Barking and 'nipping'

(49 Posts)
lazzaroo Wed 12-Feb-20 21:12:34

So, we are in early days of having adopted a 9 month old Labrador. We felt so lucky to have found one that was good with kids etc and are really trying to get things off to a good start. I know it will take time but 2 things are causing us a bit of concern and I'd be grateful of any tips! They are sort of related.

Firstly, she still nips/bites when playing or during her mad half hour (which she's just finished!). We have 2 children and we are all getting worried about it as it can be quite unpredictable.

Linked to this is that we obviously need to be able to shut her in another room rather than leave her alone with the children. We'd also like the option to be able to put her in a separate room for short periods for all sorts of reasons (visitors, workmen etc), especially as she's very excited when meeting people. But, she barks. We give her a frozen Kong but as soon as she's finished it she barks and whines. This is pretty much the only time she barks.

She sleeps in a crate overnight and when we go out. The problem seems to be when she knows someone is the other side of the door or upstairs.

Any tips?!?

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lazzaroo Wed 12-Feb-20 21:20:12

Sorry, wrong topic! I've asked for it to be moved.

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lazzaroo Wed 12-Feb-20 21:39:48

Ignore my second post! I put this in the wrong section initially but it's been moved here and this is the right place! Eagerly awaiting your help......

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VanillaGodzilla Wed 12-Feb-20 21:51:15

They are related in that she is a young dog in a new home trying to figure out what is what and - at the same time - going through her teenage months which is hard enough at the best of times grin

Nipping - try not to let her get over excited so only calm playing for now. If she nips then this stops play immediately, the very second she does it. No need to say anything to her, just stop. If she persists in using her mouth to goad you into playing more then just leave the room. Or use a house line to lead her out. As she learns self control she will stop nipping provides nipping has never received any attention.

Leaving her in a room - start with a baby gate so she can see out. Don't let her out when she is barking or whining. Even if you have to dash to do it in a quiet 5 second gap. Practise little short sessions when nothing fun is happening. Eg pop her behind the gate and go to the loo. Let her out when you're done. Do this often, over time slowly building up the time she is behind the gate. Don't make a big deal of it, so no need to fuss her when you let her out or say anything when you shit her in. If she's fine with that then start to pull the door closed a little bit more each time. Again, age and settling in will help her get over this but expect a bit of two steps forward and one back before then.

Oh and enjoy! They tend to grow out of most pesky behaviours as they mature. Not all but most grin

lazzaroo Wed 12-Feb-20 21:59:33

Thank you. We are doing that with regards to the nipping.

We have a stairgate at bottom of stairs as upstairs is safe space for the cat! If I give an example it may help.....I had to shut her in this evening to put my youngest to bed, my eldest was in living room alone as husband out. She had her Kong but as soon as finished the barking started. I reassured her but that didn't seem to make any difference. Obviously not conducive to sleep so in the end I went down to sit with or near her. Barking continued, so I went with her into the other room. Barking stopped but she went straight into mad half hour. Presumably as she'd worked herself up. She conked out after that!

I totally get that it wont be easy! Just want to help her settle.

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tobee Wed 12-Feb-20 22:05:43

You can get great information about rescue dogs and other topics by joining the Facebook group Dog Training Advice and Support. smile

VanillaGodzilla Wed 12-Feb-20 22:07:06

She will get there.

It's so easy in the early days to worry that you'll never get over this behaviour or that. You will. It's just that we humans are so eager for dogs to learn quickly when time, patience and lots of repetition are what's needed.

Keep practising with the gate. If you really feel she is struggling then practise very short sessions (seconds, not minutes) and remain in sight but the other side and not looking at the dog. She will eventually not worry about this at all and you can start to stretch out the time and pop out of sight.

But honestly - repetition and her growing up will almost certainly mean she comes good eventually smile

If you have the dog you want by the time she is two years old then you will have done very well!


lazzaroo Wed 12-Feb-20 22:37:08

Thank you both. It's reassuring to here. To be fair to her she is doing amazingly. Have just put her to bed in the crate and not a peep from her.

I joined that Facebook group yesterday tobee and am working through the units.

We've waited so long, the children in particular, and so wanted it to be a fun and positive experience for them. Don't want to regret adopting either so really want it to work.

Will try your tips. Thank you.

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TheyAllFloat Wed 12-Feb-20 22:47:43

Things I have worried my young dogs will never grow out of, some time or another...

