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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The 7.5 month old lab we just got (xmas) gets overexcited at times and will go to bite. My kids running or skipping or jumping sets her off. So she bite onto my arm the other day when we were playing and caused a bruise, and tooth scratch that did break the skin. I wasn't upset and ignored it. Today, my 7 year old was trying to play with her and the dog grabbed onto the upper part of her lower leg. My daughter started screaming "She's biting me!" and the dog wouldn't let go until I got to her.

I know puppies play bite, but this is a huge puppy. What am I supposed to do here? I have kids in my house all the time running and playing. She left marks but did not break the skin here.
 

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Sorry that happened to you and your daughter. How is she?

I'd very strongly recommend you find a positive reinforcement-based trainer or behavior consultant to work with you and your dog. This is a good resource: Finding a Trainer, Behavior Consultant, or Behaviorist

I don't know the history, but if your dog is from a shelter/rescue, he may not have had much training and is now a rambunctious teenager with no manners. That said, only a profession, in-person consultation can truly determine what is going on and offer advice regarding the biting.

Until you can meet with someone, keep the dog separated from children - especially running, jumping, squealing children. They are likely far too exciting for him to be around right now.

In the meantime, here are some additional resources
Safety with Children, Babies, and Dogs!
Impulse Control and Calmness
Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping
 

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Cookieface's advice is great. Please check out all of her links.

I'm also curious about the history of your dog. A dog coming from a shelter situation will often be highly stressed, and it sounds like your household has been really active, chaotic, and overwhelming for a dog that really most likely needs to decompress. Here is article that you might find quite pertinent to your situation:

Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog

I would highly recommend that you read Patricia McConnell's book as well:

Amazon.com: Love Has No Age Limit-Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home (9781891767142): Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D., Karen B. London Ph.D.: Books


ETA: I just read your other posts and see that your new puppy came from a pet store. Regardless, it sounds like your dog is just very overwhelmed.
 

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was the child badly wounded? make sure when there's an open wound to keep an eye on it and get it medically checked when it seems to be infected.
sounds like an untrained dog to me. you probably knew that when you got it. it needs training and you need to manage the dog until it is ready to deal with these situations.
generally I wouldn't trust children with dogs of any size.
I'd tell the children to not play with the dog or have any contact with it until your 100% sure you can trust both, the child and the dog, to not hurt the other.
with 7 years a child is old enough to understand that and act on it.

make also sure to give your dog enough of one-on-one attention (you and your dog alone, no partner, no children. training, playing (calm games), walking, building a relationship with your dog), so you know how to handle it and you're able judge their behaviour at any time you need it.
A houseleash can help great to keep your dog close and under control all the time.
make also sure that the dog learns to lay down at some place he feels safe, like a dog bed, blanket or cage and make sure to teach your children that they're not allowed to touch or disturb the dog when it is on its "safe place", especially not when the dog is sleeping.
a healthy dog is normally asleep around 17-20 hours a day.
 
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Puppies play bite, the dog is treating your child as if she's another puppy. The puppy needs to be taught what is okay to play with. Children running around and being rambunctious can encourage puppies to bite because that's how puppies play. I would recommend teaching your children how to appropriately interact with the puppy and to be calm around the puppy. When the kids want to be rambunctious, they need to be separated until the puppy learns not to mouth them. This is done by redirecting the puppy onto appropriate objects. That being said, everyone else posted some great links and I would recommend reading them.
 

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Along with what everyone else said, you need to teach your children not to run, scream or play chase with the dog because that's what set her off. This can be difficult because it's often children's first method of playing with the dog. I recommend getting a trainer or going to a class with this dog ASAP. The children should be included in this, or have the trainer talk to them about how to properly play with their new friend. There are also books for kids on dog training and how to interact with dogs. Right now you should be very careful and not allow the kids to interact with the dog without supervision.

