🐾 Puppy Nipping and Biting 🐾
First evaluate if your puppy is over-stimulated. Biting is often the result of the puppy being out and playing too long and over-tired. Just like newborn babies, puppies can become over-stimulated very, very quickly. Often puppy owners feel the need to have them out and romping around for long periods in attempts to “wear them out” or “get out their energy” in hopes that this will tire the puppy out. This often backfires as the puppy is over-stimulated, not tired out. Puppies that are over-stimulated will usually act out with unapproved behaviors.
Follow these simple steps to keep puppy stable and not over-stimulated:
- Keep puppy out of his crate for short periods at a time—15-20 minutes maximum from the age of 8-14 weeks, 20-35 minutes from the age of 14-18 weeks and then work your way up as puppy
- When puppy is out of crate be sure he is mentally engaged during “play time”—give puppy a bone to chew on or interact with him yourself with an appropriate toy, or stuff a toy with his meal that he has to work to get the food out Do not allow him to romp freely and unsupervised to get into trouble!
- After play time is over take puppy to potty and place in crate—Be sure to put puppy in his crate after the time listed above for his Allow puppy to fuss but to not respond, he will quickly go to sleep and you may leave him in there for at least an hour, if not two hours. Be sure to take him straight outside after he awakens and repeat the process.
When you have not allowed your puppy to keep from becoming over-tired and/or over-stimulated and he has begun to bite and nip, what should you do to stop him? Follow these steps exactly as they are laid out in order to stop this behavior.
Below is a list of things you want to do in order to teach your puppy that biting is inappropriate.
- Yell! & Time When puppies are with their pack and bite too hard, the other pup will yelp or snap back. While you cannot actually snap like a dog – you can make a loud sound that will tell the puppy—Ow! That hurt! When your pup places his teeth on you, whether gently or not-so-gently immediately yell, “OWWWW!”, look him in the face, say, “That hurt!” in an angry tone and then stomp out of the room. Slam a door behind you. Leave a real impression that you will leave if the pup acts this way. Stay away for at least 2 minutes. Upon your return just calmly sit back down. If it happens again, do the same behavior. This must be practiced each time the pup uses his/her teeth on you. If walking away doesn’t work or is not possible then immediately following your yelping take the puppy and place him in his crate. Do this silently and calmly. Simply take him to his crate, put him in, shut the door and walk away. The only thing puppy hears is your yelping the second his teeth meet your hand, feet, clothes, etc and then you are silent from then on, even upon putting him in his crate and walking off—do not say, “No! No! Bad dog!”
- Toy Teach your pup early on that their teeth should only be on toys not hands, feet, clothing, etc. Play with your puppy only with his toys. Only play with your dog with a toy in your hand and encourage him to take the toy. Should he redirect his teeth to your hand, or something else inappropriate, follow step 1 exactly as it says.
- Freeze Remember when your pup is 4 and 7 months of age he will most likely be in the middle of the teething process (losing those sharp puppy teeth). Be sure your pup has lots of things to chew on. Tie a knot in a strip of old towel, wet it and froze it for a good gum rubbing toy. Or even soak your rope toy in chicken broth and freeze. Also, freeze the pup’s food and anything that you can think of! If you can freeze most anything the pup puts in his/her mouth you will find the teething to lessen much quicker and easier.
DO NOT do any of the following or this behavior is sure to continue and/or escalate . . .
- [DO NOT] Grab puppy’s muzzle & say, “no bite!”—This does not work, contrary to what some books or trainers may say (sadly many books suggest that you do this but it is not ) Puppies want attention. You sitting there doesn’t remove puppy’s valued object—you! If you take the valued object away (you) then you have punished the puppy.
- [DO NOT] Wait for puppy to bite a few times before —The absolute very second the puppy’s teeth touch human skin (or clothes) step 1 needs to be implemented from above. Do not wait even 2 seconds. The “OWWW” needs to be loud and immediate followed by the other suggestions in step 1.
- [DO NOT] Pull your hands away quickly out of fear—The puppy will find this as a game and will come at you seemingly with a vengeance! Start with step 1 above the second puppy begins this
- [DO NOT] Forget to keep puppy appropriately stimulated—Don’t ignore your puppy’s cues that he is over- Keep your puppy in his crate often in the beginning and keep play time short and mentally engaging so that your puppy does not become over-stimulated and begin to act out with inappropriate behaviors.
This handout works when followed properly. This behavior is a number one complaint among puppy owners. However, this behavior can be fixed very quickly when these steps are followed as listed. This behavior can also escalate just as quickly when the inappropriate measures are taken.
If your puppy continues to bite/nip inappropriately contact your trainer. If your trainer suggests any of the items listed under the “Do Not Do”, then we suggest you find a trainer that has other options for you. This behavior should stop within days if this handout is followed as laid out.