Question from first-time lab owner: Our 14 wk old pup is generally sweet and friendly, but sometimes she seems more "aggressive" than I expect for a Lab temperament. When she's cranked up, she sometimes chases and nips and snarls at our ankles and at the children (ouch!), and sometimes when we're out walking, she sees a person and stiffens, barks/woofs, chest forward, hackles up. I always thought Labs "never met a person they didn't like" and went up to any and all strangers with wagging tail. ("They'll show a burglar where the silver is hidden.") We want a really friendly, reliable, outgoing pet, so we're spending lots of time on socializing - neighborhood walks, taking her out in town center, checking out work men, going into shops, visiting children, etc, etc. Trying to introduce her in a friendly and positive way to any and all types of people to get her well-socialized. She's usually cheerful and confident in these situations, but the times she seems alarmed, barky, and protective concerns me! And the nipping/chasing is driving us NUTS.
What do you think? Thanks!
The chasing and nipping at you and family members. Correct it! Tell the dog NO! When someone gets nipped, squeal, shout loud, restrain if you choose, send to crate. Not acceptable, has to learn.
Outside people, the dog is young. The reaction may be of fear of the unfamiliar. Try to figure it out. If fear, learn to comfort. If aggression, correct.
Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.
you are not alone in the nipping part; Bella is about the same age and testing out what is 'biteable'. we noticed that closing her mouth actually wound her up more.
Now she gets up to three no-bites (with 30seconds of ignoring) and then crated to cool off.
nervousness can be a stage the pup is going through, or it may be innate temperament. Did you meet the parents? How much socialising did the breeder do?
Keep up the socialising (try to ensure she meets ALL ages, sizes, races, genders, clothing types, pairing those she's scared of with treats, either from you or from the stranger) but let her decide whether she wants to approach someone or not. Forcing her to approach something she's afraid of will cement the fear even more solidly.
Ignoring the fearful behavior is the best route - act as normal as you can. The dog will follow your lead in this.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
When the pups goes to nip for you or your kids, have you tried giving the pup a toy they "can" chew on and praise when they chew on it and not on people?
That may be something you want to try. Maybe the pup doesn't know what it is and isn't supposed to chew on
May 17, 1998 - May 20, 2009
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If she nips the kids whilst playing, give a big ouch and stop playing, this is what her littermates would do, if she realises she is being to rough she gets time out, if she keeps at it, put her in her crate for 5mins to cool off, she will soon realise to play nice.
as others have said i wouldnt encourage any fearful behaviour to strangers or offer reassurance, as she will feel their is something to be afraid of, she is still a baby and may feel overwhelmed by lots of new things so you need to remain calm and prove that their is no reason to be afraid.
The only advice I have is this. Keep in mind that for some pups the squeal and "ouch" may intice them to play harder.
I have always taught my kids to be a tree. When the pup does that my kids stop what they are doing cross their arms over their chest, look up, and refuse any contact with the dog at all. We call it being a tree.
If that does not work then I am there (my kids are not allowed with pups unsupervised ever) then I correct the situation. Usually though being a tree works.
I think it helps that all of my pups drag a leash, even when outside in a fenced area. I do that so that I can give a leash correction, as well as words, for those pups that are to excited and or stubborn to stop.
*edited to add*
For the fearful behavior I would ignore it. Continue on as if nothing had happened. By acknowdleging the fearful behavior you are only enforcing the fear. I also would not correct a growl as it is your pups way of warning. If you take away that warning it could have severe ramifications such as straight to a bite with no warning! I always used leave it when my pups growled.
Last edited by GlennBaxterFamily; 10-12-2009 at 04:21 PM. Reason: added info
Token (rescue baby and salmon fisher extraordinaire)
I"m a new lab owner, too. My puppy is only 9 weeks old, so I'm not sure if my advice is valid for a 14 week old. So take it for what it's worth. When Jersey gets wild & nippy when she's tired, so I put her in her crate for a nap. We call it the "nip nap."