4 yr old lab - playing and biting
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Thread: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Default4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    We adopted Riley (now 4 yrs old) last April and we're thrilled with his calm, friendly nature.

    One thing we've noticed is that when he gets really worked up when playing with my husband or I, he will get excited and mouth us, and often the mouthing turns to biting. There seems to be no bite inhibition at this stage when he gets REALLY excited. It's never aggression, it seems to be pure excitment and playing. He's never broken the skin, but it hurts. What we've been doing is at the first sign of a mouth/bite that hurts us, we yell OUCH and stop the play. We turn our backs and walk away. Is that an appropriate reaction? We've been doing that for months and it hasn't really changed the behaviour at all. So we're at a loss. Does sort of bite inhibition have to be learned when the dog is young and once they're older, it can't be fixed?

    Otherwise Riley is a lovely dog who is gentle with our young kids - we've never let them wrestle with him, mostly due to the above problem, and his size (100 pounds). The biting thing has never happened around our kids - they've accidently fallen on Riley when he's asleep and he is fine. No problems with food or kids being around his food when he's eating. It only seems to happen when he's very excited and engaged in play.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have.


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  3. #2
    kaytris is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    Quote Originally Posted by chris_piper
    .
    What we've been doing is at the first sign of a mouth/bite that hurts us, we yell OUCH and stop the play. We turn our backs and walk away. Is that an appropriate reaction? We've been doing that for months and it hasn't really changed the behaviour at all. So we're at a loss. Does sort of bite inhibition have to be learned when the dog is young and once they're older, it can't be fixed?
    After you walk away, what happens? does he try to reengage? I would try a few things:

    -schedule regular playtimes with other dogs of similar temperaments and play styles, so that he has an opportunity to rough house with someone who enjoys it.

    -break the playtime up and intersperse training sessions throughout, so that he never gets TOTALLY over aroused

    -and no rough housing with people, at all. Play fetch or other games, but not wrestling of any kind

  4. #3
    BoatDog is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    KNow it's not the best solution - but my inherently strage SIL bit her dog back once - He's never bitten again.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    DefaultRe: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    Oy! My 18 month old Angus can be mouthy as well. I'll be watching this thread carefully for advice.

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    5,187

    DefaultRe: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    We adopted Murray when he was 2 and he also had zero bite inhibition (Cricket too). He often drew blood when playing with us. I've taught all my dogs bite inhibition (from puppy to adult) by a very simple technique that uses tools that you always have readily available...your hands...which just so happen to usually be the target of the bites.

    When the dog bites at your hands, grab the lower jaw with your hand and press your thumb on his tongue. You don't have to press hard. You aren't trying to hurt him. You are trying to immobilize him for a short time. Hold him this way for a few seconds, look him in the eye and sternly say "No Bite!" He will struggle for a second to get free so hold just a couple of seconds longer (not minutes) then let him go. At first he may think "Hey! This is a new game!" and jump back in for another bite. Do the same thing again. He's going to learn really quickly that whenever his teeth touch your skin he's going to get "stuck".

    You should see a decrease in the biting (especially the intensity of the bite) usually within a week or so. It may take up to a month to extinguish it completely since he's been allowed to play that way for almost a year but it can be fixed. The key to this technique is consistancy. Any time he bites you, you do this technique. Everyone in the house must do this technique. No one can allow him to bite and think it's cute or fun. Dogs think in terms of black or white, right or wrong. Either it's ok to let him chew on you or it isn't.

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    10,230

    DefaultRe: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    I would do exactly what rottnlabs said. With our dogs I normally grab the top of the mouth though and squeez in gently on the sides of their lips. It doesn't take much but hold it for a second and give a firm NO BITE.
    When we got Zeus at 1 1/2 he did this when you were sitting on the floor with him it didn't take long at all before he got the point.

  9. #7
    Tundra Aries Guest

    DefaultRe: 4 yr old lab - playing and biting

    Quote Originally Posted by bacatherine
    I would do exactly what rottnlabs said. With our dogs I normally grab the top of the mouth though and squeez in gently on the sides of their lips. It doesn't take much but hold it for a second and give a firm NO BITE.
    When we got Zeus at 1 1/2 he did this when you were sitting on the floor with him it didn't take long at all before he got the point.
    That's what we did too and it worked great with both of my dogs.

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