Nipping and Biting

Q: We're having difficulty with our puppy. He's been nipping and biting and we don't know how to stop it. Can you help?

A: Nipping and biting is how a puppy explores it's world and learns it's boundaries. When you allow a puppy to nip or bite at you, or your clothes, without an appropriate correction or consequences, you are actually teaching this youngster that it is acceptable behavior. Not a good idea in the long run!

Time outs are great, they really teach the puppy that if they can't play nicely, they can't play at all! When I have puppies that bite I have found two types of corrections that work well for me. I don't recommend hitting a puppy or holding a puppy's mouth closed for biting, rather, putting your hand OVER their muzzle and just pushing her lips into the teeth, if they exert pressure downward, they only end up biting themselves. This does two things: it gives them a correction, and simulates another dog putting it's mouth over their muzzle. This mimics a common sign of dominance among canines, allowing you to reemphasize your dominance over them! I also will use a little pinch on the lip as a correction. With both corrections, I give a verbal correction "No bite" and when they stop, I praise them. With perseverance and patience, you will eventually be able to give only a verbal correction and have them stop. With puppies, it is often a good idea to quickly distract them with an appropriate chew toy so they don't go right back to "finger attack" mode!

If the corrections don't seem to work, then give time out, because they are either too wound up or too tired and need a nap! It might seem endless, but keep up the corrections you need to win this battle! Be persistent and they'll soon learn that nipping isn't such a fun game after all!

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