Are you feeling frustrated because your puppy is nipping you? Yes, you love your puppy, but this nipping is driving you crazy.
At first, it was exciting getting a new puppy. Now the troubles are starting.
Sometimes the nipping hurts, other times it breaks the skin. You wonder if it will ever stop, and you get worried that this behavior may never go away. You also wonder how to stop the nipping in the best way possible.
Why puppies nip
As human babies, we mostly cry when we need something. Of course puppies do this too. However, they have a mouth that they tend to use at a much younger age than humans.
When puppies are frustrated they may choose to let their frustration out by nipping you. This can be common when they want attention. They maybe seeking attention because they want to…
- be pet
- eat a treat
- take a nap
They honestly cannot speak English. Their mouth becomes a huge communicator.
Of course, puppies can also be teething. This pain can definitely entice them to want to chew on objects including your hands.
There is also a theory that biting may help pups learn about bite inhibition. This means they can learn when they are biting too hard and learn to be more gentle.
Avoid these mistakes when your puppy is nipping
You will read articles online, and your friends will tell you many things. No matter what others may say, it is important to avoid these mistakes to ensure that your puppy grows up to be friendly.
If you do one of these mistakes, you risk your puppy developing fear or aggression problems when he grows up.
- Grabbing your dogs muzzle. Shaking it can definitely increase frustration in your puppy. However, even gently grabbing it is not advise we would give you.
- Bumping your puppy’s nose.
- Putting pressure on your puppy’s tongue.
- Any type of hitting
- Spraying your puppy with any liquid including water.
The best actions to take when your puppy is nipping
Patience is key. When you were a baby and were crying you wanted to feel safe. Your puppy wants to feel safe when he nipping as well. Remember nipping is just your puppy’s form of communcation.
Nothing in life is free
It is a great idea to use an exercise called nothing in life is free. This means that you teach your puppy to sit when he has a request. When he wants to play, to be pet, or to eat a treat, it is best for your puppy to learn to sit.
Give your puppy plenty of items to chew. Your puppy will want a variety of chew toys. Here are some great options:
- Kongs can also be frozen to help with teething.
- bully Sticks
- rubber chew toys
- rope toys
- stuffed toys
- Frozen toys can really help with the pain during teething.
Avoid saying “no”
It is best to not say “no” when your puppy nips. Saying “ouch” is fine, but anything more than that can cause more problems.
When playing with your puppy, and your puppy bites you, stop playing. Resume playing once your puppy stops biting. When you are petting him, you can do the same when your puppy nips you . Giving him a chew toy while you are petting your puppy can help a ton.
Also, pay attention to your puppies needs. Maybe he needs to play, go on a walk, chew on a toy, or even take a nap. Puppies can nip when they are tired. They need to sleep often, so pay attention to your puppy’s napping patterns.
Your puppy will need help directing his needs. You may have to encourage him to chew on the correct toy or encourage him to take a nap by putting him in his crate or ex-pen.
The ASPCA also has an excellent article on puppy nipping.
What to do when your puppy is nipping your children
Children are fragile and nipping can be very painful to them. It is best to teach your children to say “ouch.” Then ignore your puppy. Once your puppy stops biting, the children can resume giving your puppy attention.
When they pet your puppy, it is best for your children to have a chew toy on them.
It is best for your child to have a toy in their hand, while playing with your puppy. Never encourage your children to play with their empty hands around their puppy’s face. This will encourage mouthing.
Always be a safe place for your child. If they are struggling and cannot get their puppy to stop bitting, it is time for you to help. They may need help understanding their puppy’s needs. As an adult, you can see the larger picture and determine what your puppy needs in the moment.
How long will it take for my puppy to stop nipping?
There is no definite answer to this question. However, most puppies will start bitting less at about 6 months of age. Your ability to be committed, to work as a team with your puppy and to be consistent will effect your results.
Commitment is key
It is important that you stay committed to your puppy. Remember he needs you. When things get tough, remember you are committed to loving your puppy.
When you act from a place of love and being a team, how will you choose to react?
Be a team with your puppy
It is not just about stopping the biting. It is also about acknowledging your puppy’s needs. Remember to question why he is bitting and meet those needs as well. It is not a one way street.
Consistency is important to stop puppy nipping
Giving your puppy attention for biting and ignoring your puppy for biting other times is confusing. Try to remember to use “ouch” everytime your puppy nips you.
From there acknowledge your puppy’s needs. Meet your puppy’s needs. Then repeat.
Alyssa, Giles is a puppy trainer in Clearfield, Utah
Alyssa Giles trains with Four Legged Scholars LLC. She currently lives in Clearfield. Her passion is behavior. As a result, she is a great asset to Four Legged Scholars.
She has been training for over ten years. She absolutely loves meeting the dog’s needs. Then from there she loves helping the client understand these needs so that both the dog and owner can live in happiness.