Biting Puppies: Help For New Puppy Parents

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by pippa@labforumHQ, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. Sammie@labforumHQ

    Sammie@labforumHQ Administrator Staff Member

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    It's absolutely fine for her to have half an hour in her pen while you're in that mad rush of trying to get 3 kids out the door for school :)

    But for less frantic times of day, the ideal is to have a zone, such as your kitchen, that is 'hers' to roam around in, and teach the older two kids to step out of the zone if she's harassing them. For your youngest I would just keep them separate from pup unless you or another adult are directly supervising and managing interaction I'm afraid. So baby gates to keep the puppy in, and the 4 year old out!

    I have a 4 year old myself - I know this level of supervision is a total nuisance when in many ways they are so much more mature than they were a year or so ago. But they are still very young, and making the 'right' decisions when a puppy is (in their opinion) trying to eat them, is just too hard for most kids this age.
     
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  2. Rhian Jones

    Rhian Jones Registered Users

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    Thank you. Yes after the morning rush she is calmer and she gets to roam more and they do tend to leave her be.
    It’s more my middle child (6) and her that I have to supervise. She will bite at him more than the others and jump at him and pull his clothes. How do I correct this. I tell her down etc but it feels like we’ve been going through it since the beginning.
    I always supervise with the 4 year old too- she like to sit on her and chew her toys
     
  3. Sammie@labforumHQ

    Sammie@labforumHQ Administrator Staff Member

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    This sounds frustrating for you and your 6 year old. But it is SO normal for puppies to find young children over exciting - as long as you don't reinforce it, this stage will pass! I would use the same system as I suggested for the 4 year old - separate them from the pup unless you are there to give arms-reach, engaged, supervision.

    I don't recommend saying 'down' - you can't reward her for getting down without creating a behavior chain that reinforces the biting (biting -> "down" -> gets down -> treat. This chain makes biting MORE likely not less).

    Instead, the moment pup starts to bite, I would just gently lift pup into their pen for 30-60 seconds (her memory is short. A minute is plenty). Then let them out (as long as they are quiet! Wait for quiet if they are yapping or whining), and try again! If they tend to fuss in their pen, lift your child over a baby gate or onto the kitchen table, etc, for the time out period instead (make sure they know it's the puppy that's having time out, not them!).

    You can also work on reinforcing your pup for ignoring your 6 year old. So if your 6 year old is in the room and pup is quietly doing their own thing, calmly place a treat by pup's front paws. (You can adapt the techniques in "keep your dog off the couch" and "click for quiet" to teach this 'ignore the children' behavior more thoroughly :) )

    If you reinforce the calm behavior, and make sure the biting isn't reinforced (by just removing her when she does it) - this really will pass!

    I'm not sure if you've seen this link on how to play with a puppy, but if not, it's worth a read too :)
     
  4. Edp

    Edp Registered Users

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    Hello, I had 6 year old twins when we got Meg. I kept them separated for ages using child gates on many doors. We used a lot of distraction with her, gave her kings, frozen carrots, cardboard boxes to chew. As she got older, they could spend more time with her, but always supervised. The early separation did not impact on their relationship, as she she adores them, as they do her. It's worth that hard work in the early days, as the biting phase does pass. Hang in there
     
  5. Rhian Jones

    Rhian Jones Registered Users

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    Thank you for your message. I have been separating them indoors and them too giving her space. It’s little things like we’ll be walking and she’ll jump and bite or my daughter was on a bike and she was trying to get the handle bars and then turned and bit her arm. I was holding the lead ect so it’s always within arms length it’s just is this normal or should I be worried. She’s 17 weeks now
     
  6. Sammie@labforumHQ

    Sammie@labforumHQ Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Rhian. This is normal! But the more you can preempt, so it doesn't have chance to happen, the sooner it will fade. For example, I wouldn't attempt to leash-walk your pup while there are kids on bikes with you, until she has a really reliable leash walk without bikes present, and can sit quietly on the leash and ignore bikes moving nearby. It's just much too tempting a 'target' at this age!

    I know this is so hard when you have a lot of commitments to juggle, but ideally I wouldn't bring the kids on her walks at all at the moment. Setting up good leash walking habits is so much easier when you can give pup your full attention! And you have a lifetime of family walks ahead of you once the puppy phase has passed :)
     
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  7. Rhian Jones

    Rhian Jones Registered Users

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    Thank you. Yeah she’s loads better on a walk when it’s just the two of us, loose lead and she sits on request etc. I’ll do more walking on my own. The bike was stationary at the time so wasn’t able to pre empt. I’ve stopped her a couple of times before jumping up today and I’ve told others not to give her attention until she’s sat etc. hopefully it will improve soon. She’s also had more free time in the kitchen (with me) and then in her pen in the family room and she’s less jumpy in there then, put herself in her crate to just chill whilst the children watched tv and I made food. The other thing that’s started this past week is if someone (it’s been men) are on the other side of the road stop and say hello to her she done a little low growl. I’ve given the lead a little pull like ‘hey’ and she stopped and we walked on. With others she’s pulled to say hello to them and has been fine when a plumber (male) came to the house etc. is this a worry?
     
  8. Rhian Jones

    Rhian Jones Registered Users

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    I’m also sorry, I know I’ve written a lot it’s just that it’s all new to me and as she’s the family pet I just want to get it rite and make sure what she’s displaying is normal lab puppy behaviour. She went over to a couple with a dog today no worries, I let her go over. Then in the afternoon people walking without a dog and she did a low growl again. I distracted her with a treat and they walked by.
     
  9. Sammie@labforumHQ

    Sammie@labforumHQ Administrator Staff Member

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    Please don't apologise! You are doing really well - this is a steep learning curve! It sounds like she's a bit nervous of some people, so I'd work on taking her to some places with a good amount of passers-by, where you can sit at a distance from them and stream her treats. If she's stressed, use a location that's further from people next time. If she's happy, move a little closer next time. It's all about really gently pushing at her comfort zone while distracting her with food :).

    If she does growl, just distract her. It's important not to correct the growl, even with a lead jerk, because we actually do want to know if she's feeling anxious - teaching dogs they aren't allowed to growl doesn't make them less worried, it just stops them warning people how they feel!

    If practicing ignoring people on a regular basis doesn't help over the next few weeks, or if things get worse, it may be worth considering a 121 with a specialist behaviorist. They can suggest ways to help her feel more comfortable, that are specific to her needs and worries :)
     
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  10. Rhian Jones

    Rhian Jones Registered Users

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    Thank you. I’ve been working on taking it at her pace. We met a neighbour (he has a Labrador but it want with him) Doti growled and I explained to him and he was happy to try and help. We crossed the road (she was happy too) she barked at him but bounced too and her tail was wagging. She didn’t full approach him but was happy.
    She met a lady walking, barked at her but then settled and let her stoke. A man running went by, one bark and that was it and then yesterday we walked past a man fixing a wall and she made no noise
    She has started going back to the jumping and biting like she used to towards the end of walks (one of my first questions here) could this be down to the heat? I’ve tried to pick cooler times to walk but she’s not interested
     
  11. Rhian Jones

    Rhian Jones Registered Users

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    She’s doing it not long after we start the walk. Stopping, sitting down and won’t come and then will jump and bite/pull clothes. If I turn to go home she’s fine. Just doesn’t want to continue
     

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