Play Biting

Having trouble with your puppy nipping and play biting?

Having trouble with your puppy nipping and play biting? It is very common for puppies to nip at your hands, feet, clothes, etc. When we say “nip” or “bite,” we aren’t talking about aggressive biting, we’re talking about playful bites. It can be quite difficult to convince your puppy not to nip or bite you.

Puppies play with their mouths, which is what they’re doing when they bite or “mouth” your hand. This type of behavior in puppies is rarely aggressive and does no harm. However, it is a bad habit for a puppy to continue—especially as he gets older. The best course of action is to redirect the chewing/biting behavior by offering chew toys. This redirection can help teach a puppy that there are far better things to chew on than his human.

Normally when you reach down to pet your puppy her reaction is to nip and “mouth” your hand. Instead try giving her a chew toy when reaching to pet her. This redirects her and teaches your puppy not to go for the hand.

To train your puppy, you discourage unacceptable behavior and encourage acceptable behavior. When your puppy starts to nip at your hand yell “OUCH” very loudly (high pitched yelps can really get your puppy’s attention). After you yelp, get up and walk away. Ignore your puppy until he calms down. After the puppy has calmed down, you can return to him and try the chew toy method again. This shows your puppy that nipping is not an acceptable behavior and that there are appropriate things to bite and chew.

When training your puppy, never hit her. This can make her hand shy, and she will learn to think of the hand as a dangerous thing. Your puppy might become afraid of you and not come when you call, and she might even start to bite in self-defense. If the puppy does not fear the slap of the hand, she might think it’s an invitation to play and nip again. In either case, this is not an effective way to train a puppy.

If you have children in your home, it may be difficult for them to understand the training process. A younger child’s first reaction to a puppy nipping is to push the puppy away. The puppy will think that this means play, so he will run right back to nip some more. When children are near your puppy, always supervise, redirecting any bad behaviors before the children react.

The most important part of training is to be consistent. Everyone needs to be on board, and everyone needs to follow the steps of offering a chew toy and yelping/ignoring the puppy if bitten. The more consistent you are, the faster your puppy will learn how to love and play with the entire family appropriately.

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