If your Labrador has been grabbing or biting your arm you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Labrador bite my arms? Possible reasons are that it wants attention, it is teething, it has not been trained not to, inadvertently rewarding the behavior or that it is excited.
Your Labrador could be doing it for a number of different reasons and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the exact reason.
Why your Labrador bites your hands and arms
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
It wants attention
The reason why it does it could be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it tends to do it when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. But, it would also help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it bites your arms and to wait for it to calm down before giving it attention.
It is teething
The cause could be that it is teething. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has started nibbling on other things as well.
In this case, it would help to train it to learn not to bite your arms as mentioned below. But, it would also help to give it lots of things such as toys to chew on so that it can soothe its gums and to avoid having it chew on things you don’t want it to.
It wasn’t trained not to as a puppy
If you have not given your Labrador much training then it will not know how to behave and it will likely behave the way that it feels like behaving. The way that it feels like behaving is unlikely to be the way you would like it to behave which is why it is important to make sure that it gets training.
You have inadvertently been reinforcing the behavior
It could be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to do it by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it bites your arms then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
To prevent this, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it does it and to wait for it to calm down before giving it things that it wants.
The cause could also be that it is excited and it is trying to show its excitement. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you come home or when you are about to take it for a walk.
In this case, it would help to withdraw your arms and attention when it starts doing it and to reward it when it stops biting.
It is exploring
Dogs interact use their mouths and their noses to interact with the environment 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 arms and hands could be because it is interacting with them. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider about your Labrador biting your hands and arms.
When it started doing it
It would help to consider what else happened when your Labrador first started doing it since there might have been an event that caused it to start doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as teething or realizing that it gets rewards when it does it.
When and where it bites your arms
It would also help to consider the timing of when it does it since the timing could also have something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to bite your arms when you come home it would be more likely to be due to excitement. However, it would still be important to train it to stop doing it using the tips below.
How aggressively it bites your arms and hands
It would also help to consider how aggressively your Labrador has been doing it. If it has been doing it aggressively then it would be advised that you get help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist in your area so that you can see how to get it to stop safely.
How old your Labrador is
It would also help to consider how old your Labrador is. If it is a puppy still, it would be much more likely that it is doing it because it is teething but it would still help to give it training now to get it to stop. Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely that it learned that it gets things it wants when it does it.
How to get your Labrador to stop biting your arms and hands
Below are some options you have when getting it to stop doing it.
Train it not to
The first thing you can do is to train it to stop doing it with the use of positive reinforcement training.
To use it to get it to stop biting, you would:
- Stand up and prevent it from biting your arms or hands by leaving the room if necessary.
- Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then preventing 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 tips on how to train it not to bite your hands.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
It would also help to avoid giving it things that it wants when it bites your hands and to wait for it to calm down before giving it what it wants.
Give it other things to chew on
In addition to the above, you could also give it things to chew on so that it is less likely to want to bite your hands. This would be especially important if it seems to be teething.
When you’re training your Labrador it is important to be consistent with the training. It is unlikely that you will be able to get big results with just one training session but you can get good results by sticking with it over the course of weeks.
Get help from an animal behaviorist
If you can’t get it to stop doing it or it does it aggressively, consider getting help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to see why it is doing it and how to train it effectively.