Since you bought this dog at a pet store it's also likely she has poor bite inhibition (control over how hard or soft she bites) because the pups learn that from their mom and siblings, and they are typically separated them way too early to be shipped to the stores. I see as well that you were/are having housebreaking issues. Dogs born in puppy mills (hellish places where all pet store puppies come from) are known to be notoriously difficult to housebreak. This is because they are kept in small cages in the mills and stores, so they learn that it's acceptable to relieve themselves wherever they are, including where they sleep and eat, which most dogs are adverse to. This becomes a much harder habit to break the older the dog gets. I DO recommend crate training, but with a dog that has had experiences like this, she might just go in there too. However, it's worth a shot. If you're adverse to that I would section off the kitchen or other small room while you're housebreaking. I see you said the dog is destructive as well. She's still young, and Labs are high energy dogs. I would suggest you make sure she gets lots of walks and romps, and some nice chew toys like nylabones and Kongs you can stuff treats in, which will also occupy her mind if she's bored.

Best of luck with your new dog and I hope we can help you along with this!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Updating: Trainer is coming to the house today. On the up side, no accidents in the house all day yesterday so there is hope!

It's so difficult for me to have to ask kids (puppy is for them...they wanted a puppy to play with) not to run or play with her. I'm not talking about mean kids that taunt or tease. I mean good kids who want to touch, pet and play with her and her toys. I wanted them to "grow up together". My last lab was so gentle and so easy for them (and older son) to play with. This is such a huge adjustment. Thank you for you help so far.
 

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I'm glad you have a trainer coming out. It worries me that the dog did not let go when your daughter was screaming.

I hope everything works out !
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Was your last lab older when s/he was around kids? Older labs, from what I understand, tend to be fairly mellow. My MIL's lab was very gentle with her granddaughter (even though she wasn't), but he was 8 or 9 at the time.

Since your pup is very young - very much like a young child who doesn't really know how to control his emotions - and likely didn't have the best start to life, it's going to take some extra patience and management to have the type of relationship you envision.

I know it must be very difficult and disappointing right now, but you're doing all the right things.
 

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I had a very similar problem with my lab mix- we got her at about 8 months from a shelter where she'd been in isolation for several months because of ringworm that was proving hard to treat. By the time we got her it had been treated but she'd missed out on a LOT of socialization and exercise.

She was a little bit of a weird dog for a year or so but now is absolutely perfect- rest assured once you get through a rocky year or so the kids will still be able to grow up with her and IMO will have a better understanding of dogs and other animals limitations (ie, they dont exist just for them to play with) and be much more mature for not having had another perfect dog.

I was 15 when we got the lab and msotly in charge of her training- I found bitter apple spray to be very useful with biting. spray a little in her mouth when she bites and she'll very quickly learn rough play with people is not fun. Also make sure she is getting plenty of excercise- at least an hour or two a day in walks. We sent our dog to daycare which was the best idea we ever had- it helped her socialize with other dogs and made her much easier to live with.
 

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Good job getting a trainer so quickly! It CAN be difficult with the kids, but we aren't saying "you can't play with the dog". We're just saying "you can't play rough or run with the dog now". She's a Lab, so she would probably enjoy fetch. Can the kids do that with her safely? (with you there of course) If, at the moment she hasn't learned to let go of the toy, have two and alternate throwing them. When the trainer is there maybe the kids can also learn how to help train the dog. If she responds well to training and isn't all over them all the time, maybe they can do things like train her to "shake hands" or "roll over". Kids love stuff like that. And maybe ask the trainer pointers on how to have her "settle", ideally lying down so the kids can pet her.

You mention another Lab, and while someone else said it, I'll add to it. All older dogs will be calmer than adolescents, but Labs specifically tend to follow a maturity pattern of being excessively hyper, energetic and naughty the first 1-2 years of their lives. (Think Marley and Me!) With training, after that maturity kicks in they tend to be wonderful family dogs that are even prone to laziness and obesity. So let's hope we can train up your new girl and that in a year she'll be the dog you imagined your family with! By the way, what's her name?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
We got the last lab at 4 months, so she was just a calmer dog and I guess I got lucky. I'm not sure I'll survive a year of this, which I'm embarrassed to say out loud but it's true. Training went okay, maybe? She does play fetch and usually lets it go right away which the kids love. Her name is still puppy. We haven't been able to agree on one. One vote for keeping it puppy. Another for Betty (White)....she's super light in color. One for Vahna White. One for Sweetcheeks. One for Spaghetti/Betty Spaghetti. LOL, any suggestions are welcome.
 

