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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, we have a 17 week old black lab He’s a lovely boy, and doing well on lots of levels. We’ve just finished a 5 week puppy class and a 5 week puppy socialisation group run by the vets. He was a bit of the class hooligan at them. He learns quickly and is very curious about everything. We’ve had two labs previously so we’re aren’t lacking in experience, our last boy sadly died 6 months ago and after a lot of thinking and searching we found this little one and brought him home at 11 weeks old. He sleeps all night in his crate and is mainly dry in the house taking himself off to do his business in the garden. his lead walking is coming on well and he loves to meet people.

We or I have a big issue of him biting me, especially when he’s overtired. Most of the time we are managing it although I’ve got bitemarks on both wrists and various other parts of me. I usually say a loud NO and “no biting“ and either distract with a toy or a chew, or if it’s a full blown attack, I walk away from him to another room and ignore him to let him calm down.

Last night I got a full blown alligator attack after my husband went out about 9 o’clock for a drink with his friend at the pub. I’d got pup half asleep chomping on his Kong by my feet - we try a routine of settling pup in the evening with a filled Kong til he dozes off. But almost as soon as husband was out the door he launched himself at me barking biting etc etc. I tried my usual tactics of a loud firm NO and I put my hand up - which we‘re using for “stay“. No response so I made him go down with my hand on him - this got me about a minutes respite then he’s at it again. It went on for about an hour him trying to bite me, barking and jumping at me. Me saying NO! Putting him into the down position, distracting him. me leaving the room, ignoring him - easier said than done when he’s launching himself at you. I tried putting him in his crate but I had a wriggling writhing, teeth snapping puppy that wasn’t going to give up on getting me to play with him. He finally got the message and wound down and went to sleep after about an hour.

He sees me as the softy and his playmate and my husband as the boss, although I do some of the training and spend time one on one with him. Within his litter, he spent a lot of time with his sister who were both kept with the breeder after the others went to their new homes, and I wonder if in his head I’ve become his sister.

Last nights onslaught has left me upset and uncertain what to do to stop this from happening again. What can we do? We won’t dream of giving up on him, he’s ours for life and I know this is temporary and he will grow out of it eventually but what do we do that will lessen this behaviour that we’re not already doing?

I think before this happened last night puppy had got himself overtired and excited - we’d had two friends visit us early evening and he’s not used to many visitors to the house with lockdown. We’d then taken him a 15 minute stroll round the block, then we met some kids from our street who made a big fuss of him and I think perhaps he got over excited plus him being overtired. I tried the Kong routine to calm him but it was only temporary as I then got the biting barking alligator attack

What do I/ we do please.
 

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I know how hard this is, but it's so common that I have a standard "Reply"

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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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you John you’re right, I’ve got to keep it in perspective and whilst telling him No, he can’t bite me I’ve got to teach him other ways of playing with me that don’t involve his teeth.
 

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Back in the days when Amy was alive Chloe and Amy used to play together, and the game they played was "Bitey Face." Gentle war games. But since Amy died Chloe has had to invent a new game, this time "Bitey Fingers" with me. So very gentle, a big grin on her face.

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Hello, we have a 17 week old black lab He’s a lovely boy, and doing well on lots of levels. We’ve just finished a 5 week puppy class and a 5 week puppy socialisation group run by the vets. He was a bit of the class hooligan at them. He learns quickly and is very curious about everything. We’ve had two labs previously so we’re aren’t lacking in experience, our last boy sadly died 6 months ago and after a lot of thinking and searching we found this little one and brought him home at 11 weeks old. He sleeps all night in his crate and is mainly dry in the house taking himself off to do his business in the garden. his lead walking is coming on well and he loves to meet people.

We or I have a big issue of him biting me, especially when he’s overtired. Most of the time we are managing it although I’ve got bitemarks on both wrists and various other parts of me. I usually say a loud NO and “no biting“ and either distract with a toy or a chew, or if it’s a full blown attack, I walk away from him to another room and ignore him to let him calm down.

