a pet. She is very cute but I am very upset from one of her habit. When she plays with me. She starts to bite my shoes and pant. Tires to bite best of her. I stopped her many time. But she is still doing the same.

    Plz tell me what should I do that she changed her bad habit.

  9. Hi I have a 4 month old choc Labrador which is lovely and very playful however the biting is too much and everyone is very scared of him including my 11 and 9 year old!
    He sees me as a playmate and bites me all the time, when I am home alone with him I try and ignore him and walk away or give him something to distract him but he then jumps up from behind and bites my legs, ankles etc and it hurts so much! I find removing him (like putting him in the garden) helps slightly but was told by a puppy trainer this is not ideal as he will associate being put outside as being bad and may prevent him from going out there in the future. We are aware that he is probably teething still, being playful but the biting is so bad that we are not enjoying having him! I’m aware from reading so many articles how common this biting is but if there’s anything you can suggest to help so we as a family can put in motion and work together to overcome this. He’s also just started puppy classes and my concerns will always be the biting and nothing else at the moment..
    Thanks

  10. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, he bites a lot. How to stop it?
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  11. Hi Pippa, my lab puppy is very is 7 weeks old. He keeps biting at me even when I squeal or scream. He doesn’t understand it hurts. How can he stop?

  12. Hi, My parents got a black lab (against my will :S) and it has been biting everything for 3 years. We can’t puppy proof because she can reach extremely high and has a bite with the equivalent of a hydrogen bomb. We got her stuff for her to not be able to chew, she bites through it in less than 50 minutes. We even got a $60 dog leash that is the strongest leash we could find, It destroyed it in seconds. It is way too loving and hyper, we have no way to train it out of the apparent phase which it has been stuck in. It was tortured before we got it, but now she bites everything, as well as pees everywhere, it can’t handle 30 seconds without pooping in the house, and it bites everything it sees. Anyway I can force it out of the phase besides killing it? (I’m in a bad mood right now because it chewed up all my pillows and blankets, as well as some of the insulation, so I may be a bit mad in the post).

    • Hi Timmy, many young labradors chew things. This is normal. A crate and some sensitive crate training, or a system of baby gates or similar barriers is necessary to prevent destructive young dogs having access to things she might chew. For example, dog leashes are not meant to be chew proof,no matter how much they cost. They should be put away when not in use so that the dog cannot reach them. Keeping your bedroom door closed will prevent your dog chewing your blankets and pillows. Lots more information in this article – http://www.thelabradorsite.com/how-to-stop-your-labrador-chewing-things/ Prevention is the key – letting a keen chewing dog have access to the whole house will drive you all mad and is one of the reasons many young dogs are abandoned by their families each year.

  13. My housemates bought a 5 week old chocolate lab 5 months ago. Right from the get go we were told how huge he was for his age and the vet told us that judging by the size of his paws he was going to grow very large.
    He’s always showed a dominant side, humping anyone and anything, and the general puppy nipping but as he has grown the nipping has turned into real biting, snarling, lunging. He likes to target peoples faces and actually got my housemate on the nose just the other week while she sat on the lounge watching tv.
    He particularly likes to wait till we are seated on the lounge, which is when he will bark, growl and snap at us. I’m aware that he is trying to get our attention but on more than one occasion he has scared both myself and my housemate.
    Tonight, when I was home alone with him he began barking, growling and lunging at me. I was actually shaking by the end of it. I tried to calmly tell him to stop but he only became more aggressive and when I pretended to ignore him and turn my focus away he took this as an opportunity to attack.
    I’m very worried as he has grown quite large already and the people he is targeting are not children who don’t know how to play with him, he is threatening even his owners.
    I’m becoming scared in my own house. Please help.

    • Hi Cat, as you have discovered, there is no point in telling your puppy to stop it, he doesn’t understand you. It sounds as though you could really do with some help from a behaviourist. They will show you how to respond when your puppy behaves inappropriately and how to work through the stages in the article above. In the meantime, put a harness and houseline on the puppy so that he can be removed from the room when he behaves inappropriately.
      You also need to reinforce good behaviours and spend plenty of time training him so that he learns that choosing the right behaviours earns rewards from you and your housemates.

