Common Puppy Behavior Problems: Nipping Till It Hurts

Gemma | March 6th, 2006
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All pups start out doing everything possible to seemingly want to annoy you, get in trouble, or worse hurt themselves. But at the same time they are incredibly cute – they have to be so you’ll still love them when they are being really bad, which happens often while they are learning how to behave in a human world.

If your puppy is misbehaving, don’t fret. You can do plenty to help teach him the right way to act in just about any situation. Let’s look at a very common puppy problem of nipping and how to solve the issue. If you follow this approach then you can rest assured that your pup will stop nipping in no time at all.

The Nipping Problem: An Easy Approach

It’s natural for a puppy to nip while playing, and your puppy surely will do it to you, especially when he’s excited. But no matter how cute he is and how harmless it seems, you must put a stop to nipping the moment it begins.

Puppies need to learn that their teeth should never touch human flesh, even in play. This will pay off when your dog grows up he’ll be less likely to bite anyone, especially if you have a big dog. And even the smaller breeds can give a good bite if the nipping behavior is not taken care of.

When you play with your pup, redirect his biting behavior to his toys, especially soft plush toys that have a satisfying give in his mouth and have rubber toys that you can stuff with treats to engage his interest and his teeth.

Even if your puppy is as young as 8 weeks old, he can still learn that biting is not acceptable. If your puppy bites you during play, say ouch in a low voice, and remove your body part from his mouth.

If he continues to bite, walk away from him. If he follows you, step through a door and close him on the other side, but just briefly – don’t leave him alone long enough for him to get in trouble!

You’re teaching him that biting too hard makes the fun stop. He’ll learn to control how hard he bites so you’ll keep playing with him. As he starts to get the idea, you’ll notice that he bites hard with less frequency. Then you raise the bar, and start applying your ouch to softer bites, until he learns to keep his mouth off of skin completely.

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