Labradoodle Puppy biting can be painful, frustrating, and worrying! But, in most cases, this is a phase that will pass in a few months.
Biting and chewing from a teething Labradoodle puppy, or playful Labradoodle puppy are entirely normal. But, there are other types of biting that can be more serious.
Ignoring biting behaviors and rewarding calm play is the best way to encourage the Labradoodle puppy biting phase to pass more quickly.
Help my Labradoodle Puppy is Biting Me!
First things first, we want to reassure you that you aren’t alone!
Puppy biting is something that almost every dog owner experiences, and it can be a really tough few months to get through.
Some puppies will only bite a bit. But others will turn into full on crocodiles that grab at any flap of clothing or bare skin they can find!
It’s completely normal to feel stressed out and perhaps even a little cheated that your little Labradoodle isn’t the gentle bundle of cuddles you imagined.
Don’t panic. It’s a completely normal behavior, and in most cases it will subside completely in just a few months. And, the good news is that you can help move it along with the right reactions.
Before we look at that, it’s important to learn about the reasons for Labradoodle puppy biting. This will help you to distinguish normal puppy behaviors from more problematic causes.
Reasons for Labradoodle Puppy Biting
It might surprise you to learn quite how many things can prompt puppy biting. But, finding an appropriate solution to your problem will rely on learning about the cause.
The most common reasons for Labradoodle puppy biting are:
- Health issues
- Sensory exploration
- Play and socialization
- Breed-specific behaviors
- Learned behaviors
It might feel reassuring to know that the worst of normal puppy biting behavior should end around 14 months, but it still doesn’t help you deal with problem biting in the moment.
But, biting from fear and aggression can last longer, and can require the help of a behaviorist or dog trainer.
Let’s take a closer look at each one to help you learn which applies to your puppy.
Teething-related biting happens because teething hurts!
Teeth are growing in, falling out, growing in again, all of which adds up to sore gums and mouth and a near-obsessive need to chew on everything in sight for some relief.
Sadly, this stage is unavoidable, so almost all puppy owners suffer through teething-related biting. But, there are some great remedies.
Give your puppy something to chew and bite on that can provide some actual pain relief, such as a frozen treat-filled Kong toy, or even a frozen carrot.
Just make sure not to overload on the treats. Puppies may find that the crunch of their kibble also helps with teething pain.
Puppies will often bite when they are in pain or simply under the weather.
Here, it is best to schedule a puppy checkup with your canine veterinarian.
It can be hard to tell the difference between this type of biting and other types. But, look out for any other signs that your puppy isn’t well.
This can include:
- Refusing to use a limb
- Repeated whimpering or yelping with seemingly no cause
- And more.
Dogs, like their wild canid ancestors, have an extremely keen sense of smell that drives them to explore the world with their noses and mouths.
There is such a thing as sensory enrichment and dogs need it.
You can try to redirect your puppy’s sensory biting away from you and to more productive directions by giving them interesting things to investigate.
Give your Labradoodle some treat reward puzzles, snuffle mats for their meals, and toys that offer different scents and textures.
Play and Socialization
Labradoodle puppies are born blind, deaf and toothless. So your puppy’s first experience in life is literally to bite their mom’s teat to nurse!
By three weeks old when the needle-sharp puppy teeth started growing in, your puppy begins to learn that biting can serve other important purposes, like communicating.
Labradoodle moms teach their puppies manners through nips, snarls and growls. Littermates use these basic communication methods to socialize with one another.
Puppies learn from their mom and siblings how to temper their bite strength and frequency to avoid being ostracized.
Labradoodle puppies begin socializing with littermates and their mother through exploratory play. Nipping and biting is a common part of this type of play.
It’s also common for puppies to growl and snarl during play. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are being aggressive. At this young age, it’s most often a sign of play.
When Puppies Miss Out on This
This can be a particular problem with puppy mill puppies or any puppy that is released to their forever home too early in life because these puppies will not get to experience this essential and natural dog-to-dog socialization period.
If your puppy is biting you when you try to play with them, try to redirect their mouths to toys, or take a break from playing until your Labradoodle calms down.
Over-excitability can quickly spiral into aggression when nipping turns to biting.
Your best course of action is to curtail all play and games where this is even a possibility.
Stick to calm games that will encourage your puppy to relax. And, make sure you have a puppy pen set up to put your Labradoodle in if they’re getting overexcited.
Puppies need a surprising amount of rest. So, make sure they’re getting enough naps and calm play. This will also help you avoid over-excitement.
Labradoodle puppies go through two instinctual fear periods between eight and 11 weeks and again from six to 14 months old.
Increased growling, snarling, aggression, barking, nipping and biting is more common during these two periods.
Patience is going to be your number one go-to remedy during these fear periods. Your number two remedy must be positive, non-confrontational, consistent training.