  14. Aloha!
    We have have a 15 week old sheppard / lab mix (sorry not a full lab). We had normal ankle biting at around 9 weeks. I worked with her using many of the techniques above and she has learned to stop biting me. The problem is that the biting has escalated with my wife. It all seems in the realm of normal puppy play / over excitement, however as you have stated it is unacceptable. My wife, when possible will diligently implement the techniques above. However there are many times when she is outside when she can not immediately separate herself from our “little angel”. We are looking for a technique for her to get control of our puppy’s head when she has those razor sharp teeth sunk into her leg? The biting really hurts my wife and she instinctively reaches down to pull puppy off (I would to, she bites hard) we are worried that this is just rewarding the biting with more attention. Our obedience trainer suggests a gentle leader for her during the times of day when the biting happens so we can grab a trailing leash and control her head. We would like to avoid using a gentle leader but at this point we will try almost anything. Any thoughts?

    Cheers,
    Dave

    • I would agree with the use of a trailing line. I would have the puppy wear a houseline all the time so that anyone can pick up the end and lead the puppy away. But I’d attach the line to a body harness not a head collar.

  15. Hi pippa have a 9 month old lab/ springer he growls at children who pet him and growls when they look at him..It’s a real worry as have 2 children who want a dog who loves them.. any help appreciated xx

    • Hi Lisa, you must be really worried 🙁 Dogs growl at children for lots of reasons, but it sounds as though your dog is frightened of them. Sometimes this can be fixed through an extensive programme of socialisation, but you really need to make an appointment for a qualified behaviourist to assess your dog and help you work out a treatment plan. Avoid behaviourists who talk about dominance or leadership, this could be made much worse by punishment. And don’t try and stop your dog growling as this is what helps to keep children safe – suppressing the growl by telling him off may make him bite without warning. I’m sure you are being careful to supervise him around kids, and you’ll need to do this very carefully until you have professional help and advice. You might also find it helpful to join the forum for support – there are other members with reactive or nervous dogs there. Good luck and best wishes, Pippa

  16. Hi,
    I own 1 year old golden retriever. He is self grown pup without any training. He bites us in excitement. He starts shivering in front of strangers when there is no family member around. Is anything possible now? At this age, any training is possible?

  17. Hi, I am willing to adopt a four month old Labrador. But I am in the confusion that whether 4 month lab will suit to me and my family members. Because i am having a two and half years old boy…..
    So please suggest me…. to proceed..

  18. We have a 42 day old lab puppy (male). We got him when he was 36 days old and the breeder suggested us to take him as the mother had already weaned him. This guy was very active and vocal for the first 4 days, but since yesterday he is lazy, sleeping a lot and almost silent. Only thing that has changed is that we had to put him on a leash for a few hours yesterday as we were out. What do you think could the matter be?

  19. Hi! I have a 8 month old puppy he is always biting us! What can I do to stop him? Isn’t he too old to do anything now? Please help!

  20. Hi I have a 5 month old Labrador and she was doing really well with not chewing things or biting until recently when she has started to chew absolutely anything she wants and when we tell her to stop instead of listening like she used to she has started getting aggressive and barks and tries to bite you everytime you ask her to stop. It is becoming worrying as our once lovely cuddly and very affectionate puppy is now starting to act very differently and is constantly trying to bite and attack people. Have we done something wrong which has triggered this total change of behaviour and what can I do to stop as it is becoming apparent that were unable to disapline her when she’s doing wrong as she just gets angry.

  21. hi pippa i read your article very nice
    i received a 2 month female black Labrador all she does is eat. sleep and excrete she bites a lot when i show her my palm when i tell her to stop she bites even more . i know this is their teething period but do you have any advice for me .and she sleeps a lot

    PS:she was trying to constantly bite me while i was writing this .

  22. Hi my ten week old male lab pup is bitting hard that making up bleed. Am say no and putting him in time out. Also Apple side vinger in a sparse bottle. But nothing is working it making him worse. Am really worried. Thanks

  23. I bought a 50 days old lab.
    The problem is he is bitting everywhere and everything.
    My family is scared to play with him.
    What should i do to stop him by bitting?
    How can i train him to not to bite everythng?

