One of the most frustrating things you might encounter while raising a puppy is nipping and biting. Your young furry friend tends to nip and chew on anything and everything they see, including your hands, which can really hurt so badly.
But is this behavior normal? Well, yes, it is a natural part of a puppy’s development and it happens for several reasons which we shall be showing you in this article.
The good news, however, is that you can teach your dog to stop biting and nipping. We shall also discuss several effective measures to achieve this.
Before then, let’s start with the reasons why your dog nip or bite.
Why do dogs bite or nip?
Your puppy can bite or nip for any of the following reasons:
- It’s a natural instinct: Dogs naturally have an instinct to hunt. So biting and chewing is a natural part of their development. Biting or nipping helps to keep their teeth and jaws strong.
- They’re teething: Your puppy tends to nip or bite nonstop while they’re teething. This action helps to alleviate the pain that comes with the development of their adult teeth, and this is a healthy response to this kind of pain.
- They need attention: Your dog may nip or bite when they’re bored and needs your attention. Dogs need constant mental and physical stimulation to stay at their best. So if you’re not walking them or allowing them observe their playtime, they tend to nip or bite.
- They are stressed out: When your puppy is stressed, perhaps they feel overstimulated, they tend to bite or nip. Rough play can cause them to bite in self-defense. And most times, they would display a body language to show you they don’t like your style of play.
How to prevent your dog from biting or nipping
As a dog owner, you can try many methods to prevent your puppy or older dog form biting or nipping.
Without further ado, here are the best measures you can adopt to help your pooch stop biting or nipping.
Teach them bite inhibition
Puppies tend to play bites as they grow and sometimes they bite down too hard on their littermates. But the unexpected yelping sound that the victim feels snaps the puppy out their bite. This is an effective method.
You can try make a loud “Ow!” sound whenever your puppy nips or bites you. This will most times cause them to release you and retreat.
However, some dogs may get more riled up at yelping and want to bite the more. If your dog behaves in this manner, it is best to walk away or put them in their crate for a while to relax and calm down.
No teeth on skin
This is also part of the bite inhibition training. After your puppy has learned to quit nipping or biting after a yelping sound, you should try to yelp and go limp at the slightest nipping or biting. This will help your pooch understand that no level of teeth on the skin is acceptable.
You can use treats to reinforce this training. Hold a nice treat in your hands and close it up. Whenever your puppy is not chewing, mouthing or nipping at your finger, open your hands and reward them with a treat. This will help them understand that mouths and teeth are not meant to be on the skin.
Although it may take some time and patience for you puppy to get this message and adjust their behavior, they will eventually adapt just like children.
Whenever your puppy bites or nip you during playtime, you can end the play session to make them understand that their action means no more play.
Punishing or yelling at your puppy may work, but it has more of the opposite effect. They may get the message that biting wins your attention, and they may continue biting.
Instead, you can put your puppy down and walk away. You can tuck your hands into your armpit to let them know they no longer have your attention.
This works to help your puppy see the consequence of their action and they will learn to avoid this behavior that causes you to lose interest in them and walk away.
Just like teething in babies cause them to bite at your hands and body, teething in puppies makes them eager to always use their new teeth. Unfortunately, your arms and legs can be trapped by your puppy bites. But instead of punishing them, you can try offer a chew toy as an alternative.
You can decide to carry a toy with you anytime you play with your puppy, especially if they are in the thick of biting behaviors.
Your dog learns with time that it is not good to bite people or furniture, but it is permitted to bite or nip toys.
You can also stock up on some nipping shields to redirect the attention of your dog away from your hands and clothes. This can be stuffed toys, but some dogs do not find these toys as exciting as your moving feet or hands. In this case, you can use a bully stick as a shield. The point is to find what’s exciting the most to your pooch.
Consider getting variety of options nearby. Offer one to your puppy before they start coming after your hands, clothes, or feet
You can use a flirt pole to play with your dog from a distance, especially when you’re trying to relax. This is also a great option to troy while you’re sitting.
Make it fun by moving the toys around and playing tug with your dog.
Teach your puppy to leave it and drop it
You can prevent your dog from biting or nipping by teaching them these two cues- leave it and drop it. When we work with a nipping puppy, ensure you don’t mix up the meaning of these cues.
If your puppy already has something in their mouth, use the “Drop it” sound to make them drop it. But before they even pick up the item at all, you can use the “Leave it” cue to ask them to turn their head away.
Give your puppy lots of Mental Enrichment
When your puppy is full of energy, they tend to bite, nip, or exhibit other unwanted behaviors. At the puppy stage, you should engage your dog in moderate physical exercises.
Besides, you can pair short sessions of physical activity with more mental exercises throughout the day. Enrichment involves providing and creating enough outlets for natural dog behaviors and instincts.
Enroll in a puppy class
A puppy class gives your puppy a chance to socialize with other dogs. In this class, trained professionals teach your puppy not to bite or nip and give you some strategies to reinforce lessons learned in the class.
Puppies have the innate tendency to bite and nip at people’s hands, legs, ankles, clothes, and other items. But with proper training, they tend to stop this behavior and behave more friendly.
But if your puppy is struggling to adapt and continue biting and nipping after your lesion, you can consider getting help from a professional trainer.