- digging up the garden
- destroying plants
- eating poo
- mouthing
- jumping over the backs of furniture when wound up
- getting wound up by almost anything
- barking at bins
- not leaving my side 24*7
- howling when left in a room for five seconds
- barking at next doors dog
- barking at the doorbell
- pulling on the lead
- running off to any other dog
- not eating, being picky
- waking up at 4am
- not going to sleep
- not settling in the evenings
- barking at the telly
- jumping up
- humping visitors
- stealing food

Things they did grow out of with minimal training
- all of the above, except barking at the neighbours dog grin

lazzaroo Thu 13-Feb-20 07:06:22

This is all reassuring but I'm feeling really down about it this morning. She's keeps jumping up at my youngest and she's getting really wary of her. I feel sick about it all. She was so excited about getting a dog and I feel like I've let her down by doing the rescue thing rather than getting a puppy.

When it happens we send her out but it's a bit unpredictable. It's not as though she's doing it during rough play. She just jumps. The children are being very calm with her.

I'm really failing at this.

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RubySunset Thu 13-Feb-20 07:13:39

The chances are you would have the same issue with a puppy.

Get some baby gates and keep her separate from the children for the time being. Use a lead on her when she's around the children so you can keep control and bring her back to your side when she jumps.

Have you thought about bringing in a 1to1 trainer who could show you how to react with her? It might make you feel a bit more confident.

iWantToBreakBrie Thu 13-Feb-20 10:33:27

Have a look here:

Teenage labradors jumping up is not uncommon and Pippa Mattinson is a great trainer who has mostly had labs (I think). This site is usualy pretty good for advice. As it her book (Happy Puppy Handbook).

adaline Thu 13-Feb-20 10:35:05

Sounds like a typical young puppy to be honest. The puppy/adolescence stage can last for a good two years in some dogs, and that includes jumping, nipping and barking.

Mine is two now and has pretty much grown out of all of it apart from the barking - but then again he is a beagle so that might a bit of a pipe dream on my part grin

His worst age was between 8-14 months. He was awful - much worse than he was as a young puppy and his disobedience had me in tears several times! However this morning we went out on the common - he had an hours run about off the lead, recalled immediately every single time, sat when asked - it was exactly the kind of walk you dream of when you think of having a dog!

But six months ago I'd have had NO chance. His recall was iffy, he would jump and bark at everyone - he's SO much calmer now. Like a different dog, almost.

LadyGuffers Thu 13-Feb-20 10:43:28

Yep, the difference in mine between about 18 months and 2 years was night and day.

18 months - an absolute arse who was on his house line more than he was off it, if we had visitors or anyone remotely exciting. He once got so excited he jumped up and pulled my brother's jeans down shock

2 years - a dream who can barely be bothered to get out of his bed if anyone pops by, and if he does it's just to parade around with a shoe in his mouth smile

It's easy to worry when they are young that they will never grow up, or that you've made a mistake. But over time they get better and you all settle down into a life together.

lazzaroo Thu 13-Feb-20 10:46:07

Thank you, I thought I'd replied earlier but in my sleep deprived state it's obviously not posted!!

You are the voices of reason I needed to hear. It's all the stuff I would tell anyone else in this situation! I'm working myself up and getting paranoid that I've brought a dangerous dog into the house which I know is not the case.

We have an appointment next week for some one to one tips on behaviour. The while family are going. We're also starting adolescent puppy classes next week. We are using a stair gate but have another in the loft so will get that out later too.

I'll also look at the website suggested.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

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LadyGuffers Thu 13-Feb-20 11:03:57

Sounds brilliant OP. It's great to involve everyone in the training.

So much of raising a puppy is about faith that you'll all be ok in the end. That and resisting everyone and his dog telling you you're doing something wrong smile

LovelyPuddings Thu 13-Feb-20 11:54:22

OP, have a look at @puppymonkey's latest update on the Cockapoo or Retriever thread for proof you are not alone with a bouncy, nippy young retriever. smile

adaline Thu 13-Feb-20 12:44:46

You'll be absolutely fine OP - sounds like you're doing all the right things and that's what's important, it just takes a lot of repetition when they're young!

lazzaroo Thu 13-Feb-20 15:33:06

Well, I managed to convince myself that all would be fine. Got her a lovely new chew toy and spent some time playing and training this afternoon following tips from the Facebook group recommended.

BUT....I've just had a 5 minute battle with her where she has jumped at me. I kept turning, folding arms and walking away but everytime I tried to sit on the sofa she'd do the same. She got hold of my jumper (better that than my arm I suppose!) and was really pulling and growling. Is that normal?!? She wouldn't drop So I took it off and let her have it until she just dropped it. I just keep thinking, what of she did that to one of the kids. After 5 mins of me sitting down, her jumping, me walking off and repeat, she has now followed me back into the lounge and konked out on the floor. Which is what I wanted her to do in the first place so I guess that's a result?!? Help!