  24. Hi, I’ve had my 9 week old male lab for a week now and am really enjoying it however one of the main issues Im working with is the biting. I have read here and various other places to say Ouch loudly when it is too hard and try to walk away but Barney gets so excited by this that he will nibble at my calves and follow me when I walk away. I have bought him various chew toys, tripe and the vet recommened freezing a carrot which I have done and he seems to like. Does anyone have any advice for when he gets so excited that he will bite at anything? Also when he does bite hardish and i try to pull away and he won’t let go what is best to make him release me?
    Thank you so much for any advice given
    Kieran

  25. Hi pip me and my partner are thinking about getting a puppy but after having a rescue beagle that was very very aggressive and possessive over food and the bin we are a bit worried about the puppy turning the same way we since had to get rid of the other dog and we feel like we are ready to try again I’ve had a couple of labs in the past but never had a puppy can you offer any advice or tips I’ve been researching and watching videos on training tips thanks

  26. My Wife and I have a Four month old female who still has trouble biting and mouthing everyone. she has learned bite inhibition, and she knows it makes us unhappy, but it seems she cant help but continue licking and biting people.
    Any thoughts?

  27. I really don’t know what i can do with my black labrador named polo . He is about 6 months old, he is very gentle and freindly at times but sometimes when he is playing it gets out of hand. Today he bit me, my mother and me sister i got injured really bad and my hand bled i really don’t know what to do can you please help me with this Pippa i really want polo to stop this behaviour and be gentle and calm.

  28. Hi Pippa,
    Greetings and Congratulations for this WONDERFUL website, its heaven for our dogs at our fingertips!!

    My male labrador Tyson, is 60 days old, He sometimes is excited, running, whereas a good portion of the day rests lying down and watching us cook, work and eventually drifts to sleep. I clean him with Johnson Baby wet wipes. He eats home made food such as yoghurt and rice(de-starched), milk and whole wheat biscuits/rice, eggs and rice and dry kibbles alternatively for lunch and dinner.
    Is it normal if he lies down or is he weak? Am I giving him right food? I feed him 4 times 2 meals and 2 snacks.

    My tyson poops and pees inside the house, I tried training with potty pads and solutions, but no avail, Am I being fast, should I wait for few months?

    This is my first pup, I am super tensed, If I am doing the right things and unfortunately I have no vets in my town. Please help Pippa, U r my only hope…

  29. Hi Pippa,

    Thanks so much for all the fantastic advice on this website, I wonder if you can help us. We have a chocolate lab puppy, she is now 15 weeks old. For the past 3-4 weeks she has been quite bitey. She never bites hard when we pet her or do training with her, so she does seem to have a good level of bite inhibition, but sometimes she will get herself into a frenzy, usually starting with her biting and tugging on our shoelaces/trousers. If we tell her ‘No!’ or yelp as if with pain she just gets more excited. The only solution we have is to put her in her Playpen, but the act of picking her up is very difficult when she’s so excited. Also, we sometimes have to carry her to her pen from outside, up the stairs (we live up a spiral staircase) so she’s essentially getting a cuddle from us on her way to the playpen. Is this normal behaviour and are we dealing with it properly? Thanks so much x

  30. Hi Just looking for a bit of advice/reassurance! We have an 11 week old chocolate lab who we have had since he was 7 weeks and he has become very mouthy including at our faces, we are trying bite inhabition (i admit we can be a bit inconsistant!) and its mainly when he is over excited or tired, if its when he gets over excited we give him a time out to calm down. He has plenty of chew toys which are rotated on a daily basis. I just wanted a bit of advice if there is anything else we should/could be doing please! Thanks Sarah x

  31. Dear Sir,

    I have recently purchased a lab puppy of about 6-8 weeks.

    Name: Cherry
    DOB: 5th Feb 2014
    Male
    Light Fawn color

    Since from 1 week, he is bitting & nipping everybody. I am not able to control him.

    He has also bitted and scratched my mom’s hand and she is getting very painful.

    I have already used all the technique like using the word “ouch” or “no”, but he is not hearing.

    He will be playing fully aggressive and he is not hearing any of the world.

    I am providing a littly of Royal Canin – Maxi starter but he is bitting me when i give him the treat.

    I will be playing with him in the morning for 15 mins and at evening i spend with him about 1 hr but he is bitting me.

    He never give me an eye contact.

    Please help how to help my puppy not to bite.

    Thanks

    Manju

  32. hello,
    I have 8 months labrador, we took him to 2 months ago to training dog’s school for 3 weeks. he really knows everything but in the last 2 weeks more he started to jump on us bite hard and running like crazy more than anytime before. is that normal for labrador puppy at this age? what can we do to stop that?