Last night I got a full blown alligator attack after my husband went out about 9 o’clock for a drink with his friend at the pub. I’d got pup half asleep chomping on his Kong by my feet - we try a routine of settling pup in the evening with a filled Kong til he dozes off. But almost as soon as husband was out the door he launched himself at me barking biting etc etc. I tried my usual tactics of a loud firm NO and I put my hand up - which we‘re using for “stay“. No response so I made him go down with my hand on him - this got me about a minutes respite then he’s at it again. It went on for about an hour him trying to bite me, barking and jumping at me. Me saying NO! Putting him into the down position, distracting him. me leaving the room, ignoring him - easier said than done when he’s launching himself at you. I tried putting him in his crate but I had a wriggling writhing, teeth snapping puppy that wasn’t going to give up on getting me to play with him. He finally got the message and wound down and went to sleep after about an hour.

He sees me as the softy and his playmate and my husband as the boss, although I do some of the training and spend time one on one with him. Within his litter, he spent a lot of time with his sister who were both kept with the breeder after the others went to their new homes, and I wonder if in his head I’ve become his sister.

Last nights onslaught has left me upset and uncertain what to do to stop this from happening again. What can we do? We won’t dream of giving up on him, he’s ours for life and I know this is temporary and he will grow out of it eventually but what do we do that will lessen this behaviour that we’re not already doing?

I think before this happened last night puppy had got himself overtired and excited - we’d had two friends visit us early evening and he’s not used to many visitors to the house with lockdown. We’d then taken him a 15 minute stroll round the block, then we met some kids from our street who made a big fuss of him and I think perhaps he got over excited plus him being overtired. I tried the Kong routine to calm him but it was only temporary as I then got the biting barking alligator attack

What do I/ we do please.
As always, wise words from John that certainly helped me out when going through this with Jas. She is now 8 months, past the worst of the alligator stage but we are not completely out of the woods when it comes to the odd bit of " play biting " First thing I always ask myself is, has she had her quota of naps today, like John says it's often when they are what we would refer to in a toddler as " overtiredness ". Kongs are useful but don't always provide enough chewing, my top tip - a beechwood rolling pin, if it's huge cut to a reasonable size for a pup. Helps no end with the teething. When it's predictable, you've mentioned the evenings when you are on your own with pup sometimes, it helps to completely change activities when it starts - there just seems to be something about sitting down in the evening that's a trigger. I used to go into the kitchen, ignoring the pup for a bit, make myself a cup of tea or whatever, not always convenient but it's temporary. It can be helpful to take puppy outdoors for a 5 minute training session in the basics - turns negative behaviour into a positive, something I had to do often, as it was easy to feel sorry for myself with sore hands and arms! Like you I was the " picked on one " helps to think that it's probably because we are the prime object of our puppy's affection doesn't it?
Just to add that we nicknamed Jas the Jasagator at one point as the episodes were so frequent, that's when trawling through the threads on this forum really helped, there was always someone else with a similar experience. Good luck, in time it'll pass
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Mrs H.A that’s really useful. He’s being so good today. I was worried I might have spoilt my relationship with him by shouting at him last night - it’s not the way I want to be with our dogs or anyone’s. I’m going to do some play with him that won’t involve teeth - I hope! The distracting and changing activities is a useful tool. I remember the woman who did the puppy training saying that she carries with her homemade rope toys made out of plaited fabric for distracting a bitey puppy - I’ll remember to do that.
26860

Here he is looking like A little charmer 😀 Head Dog Eye Dog breed Carnivore
 

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Archie was a terrible little crocodile when he was a pup. I remember having a soft toy in every room in the house, so if he started, the toy got stuffed into his mouth and we would play with it rather than me being the chew toy! When they are that age, it feels like it will never get better, but it does eventually, just keep being consistent.
Cute pic :love:
 

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I was at a show a while back, Freddie was 7 months old. The judge, a lovely Slovenian lady called Tina Herman, noticed my knuckles were bleeding and she said to me come and see me when judging has finished and I’ll give you some tips. We exchanged email addresses and she pointed me to some tutorials on YouTube on restraint training. Not entirely the same as you might be experiencing but a useful tool in the armoury. Google “teaching self control dogs”. She saved my knuckles and now my boy is 3 and almost an angel.
 

