How to stop puppy biting and nipping

bikini pull

Puppy biting is a simple fact of life. Every puppy is well versed in biting and mouthing as they use this for exploration and play. We must remember it is a normal and needed behavior for development in a puppy .

But puppy biting and nipping is undesirable when it goes to far with it's siblings, parents, as well as their extended human family and other people.

When puppy's are play biting with one another, they have there own set of rules to teach a fellow sibling it has bitten to hard and crossed the line.

This is done in two ways :

  • a loud "yelp" or "squeal"
  • turning away and ceasing play, followed by ignoring the biter altogether

An adult dog on the other hand may growl, curl it's lips, or even stop nursing as a form of reprimand. Adult dogs rarely hurt a puppy when correcting behavior.

It's there natural way to teach each other bite inhibition and using a softer touch with there mouths.


In order to set our puppy up for success, we need to understand it's essential for puppies to mouth for proper developmentin it's early life stages of 3 months, but biting is not acceptable.

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Your puppy's razor-sharp teeth can make it's bites painful, but his weak jaws seldom cause any harm. Now imagine that puppy bite with the jaw strength of an adolescent dog and you get my point.

A puppy must be taught (should I say reminded) his bites hurt before he reaches adolescence, and long before he develops jaws strong enough to inflict injury.

The more your puppy bites and receives appropriate feedback, the safer his jaws will be in adulthood. The method of training is simple, we duplicate what your puppy has already learned by it's siblings and parents and expand on it.

foot chew

It should be noted, socialization is extremely beneficial to a puppy at this stage in life as well. Putting your puppy in a variety of social situations will lessen it's tendency's to become nervous or frightened around people and other pets.

This will help later in avoiding the possibilities of puppy biting and nipping other friends or strangers, even in drastic situations.

A dog trained properly in bite inhibition and socialization is less likely to bite even in an accident (getting it's tail stepped on).

Everything you teach your dog now will help in proper development.

One last reason to train bite inhibition if your still not convinced:

Dog bite victims requiring medical attention in the United States number approximately 800,000 annually. Countless more bite injuries go untreated. On average, about a dozen people die each year from dog bite injuries. The number of recorded dog bite injuries is significantly higher in children than adults.The elderly and home service providers such as mail carriers and meter readers are among the most likely to be bit.

American Veterinary Medical Association

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to address this problem in the form of puppy biting inhibition. Don't make your dog or another person apart of the statistic.


Even if your puppy is friendly and mouths gently, he must be taught to eventually never to touch any person's body or clothing with his jaws.

The first step is to stop your puppy biting from hurting people and inhibit the force of his play-bites. Physical punishments are not called for and seldom work because they send your pup the wrong message.

A puppy who is hit or slapped in the face for biting can respond in a defensive manner, and attempt to bite you to defend himself.Worse yet, he may become afraid of you, and refuse to approach you at all, cowering whenever a hand comes toward his face.

A mild slap may also be interpreted as an invitation to play, getting him more excited and even more likely to nip.

But it is essential to let your puppy know that bites can hurt.

How?, we mimic the actions of his siblings and parents.

As your playing with your pup, at the first sign of a bite, you must respond immediately. He needs to understands the bite inflicted pain even though it didn't hurt at all.

A simple "Ouch!" or loud "yelp!" is usually sufficient.

If the puppy back's off, take a time out from play for a short while for the pup to reflect on the out come of it's bite. He just caused interruption of his favorite pass time, play. Resume playing for a reward after a few minutes.

If the pup did not respond to the "yelp", up the ante by immediately leaving the room altogether and close the door behind you.This sends a stronger message to the dog that his actions of biting were unacceptable and resulted in his favorite play-mate exiting. Return after a couple minutes or so and let the puppy come back to you to apologize, then resume play as his reward.

This technique is very effective, since it mimics what the puppy has learned already when play biting with it's siblings.

Another good exercise it to hand feed your puppy. You have to feed him any way's, but hand feeding now will reinforce the gentle mouth we are striving to reach in these early stages.

If a puppy nips you hand when feeding, perform a loud "yelp" and cease feeding immediately. As before, follow with a brief time-out.This mimics an adult dog whom refuses to nurse when play-biting gets out of control and is a progressively stronger signal to your puppy that it's actions are not suitable and come with coincidences.

The next step is to eliminate mouthing altogether so your dog understands mouthing in unacceptable to your family, friends and strangers and he should never put his jaws on anyone.

We do the same as before, but now we perform the "yelp" at the slightest of mouthing. We need our dog to think that or skin is as fragile as rice paper. Use the same techniques, and emphasis the slightest of pressure from your puppy's mouth on us is not tolerated.

Of course, your puppy's need to mouth is acceptable and important for it's development, so we allow mouthing in a more appropriate way, with chew toys.

Continue on with these exercises of mouth inhibition until your puppy doesn't mouth your hand at all, even when coaxed too.

It's the best way to avoid any future issues with biting when the dog reaches adolescence, and help you be a better owner with a properly trained and well mannered pet.

Best wishes from dog-care-basics

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