Labradors and ‘Mouthing’

‘Mouthing’ and your Labrador Retriever

Many new Labrador Retriever owners are not familiar with the fact that these puppies have a natural tendency to nip and bite at human hands and arms. In fact, these little guys will put anything in their mouths that can fit. It’s important not to mistake this behaviour as pure biting and unfairly scold and punish the animal. You must understand that a Labrador Retriever is genetically designed to have an oral fixation, specifically for retrieving.

Pirhanas with fur!

They must be trained with positive reinforcement not to mouth and bite at people’s limbs. A fitting analogy is to look at a Labrador Retriever puppy the same as a piranha, but with fur. They run around with their mouths open literally hunting down anything to put in it, something, anything, whatever they can find! When my Labrador, Monty was a pup, my arms were constantly covered in tiny scratches from his needle-like teeth!

When these puppies get older they have a tendency to start grabbing onto your arms and clothing. Such behavior should be considered inappropriate and completely stopped before it develops into an act of dominance. But as you may have heard before, training a Labrador Retriever not to grab onto your arms and clothes with its mouth needs to be carefully instituted. You can never totally stop your Labrador from putting things in its mouth but you can certainly teach him to make better choices.

Health Problems Due To Mouthing Stuff

Another fitting analogy to describe the oral fixation of a Labrador Retriever is to consider them like vacuum cleaners. Sometimes they accidentally suck up and swallow objects which can lead to health problems, especially if they get a hold of products that have poisons in them. It’s wise to keep all medicines and food well out of reach. Get into this habit from the second you bring your pup into your home.

Labradors have been known to swallow toys, balls, rocks, socks, bicycle seats, and even ipods! Basically anything that can fit in their mouth and down its throat is fair game to the motivated Labrador Retriever. It’s a good idea to take a look around your house/yard/garden and remove any potentially harmful items that your pup could gain access to.

I’ve heard many stories over the years about Labs swallowing the most unlikely of objects. One poor pup even managed to get hold of some blades intended for use on crossbow bolts. He’s fine now but he needed emergency surgery to remove the blades from his stomach.

The way I see it, you can never be too cautious. It’s our responsibility to minimize the risks to your pups health. Puppy-proof everything you can!

Supervision also plays a huge role in training your dog not to chew up certain items. You must have plenty of time to invest into your Lab. This will prove to be time well spent as you watch your Labrador Retriever grow into a well-mannered adult :-)

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