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Hi Everyone, I just wanted some advice on Belle, my 17 week old Lab X Retriever. My partner and I are also first time dog owners so we are full of questions etc just like a first time parent I suspect.
We got Belle at 8 weeks old and well it has been an eye opening experience to date. Within the first 2 weeks, we knew Belle wasn't quite right and a few trips to the vet confirmed our fears. Firstly, that our Belle came from a puppy farm and was showing health signs from her mother being overbred including kennel cough at 10 weeks, she had no puppy fat (her breeder was bulking her on lamb milk powder), she tested positive for a parasite so alot of vomiting and diarrhoea, she has an incredibly sensitive tummy (we are on our 5th brand of food that has finally worked but it's a "Free From" range), her coat was dry and not super soft and fluffy etc. She also had a lot of separation anxiety and bit and awful lot that our vet strongly believed she was taken away from her mother too soon. She also literally would not walk. She was petrified of leaving the house unless it was in the car with us. Thankfully, she is gaining weight, kennel cough and parasite free, super soft and silky, sleeping relatively well threw the night (no crying or barking except for the snoring!), walking on the leas without issue, no problems with her staying on her own outside in her house and more controllable bowel movements. She is thriving and a sign we are really caring for her, probably too much as everyone comments we have her spoilt! Toliet training is coming on well, very seldomly she has accidents in the house during the day, she'll hover about the patio door and look at you if she wants out to do her business and will come in and sit beside the "treat jar" for her reward. Belle is also an incredibly affectionate dog. She loves her full body hugs from me, it will completely settle her when she is stressed or upset. However, the teething/biting is not easing up and I'm finding it very tough. My partner (who is master) works night shift and sleeps in the evening time from 18:00 hrs onwards. However, as soon as he leaves the room to go to bed, Belle starts to "go on the attack" with me. I literally do not have a jumper left without holes in the sleeves. A few weeks back she literally mauled a sleeve off me and then bit my stomach and hanged off my jumper from her teeth. She will bare her teeth, growl, snarl, lunge and snap at me. I cannot sit down or shes on me. If I'm doing housework or busy, she's fine but as soon as I rest, she starts. Nobody believes she does this when they see her with me because shes all over me including the full body hugs. She has loads of toys and chew items including bones from the butchers. But there not enough of a distraction when it comes to me being her favourite chew toy. I don't mind the mouthing but it's when she takes it that step too far and won't stop and turns it into a hunting match. If I've showed my dominance, she will lie down and do her "forgiveness pose" and allow me to pet her on the face, even around the mouth to make amends but it only lasts a minute or two before shes on the full attack again. She absolutely loves kids but I really want to nip this in the bud because I don't want her doing this to my nieces and nephews who all love "wow wow's". Can anyone provide some help or reassurance?
 

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Firstly, forget any ideas about dominance, that's a long outdated theory that has been disproven a long time ago. The problem is, if she's been taken from mum and siblings too young, she hasn't really learned bite inhibition properly, and even pups who are kept with mum and siblings are very mouthy, after all, retrievers were bred to use their mouths.

The problem is, when she's being mouthy, she's getting what she wants. You may think your negative attention isn't rewarding, but any attention to her is great, so she's getting exactly what she wants, even if you're just shouting at her to get off, it's a great big game and you keep joining in. The second she bites, pick her up, pop her in a place she can't get to you, and leave her to calm down, and simply repeat. She will learn in time that her mouthing/biting, isn't going to get her what she wants, and will then work out how to play nicely.
 

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Have a read of this. It's something I wrote some time back, but I saved it because this "problem" comes up so often.

John :)

I think it’s important that you understand whats happening. What you describe is so normal for Labrador puppies! Part of the problem is that they are so much a social breed, they love everybody and want to be with them. They want to play, and they want to involve their “human” in their game. And of course dogs cant play cards or computer games. Puppies are pre-programmed at birth to play “War Games.” This is equipping them for their future in the wild, catching their food and defending themselves and their pack. Puppies, and many other creatures in the wild will practise and hone their skills on each other. I’m so lucky in that I have a private wood that I can walk in and often in spring I’ve stood and watched Fox cubs playing these war games. They have no intention of hurting each other, just have a lovely game.

But then onto domestic dogs, and thats where things all go wrong. We take our puppy out of the nest and away from his siblings at around 8 weeks old, just about the time when the pups are beginning to get active, starting to think about things other than eating and sleeping. So his natural actions now would be to play his war games, but he has no siblings to play those games with! So effectively you are the surrogate sibling! In the wild this is where he would start to learn bite inhibition. As a baby he would have no idea that biting hurts! How could he? So he nips his sibling a bit hard, brother says, “Oye! Pack it in! If you are going to play rough I’m off!” In other words he walks off and leaves his brother. Brother soon works out that biting too hard hurts and finishes the game. Particularly if it’s him that gets bitten too hard! So the pups start to learn to control their biting.