Fear is a common cause of biting, even in older dogs. There are other signs to watch out for if a dog is feeling scared, threatened, or nervous:
- White of eyes showing
- Trying to hide
- Avoiding eye contact
- Inability to eat
- Flattened ears
- Licking their lips
If your Labradoodle bites you after showing these signs, it’s likely that it was a fear-based response. You may benefit from a behaviorist’s advice to figure out what is scaring your puppy.
Some dog breeds have been specifically bred to work at certain jobs. In the case of the Labradoodle, this breed was created to serve as a guide dog to the blind.
But the parent dog breeds, the Labrador Retriever, standard Poodle and Cocker Spaniel (for the Australian Labradoodle breed line only) are true working gun dogs.
The Labrador Retriever is a retriever gundog – a dog trained to grasp and hold downed small game prey in their mouths. The Poodle and Cocker Spaniel are also small bird gundogs.
So Labradoodles get their instinctual desire to mouth, grasp, hold and bite things honestly. At some level, you will never completely train your Labradoodle out of this instinct.
There is one more category of Labradoodle puppy biting many dog owners overlook and that is learned biting behaviors.
While your Labradoodle puppy will have learned a little about tempering their biting from their mother and littermates, your dog will learn far more about that behavior from you.
Sometimes dog owners inadvertently reinforce the very behaviors they want to get rid of. One classic example is to shower your Labradoodle with attention when they bite you or bite something you don’t want them to have.
Your puppy loves attention from you more than anything and may bite again and again to keep you focused on them.
Learning about and applying positive reinforcement puppy training methods is going to be your salvation here. We will explain in more detail in a moment.
How to Reduce Normal Labradoodle Puppy Biting
There are lots of ways to apply positive training methods, including clicker or command training and treat/reward training.
Find one method that works and use it consistently.
Reward your puppy for any calm behavior. This can include calm play, or simply them sitting or laying next to you without biting.
And, make sure to ignore biting. If your puppy starts to bite you during play, you can try to redirect their mouth to a toy.
If the biting continues, make sure to ignore the behavior completely, and put your puppy in their pen to calm down.
Under no circumstances should you ever reward biting! This includes with attention!
Doing so can make your puppy more likely to bite during play – it will become a learned behavior, as we spoke about earlier.
Should I Punish Puppy Biting?
Even though we don’t want to reward puppies for biting in any way, the same is true of punishment.
Punishing biting can stop your puppy from biting, but it can also create a level of fear, mistrust, and anxiety.
And, as we know, dogs that are scared or nervous are more likely to bite. So, this method of training can also increase the risk of serious biting.
Punishing your dog for growling or snarling (which often happens during puppy play) can also stop your puppy from growling as a warning when they are feeling threatened or scared.
So, it’s more likely that your dog will bite without giving you a warning.
When Is Labradoodle Puppy Biting Aggression?
Not every dog owner will have the same degree of tolerance for Labradoodle puppy biting, even when it arises from teething pain or another normal cause.
But, it’s vital to know when your puppy’s biting has crossed a line from normal puppyhood behaviors to problem biting or true aggression.
Dog trainers use a six-level bite scale to assess how urgent the biting situation may be.
Level one is aggression with no biting. Level six is biting to fatality.
Clearly there is a wide range of behaviors in between.
What Causes Puppy Aggression?
We’ve already learnt that puppy biting can be the result of fear. But, another common cause is guarding behaviors.
Puppies that are becoming territorial or showing guarding behavior over a person or object could:
- Stand over the thing they’re guarding
- Growling when anyone approaches the object
- Try to run away with or hide the object
- This possessive behavior can lead to aggression and biting when someone tries to come between the dog and the item they’re attached to.
Common resource guarding targets include toys, food, food bowls, people, and more.
If your puppy seems to be guarding someone or something, and is showing signs of aggression only around that item, it’s important to contact a behaviorist.
They will be able to help you work with your puppy to deal with the aggression. Your veterinarian will be able to put you in touch with a good behaviorist.
Is Your Labradoodle Puppy Biting?
Are you at your wits end with Labradoodle puppy biting? Try the methods we’ve spoken about above to reduce the amount of puppy biting you receive.
And remember, there’s always the option of finding a behaviorist or professional dog trainer if you need a bit of extra help!
References and Resources
- McElroy, P. ‘Puppy Stages’, Seaspray Labradoodles (2021)
- Williams, ‘Teeth, Teething and Chewing in Puppies’, VCA Animal Hospital (2021)
- Dunbar, I. ‘Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale’, Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), (2017)
- Mattinson, P. ‘When Do Puppies Stop Biting and How to Cope with a Teething Lab Puppy’, The Labrador Site (2019)
- Coopshaw, K. ‘Australian Labradoodle Puppy Training & Puppy Care’, Worldwide Australian Labradoodle Association (2020)
- Rooney, N. & Cowan, S. ‘Training Methods and Owner-Dog Interactions: Links with Dog Behavior and Learning Ability’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2011)
- Hiby, E. (et al), ‘Dog Training Methods: Their Use, Effectiveness, and Interaction with Behaviour and Welfare’, Animal Welfare (2004)