Mouthing, biting and nipping is a natural canine behavior that develops when a puppy plays with his mom and littermates. Because he has no hands, he learns to use his mouth to wrestle and play. When he nipped too hard, his fellow playmates let him know with a sharp yelp or cry, and puppy would normally back off.
While it may be acceptable within the ranks of a litter, mouthing and biting is NOT an acceptable form of play with people. Puppy teeth are sharp! And all puppies grow up to be dogs capable of inflicting severe damage to human skin, flesh and bone.
Biting and mouthing behavior in adult dogs can have deadly consequences. Not every dog is allowed one bite. Some dogs are euthanized immediately after their first biting incident – no exceptions. No second chance.
Every pup has a strong tendency to chew. Puppy biting, for your puppy, is fun, a way to play with their siblings or friends, and also sometimes to get your attention. It is a very normal tendency and it does not mean that your pup is aggressive.
It is seen that puppy biting is a tendency that your puppy will grow out of eventually. But, till then you will have to convey a message, through your voice as well as body language, that puppy biting will never be tolerated.
Puppy biting can be stopped by simple techniques. You can give lots of chewable toys to your puppy to chew on. A puppy, though young, needs a lot of exercise. Ensure that your puppy gets at least 45 minutes of play and exercise a day. You can also help your puppy socialize with other pups in your area.
Stop Bad Behavior Before It Starts
We often inadvertently encourage mouthing and nipping by playing with and/or praising our puppies excessively with our hands. If you want to play with your puppy, use a toy, not your hands, to simulate wrestling play behavior.
There are a myriad of ideas on how best to stop mouthing and nipping. We list some of these methods here but stress that there is no single right or wrong way to deal with this behavior.
Talk to your breeder, your veterinarian or a qualified dog trainer for advice on working with your specific breed of dog. If you have an adult dog that has problem with biting and nipping, seek professional help immediately!
Communicate Your Disapproval
Your puppy needs to learn about bite inhibition. Whenever he takes any part of you in his mouth, startle him by loudly and quickly saying “Ouch! No bite!” In doing so, you have vocally let him know the behavior is unacceptable. (Just like his mom and littermates used to do).
You Can Then…
- Immediately stop playing, turn away, and ignore the puppy. When you face the puppy again and offer your hand, the puppy should ignore it or gently lick it. If he does this then quietly praise him.
- If puppy wants your hand in his mouth, make it uncomfortable for it to be there! When he take hold of your hand, make a fist and stuff your hand in his mouth for several seconds or stuff your fingers toward the back of his throat. He’ll start to gag and spit and soon realize that a human hand doesn’t taste quite so good. When he lets go of you, immediately provide a suitable toy and praise him for being so clever as to choose the toy, rather than your hand.
- Immediately grasp his muzzle with your hand, look him in the eye and say, “No Bite!” The second he looks away from you, release his muzzle, and offer a toy instead.
- A spray bottle filled with 1/8th vinegar and 7/8ths water may be effective for a puppy that is nipping at your heels. When he nips, say “Ouch! No bite!” and spray him in the face with the spray bottle.
Repeat any of the above methods two or three times. If puppy still continues to mouth and nip then he is over stimulated and needs a time out – alone – in his crate. Remember the crate is a den, not a cage. It should be treated as a place of sanctuary, not punishment. Keep his crate clean and dry, with bedding to snuggle up in and one or two indestructible chew toys to entertain him.
Basic Training Guidelines:
• Remember, the above-mentioned methods are for very young puppies. These methods are NOT suitable for dogs older than about 12 weeks.
• Be consistent. Never allow the puppy to take your hands in his mouth.
Allowing the puppy to hold, mouth, or chew your fingers at any time makes it more difficult to differentiate in appropriate behavior from acceptable actions.
• Don’t play games that encourage hand/mouth contact or teach your dog to pit his strength against yours. (Tug-of-war and wrestling are out!)
• Don’t encourage puppy to chase people. (This is especially challenging to do with herding breeds!) Teach kids not to run around and excite the puppy.
• Don’t hold toys up in the air to encourage puppy to jump and bite at them. (He may accidentally nip your hand.)
• Don’t allow puppy to grab at or chew on his leash. Yes this can be cute behavior but it leads to other problems.
Don’t loose your temper! Aggression begets aggression.
The moment you bring your dog home for the first day, you cannot expect him to be trained and well behaved. With the passage of time you will realize that there are some dog behavioral problems that you need to rectify in your new pet and very often, one such common problem that many dog owners face is dog nipping.
Dog nipping should not be encouraged and there are ways and means to teach your dog on how to stop nipping the moment you notice him doing so. The first thing that you can do when you are checking the dog nipping habit in your dog is stop playing with him. Every dog loves to play and the nipping habit is generally developed when they are playing.
You should remember that the moment the dog nips you during the playing session you should stop playing so that the pet can connect this to his nipping. The moment he makes the connection he stops the dog nipping habit. You need time and patience for your dog to understand this and you should not expect overnight results.
Dog nipping is mostly done on fingers and when your dog starts nipping you must redirect his mouth to another object preferably a dog toy that will help it reduce this habit. There are many dog toys that are available in the market for the purpose of dog nipping and all you need to do is get hold of a good one and offer it to your pet the moment he nips. The moment he starts to chew on the toy you should praise him so that he understands that he is doing the right thing.
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