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Leerburg's Q&A database has 3350 entries from multiple categories.

 

Categories: Dog Bites , Puppy Training

Q. We have a 6 month old lab that is very snappy. We also have a 7 and 9 year old. How can we stop this behavior?
We have a 6 month old black lab that weighs 75 pounds. He has a habit of snapping. He has always been somewhat nervous for a lab but he seems to have adjusted well to us. We do have 7 and 9 year old sons. The dog seems to be playing but it is very difficult for me to tell. The hair on the back of his neck does not stand up as far as I can see. How can I break him of this habit? And/or, how can I determine if I need to get rid of him for another dog? When should he grow out of this habit? Thank you very much.

A. Without seeing the dog, the first thing I would need to determine was if the dog was snapping or just being mouthy. Some pups are naturally mouthy. They like to grab pant legs or arms or whatever. When they do this it is all in sport and they don't bite down and are not trying to do it as a warning or to cause damage. This mouthiness goes away naturally at about 5 to 6 months of age.

When you say snappy, I assume this is a quick fast snap that is intended as a warning to mean "leave me alone." If this is indeed the case and this dog is doing this at 6 months you have the makings for a serious problem, especially with small children (and their friends).

You need to analyze when a dog is snapping to determine what is going on. Again, without seeing the dog I can only guess, but this could either be caused by a weak temperament which will eventually lead to the dog being a fear biter, or it could be the beginning of a dominance problem. If the dog is protective of his toys and food bowl and snaps when people come near these items, then it is a dominance problem. He is trying to establish pack order and is challenging for rank in the pack. When this happens the dog needs to be strongly corrected.

If this lab is already 75 pound at 6 month you feed him to much. In addition to being unhealthy, he is also already too big for a 7 year old or 9 year old to correct. This means the adults in the house have to do it.

Make the dog wear a short 18 inch leash. When he snaps give him a level 10 correction. He needs to think his life is coming to an end. He needs to learn that every time he snaps he is in mortal danger. The fact is that if you can not correct this behavior with 2 or 3 really strong corrections (ones where he is screaming for his life) you need to give some thought to getting rid of this dog because it is only a matter of time before one of your children is bitten.

In fairness to the dog, your opinion of a level 10 correction and my opinion of a level 10 correction may be 2 different things. Your idea may only be a level 4 to me. I recommend that you get my video Basic Dog Obedience to learn how to train your dog. It shows how to determine levels of correction based on the temperament of the individual dog.

I breed German Shepherds with the goal of producing dogs with good temperament but also dogs that bite people in protection work. I can tell you that this behavior is not acceptable in a pup with good temperament. This behavior is something that needs to be changed and changed quickly. I always say that people need to error on the side of the child and not on the side of the dog.
  
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20% off Select Michael Ellis and Ed Frawley DVDs, streams, and courses good through Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 11:59 PM CT