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lazzaroo Thu 13-Feb-20 15:34:57

She's not allowed on the sofa in the lounge because she gets nippy when up on our level and won't get off nicely. This is a battle because she was allowed on the sofa in her foster home but we're persevering with it.

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VanillaGodzilla Thu 13-Feb-20 16:13:25

Hi OP.

The bookings with the trainer and classes sound fab. They will really help.

It's hard to say about the jumper incident but I suspect something called extinction bursts. These are when a previously rewarded behaviour suddenly does not earn the same reward. Before the dog 'gives up' they often escalate the behaviour to see if they can get the reward that way.

I think of it like pressing a key on a keyboard. I press the key and the letter A appears. That is my reward. However, if I press it one day and the A does not appear then what's the next thing I do? I hit the key harder. I escalate my behaviour to see if that works. Eventually I'll give up if I never get my A.

Your dog wanted to play. She realy wanted to play and my guess is that jumping up has resulted in something that looks like play or fun to her. Maybe not in your home but someone has shrieked, yelled, run, waved their arms or whatever. That is very exciting and is a bit like play. Wen her normal trick of jumping up didn;t work, she tried something extra.

So, she jumped at you in excitement. You stopped play. She thought, let me try something more to see if I can coax this human into playing again. So she grabbed at you, much like she might grab at another dog to goad them. Growling is also an expression of play sometimes.

IF the extra effort results in what she wants, she's more likely to do the extra thing again. If it doesn't, the chances are she'll drop it quite quickly. She's experimenting. Seeing what works.

The reason why a one to one trainer is a good plan is that they can observe (hopefully) and make an informed guess as to whether the above is what is happening - the dog is just getting over excited about play and frustrated when it stops - or if it's something else.

This tendancy to over excite is why children and young dogs need supervision. Children can easily over excite a dog without even trying and rarely know what to do when that happens, plus they get scared and scared children can be just as exciting as playful ones. Sadly.

Each dog is slightly different but a good trainer will help develop tactics to diffuse stuations like the jumper one that work for your dog. ne way might be to work on a alternative behaviour and make sure she knows how rewarding that is.


1. I had an emergency stop with my dog because I like rough housing with him but wanted to ensure I could stop him mid way if I needed to. Outside of the lay setting we practised me putting both my hands up and saying "Stop!" and him freezing however he was positioned. We practised and practised until he was really good. The I started to use it in play when it didn't really matter. I said stop, he stopped and a few seconds later we continued.

2. A really strong "go to bed" behaviour can also work. Practise going to a bed or mat and make sure that every single time this happens the dog gets a realy brilliant reward. Roast chicken, cheese, a throw of the ball, a new toy. Repeat until the dog only has to hear "go to bed" and she runs to the bed to see what will happen. You are then ready to slot it into play time. Still reward her, even if you sent her to bed to stop her doing soemthing naughty. She cannot run to her bed AND jump up at the same time - it's impossible - so it's a great way to divert her.

The PP was correct. Bringing up a dog is a leap of faith. You need to know you're training will work in the end, which is again why getting a trainer to support you can help.

VanillaGodzilla Thu 13-Feb-20 16:13:54

Sorry. I didn't mean to type so much blush

adaline Thu 13-Feb-20 17:17:53

Hi OP. If she fell asleep afterwards it sounds like she was over-tired. At two mine can still have episodes like that. He also gets like that if he's had a really long walk/run.

Lots of dogs growl in play - it's really not always aggressive. My own dog dog does, and I walk two collies who also growl when they play. She thought you were playing tug with her, which is why she was growling and kept going back for more!

Can you use a ball or toy and teach a firm "drop it" command? We started by playing with him and treating him every time he dropped the ball. Then we added the command "drop" as soon as he opened his mouth to let the ball go. Now we can play and he understands "give" (put it in my hand), "drop" (let go right now) and "take" (you can take this off me now).

lazzaroo Thu 13-Feb-20 17:39:37

No worries about long reply. I'm happy to take all advice on! I agree about it being an invitation to play. She lived with other dogs in foster and I think maybe she's imitating the rough play they would have had and needs to learn humans play differently!

I've also wondered about the overtiredness. She didn't really settle this afternoon but not sure how to help her do that.

We're working on the 'drop' command but she doesn't have the hang of it yet.

Will try the bed command too.

She's asleep again now. I took her out for a walk about 4.15, home at 5. She'll have her tea about 6ish. I'm wondering whether to swap tea and walk around? The past couple of days she's woken at 5ish and I've let her out, she's done a wee and pop, I bring her straight back in but she won't resettle. I can't decide if we're better off bringing tea earlier so she empties before bed or later to push her waking back.

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lazzaroo Thu 13-Feb-20 17:40:03

*poo not pop!!

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