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I know how hard this is, but it's so common that I have a standard "Reply"

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.
Wow John, that’s one of the most incredible responses I’ve read! Such an amazing explanation of what’s going on and exactly what we’re going through with our 13 week old black lab boy! My hands are filled with cuts and scars currently and my boy spends many a time out in the kitchen where he’s learning what happens if his play get out of control.
 

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My hands are filled with cuts and scars currently and my boy spends many a time out in the kitchen where he’s learning what happens if his play get out of control.
It's all perfectly normal, but it does not make it hurt any the less. I've had some real alligators in my time. Bare with it, it does get easier. I've just had such a lovely game of "Bitey Fingers" with Chloe. She is so gentle, and she was one of the alligators as a puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi all
I thought I’d post an update about Alligator boy. He’s just turned 19 weeks doing well on all counts and I’m cautiously optimistic that his biting attacks are lessening. In the two weeks since I wrote this post I’ve not been bitten except for the odd accidental nip and the wounds on my arms are healing too!

I took on board all the advice and wisdom I was given on here. An important one to realise (this was from JohnW) is that he wants to play with me and engage with me and the only way he knows that worked for him in with his litter mates, is biting and nipping so thats what he does with me because I’m his new best friend. I decided that I’d teach him other ways to play with me that don’t involve biting, so most days we play fetch and chase where I kick tennis balls around the garden and he chases them trying to put them all in his mouth. When indoors I throw his toys for him to chase after and do fetch. if he does bite me I say NO and I walk away and we stop the game.

I make sure that every evening he has a supply of filled Kongs and a few chews to calm him when we sit down to watch some tv and, gradually after some chewing, he falls sleep. He now goes and sits in the sitting room after our dinner waiting for me to bring his chews and kongs in.

He sometimes wakes up about 10 pm and goes to bite me and bark at me and I say a firm NO and use the hand signal for NO and I stand up and walk out of the room for 5 minutes or so - he doesn’t like me walking away and he sits looking worried at the closed door and when I come back in I ignore him - we give him another chew and sometimes he settles again, sometimes he doesn’t and we keep repeating it or we get him out to the garden or feed him to switch his thinking to something else.

Alligator boy has got a Labradors soft mouth and he takes treats really gently and he often comes up to me and gives me a little nudge with his mouth - I’m hopeful that gradually he’ll use this more and his bitey teeth less.

Thanks to this forum I’m keeping my sanity with puppy and I’m sure he’ll grow to be a lovely boy soon. I can’t wait!
 

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It seems like a long road, but in relation to the lifetime of a dog it's past in the twinkle of the eye. Then you have a beautiful friend and partner for the rest of his life. :)
 

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I can certainly vouch for this - today I glanced at my arms and realised I don't have any red scratches or ugly bruises - Jas is nearly 9 months old, was a top class alligator but now knows how to play ' bitey fingers ' very gently, just as John describes 🙂
 

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It’s great to hear that people are making progress with their little alligators! I still have mine, he’s now coming up to 4 months old, and does seem to control his nipping a little better. However, today on our walk, returning home he just went crazy! Jumping at me, biting, trying to jump and bite my wife, he was uncontrollable! I hope it’s a one off and was due to him being very tired at the moment, but it was a real “oh my goodness, what can I do to control him” moment. I probably need to make sure I bring one of his toys with us on walks to give him something he is allowed to destroy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Pembroke boy you have my sympathy - you feel defenceless when that happens. Like you say, he’s very tired. I know our Basil is worse when he’s tired - like he forgets himself. I wonder if he’d got overexcited on his walk too and that could have set him off? We do the ignoring and walking away - not always easy on a walk, I know. He doesn’t like it at all. We do lots of ballgames and distraction as well

Basil is just coming up to 5 months and he’s quietening down slightly -he’s not so daft or manic He still tries a little nip at me sometimes but quickly realises he shouldn’t be doing thatl. So there’s hope for you
 

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Thanks both John and “busterandcal” for your replies. He really is teething currently, so no doubt has something to do with his crazy behaviour at times! I also think there is something in his excitement level, as yesterday’s incident was straight after him having a massive sniff and run around in hedgerow long grass, which he loves so much, but does send him crazy!

I need to stock up on distraction toys and treats and try those on the next one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Try him with some teething gel for dogs. I get this from Amazon Mark & Chapell Limited - Gel teething £4 87
 
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