    • Hi Nancy, this is quite common and usually responds to lowering the dog’s excitement levels and training alternative behaviours. Have a look at the links in the ‘best friends’ section at the bottom of this article

  33. Hello Pippa,

    I have had my lab puppy since she was 6months old. She has been a joy. Here recently she has started to growl and snip at my youngest son who is 4. He is never rough with her or does anything to suggest harm. She has even growled at me! I have done research and nothing seems to be working. We love her very much. Any suggestions to help?

  34. Hi Pippa,

    We just brought home our new puppy a few days ago, and as I’d been led to expect, now that he’s getting more comfortable here, he’s also a lot more excitable and for lack of a better word, bitey. He’s about 9 weeks old, and seems to have pretty good control already, in that he rarely hurts me when mouthing or biting. What’s more, on the occasions where he has hurt me, a quick “ow” and a brief disengagement on my part have led to him to stop immediately.

    But for some reason, both my girlfriend and my son seem to be getting bitten a bit harder (or else they’re way more sensitive?). I observed today that he would continue biting my girlfriend despite he exclamation of “ow”, even after she disengaged, and regardless of her position (sitting, standing, etc). I had to go over there and physically pick him up before he would stop.

    Any advice on why he might be treating them differently than me?

    Also curious what you think of the last part of Jade’s question, as that’s the only major difference I can think of (neither my son nor girlfriend has been very comfortable with the mouthing)…

  35. Hi Pippa, I absolutely love this website and have used it as my basis for researching about Labradors before i bought my puppy Monty. He is an 8 week old puppy and we are having issues with mouthing and nipping. I let him mouth my hands and he knows to be more gentle every time i yelp if he bites too hard. My issue is whenever he sees my boys or my partner he runs to them with out being provoked and starts nipping their pjs and when they turn their back on him like i taught them, he nips the back of their calves. They love him to bits even though we’ve only had him for a week and but they’re becoming more and more reluctant to spend time with him because it hurts and frightens them when Monty starts nipping them. Should i be encouraging the boys and my partner to let Monty mouth their hands under my supervision or does he learn bite inhibition just through one person doing it? Monty also bites our clothes and wont let go until i pry his mouth open, is there a better alternative to doing this? Your advice is much appreciated!

  36. Hi,

    Need to know how to train the dog on Potty habits
    He is 8 months old now but still pees and poots inside the house……its kinda getting crazy now
    Its high time this has to stop. He pees @ 10 time in a day!!

    Please help

  37. hii i m aman i hav black lab. he is not growting well could u please tell me ny medicine or feed coz he is 7 month old bt he is very down please tell me ny feed first i give him royal canan then i give him drools but no result i want big but he is very down i love him alot :/ please suggest me ny gud feed who give result for bulk nd fatt

  38. Excellent and effective advice. We used the “ow!!” and stop playing technique and our yellow Labrador Ruby is now 5 1/2 months old and very rarely bites or mouths. She’s still young and every now and then gets a bit over excited during play and will mouth a little but a quick “ow!!” stops it immediately.

  39. hello, i really need some help here!
    i have 4 months old Labrador now.
    i’ve got her when she about only a month old.
    now she having a bite habit problem.
    at 1 to 3 months old. i understand that her teeth just came.
    but now she bit everything. and so much energy.
    i’ve take her for a walk. but it doesn’t help about her ebnergy at all.
    i raise her with a 11 years old golden retriever.
    and also she always bit him every time she excited.
    what should i do? please help!!

  40. Hello again,
    Is there a way to teach a puppy how to retrieve things and also is there some good techniques to get puppies to like their cages more as our puppy howls all night and we have tried all the usual techniques

  41. hello pippa,

    When you talk about “How can I help my puppy learn bite inhibition?”
    you say time out in the cage should discouraging them surely that means you are using the cage as a punishment which you said we should avoid in another article, also may i talk to you about some other subjects not related to this page.

    • You could argue that time-out is a form of punishment. Another reason to keep it brief and age appropriate. Another way of allowing the puppy to calm down is simply to leave the room he is in, but this can lead to other problems unless the room is puppy proof.
      Pippa

  42. My lab boy is 10 weeks old. He is still struggling with toilet training. I try putting him out often and standing around for ages waiting for him to go but sometimes he won’t and next time he is inside he wees. I try saying wees so he gets use the command if he does go when I take him out and give him lots of praise or if I can get a treat in time a treat but still he goes inside a lot. Also he is very bity. Like others have said he really aims for my hands not his toy when we are playing. I say owch, loudly and stop what ever we are doing for a moment. Iv tried saying no sternly to him and then telling off my hands. It hasn’t slowed him down yet. Will this period get easier or will he always bite?

