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how to stop puppy biting and nipping

Teach your puppy to stop biting early

If your pup has a problem with nipping or biting, you are not alone! Most puppies feel the need to chew on something to help their new teeth work through their gums. This may be adorable when they’re teeny, but using people as teething toys, even during play, does not age well. A puppy that thinks fingers are toys and that nipping is nice may have no problem playfully nipping at you and your guests in the future.

Puppy biting a man GOF
Tooth training your puppy

There are many ways to stop your puppy from biting, and it’s a lot easier to nip biting habits in the bud when they’re small. Here’s what to do, what to avoid, how to stick with your training, and what teething toy alternatives you can offer those needle-toothed little jaws.

Start young!

Like all doggy training techniques, you’ll have the most success when you start young. We recommend that you start right when your pup arrives at their new home. Set the standard early. You’ll be happy later on that you’re ahead of the curve, especially when it’s time to start socializing.

happy puppy running
Walk away when your puppy bites or nips

We know it’s hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes, but simply getting up and ignoring your puppy when they bite is often the best method. Usually puppies nip because they want to play. A sudden stop to playtime lets your pup know that biting isn’t part of a good time.

Consistently walk away every time your puppy bites, without exception, and train your family to do the same. This kind of reinforcement is more effective in the long run.

puppy chewing rope toy

Hands and human skin are not chew toys

Puppy teeth hurt! To keep your puppy from nipping at you or your guests every time your pup is playing, offer chew toys instead of your hands, shirt, ankles, or shoes. This will satisfy your puppy’s natural need to gnaw and reward proper chew toy play. Remember, always supervise your pup while they are chewing on a toy.

blue dog crate do not use

You don’t need to punish your puppy to teach them “no”

Here are some behaviors to avoid when your puppy starts biting:

  • Don’t hold your puppy’s mouth closed when they nip at you. This method can send the wrong message to some developing pups.
  • Don’t use a puppy’s crate as punishment. Their crate should be their happy place.

Try acting like a puppy and yelp when it hurts!

Obedience training can be a challenge. Your puppy may push back with repeated, rapid, or even aggressive biting. Stay calm and don’t retaliate. Instead, show your puppy that their biting hurts you! It’s okay to get dramatic and make a big, loud show of the pain (like other dogs would do) before you walk away to help discourage the naughty behavior from continuing in the future.

And if you’re stumped, please reach out to your veterinary team. We’re here for love, health, happiness, and puppy wisdom.

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