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Will My Lab Puppy Ever Stop Nibbling My Hand?

Uptown Staff

Will My Lab Puppy Ever Stop Nibbling My Hand?

Labs like to give you lots of love. Although adorable, this affection can sometimes come in the form of nibbling and biting.

As your puppy grows up, this nibbling can become quite painful. If you don’t teach your Lab not to mouth, they may continue to bite you and chew on things they shouldn’t

Fortunately, most Labs will grow out of their mouthing phase, provided that you train them properly. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Lab nibbling and how you can stop it.

Why Labs Nibble So Much

Puppies of just about any breed will like to nibble. They use their mouth to explore the world, so biting something is a natural way of learning.

But Labs are even mouthier than other dog breeds due to their hunting background. They were originally used in England to help hunt waterfowl. They would use their mouth to grip on to ducks and drag them back to their owners.

Most Labs aren’t used for hunting nowadays. But they still feel the urge to chew, and they need to keep their mouth busy to avoid boredom.

Teaching Your Lab Not To Bite

When Labs are kept around their mother, they have another dog to show them what’s right and what’s wrong. Puppies will bite and nibble to play and engage with other dogs around them. But if they cross the line, their mother will often growl at them or pull them away.

Since most Labs don’t grow up around their mothers or with their siblings, they miss out on a lot of these lessons. That’s why you have to step in as their mother so that they learn when they shouldn’t bite.

Most likely, you are not a dog. This can make it difficult to teach your Lab the exact same way their mother would. However, there are still some easy ways that you can train your Lab to behave.

Give Them A Verbal Warning

If you notice that your Lab is nibbling on something that they shouldn’t be, the first step is to give them a verbal warning. The exact word doesn’t matter, as long as you are consistent. Say it clearly and look directly at them when you say it.

Most puppies won’t know what to make of this warning at first, and will keep chewing away. Gently but firmly grab their collar and give a tug. You’re in no way trying to cause pain, but simply getting their attention. Repeat the verbal warning as you pull.

Your puppy may still look at you in confusion, so keep repeating this process until your dog gets it.

Replace The Object

Biting and mouthing is a healthy part of being a puppy, and dogs will still need to chew as they grow. But you have to teach them what they can chew on.

As you warn your dog not to bite something, replace the object with something that they can chew. If they start chewing the replacement, give them plenty of praise. Your Lab will realize that they are only allowed to chew on certain objects.

Stay Away From Shock Collars

Although shock collars can be useful for some purposes, we don’t recommend them for training your dog not to chew. Nibbling is a healthy behavior, provided that your dog is chewing on an appropriate object.

Shock collars can make your puppy anxious, which can actually worsen chewing and biting. You’ll usually get better results by gently but firmly warning your dog with a tug of the collar.

Dealing With Teething

When Labs are teething, they’re not chewing just for fun. It helps them deal with the pain, and trying to stop them from biting anything at all is a bad idea.

To keep your Lab busy as they chew, you can give them a toy. To help manage the pain, you can also give them ice cubes to chew. Keep an eye on your puppy when you give them ice cubes, as they can cause choking.

Other Reasons Labs Bite

Most Labs bite to be playful and to explore the world. But as they grow, they might start biting for other, less friendly reasons.

One reason is fear. Dogs will start to bite if they feel threatened or if they think their family is in danger. Fortunately, Labs aren’t usually fairly calm, so this type of behavior is not as common as with other breeds.

Some dogs will also bite to protect their territory. They might bite someone who walks onto your property or another dog that they believe is in the wrong place. Labs aren’t super territorial, but you may still occasionally see this type of behavior.

Labs may also bite when they are in pain. If you notice that your Lab tries to bite you when you touch a specific part of their body, they may be injured. Take them to the vet and get the area checked out.

When They Won’t Stop Biting

Most Labs will stop biting and nibbling as much as they age. If you notice that your Lab continues to nibble as they grow out of their puppy phase, you may need to give them some more structured training.

The most important part of this training is to be consistent. You need to drill home the message to your Lab that they can’t chew everything they put their mouth on.

Warn them sharply- but never aggressively- whenever they are nibbling on something that they shouldn’t. Also give them plenty of chew toys to keep them busy, and praise them when they bite a toy instead of nibbling on you.

You can also reach out to a pro to help you set up a training routine for your dog to teach them what they can and can’t bite. This can lower the risk that your Lab accidentally hurts someone by chewing on them.

How To Manage Aggression

If your Lab’s chewing and nibbling is crossing the line into aggression, they may have a more serious behavioral problem that needs to be dealt with.

Labs are friendly dogs that rarely bite to hurt. But some can still have problems with aggression, and when they do bite, they can do some serious damage.

The best way to deal with an aggressive dog is to get help from a trainer. They can structure your dog’s training while lowering the risk of anyone getting hurt.

Remember, you should never hit a dog when they’re being aggressive, unless it’s in self defense. Physical punishment will only make them more fearful and anxious, which will increase aggression.

Start Teaching While They’re Young

The best way to deal with nibbling and biting is to teach a dog when they’re young. Puppies learn quickly, making it easier to teach them what’s right and what’s wrong.

Although older dogs can still be trained, they tend to be more stubborn and less willing to change. Older Labs also have much larger teeth and more powerful jaws, so trying to teach them not to chew can be a painful experience.

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