If your Labrador has been biting your feet and ankles, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you some common causes and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my Labrador bite my feet and ankles? Possible reasons are that you have been inadvertently rewarding it, excitement, teething or that it just needs to be trained not to do it.
Your Labrador might be doing it for a number of reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Why your Labrador bites your feet
Below are some common reasons why Labradors do it and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
It wants attention
It could be the case that it has been doing it in order to get extra attention. This would be more likely if it does it when you have not been giving it much attention, it would normally get something like a walk or you tend to give it attention when it does it.
In this case, it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it, to reward it when it is being well behaved and to redirect its focus when it is about to bite your feet.
It is teething
It might also be the case that it has been doing it because of teething. This would be more likely if it is still a puppy and if it has started chewing on other things as well.
In this case, it would be important to start training it to behave the way that you want it to behave now. It would also help to give it lots of toys to chew on.
It wasn’t trained not to as a puppy
If you did not train your Labrador as a puppy, it might have never learned that it is not ok to bite. If your Labrador doesn’t receive any training then it won’t know how it is meant to behave and it will behave the way that it feels like behaving. The way that it feels like behaving is unlikely to be the way that you want it to behave.
In this case, it would be important to start giving it training now by following the tips below.
You have inadvertently been reinforcing the behavior
It might also be the case that you have actually encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it bites your feet, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead of rewarding it, when it bites your feet, it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to redirect its focus before it starts biting them.
Sometimes, dogs will bite people’s feet when they are excited and it could be why your Labrador does it to you. This would be more likely if it does it in situations such as when you come home or are taking it for a walk. In this case, it would help to stop giving it attention as soon as it starts and to only give it attention when it is being well behaved.
It is exploring
Dogs interact with the environment using their mouths and their noses as much as they do with their eyes and even more so when they are puppies.
The reason why your Labrador has been biting your feet could be that it’s because it is interacting with them. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.
Even if this is the case it will still be important to get it to stop by training it not to bite your feet.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
When it started doing it
If your Labrador has not always been biting your feet, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
Things that might have happened could include:
- Inadvertently rewarding it for doing it one time
- It started chewing on other things as well (it probably started teething)
- You stopped giving it as much attention
How old your Labrador is
It would also help to consider the age of your Labrador.
If it is still young then it would be more likely that it is teething and that you need to start training it to behave the way that you want now so that it is better behaved as an adult.
Whereas, if it is older, it would be more likely to be that it was not trained not to, you inadvertently reinforced the behavior or that it does it for attention.
How aggressively it bites your feet
It would also help to consider whether or not your Labrador does it aggressively.
If it does it aggressively then it would be advised to get the help of a dog behaviorist in your area who will be able to show you how to train it in a secure way.
Whereas, if it does not do it aggressively then it would help to train it not to by following the tips below.
When and where it bites your feet
It would also help to consider the timing of when it bites your feet since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
If it tends to do it at a certain time such as when going out for a walk then it could be due to excitement or because it is trying to get you to give it a walk.
If it seems to do it at random times then it would be more likely that it enjoys doing it and that you need to train it to stop.
How to get your Labrador to stop biting your feet
Below are some things that you can do about your Labrador biting your feet.
Train it not to
One option would be to train it with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you train it to behave in a certain way by rewarding the behaviors that you want to see and not rewarding the bad behaviors.
To use it to get it to stop biting, you would:
- Stand up and prevent it from biting your feet by leaving the room if necessary.
- Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then prevent it from biting them again if it starts biting
- Repeat the above until it learns that biting causes it to lose your attention
- Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well
You can watch the video below to see more on how to train your Labrador to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards when it bites your feet.
Instead of rewarding it when it does it, try to redirect its focus before it starts biting and to train it not to using positive reinforcement training.
Give it other things to chew on
In addition to the above, you could also give it lots of things to chew on in the form of toys, bones and chews. This would be especially helpful if it seems to be teething.
When training your Labrador it is important to be consistent. It is unlikely that you will be able to get drastic results with just one training session but if you train it consistently over the course of weeks and months, you will see better results.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you cannot figure out why your Labrador does it or you cannot get it to stop, consider getting the help of a dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so, you will be able to get expert guidance tailored towards your particular Labrador.