Three weeks ago we adopted a puppy from a rescue group. The first week he was a sweetie, mellow, and shy. The second week he became a little more comfortable with our home, etc., and seemed to become more of a puppy. This past week (the 3rd), he's turned into a sometimes wild dog. He constantly chases us (mainly my 3 yo.) and nips and today has started biting. I've been taking him to a trainer who I have known for 15 yrs. and she specializes in labs. I really trust her completely. But I still could use your group's expertise.
How do I stop him from tackling and nipping/biting me and my daughters. Often when I am there and I tell him NO or Leave It and give him a toy, he stops, but then starts again. I sometimes bring him out, if it isn't raining too hard, I take him for a long walk. He is in a big chewing phase too. But if I don't intervene fast enough, he goes all out. If he continues to do this, I tell him gently, but firmly "time out" and put him in his crate for a few minutes (which is in our family room where we all hang out, so we are still with him and he has food, water, and lots of chewy toys), until he settles down. Then we let him out again. But if he continues, I either put him on his lead outside or back in his crate.
This is really getting crazy. I've been reading several books - "Mother Knows Best" and "Ceasar's Way" and try to constantly work on training him, but we're really hitting a bad spot.
I have had the same problem when my 3 yo granddaughter is over. All I can say, is they will require constant supervision when together until they get past this stage. One thing that has helped me, is that the dog is not allowed on the furniture so the couch is my granddaughters "safe place". Honestly, if the 3 yo runs the puppy will chase and naturally nip and bite because it is a game. Especially, if the 3 yo is holding a toy in the air to keep it away from puppy. The things a 3 yo naturally does to remedy the situation (run away, squeal, hold toys above their heads) are exactly the things that make it worse. The only thing that has worked for me when my granddaughter is over is constant supervision. I cannot leave them in a room together unsupervised, even to change over the laundry. One of them has to come with me. If Spongebob is on, the dog comes with me.
I agree with the last post "constant supervision". The pup thinks of your child as a littermate and is just playing with him/her like he would a littermate. When we got our pup my son had just turned 1 and my daughter 4 and let me tell you he was a biter, he would chase them and bite like crazy. You need to constantly tell the pup (firmly) "No Bite" and redirect his attention to a toy or some other diversion. There is some great advice on these boards on how to get your pup to stop biting. If you crate trained your dog you can always put him in the crate when he can't be supervised. It is only temporary, once our pup reached about 7 months he pretty much just stopped, but until then it was constant supervision and training for both dog and child, I find that young children (not knowing better) can also be rough with pups. Hang in there and good luck!
I don't really think you've hit a bad spot ... you're just encountering normal lab puppy behavior. It does get better at about 5 months of age when the adult teeth come in. But you still need to be consistent now, and it sounds like you are. I do remember reading some advice after my puppy days were over -- think it was Labby (or not?) who said that when a puppy nipped she would pinch it's nose. Apparently this is pretty effective, as some other people took the advice and wrote in that it worked.
I know you think that you'll never get through this, but I promise you it will get better.
You need to train your kids to be around a pup. Supervision and careful and proper interaction are the key. I am actually surprised that a rescue group adopted a pup to a family that has such young kids...for this very reason that you are talking about.
Read our best practices thread...it has a great couple of things in reference to nipping.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003
Ok. Labs are mouthy dogs....my Lab did the nipping till around 6 months....my Aussie is doing a lot better with it now at 18 weeks....but he was terrible for a time, especially when I was trying to brush him...but we have made big improvement....You just got to keep on telling them no, and give them one of their toys to chew on....A young child doesn't have that power behind their voice to get the point across....so until puppy is over some of this stuff, never leave them alone...try teathering the dog to you with a leash if you have to. A 3 year old and a Lab puppy are a tough combo....When my kids were young I would have them feed the dog treats...Another thing I do, I always explained to my dogs that the kids were my babies, and we need to be gentle with "the babies" of the family. When we brought the Aussie puppy home, he was really rough with my senior Lab Katie...so I started petting Katie and petting Riley and telling Rilley that Katie was my "baby" and we have to be nice and "gentle" with "my baby", and Riley has gotten reprimanded when he is not either verbally or with a squirt of water.. It's taken a few weeks, but there has been a big improvement...and now if Riley gets too rough a quick no from me is all that is needed to calm him down....I'm not sure how much a 3 year old is going to understand if you tell them if you run, the dog is going to run after you, and maybe even knock you down...but you can try explaining it....but the best advice is never leave them alone, and probably unless you are right by the 3 year old, the puppy should probably not be off leash around the 3 year old. That way you have more control over the puppy...
Hang in there..the hard work now will pay off in the long run!
Thanks to all that responded! You all had some great advice. Things have been going much better. I worked more with my trainer in this area and found that "Leave it" works great most of the time. When they are both too wound up, I put him outside on his lead or in his crate for a few minutes to help them both calm down.