I'm new to the forum and my family and I are first time dog owners. We welcomed home our mischievous yellow Labrador puppy, Bobby, at 8 weeks and so far we've managed to teach him to sit, shake and lie down. Although we're enjoying our time with him and laughing at his goofy antics, we've got two main problems that we need some help with. I'd thought I'd come here for some advice especially since we may be doing the wrong thing. We've already planned for him to start puppy school at our vet's but as they are currently in the middle of a session, we won't be starting until the end of the month.
Problem 1: Biting
He's been doing this from 8 weeks and to try and control it, we've tried redirecting him with suitable chew toys. Although he goes off and chews it sometimes (which we reward in an effort to reinforce), we've found that he much prefers our clothes, arms, shoes and legs. I understand that as a puppy that it is completely normal and that he is playing and teething and not being aggressive. I've read online to "be a tree" and ignore the behaviour until he stops and then reward that, however, we've found that it is quite difficult when he is constantly grabbing, pulling and jumping onto us, which with his shark teeth, hurts. Consequently, it's also difficult to leave the room without dragging him along with us. We do use the "no bite" command and we've tried yelping but we think that this is only exciting him more.
We're trying another tactic: time-out. When we lure him into the crate, he'll gobble up his treat before throwing a bit of a tantrum for a few minutes (e.g. jumping up against the crate, whining) and then settling and playing with his toys. Afterwards, he crashes into a nap and with this pattern of behaviour, we've taken his biting as a sign for a nap. Is this normal and are we doing the right thing? I feel as if we're giving him too much crate time. Although after the nap, he is much better behaved. We also can't quite sit on the ground without him crawling all over us and biting our clothes. We've tried giving him a toy when he does so and most of the time, he'll curl up on your lap and chew his toy. On a side note, how much sleep should a 12 week old puppy be getting?
We've tried teaching him the "leave it" command by holding a treat into a fist and waiting for him to back away from it. However, we've found that instead of licking and nudging at the fist, he lunges and uses his teeth instead. To replace my hand, I've tried a bowl but he seems to be much more intrigued with the bowl. Is there another way to teach the command?
Problem 2: Inside the House
We don't want Bobby to become an outdoor dog as he is so much happier being around us and we want him to spend time inside as Labradors are known to be sociable and people oriented. However, when we let him inside from his romp and play session outside, most of the time he charges in and runs all over the house. A baby gate and a play pen isn't really an option for us as our house is quite open plan and my mum doesn't want to buy it as she says that he'd either jump out of the play pen or knock it over since they seem to be designed for smaller dogs.
We've tried getting him to stay in an area (the tiled living room as he isn't quite house trained yet) by giving him toys to play with, however, often times, he soon runs off to take shoes off our shoe rack. He likes to carry the shoes around in his mouth (which is only reinforced by his retriever instincts) before settling down underneath the chair to chew it. To get our shoe back, we try not to chase him (unless he's got something he really shouldn't have) and instead, try to get him to swap with us in exchange for a treat or a toy. Although this too, is also a hit and miss.
We've also tried keeping him on his harness and leash inside the house. However, this is difficult as he likes to grab and chew the leash. I've been trying to get him used to his leash by walking him on it before his meals and he does well as long as I'm holding the bowl of food. How can we teach him to settle in the house? I don't believe his behaviour is due to a lack of exercise as he's let out into the backyard quite often and we play and spend time with him as well before he starts the biting.
I don't want to keep him in his crate or in the backyard all the time especially when we're at home and I don't think he'll learn unless we let him out into the house to teach him what's right and what's wrong. We'd like to have time indoors where we can watch TV or do our homework whilst he's behaving and doing his own thing outside of his crate where we can see him. Furthermore, since this is just what untrained puppies do, it just would not be fair on him, especially since we decided to get a dog knowing that this was going to happen (although we were crossing our fingers for the rare, calm lab). He's part of the family and we want him with us. My mum says that this reminds her of raising us as babies and my dad often claims that Bobby is starving as he and our vet say, "...never looks full and always looks hungry" and is quite enthusiastic on feeding him. Bobby loves every bit of it. Although we do have to watch out so he doesn't become obese.
I've also found that he doesn't quite know when he's tired as he won't voluntarily go for a nap unless we crate or leave him alone. How do we teach him what's right and what's wrong for behaviour in the house? How do we correct bad behaviour? We don't want him turning into a Marley or becoming an "out of control" dog.
Wow, just noticed how long the post was. Sorry for that. We're first time dog owners so we'll greatly appreciate all the advice we can get. I look forward to your replies and thank you in advance for taking your time to read and reply.
do not leave the puppy in a crate or outdoors all the time. If you get to that point, please rehome him. these are training issues and if you need, find a trainer to come help you but do not use lack of training as an excuse to take the easy route and segregate a baby (or dog of any age). Marley was "out of control" because he lacked appropriate exercise and training NOT because he was a bad dog. As you said yourself, labs are not outdoor dogs, they need to be with their family. So you need to train him to be a behaved dog and the only way to do that is to have him indoors.
My first recommendation is to sign up for puppy classes, they will help give you tips on normal puppy issues (which is what you are experiencing) AND be invaluable for socliazation.
Second: a dog "outsisde alone" does NOt exercise themselves. you need to go out there and play with the puppy to call it "exercise". this will also help bond and can help with training as you show him what is appropriate (what gets him more play) VS non appropriate (what makes you stop play and ignore). go outside and throw the ball. bring him for a walk. Find some friendly dogs and get him out for some play dates.
Exercise his mind. Working on training daily, a few short sessions a day (even 3 five minute sessions is good). Make him "work" for his food by feeding via a kong, kong wobler, tug a jug or other toy.
For a 12 week old pup that bites I would push the gum into the tooth (biting the puppy back). calmly and straight forward. it will take some time for him to get it.
How are you luring the dog in the crate? I just throw a treat in there and they run in and I close the door. I say the command "crate" as I do this so that eventually they go in the crate before I throw the treat in. But I pretty much always put at least a yummy treat in there with them.
Hello and thanks for the reply. We've already enrolled him for puppy school that starts at the end of the month as they are already in the middle of a session. He's not kept in the crate "all the time" which was an exaggeration on my part but just when no one is at home to supervise him, at night and when he starts biting (although we intended the timeouts to be around 5 minutes, we find that he often falls asleep so we don't wake him). Afterwards, he is like a different dog: calm, docile and well behaved.
Additionally, we also play with him all the time. We've only got to leave him outside for short moments at a time (e.g. Dinner and preparing his meals) since we can't watch him as we eat. However when this occurs, I give him toys to play him and stuff treats in a treat dispensing ball. To get the treats out, he shakes it and sometimes he misses the food falling out.
Once any of us has finished eating, we go out to play with him.
We lure him into the crate as how you described. We throw a treat or a toy inside, say "bedtime" as he goes in, praise and shut the door. Sometimes when he has settled, we also give him some treats to reinforce the behaviour.
We let him inside the house after he has had his exercise and nap. We also scatter some toys for him to play with and praise him when he lies down to chew it. He's kept in a couple hours at a time (more of it's bad weather outside) but we find that after he's had his play outside, he tends to sleep the day away.
How do we teach him to settle and calm down in the house?
He is also let out when we have relatives over. We give him a toy to carry (which he likes to parade and show off to everyone) so he has something to amuse himself with and he won't bite.