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 see no problem playfully biting and nipping at you and your guests in the future.
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.
Like all 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.
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. It may seem counterintuitive to ignore this sort of behavior, but usually puppies nip because they want to play. Immediately stopping 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.
Hands 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 rewards proper chew toy play with love and affection. Remember, always supervise your pup while they are chewing on a toy.
Tooth training traps
Here are some behaviors to avoid when your puppy starts biting:
- Don’t hold your puppy’s mouth closed and say “no bite” to them each time 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.
Sing it loud
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 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. They’re here for love, health, happiness, and puppy wisdom.