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Old March 15th, 2011, 10:35 PM
sace sace is offline
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Dog nipped at 2 family memebers!!!

Hi everyone. About 7 weeks ago i adopted a 6ish year old male black lab, hes was a stray. He almost immediately was comfortable and happy in his new home. He is very affectionate and soft. My issue is, the other day he made a nip gesture towards a friend. We were at the friends house when the friend walked in the door, tobi quickly ran over to greet him in his usually manner. Ears forward, curious, tail wagging. But he does have a sence of territorial pride. As the friend made a "jump up" gesture tobi happily jumped up to say hi, thats when tobi nipped towards his face! He didnt make any growl sounds or angry gestures. He even directly after tried to lick their face as if nothing happened? I got upset and got him to lay down etc to show he had done something wrong. I didnt think much of it tho assuming maybe he got spooked, but tonight it happened again. This time at my house with my dad who lives with us. The two of them met 2 weeks ago and have grown to be very close since my dads home all day with him. As my dad went out the front door to grab something he closed the door behind him. Tobi was waiting at the front door for the 10 seconds my dad was gone. When he re entered the house, he leaned over to rub tobi's ears. Thats when tobi nipped at him. He left a scratch on my dads chin. My dad yelled at tobi and tobi immediately obeyed, walked a few steps in a low positions and layed down, ears pinned back with a scared look. I ordered him to go to his room which he did. He is a little territorial of our home. He looks proud when someone knock. But we have had friends just walk in the front door and he doesnt do anything of this nature. It only seems to be when someone leans into him right after walking in. Im not sure what to think? Im worried if hes willing to have those actions towards my dad under those circumstances, is this the start of something? Im very confused about the whole thing! It was as if he forgot who my dad was. Any input/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old March 15th, 2011, 10:38 PM
sace sace is offline
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I should also add that the first incident happened a few days ago. So this behavior is very new
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Old March 16th, 2011, 09:58 AM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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Since you're working with one (?) dog and it seems to happen during greetings, getting Tobi to sit for a greeting should be a fairly easy task. In addition, try having everyone ignore him as they come in the door until he settles down. That's what I do with our 8. hubby tends to sweet talk them and pat them all on his way in. So when I come in, they're well-behaved and just mill around. When he comes in, they're more likely to jump on him. Husbands! What to do with them?

Our Cole is also fond of the chin nip so he got additional training. What helped us immensely was teaching him a 'gentle' command. Because we have 8 dogs and working with them at the door is difficult at best, especially since we don't get many guests here, we've been less successful at the not jumping than we'd like. He's usually pretty good, but we make sure that the 'gentle' command is well-practiced so that if he does do a face greeting, he doesn't surprise anyone with a nibble. For 'gentle', we used a treat held between our fingers--we only let him take it if he approached very gently and softly. Then we transferred that to saying hello. Now, if he jumps up at all, he's a confirmed chin licker.

Welcome to the board, btw. I hope you post some pics of Tobi soon! We'd love to see him!
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Old March 16th, 2011, 10:09 PM
reanne reanne is offline
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Also you might want to try not giving him pets and other attention unless he is invited. When he is told "okay, come" then give him attention, but when he comes up and asks for it, ignore him.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 08:22 AM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Here's a good video on curbing jumping behavior.

I agree with the other posters, to me this sounds like overzealous greeting behavior (this has nothing to do with aggression from what you describe) - he just needs to learn to be more careful.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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ownedbycats ownedbycats is offline
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I think the other posters are right and this is not aggression, just overly enthusistic, untrained greeting behavior. Puppies nibble and lick at grown dogs' mouths in greeting. Some dogs try to mimick this with humans they think are in charge. Usually this gets corrected while the dog is young, but if he was a stray, no one may have cared to take the time or effort to teach him manners. Teach him appropriate greetings routines. Yelp when he nips (sounds funny, but a high pitched "ow!" and 30 seconds of ignoring work really quickly to teach a dog that nipping means losing the attention they want so badly) Good luck!
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Old March 18th, 2011, 08:24 PM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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Sace, labs are very prone to problems of inadequate bite inhibition especially when they are separated from mom and littermates at 6-7 weeks. What happens is for the rest of their life they are more likely to mouth hands in greeting, playfully nip ankles, hands, faces, or even actually bite when the situation doesn't warrant it. Nothing you can do to fix what someone else messed up on years ago, you have to approach it from a completely different angle.

Teach that the proper way to greet a person is sitting. Hopefully your friends will listen when you ask them not to encourage him jumping up. A scratch on a child's face, or pushing them over is not acceptable, and dogs are not that good at distinguishing, oh it's okay to behave crazily with these old guys but not with fun-looking little ones. You and your friends can give praise, petting, treats, attention, when he's calm and sitting. Jumping up, sometimes you can discourage by ignoring him until he's behaving well, sometimes you have to be more forceful such as a very dominant behaviour of walking directly towards and into the dog until he backs off. It will take work, but old dogs can be taught new tricks.

Another thing that can help with labs is getting them to carry a toy around - if their mouth is full of a toy, no room to fit a face too. As a retriever they like the feel of something in their mouth, so get your guy to enjoy toys instead of bodyparts. Again, use encouragement when he's doing it right. Make sure there's always something acceptable available for him to pick up, including by the door, and you can even hand him something to hold.

It is also possible that your dad bending over Tobi caused a fear/dominance reaction due to something that happened in the past. Keep an eye on it just in case, and when these things happen take quick note of whether he was displaying any other signs of fear or aggression at the time. You can still correct the issue, bit more work. For now, work on teaching him better manners, it may well be as simple as that.
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