How to Stop Your Labrador Puppy Biting

yellow labrador outside for potty training

There are several popular methods for stopping your puppy biting, but in reality not all of them work well. At least not for every puppy! You can make a sudden noise or ignore your puppy when it bites you, but some puppies will carry on regardless. Others are even encouraged by your squeals of pain! Physical punishment, like giving your puppy a tap on the nose or holding their mouth shut, might cause a temporary pause in the behavior. But it is neither ethically sound, nor the best way to stop the problem. The best way to stop your puppy biting is through supervision, distraction, containment and training.


Conflicting advice on how to stop your pup biting

Many articles will tell you to ignore a puppy when he bites and to offer him a toy instead. Yet others will tell you to squeal loudly and put your puppy in ‘time-out’. Some people will tell you to punish your biting puppy. Others will tell you that you must not stop your puppy biting too suddenly, or punish him for biting, for fear of drastic consequences later.

So who is right, and who is wrong?

Does ignoring stop your puppy biting?

Many new puppy owners try to ignore the biting puppy initially.  And soon find that this doesn’t work. This failure tends to be for one or more of the following reasons.

  • They don’t persist for long enough
  • They inadvertently ‘incite’ the puppy to start biting again (through play)
  • They don’t sufficiently supervise the puppy with their children

We’ll have a look at these in more detail in a moment.   But what about the ’squeal’ method?

Does noise stop puppy biting?

There is no doubt that a sufficiently loud squeal, followed by immediate withdrawal of attention, will cause many Labrador puppies to break off from biting. Sometimes long enough for a skilled owner to then redirect the puppy into a more appropriate activity. There is also no doubt that for some puppies, this has the reverse effect, and causes them to bite harder and more fiercely.

how to stop labrador puppy biting

A puppy that has spent sufficient time with his Mum, may be more likely to take heed of this verbal warning, as he will expect it to be followed by a sharp click of her teeth and a fiercer rebuke if he ignores her. But there are no guarantees here. And the fact is, squealing simply does not work as an effective anti-biting strategy, for some puppies.

Punishing the puppy to stop biting

I have heard, even quite experienced, breeders tell new puppy owners to punish their puppy if he bites.Either by intimidating the puppy with an angry growling voice, or even with physical punishment such as a scruff shake or slap. This can ‘work’.  But there are problems with this approach.

Many experts believe that puppies should learn to mouth or hold on to human’s gently,  before they are taught not to bite altogether. This process is called bite inhibition. And the use of punishment may curtail all biting rather than just the hardest, most painful, bites.

Nowadays many people like to train dogs without punishment. And there are strong reasons for joining them  – check out this article –  the downside of punishing dogs.

Teaching puppy to stop biting

Why would we want to teach dogs to bite humans gently? Why is it not best to teach them not to bite at all, right from the start? The idea of reducing biting gradually was popularised by  Ian Dunbar. The theory is that a dog which learns to inhibit his bite (i.e. to bite without force), will be less likely to harm a person if he bites later in life (in play or when frightened or injured for example).

You can read more about bite inhibition here:  Labrador Puppies Biting.    The concept is a sound one, and most canine behaviorists agree that teaching gradual bite inhibition is a good thing.

The problem for many new puppy owners, is stopping those painful bites in the first place! If ignoring the dog doesn’t work, and squealing doesn’t work, what are you supposed to do? The first step is not a technique at all, but an adjustment in the expectations that we have of a small puppy

How much do Lab puppies bite?

New puppy owners tend to have false expectations of puppies. This includes anticipating that biting will be minimal, that it will not hurt much, and that it won’t be accompanied by snarling. They also anticipate that stopping a puppy from biting will be a fairly quick and simple matter. None of these expectations is true.

Most puppies bite hard, frequently and growl fiercely whilst they are doing it. This noise is not a sign of aggression (see Help my puppy is aggressive). Stopping a puppy from biting is a process, a journey. And it can be temporarily an uncomfortable one! It is important to accept that there is no guaranteed way of stopping biting immediately. Indeed, as we have seen, bite prevention (rather than inhibition) may be a bad thing in any case.

Supervise your puppy around children

Once you have got your head around the fact that this process will take some time, that it will be a gradual thing, you need to think about how you are going to protect any children that might come into contact with the puppy. This is important because small children can, both hurt and, be hurt by small biting puppies. Barriers like baby gates(paid link) and a cosy dog crate (paid link)help to keep puppies and little children apart when you can’t supervise closely.

Calm your puppy to stop him biting

The next priority is to keep your puppy calm. Overexcited puppies bite harder and more frequently than less excited puppies. If your puppy is a really enthusiastic biter, don’t engage him in rough and tumble play. This will merely start the biting up all over again. There are lots of ways to interact with puppies without physically playing with them. Check out our article on playing safely with your dog.

What to do when a puppy bites

When your puppy bites you really hard, take immediate action. Don’t wait to see if he does it again. Stand up, move away from him and completely withdraw your attention. You can try the squeal thing if you want to. This works well with some puppies. Expect that he’ll try again. Be ready for it, and repeat your actions.

If the puppy chases after you, biting at your legs and feet, step over a baby gate, or pop him in his crate for a few minutes. You can read up on this process in more detail in this article: How to cope with biting.  It is simply a case of ‘rinse and repeat’ until the puppy learns that hard bites are unacceptable.

