As much as we love our little bundle of joy, Bentley, his biting and nipping and chewing are just more than we can handle sometimes
He's such a sweet boy and we know he's not doing any of it out of aggression, but we're at a loss of how to handle this. We'll be starting classes in a few weeks and it's one of the things we'll be covering and we're going to ask our trainer if there's anything we can start doing now to work on these issues. We know that this is typical puppy behavior and labs are notorious for all of those traits, but we'd like to think that there's something we can do.
It's great to hear that you have the right attitude! Lab puppies are mouthy as hell, and people who are not used to the puppy nipping often mistake it for aggression of dominance or other things that it's not. He's exploring the world with his mouth and trying to play with you, but you're quite reasonable for not wanting to have to wear falconry gloves all the time.
How old is Bentley? I've found that nipping tends to be at its worst between 11 and about 13 weeks. For some pups, it dissipates on its own without your doing much of anything. But it's a good idea to teach bite inhibition anyway, because if they don't figure it out on their own, it is extremely annoying to have an 80-lb. dog nipping at your hands, even in play.
First, it's important to realize that younger puppies, just like toddlers, will get so riled up sometimes that nothing you say or do will help because they're not thinking or listening. This is especially true when they are tired. So you need to have a "time out" area--someplace boring you can stick him to calm down when he's overly amped. Like kids, you'll often find that after a couple minutes in the time-out area, he'll be fast asleep! Or he may cry and fuss and carry on, in which case you should just ignore him until he's quiet. The time-out place could be a puppy-proofed bathroom, or an exercise pen (that's what we used). You could use a crate, but I personally prefer not to use the crate as punishment, even negative punishment, at least at first.
Now, when he is nipping and isn't being a complete lunatic, there are various things you can do, which range from yelling "ouch!" to pinching his lip, to sticking your fingers down his throat. Leaving aside the question of whether physical punishment is desirable, I personally found that none of them worked except for this one, which Dana (FallRiver) recommends: When you are nipped, immediately get very still, stare the puppy straight in the face, and say "oouuch" in a low, growly, threatening (but soft) tone. Then ignore the puppy for a few seconds.
Also remember that puppies are most amenable to learning when they are not overly aroused, so you'll probably have the best luck with this when the pup is calm and not running around like a nut. In the latter case, you might just be better off putting the pup away for a few minutes.
Finally, it's easiest to dial down the biting over time. At first, you reprimand hard bites. Then soft bites. Eventually, you can get to the point that no mouthing at all is acceptable unless it's invited (e.g., teeth check, kisses). If you want more detail on this, you should get the little book "Before and After You Get Your Puppy," by Dr. Ian Dunbar, which is available off Amazon.
I understand exactly what you are saying. Misty is now 6 months old; this is not a major problem anymore for her (though she is a bit more bitey right now than she has been recently). However, she was a TERROR from 7 weeks all the way until about 16 or 18 weeks. A complete TERROR! I posted several times about this, and got lots and lots of good advice. If you do a search on my username, or on the words "biting," or "nipping," etc. -- you will find lots of good advice, and you will also find that what you are going through is completely normal and it WILL get better. If nothing else, just losing those super-sharp puppy teeth helps -- the adult teeth are MUCH duller. Basically, though, Misty was so hyper that she couldn't control herself, and so telling her "No bite" or whatever was futile. However, now that she is a bit older and more mature, she understands and will listen to "no" when she gets too mouthy (she will get more gentle, or else will start licking instead! : ) -- but, again, the crazy biting is not NEARLY as frequent as it used to be. Hang in there, it gets better. If you want specific advice, do some of those searches I suggested. There's a ton of good info here.
The technique that worked wonders for our puppy is to curl his upper lip over his canines with your thumb or forefinger and apply pressure so that he whimpers or yelps because he feels his tooth biting his lip.
Only do this when he is biting your hands, and then offer them a toy to chew on immediately.
I just put my thumb in murphys mouth and held his tounge down every single time he would nip at me. In a few days he learned that biting wasnt so fun. Sometimes he still gets a little excited but doesnt actually bite or nip, comes close like he wants to, in this case I just ignore him.