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Are you still struggling with a Lab that likes to bite just a little too much? Have you tried to get them to stop to no avail? One of the biggest problems for many dog owners is that while they may be trying the most commonly successful training methods, nothing works unless you are willing to stick with it. You can train virtually any breed to stop biting, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that without consistency and repetition, you are not likely to ever reach your goal.
In the natural world, biting is one of the many forms of exploring the environment dogs use. They also bite as part of play and of assuming their role in the pack. While this might be acceptable in the wild, this type of behavior is in no way acceptable in the domesticated world. Something that might seem to your pup to be a playful nip could result in legal actions and the risk of your pup being put down. It is your job to teach your pooch that in your world, and what is now his world, biting is not allowed.
The one thing about training your Lab to not bite is that there are no prerequisites, no laundry list of supplies, and no specific places where you need to complete the training. You need to have plenty of time and patience to work with your pup, a few treats, and a few chew-toys. The rest is all about repeating the training. Bear in mind that most dogs will gradually slow down on how often they nip or bite as part of maturing, but you should still plan to teach your pup this very important skill.
The Slowly Does It Method
A quiet place to work
Take your pup into a quiet room and step back from them just over an arm's length.
One hand in
Kneel down on the floor and move your hand towards your pup a couple of inches.
If your pup stays put, praise him and then place one of their favorite treats on the floor between you and them.
Just a little bit closer
Move your hand towards your pup just a little bit more.
Repeat this method by moving your hand closer and closer each time. Success is reached when you can reach up and gently touch your pup while he is eating his treat.
The Speak the Language Method
Play with your pup
Start out, as usual, playing with your pup. If he bites you, say "Ouch!" or if you really want to get into the mode, give Lab your best yelping sound.
Do not yank
Do not yank your hand away from the dog's mouth, instead, go limp and give him time to release it on his own. Yanking it away would make it seem like you are playing, but waiting for him to release it takes all of the fun out of it. This is the whole point of this training.
Ignorance is bliss
Give dog the cold shoulder for a couple of minutes and then go back to playing. Be sure to give praise for playing with a chew toy instead of your fingers. If he bites you again, go back one step and try again.
What if he starts playing
If your pup decides to follow you and attempts to initiate play, walk out of the room and go where they can't reach you, use a puppy or baby gate to keep them in the other room.
Time and again
Keep working with your pup until they no longer attempt to bite you during play. This can take a few weeks of playtime, but then who really minds that?
The Why Are You Biting? Method
Start out by observing and learning
The best place to start in training your pup is by figuring out why he is biting. For most, it is simply a matter of play when they are puppies and a defensive or aggressive move as they mature. For some, especially puppies, it is a matter of being overexcited.
Call a pro
If your dog's biting is aggressive, rather than the result of play, consider working with a professional trainer or behaviorist to deal with the root of the problem.
Engage your pooch in gentle play and when he bites you (or any other time they bite you), yelp like a puppy who has just been bitten or say "Ouch!" This lets your pup know their behavior is not acceptable.
End your game by turning away from your pup and letting him see you are ignoring him. Continue ignoring him until he calms down. When he finally settles down, go ahead and start playing with him again.
Go next door
If he doesn't seem to be able to calm himself down, you may need to put up a gate in the doorway and walk away for a few minutes. This is another way to end the game, and he isn't going to like this. Only return to the room once the dog has calmed down.
Once your Lab has managed to rein himself in, you can enter the room and try again. Keep working with your pup until he no longer wants to bite you because he would rather play with you.
By PB Getz
Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 01/08/2021