Remember, puppies enjoy chewing, and teething puppies need to chew on something. Whilst you and your clothing are not suitable chew toys, you need to provide your puppy with alternatives, like Kong toys.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

How to stop your puppy biting

  • Biting is normal
  • Biting should be inhibited in stages
  • Training takes time

The key points to take away from this are that biting is normal, and that training a puppy not to bite takes time. Stop the painful bites first, then work on putting a stop to mouthing. If what you are doing is not working, you probably just need to be more patient and persistent. If your children are suffering, you need to separate and supervise.

Work hard on keeping your puppy calm – it makes the biggest difference.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. Hi Pippa
    We’ve had my lab puppy for over a month now and she is still biting a lot. Roughly when are they meant to stop biting as much? She stops if distracted with a toy or training session, but then she goes back to it afterwards. In the end, she just ends up spending lots of time in her crate and playpen as we end up having to put her in there. Also she went on her first walk today and went completely crazy! She was eating stones and leaves and anything else she could find. She was also running around in crazy circles and trying to escape from the harness. We did lots of ‘heel’ training with the harness on at home and did proofing with it but she was just ignoring it even when she was offered chicken which she loves! I know there is a lot here, sorry! We just need a bit of help!

  2. I have a 50-day old lab pup. He’s usually a happy kid. But he’s turned aggressive of late and I have to keep him on the leash when we’re about to eat or when my daughter is around. He bares his teeth and bites. In fact many times when he knows I’m about to stop him from doing something, hell bare his teeth and lunge at me and bite. Today, he’s tried to bite off my hand.

  3. Hi! Your Daisy sounds just like my 5 mo old lab. He hates no and will start biting you if you do. Also, he thinks biting is playing and not. It hurts. Then he does that possessed running berserk thing too. Lol. Can I ask if your Daisy improved and if so what did it? Any advice would be very welcome.

  4. Hy i have a 2 Months old Lab puppy but he starts biting me or my faimly from 1 day how would i stop him biting ?

  5. Hi Pippa,
    I just got a yellow lab, 8 weeks old. She has a very hard, sharp bite. She definitely bites more when she’s excited, such as when I came home from work today to her and my husband. It was nearly impossible to pet her due to her biting. When I tried to walk away because of the biting, it was just as bad, only at my pant leg. I heard from a breeder to pinch their lip while they are biting you, if it is a painful bite, as this is what her mother would have done if the puppy bit her too hard. Is this ok to do? I don’t want to hurt her or her to be afraid of me, but she is nearly drawing blood. Often walking away or replacing my hand with a toy would work, but there are more and more times now, where this is not working and she bites harder because she likely thinks we’re playing. Another method we tried was putting a bitter “no-bite” spray on our hands. Not sure if that was a good idea though, because she still bites our legs/feet. Thanks!

  6. hello, i have a 83 days old labrador puppy,whenever I go near him he always bites me… What should I do to prevent this…, please help.

  7. Hi Neil, I am exactly where you are. My previous black lab was named Daisey and was the best dog ever. She died at the ripe ole age of 14. Best dog ever. I too did not recall any of this biting. But my new puppy sounds exactly like yours. I got an animal behaviorist to come and help me because I was really at my wits end. After one week, she is better. Still bites alot but it is better. The trainer assures me that it will get better with time. Good luck!

  8. Hi Poppa, we have a 15 month old yellow lab. She gets very excited for no reason especially when we take her out. It is now winter where we wear coats boots etc. I just took her out and she was in “attack” mode. Jumping and biting. Bruised my ankle biting through my thick boots. Jumping to bite my arms. I could not get away from her and jumping to the point of knocking me down. What is going on??? So is usually so loving and loves to cuddle. She always bee very good around our grandchildren with supervision. Did I mention she is a big girl 88lbs, hard to handle. Love her to pieces.

  9. hello, i have a 52 days old labrador puppy,and i’ve been feeding him “pedigree for puppy”ever since i got him,now he is not eating it properly,it has been 2 days since he ate normally and stool is black in colour and a little hard,i fed him a little cooked chicken 2 days earlier,and he was vaccinated to prevent diseases like hepatitis and all 2 days earlier,is this all ruining his appetite? i’am worried,please help me with a solution….

  10. Hey Pipa!
    I have a 3 month old golden Labrador pup and the care taker sometimes goes out and so she chains him… he barks and makes noises.. so is it okay to chain him up?

  11. Hi Pippa. I have a 13 month old golden lab. She is lovely in most ways but she keeps nipping the children. I have read the article above & I’ve tried all the things suggested. I have a crate for her but I’m worried that if I use it for a time out that she’ll see it as a place of punishment rather than a safe place when we are not in the house. She can get quite boisterous with my son in particular. Will getting her spayed calm her down?

  12. Hi Pippa’
    Another question as you know I have a black lab named midnight and he bites a whole lot. I don’t know how to stop him I,he tried saying “oww” but he just keeps going

  13. Hi Neil, please don’t pin your puppy, it won’t help and will confuse her. Her behaviour is normal, and is not aggression. Please read the links in the article above and carry out the steps recommend. I suggest you also join the forum for support from other puppy owners as you work through this stage.

  14. Hi Pipa,

    I have a black lab puppy named ‘ COCO’ he is 36 days old. I want to know about diet, quantity of diet and timings. presently i gave him 4 times in a day. In the meals i gave bread, wheat, cerelac, curd , soya and lil bit milk with 80 percent of water. kindly suggest me good please.

  15. hi pipa.
    i have a golden lab pup named ‘honey’, he use to bite everytime when he is next to me ..sometimes i hit him gently .. but aftr sometime he again started biting …is hitting him a good tactics or should i do somethingelse to stop his biting habit..