Around the time puppies are ready to leave their mother and come to a new home, they're also starting to teethe. For this reason, it's pretty common for new puppy owners to discover that their small furry friend bites. And while this is common across all dog breeds, Labrador puppies are particularly prone to biting. However, this phase doesn't have to become a full-blown character flaw. Take a look at some tips that can help you train your puppy not to bite.
1. Remove Your Attention
You've probably heard parents or others advise that a child throwing a tantrum shouldn't be given any attention for the behavior, positive or negative. A similar tactic can be used to encourage puppies not to bite.
If you shout, squeal, or yell, you can cause an already overexcited puppy to become more excited, which can increase aggressive behavior. In other words, making a lot of noise can make a biting puppy more likely to bite. And you don't want to hit your puppy – not only will this scare and possibly hurt them, but it can also cause increased aggression and give you trouble when you're doing other types of training.
Removing your attention, however, will get your puppy's attention quickly. In the puppy stage, it's unlikely that they're biting because they want to hurt you. They're biting in play, and you're their favorite playmate. Removing yourself from your puppy's vicinity will quickly teach them that play stops when the biting starts. One way to do this is to use a baby gate. If you're playing with your Labrador inside the gate, it's easy to just step outside of it when your puppy bites, instantly ending playtime.
2. Distract From Your Hands
One of the most common places for puppies to bite is on your hands, and this may happen because of the way that you play with your hands. It's common for pet owners to wiggle their fingers or make sweeping hand motions when playing with their puppies, but this can give your puppy the idea that your hands are something to chase. And just like when your puppy chases and catches a ball, when they catch your hands, it will be with their mouths.
You can cut down on a lot of biting by ensuring that you have something in your hands for your dog to chase instead of your hands. Holding a rawhide bone or a rope tug toy can give your puppy something that's totally acceptable to bite on while you play.
3. Reward Good Behavior
Of course, one of the best ways to encourage your Labrador not to engage in bad behavior is to make sure that good behavior is more rewarding. Giving your puppy a reward when they don't bite can quickly make biting seem much less attractive to your pet.
To reward your puppy for not biting, get some treats and sit by your puppy. From a distance, move your hand a little way toward the puppy's mouth. If the puppy doesn't move their mouth, give them a verbal encouragement, like "yes!" or "good puppy!" and give them a treat. Then move the hand closer than before, and repeat. Don't stick your hand very close to the puppy's mouth right away. Moving very gradually, with frequent rewards for not moving their mouth, helps give your puppy the idea of what you want and sets them up for success.
Don't get discouraged if your puppy starts biting when they're teething. With proper training and some patience, it can be easier than you think to train your puppy not to bite. For more information on Labrador Retriever puppies, contact your local breeders.