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It does sound as though your last lab had a very different temperament and energy level. If you can hold out and work with your current dog (and I truly hope you do), I think she will mature into a good companion for your family.

It might help in a long term way to get involved in a sport with your dog - something like nose work, agility, rally. It will be a way for her to burn through some energy in a focused manner. Depending on their ages, your kids might be able to get involved in some way, too.

I vote for Betty as a name. Betty White is such a character and animal lover.
 

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Lab's are mouthy dogs, they're retrievers after all. You said your pup only left small marks and bruising - that's actually very good bite inhibition in my books, it could be better though. Though pet store dogs are not renowned for well socialized pets.

The running and screaming is exciting and your pup has no other method of having fun then to put the fun stuff in their mouth - or so labrador logic goes - so you need to teach her an alternative. I had great success with teaching my lab mix to grab a toy instead of my or my nieces/nephew's arms when playing - teaching a solid take it, settle and release will be your best friend here. Now whenever my sister visits and there is screaming and playing and movement, my dog grabs her squeaky toy and runs right along with all of it. If she get's overwhelmed, then I've trained her to go to her bed a settle until released.

Also for your situation: every single time there is a mouth on arm/leg/shirt the fun stops, completely, and she is removed from the situation. I used the verbal command "time out" and would put my dog into a room away from all the action until she settled down and was allowed to play again. More mouthing = another time out. Now, as I said above, she can go to her bed and relax.

Also we would love to see pics!
 

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I know it's not exactly the same, but the first day we got our dog (as a 8-10 week puppy) she TERRORIZED my daughter to the point where my daughter wouldn't go anywhere in the house without me carrying her. She would follow her round, chase her, nip her. That first night I was crying, totally regretting my decision to get a puppy and frantically calling up trainers to come to our house ASAP. I wish I had found the dog forum by then!

The next day the trainer came around (and luckily she was a good one) and showed us tools for dealing with this and recommended reading. She also trained my kids too! Within a few days things started getting better, but it did take several months before I felt comfortable letting them run around freely together and play more, and I have only recently (over a year and LOTS of training later) stopped monitoring every interaction. Now if I know my dog is in my sons room I am ok with it, I will periodically check on them, but now trust my dog (and my son 7) to hang out together with no incidents. (Not quite there with my 5 year old though)

Things are pretty much perfect now. It wasn't easy getting there, but you can do it.
 

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A trainer is a great first step.

And in all honesty, you might find that this dog isn't really the best suited for your family. I know you were hoping for a dog that could "grow up" with your kids. But unfortunately, kids and young adolescent dogs that are easily over-stimulated aren't usually the best combination. This probably isn't going to be a dog that your kids can play with because it won't be able to handle that kind of energy level without losing it's brain. It's not that it's a bad dog, or that your kids are inappropriate. It's just that the dog reaches a level of arousal and excitement and it literally can no longer control it's behavior or reactions.

My border collie was like that as a pup. Lots of energy, easily overstimulated, huge biter. I can't imagine having kids with a dog like him. It took hours of consistent training. And I got him at the age of 7 weeks, so he was a just a fuzzy baby. It's a lot harder to reprogram an older puppy than it is to imprint habits from the beginning with a baby. If I had kids and had him at the same time, the kids literally would not have been able to interact with him much at all until he was at least a year old. And even then, play would have had to be limited to playing fetch. He's not a dog that is good for petting and running around with, or holding or snuggling.
 

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Sounds like you are in over your head and need someone to show you how to develop and train the dog proper bite inhibition. Even though the pup is a bit older, a reasonable trainer should be able to instruct you accordingly.

The notion that the pup may have not learned proper bite inhibition from its mother and siblings is a non-issue simply because the bite inhibition or reduction in bite pressure a pup learns from its mother and sibs does not apply when it is using its mouth on a human. The reduction in bite pressure which a pup learns from its peers still is most always too much and too frequent to be considered proper when it comes to the same behavior directed towards humans but it's a good start. I would venture your pup did learn some bite inhibition from its mom and sibs and your dog is applying the same bite pressure it learned from those early days otherwise the dog would be biting much harder and causing great pain and injury.

Once a dog gets to a certain age and still lacks bite inhibition, one needs to get all over the situation and I applaud you for taking action.
 
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