Expecting your puppy not to nip is like expecting your kids not to ask you for things. They are both inevitable facts of life that begin innocently enough, but could easily spiral out of control if not monitored. Puppies nip and bite for many reasons, and most of them are related to teething. Recognizing that he needs to bite to relieve gum pain is a big step for dog owners and the perfect place to begin to control it. By providing plenty of structure into your dog’s routine, you can help him through this frustrating stage of life with minimal anger and destruction.
By giving your dog a big selection of chew toys, you are providing him an outlet for his pain and boredom. Tough, rubbery chew toys will allow him to sink his teeth into something that will make his swollen gums feel better. Once he makes this connection, he will always run to his toys when he feels the urge to bite. By keeping his toys at ground level and keeping your shoes and other belongings out of site, you reinforce the fact that those are his and OK to chew while your items are off limits.
Many people have different methods of training dogs to not bite. Some are rougher and more hands-on while others rely upon verbal commands. Depending on your dog, you’ll have to experiment as to what works best for the two of you. Either way, choose one method and stick with it if it works, and never cause your dog to be scared of you. It’s always better for your relationship if you can teach and correct your dog with kindness and rewards than with harsh behavior and punishments.
- Don’t rough-house with your puppy and then get mad at him if he bites your hands. He doesn’t have hands so he is using the only way he can to play back. If this is something that will upset you, don’t play rough at all.
- Never hit or slap your dog in the face. One of two things will happen: he will both become fearful of you and cringe when you raise your hand or he will think you are playing and continue to bite you.
- Discourage nipping by stopping the activity that caused him to bite and walk away from him, leaving him alone. Encourage good behaviors by rewarding him with treats and lavish praise.
- Consistency is the key. Once you punish a behavior, always punish it and once you reward a behavior, always reward it. This goes for everyone who comes into contact with him.
- Sometimes, your puppy isn’t playing but asserting a dominant role to get his way. Never condone this and always stop it immediately. As your dog gets older, it’s extremely difficult to reverse this behavior and could lead to a violent and domineering dog and a bad dog-owner relationship.
- Replacing your hand with a toy is a great way to redirect a nippy puppy. The second you feel that the biting is becoming overly aggressive or more than just a playful reaction, shout “No!” firmly and replace your hand with his chew toy. Once you do this enough, he will automatically run to grab a toy if he wishes to continue playing.
- For puppies that just cannot stop biting, place a glove on your hand with something foul sprayed on it (like bitter apple spray). Once he bites it enough to associate hands with something that tastes terrible, he may stop trying to bite them.