My Dog Space
Understanding Labrador Retrievers: My Lab Is Eating The Furniture!
Many new Lab 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. Unfortunately, some dog owners mistake this behavior as pure biting and unfairly scold and punish the animal. You must understand that Labradors are genetically designed to have an oral fixation, specifically for retrieving.
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 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 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 not to grab onto your arms and clothes with its mouth needs to be carefully instituted. You can never totally stop your Lab 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. Many times 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.
Labradors have been known to swallow toys, balls, rocks, socks, rawhide, bicycle seats, and even knives! Basically anything that can fit in their mouth and down its throat is fair game to the motivated Labrador Retriever. It is good advice to de-fluff your pillows, remove sofa cushions, and discard any loose toys or items around your house that could cause harm if swallowed.
I once came home to find one of my wooden dresser drawers completely removed from the entire unit. The front panel was torn off and I had clothes everywhere. As I was cleaning up the mess I noticed that there was small pieces of wood chips all over the room and the front panel was nowhere to be found. As you can probably guess, my lab chewed up and ate the entire front panel, even the metallic handle was gone! Luckily he did not suffer any internal damages and the handle passed through his system without harm.
The answer to raising a lab while minimizing personal damages to both your home and your dog is to doggie-proof anything and everything you can find. 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 which will prove to be time well spent as you watch your dog grow into a well-mannered adult.