When people see a Labrador Retriever nibbling, they usually think of it as a sign of the dog breed’s sociability.
However, when a Labrador bites and mouths too much, it may also become a source of injury to everyone who comes into contact with your pet.
If you are wondering why Labs do that and how you can stop Labrador Retriever nibbling, here is everything you need to know.
Why do Labradors nibble?
There are different reasons that would answer the question “why do Labs nibble?”. They usually include the following:
1) They are showing affection.
It is very normal for puppies to nibble on you lightly with their front teeth. It is usually their way of showing affection to the people that they care for.
2) A Labrador Retriever nibbling may actually be teething.
Another very common reason behind a Labrador Retriever nibbling and nipping is teething.
Teething usually occurs when Labs start to lose their baby teeth and grow their adult teeth.
When puppies lose teeth and grow new ones, it usually feels uncomfortable for them. Their gums feel sore, and they will want to find a way to soothe their gums, which can include them nibbling on you.
Teething usually starts when they are 3-6 weeks old and ends when they are around 6 months old. Of course, it will vary based on how your Lab develops. Some will start and finish earlier, while some may last longer.
3) They are seeking your attention.
Labs are smart dogs, so they get bored quite easily, especially if no one is around. You may notice that your Labrador only started to nibble frequently if you did not have enough time to play with them.
4) They are excited.
If you notice your Labrador Retriever nibbling on certain situations, like when you come home or are about to take them out for a walk, it could be because they are excited.
5) They lack training.
Gentle biting and Labrador Retriever nibbling are usually a bit natural for dogs. They do not realize that it may be considered naughty behavior. Think of your Lab like a human child—they will not realize that something is bad until you teach them that it is.
6) Your Lab feels anxious or stressed.
Similar to people, dogs will show symptoms of stress and anxiety. Your Lab may nibble on things or people around them when they feel stressed.
For instance, if your Lab has separation anxiety, they might nibble on you when you get back home. If there is a stressful situation like being outdoors for the first time or hearing loud noises, your Lab may start to nibble on you, too.
7) You are encouraging their behavior.
You may not realize it, but you may have let your canine buddy think that Labrador Retriever nibbling gets them what they want.
For instance, if they nibble, and you immediately give in to what they want, they will nibble whenever they want something.
Does a Labrador Retriever nibbling hurt?
Most of the time, it does not really hurt when a Lab nibbles. It generally only feels a bit ticklish and strange, but it does not usually hurt.
However, it may hurt if your Lab gets over-excited and does not know their boundaries. That is why you should teach them how to stop it before it reaches that stage.
At what age do Labradors nibble?
Most Labs will nibble on people when they are still puppies. To be more specific, Labrador Retriever nibbling will be a common occurrence when they are 2-12 months old.
However, if you do not train them to stop doing that, they will probably keep nibbling you when they are adults. This happens because they do not realize that it can be considered a naughty habit on their part.
How can I teach a Labrador Retriever nibbling to stop?
If your Lab is teething, there are a few things you could do. First, provide them with lots of chew toys that your Labrador can grab whenever they want to help keep the nibbling at bay.
For example, you could give them a few soft toys that they could chew on when they start to nibble on you. Keep doing that until your Labrador understands that they should bite their toys instead of people.
You could also give your Lab healthy and delicious treats to soothe their gums. Try giving them a few carrot sticks so they can chew on those. You could also freeze homemade chicken or beef broth to give them flavored ice cubes.
If the reason behind your Labrador Retriever biting problems is because they lack attention, make sure they get enough attention throughout the day, not just for one part of the day.
For instance, you can enjoy a walk in the morning, playtime in the afternoon, and cuddles at night. That way, your Lab will feel loved and will be less likely to nibble on you.
On the other hand, does your Labrador only nibble when they feel excited or want something?
Then you could wait for your Lab to calm down first. That will help them learn that Labrador Retriever nibbling will not get them what they want. Do not reward their behavior when they nibble.
When your Lab nibbles out of habit, you need to train them to stop. Even if they do it lovingly, it can turn into a Labrador biting problem if they constantly do it.
You can also redirect their behavior to other items like their toys (similar to helping them when they teethe). You can also move their mouth away and say “no” sternly.
A funny yet effective way to get your Lab to stop nibbling on you is to pretend that it hurts. The next time he nips you, loudly say “ouch” as if you were a dog yelping.
It will help your dog realize that it hurts you, and they usually look concerned when they hear you and will stop. Keep repeating this until they remember that they should not nibble on people.
Labrador Retriever nibbling is often a sign of them being affectionate to you, or they want to soothe their gums when they are teething.
In some cases, it could be a sign of stress and anxiety, they want attention, or they do not realize that they should not do it.
The tips that we have given above should help you train your pets to stop Labrador Retriever puppy biting, for starters. If you need more expert recommendations, we suggest consulting a professional dog behaviorist.