  43. Hi Pippa,
    We are having real trouble with almost 11 week old Murphy. He is extremely snappy and snaps his teeth together at you so they make a cracking sound. He doesn’t tend to be too bad with me but he really goes for my fiancé and keeps making him bleed. I don’t think my fiancé reacts very well and gets really annoyed and angry and tends to be quite rough pushing him off him. Even if Charlie turns around when Murphy is going for him Murphy just bites the back of his legs. Even if we say ouch really loud he doesnt seem to notice.mI keep telling charlie to just walk away but is there anything else you can suggest? I realise this is an extremely common problem and that he will just grow out of it.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  44. Hi,

    We got a puppy a week ago he is now 7 weeks old. Everything started out great, but lately he is getting very worked up when playing he starts biting very hard and going after our pants to the point where they are ripping and when he does this he is growling quite aggressively. We have tried giving him toys and saying no biting or yelping, it worked for a while but now he just gets even more worked up. We don’t know what else to try advice please!

    • Hi Tianna,
      Biting is very normal for Labrador puppies and can be worse in puppies that are taken home before the recommended age of eight weeks. This article explains why. The ferocious growling is also normal and is not a sign of aggression. You need to give your puppy plenty of opportunities to calm down and be persistent about not playing with him or handling him when he is getting wound up. Have a look at this article which is about coping with an overexcited puppy, it may help. For more information and support, why not join the forum where you can chat to and get support from other Labrador owners.
      Pippa

  45. Hello Pippa,

    New member have been added in my family last week and her name is Maggie. She is 47 days old. She is very active, energetic play full puppy. She mingled with every one in the family and happy pet.

    She sleeps a lot and when she is awake, she keep on biting our hands or some clothes. I bought the toys and thread toys to her, but she is not interested on those and she want to chew our hands and legs. Whenever i try to give toys she is becoming aggressive and jumping on me bitting everywhere (I like it when it jumps on me). now i am worried that everyone in my family are scared to play with it. I am thinking to keep her in Crate when i am not in home(I completely hate to do it, But i dont have any other option). Please advice me is it ok to keep her in Crate at this AGE? Or suggest me any other ideas Please……..

  46. Thnk u so much fo ua reply, il surely follow the article, since yesterday eve my pup is coughing while sleeping, like something has stuck in his throat, nd tries to puke but he dont, wat could be the matter, apart from it hez playful, eating properly, hez a male so his name is RISK, I call him Risky wid ♥·

    • Hi Pema, it isn’t appropriate to diagnose potential health problems on the internet. If you think your puppy has something stuck in his throat, or if he is coughing, you need to take him to the vet. I hope he is ok.
      Pippa

  47. Hello
    I have 54 days lab pup, he is so thin nd his bones are easily visible, wat shoud I feed him so dat he will gain a proper weight, nd looks healthy, I feed him 4 times a day, with cerelc nd a piece of bread, pls do reply. Thnk u

    • Hi Pema
      There could be many reasons why your puppy is thin (eg parasites, infection), quite aside from insufficient or inappropriate food. Bread and cereal is not suitable food for puppies. Here is an article about feeding and please take your puppy to the vet for a full check up and diagnosis.
      Pippa

    • Hi Miya
      It could be a problem if she swallows them. Puppies need to be supervised so that they do not have access to cooked bones, and discouraged from playing with stones.
      Pippa

  48. Hello!

    My 7 month old golden lab puppy still bites us. It isn’t as much as before when he was younger but it is still quite painful and annoying. We are constantly saying no and giving him his toys but it just isn’t working.

    Being a Labrador our puppy is very energetic, and can quite often start zooming or running around like mad when let indoors. When he acts like this he tends to jump at us and bite us which then results in us putting him outside. Other times when he is inside he starts to chew on power cords of the laptop or the tv remotes anything really!

    We want to enjoy him being around us but feel like all we do when he is around is stop him from either hurting us or himself or being destructive. Please help with anything that can help us train him better?

    Kind regards
    Nat

    • Hi Nat,

      It sounds as though your pup is getting very over-excited. The biting really needs to stop now, and sometimes it helps to watch some techniques in action. So have a look at this video It is part of the excellent kikopup series and deals with training puppies not to bite. At the end there are also a lot of tips that I think you would find helpful. You might also enjoy this video by Tab though I don’t recommend the tug game if you are intending to train your labrador as a gundog.

      Pippa

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