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Puppy Nipping

Does your puppy nip you when you play with him?

Here's how you can stop it.


Puppy nipping is a natural activity that puppies do. They are investigating the world they live in and their mouth is one of their investigating tools. Puppies use their mouths when they play with other puppies. So, when you bring your puppy home, and play with it or pet it, it will mouth your hands. This behavior is normal for puppies and is rarely aggressive. If your puppy was with its littermates for the first 8 weeks or more of its life, it has been mouthing and nipping its littermates for the last 6 or more weeks. The most likely way to be successful in stopping puppy nipping behavior is to give the puppy something to chew such as a chewable toy or treat.


To stop the puppy nipping behavior of your puppy, what you want to do is encourage behavior that is acceptable, and discourage behavior that is unacceptable. Puppy nipping is unacceptable.


To encourage acceptable chewing behavior, give your puppy something to chew with one hand as you pet your puppy with the other hand. This is especially effective when children want to pet your puppy. Alternate which hand has the chew toy and which hand does the petting so the puppy learns that either one can come from either hand. This helps the puppy learn that people and petting are good things and keeps the puppy's mouth busy while its being petted.


To discourage unacceptable chewing and nipping behavior, you must also teach your puppy that putting its teeth on skin and nipping is not acceptable and has unpleasant consequences. One way to do this is to yelp "ouch" in a high pitched voice as soon as you feel the puppy nipping you and then completely ignore your puppy for a few minutes even if it means leaving the room. When you come back, give your puppy the chew toy and start petting the puppy again. As soon as your puppy starts puppy nipping on any part of your body or your clothes, do the exercise again. Your puppy wants to play and be petted and doesn't want to be left alone. To be effective, this has to be done every time your puppy mouths or nips any part of you or your clothing. Your puppy will soon learn that mouthing or nipping brings unpleasant consequences and will stop.


Another way to discourage puppy nipping is to say no in a low guttural voice that would resembles the mother dog's growl. Sometimes this alone will cause the puppy to stop. If it doesn't, completely ignore the puppy as in the first method. But always return and start petting your puppy again. When you stop playing with your puppy, always do it on a positive note by telling your puppy what a good puppy she is.


Whichever method works, you have to be consistent. Use the same method and use it every time the puppy nipping occurs. Every time you let your puppy get away with nipping you without getting a correction, you have set her learning that puppy nipping behavior is unacceptable, back significantly. 


Timing is crucial. Your yelping or growling must happen immediately after you either feel or see the mouthing or nipping. Your puppy will associate your correcting or rewarding her with her previous activity for only about 5 to 10 seconds after the activity takes place.  If you correct or reward your puppy more than 10 seconds after the event, your puppy does not know why you're doing it. For example, if your puppy nips your hand and you pull your hand away and take more than 5 to 10 seconds to examine it to see if the skin is broken or to rub the red spot, there's no use doing anything to your puppy because she won't know why you're doing it. She won't associate your action with her nipping.


 To learn how stop this and other bad habits your puppy or dog may have, click on the link below. 

Stop Puppy Biting

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