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Well, I don't know what to do.

My 10 month old lab bit (well, nipped) a family friend today. We are renovating the apartment, and he walked in, and Bernie went crazy barking at him, lunged, and for his arm. It drew a little blood. Something similar happened about a month ago, but I was out in the woods with my buddy. He jumped up and nipped my buddy and put a whole in his sweatshirt. This was about 10 minutes after my dog was around him, then outbid no where he started barking at him and barked the crazy until he nipped him. 5 minutes later he was fine, my buddy was petting a playing with him.

I'm at a loss. He's always been timid, but is always such a good natured pup. I think he just got himself so worked up and got defensive.

It doesn't appear to be aggressive. I don't Bernoe has an aggressive bone in his body. It seems like a scared/defensive thing.

This is an everytime issue either. Aside from these, he usually just barks for a moment and then is fine. Some of the time if we're out and about he'll actially go right up tp people and be a little lovey. I don't know where this came from. It's really got me stressed out. I can't think of anything traumatic happening to him, he's in a loving home. He just doesn't have that "I love everybody!!!!!" trait common in most labs, which is fine. I actually like that's he's a little skeptical of people. But this has me worried.

Any reccomendations? How do I go about getting him to just calm himself down around strangers? I think I know what I have to do (a lot positive reinforcement around people, etc.), but am looking for any other ideas/tips. Has anyone else dealt with this?

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A little background: I got him when he was 8 weeks old from a rescue. He was taken there when he was 6 weeks old after a local puppy mill got shut down. He's 10 1/2 months old, 65 poubds, been through advanced training at petsmart, is neutered. I (thought) I socialized him well as a pup, I took him everywhere and around a ton of people. He's always been timid and submissive (still is around dogs). Just got a check up and he is all healthy according to the vet.
 

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Without having been there, I can't tell you what happened. The only REAL advice that can lead you to answers that I can offer is bringing in a professional to assess the situation. When you reach a point where a dog is biting and drawing blood, it's time to bring in someone who can see what is going on and help. I wish you the best of luck.
 

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My puppy does something fairly similar, although she is a lot younger (10 weeks) - when she gets really overexcited, she forgets how to play with humans, and can nip a little - at pant legs, arms, etc. She did once draw a little blood on my arm, but nothing major. There is a BIG difference between biting and nipping, and between play biting and aggressive biting.

What was your dog's body language in these incidents? Did he have hackles up, muscles stiff, lips drawn? Was there a pause before the nip? Those are aggressive signs, and you should talk to a trainer. However, if he was jumping, barking, seeming really happily energetic - then he was probably over-excited. (runs in the woods and renovations can both be pretty overwhelmingly exciting for a puppy!)

If that is the case, first off, you need to watch body language. If he is getting over-excited, get there BEFORE the nipping starts. Put him into a sit-stay, and keep him there until he calms down. Then start again - if he immediately leaps away from the sit, put him back in until he calms down. Rinse and repeat. If he is already over excited, and nips, make sure you correct that behavior immediately! He has to learn that this is not acceptable! Quick correction, then again, put him into a sit and keep him there - other than keeping him still, ignore him. No talking, petting, etc. If he is going really wild, you may find it really difficult to get him into a sit - then step over him so his body is between your legs, and physically hold the sit, or even (gently) hold his muzzle closed and put him in a lay-down.

My pup first displayed her wild tornado about a week ago. We only needed to do corrections a couple times, and she is already much calmer, and hasn't nipped again, although she is still learning when play is too much for people. Calming her down, and physically stopping her excited antics worked almost immediately!
 

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What ever the trigger - fear biting or over-excitement - you can and should address some underlying behaviors:
1. Bite Inhibition - Retrievers are easy to teach soft-mouth, and they shouldn't draw-blood or tear clothing,
See the new owner Sticky: The Bite Stops Here
2. Socialization - Start socializing all over again with many different dogs and many different people, in different locations. If you socialized when he was younger, than you can easily reinforce the training, starting the way you would for a young pup, and planning for 100 different people, as well as many different places.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, this definitely wasn't a play type bite. His hackles were up, muscles tense, barking frantically but not his play bark. He wasn't showing his teeth though...

I'm a wreck over this. I'm trying to act as normal as possible around him, but in that instant I became skeptical of being him him places around a lot of people. I don't know where it came from. I have tried doing everything right with him, but I feel like I screwed up somewhere. That's the most frustrating part.

I definitely don't think it is aggression. I just read the thread on reactivity vs aggression. It seems reactive, and I fee that he just himself so worked up that he resorted to this.

It wasn't a bite and latch on, just a lunge and nip. But it certainly wasn't in a playful manner. I'm waiting to hear back from a behaviorist in the area and hope to get a consultation this week.

If anyone else has any input, it'd be greatly appreciated.
 

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I'd hire a professional to come in and check out what's going on. Better get it addressed now than when he's older.
 

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If he is going really wild, you may find it really difficult to get him into a sit - then step over him so his body is between your legs, and physically hold the sit, or even (gently) hold his muzzle closed and put him in a lay-down.
ManyRoses- while I agree with your advice in general for dealing with an overexcited playful nipping puppy (which, for the original poster is not the case), standing over or holding the muzzle of a nipping dog is just asking to be bitten. If the dog is fear reactive, pinning him down or holding him down in any way is likely to just ramp up the fear (as in "help, I'm trapped! better fight my way out of the trap!")

To the OP- it sounds like a fear biting problem, especially if he doesn't have good bite inhibition to control his bites, and I do think you need someone professional to assess him in person. Which I am glad to see that you have arranged for. Until then, just try to keep him in surrounding he is comfortable with, watch for signs that he is getting stressed out or nervous, and add small positive encounters with new people and situations. Make sure he is leashed in public so you have control over him and can remove him from an area or away from a person if he gets tense etc.
 

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You need a behaviorist. Labs should not be suspicious of strangers. That's proper temperament for a German Shepherd, not a lab. Puppy mills don't care about temperament. They'll put together any two dogs of the same breed, they don't care.

My point is, maybe it's a fear period, maybe it's a training issue, maybe it's a temperament issue. A good behaviorist can tell you and help you help your dog. Maybe he just needs a little training and management. Go to iaabc.org to find one in your area.
 
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