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How to Stop a Puppy from Biting and Nipping

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For young puppies, biting and nipping are natural behaviours.  When they are very young puppies learn to play by wrestling with their litter mates.  However, as they don’t have hands, they often grab onto each other by biting and nipping each other.  Although this behaviour is natural and normal, you must nonetheless have a zero tolerance level towards it.  From day one, biting and nipping must be unacceptable towards other dogs, other animals, and especially people.  If you do not stop this behaviour when they are puppies, they will continue to do it when they are adults.  Dogs must be taught that putting their teeth on any skin, but especially human skin, is forbidden.  A single dog bite is enough for the authorities to take a dog away and destroy him. 

 

Here are some guidelines that you should follow to ensure that your puppy doesn’t start down the biting and nipping path:

 

1)      Always be consistent.  Don’t allow biting during play, and then try and stop it at other times.  Biting is always wrong and should always be corrected.

2)      Don’t play games in which you pit your strength against your dogs, like tug of war or wrestling.  This encourages your dog to see you (and therefore other humans) as equals, and will encourage biting.

3)      Don’t allow a puppy to chase children, nipping at their heals.

4)      Teach your children to play quietly with your puppy.  No roughhousing allowed.  Your puppy must not see your children as littermates.

5)      Don’t allow your puppy to grab his leash, chew on it, or mouth it.

 

If you follow all of the above rules, and your puppy is still threatening to bite, take the following corrective measures:puppy licking is ok!

 

1)      Carry a squirt bottle filled with 1/8 vinegar and 7/8 water.  If you puppy is nipping at your heals, give him a spray while saying “Acck! No Bite!”  Praise him gently when he back off.

2)      If you have your hands on your puppy when he tries to nip you, use one hand to grab his collar (or the scruff of his neck) while you use the other one to grab his snout to keep it closed.  Repeat the “acck! No Bite!” command while keeping his snout gently but firmly closed.  You will want to keep his snout closed until your puppy visibly relaxes.  Make sure you wait your puppy out on this.

3)      If he tries to bite you or anyone else, give the “acck! No Bite!” command and immediately put him in his crate.  Leave him alone for a bit so that he can think about what he did.

 

Whenever you discipline your puppy for biting, make sure that you never lose your temper.  If you do, your puppy will pick up on this, which will only make him more aggressive. 

 

Here’s another interesting point.  When you give the “acck!  No bite!” command, you are actually trying to simulate what happens in a litter.  If a puppy bites one of his siblings too hard, the sibling will let out a yelp and the puppy will back off.  This is how puppies learn how much they can bite without causing injury.  However, if a puppy is removed from his mother too soon, he may never learn this.  What you must do is to get across to your puppy that no amount of biting, no matter how gently applied, is acceptable.  This is why you need to instantly yelp “Ack! No Bite” whenever your puppy even attempts to nip.

 

It needs to be pointed out that the above advice is only meant for puppies.  If you have a dog that is a biter, you need to see a professional trainer or animal behaviourist immediately.  Only professional help can potentially save your dog from this destructive behaviour.

 

- Grover

 

PS If you are still having trouble with your puppy nipping and biting, you should check out the dog Click here to learn more about Dove's programtraining program that Dove Cresswell has put together.  Dove trains dogs for film and television in Hollywoon North (otherwise known as Vancouver, Canada, my hometown!).  Her program uses online video's, which makes it very easy to understand.  Click here or on the picture to the right to learn more.