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Old 07-01-2007, 04:46 PM   #1
skunkstripe
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Default How to: Stop puppy biting / nipping

Since this question comes up a lot I wanted to have a thread with info for puppy owners to help them get through the puppy biting / nipping stage. Please, if I missed something or if you have a different point of view you want to share, do please contribute more ideas.

A lot of things are fun about adopting a young puppy, but the nipping and biting stage is not one of them! Puppy teeth are sharp as needles, and you don't want puppy to grow into an adult dog who thinks that biting human skin is acceptable.

First, it helps to recognize that the nipping most likely has nothing to do with aggression. It is probably playful biting or a result of teething pain. Second, be aware that puppies need to chew on something, so it is a good idea to have several hard and soft chew toys ready.This stage seems to start at about 10 weeks and hopefully ends when the teething stage is completed at about 5 months.

There are different philosophies on how to deal with puppy nipping. One is that a dog should be trained never to have his/her teeth touch the skin. The disadvantage of teaching the puppy not to bite at all is that while your pup may not bite you, he may well try to bite someone else (like a small child who does not resist the nipping as effectively as an adult can).

The other philospophy is that the puppy should be trained in "bite inhibition", which means you are training your puppy to learn where the limits of force are that he/she can use on human skin. The advantage of this method is that your adult dog will have a "soft mouth" and be less likely to harm someone in the unlikely event that he/she does "bite".

What you can do to teach your puppy not to hurt you is:

If the nipping hurts, squeal or yelp like a small puppy, pull your hand away, and ignore puppy for a few minutes.
This is more or less what a littermate would do when the nipping hurts and teaches puppy where the limits are.

If you want to teach your pup not to bite but instead to chew on a toy, have one ready the next time the nipping starts, and withdraw your hand, substitute the toy, and praise doggy for chewing on the toy. This redirection technique works when you see puppy going after the electrical cords or furniture. You may want to keep the chew toys in the freezer to help against the teething pain. Keep in mind that if you give you puppy old shoes or socks, it may be hard for him/her to tell the difference between "old shoes that are ok to chew and old shoes that are not ok to chew".

If these methods don't work, another technique that helps is to gently hold puppy's snout closed and say "No bite". You may want to turn facing away from puppy with your arms folded or even leave the room to help puppy understand that there is NO reward for nipping and biting. Speaking of which, puppies do love to play and sometimes get overexcited. If you notice that playing gets your puppy riled up enough to play-bite, stop before it reaches that point and help your puppy learn to stay calm.

Like any dog training, the keys to success are patience and consistency. It can and will take weeks so hang in there and don't get frustrated by setbacks.
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Last edited by skunkstripe; 05-01-2010 at 08:35 AM..

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