Why do they single out one particular person? Because they think that person is nice, so they want to play, and play in the only way they know. So really, much as you dont want it, it's really a compliment! Your puppy feels happy and confident with you.

This is where the theory of “Time out” came from. It’s us trying to replicate what would happen with puppies naturally in the wild. “That hurt! I’m not playing anymore!” So you stand up, turn your back on the pup, get your hands up high so there is nothing for the pup to take hold of. But you have probably noticed that things are worse in the evening. Just like children, they can lose a certain amount of self control when they get tired. All day you are busy so they spend a large part of the time sleeping, but in the evening, when you want to sit quiet, resting from the day they want to play. And as they get tired so the play gets rougher. I have always made a point of popping my pups into their crate at about 7pm for an hour, so they get use to having an hours sleep in the evening, and I get a chance to recharge my batteries. Interestingly this has built a habit which has continued for all of my dogs lives. Every evening they put themselves to bed and we all have a rest.

I know puppies are hard work, and the alligators can make your hands really sore, but believe me, it does get better. Yes my dogs still love to involve me in their games, but it’s now lovely. Amy takes hold of my wrist so gently and leads me to where she wants to go, or Chloe will take hold of one finger to involve me in her war games, but oh so gently. Somehow you never notice things getting better because it is a slow change in pressure. But one day you realise your hands are no longer sore and you cant remember the last time you told him to pack it in. Given time they become the most wonderful of creatures.
 

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When she started this evening, at 18:30, I put her outside. She has a house, toys and multiple buried bones to keep her occupied while shes out. She wasnt jumping on the door too much so she obviously slept. I let her in about an hour and 30 minutes later. She was tired and more settled. Still mouthing and biting but we had some cuddles too. Once she couldn't come down again, I put her to bed in the kitchen. So it was more tolerable tonight 👌
 

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Why do they single out one particular person? Because they think that person is nice, so they want to play, and play in the only way they know. So really, much as you dont want it, it's really a compliment! Your puppy feels happy and confident with you.
Lovely 😂 She loves me so much she wants to eat me 😂🙈 I know she's going to be an AMAZING dog ❤ I just wanted some reassurance that its normal especially since I've no experience of raising a puppy before.
 

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Please be reassured that it is normal. We've all been there with our first lab puppy, thinking that they are the devil in a fur coat, we've made a massive mistake and have the worse puppy ever. It does get better, I promise!


Unfortunately labs have a reputation of going from cute loveable Andrex puppies into fantastically trained guide dogs, but nobody tells you about the stubborn, loony, crocodile-kangaroo cross you have to live with in between times!


When Archie was a puppy I used to have a soft toy in every room in the house, so that if he wanted to play (usually with my slippers or trouser legs) I had something to stuff in his mouth, so he learned what to play with and what not to!


Eventually it gets better, usually without you realising, until you stop one day and think - I haven't been munched/scratched/jumped on for a few days. Just follow John's advice and be consistent with it and she will be fine.:)
 

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As all have said above - It really does get better - Hang on in there you have had a rough start.. Time will make things better. Bolli our Second Labby was so different to Twiggy our Choccy - But that could just be time dimming my memory.

She was a complete Croc with my OH - But rarely with me - (Guess I am not as much fun!!) but slowly over time the mad moments have decreased and the loving ones Increased... She is now 15months which may seem like a long time to wait - But as John says it happens so gradually that it takes time before you realise that they have been lovely for so long. Time out is a great lesson - We used to put her outside in the garden for 5-10 mins and when she came in she was always so sweet she got lots of praise to show we loved her when she was Gentle ....Stick with it - They are the best dogs
 

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The advice above is spot on.

Then it's down to three things from you
1. Repetition
2. Repetition
3. Repetition

Can I just take a moment to thank you for sticking with her after what sounds like a terrible start in life? There's many who would've walked away from the problems you discovered and it does sound to me like Belle is going to have a lovely life in front of her with you guys.

I read a story in The Metro this week where a mother and daughter were fined £610,000.00 for running a puppy farm. I nearly jumped out of my seat and cheered but that would've freaked out the tube carriage. These unscrupulous farmers are pure scum and I'd love to be left alone in a room with a few of them.
I just wish the over stretched authorities could do more.

Anyway, apologies for that rant, good luck with Belle, keep at it and keep the updates coming!
 
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