Two Ways to Nip Dog Biting in the Bud

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Two Ways to Nip Dog Biting in the Bud

by Martin Olliver

When raising a puppy, there is a fine line between a dog bite and puppy love. Adult dogs will bite for a numbers of reasons, including fear, defensiveness, and aggression. But puppies have yet to develop many of the behaviors (such as possessiveness, territoriality, or simply aggression in general) that can contribute to biting tendencies.

So while puppies don?t really bite, they nip. They nip as a form of play, but also as manifestation of their ?prey instincts? in development. Either way, those little teeth sure can hurt, and can puncture just as easily as an accidental staple in your finger (not that I would know of course).

Puppies need to chew even more when they are teething - there are even special chew toys that can be dampened and frozen to provide relief for painful gums during this process. Broadly speaking, they are using their mouths to express themselves, to explore and engage with all of the things that surround them. Of course, that includes you, the owner.

Nipping behavior CAN be present in adult dogs. For example, some dogs tend to nip at the hands and feet of people whenever they move quickly. Unfortunately, this is commonly a sign of earlier abuse at the hand (and indeed foot) of a nasty owner. The adult dog comes to mistrust these appendages, and for good reason. Such a dog can require a good dose of re-training, precaution, and patience.

But for puppy owners, there are super simple but super important steps you can take to deal with nipping pups:

* Use an ?OUCH? command.
Whenever your puppy gets you too hard and inflicts any amount of pain, whether you are playing or not, cry out sharply with ?Ouch? or something similar. The important thing is NOT to say ?No? or anything that makes the puppy think it has done something wrong. They haven?t. They simply need to figure out some boundaries. An ?Ouch? command lets them know where to draw the line while not punishing them for bad behavior. After all, you are your puppy?s favorite thing in the world. The last thing they want to do is poke multiple holes in your hand.

* Use physical correction.
Another sure-fire technique to interrupt a nipping and biting puppy is to physically wrap your thumb and forefinger around its lower jaw, further back the better but not down its throat. It?s a bit slimy, but I assure you, your dog doesn?t like it either, as it renders them unable to close their jaw. They may try to squirm away. If they do, you can either let them go, but if they go right back to chomping on you, you should hold firm (don?t squeeze), and perhaps give a ?No biting? command gently as you do.

In both cases, you can follow the correction by placing one of the dog?s toys in its mouth to redirect the behavior. Also, be sure to give praise - but best to do it verbally, as it's best not to put your hand back in front of its face. This will help them get the point of why your hand was removed as target for its teeth.

These easy steps will prevent the habit of dog biting when playing, and may go some way in discouraging genuine biting tendencies as the dog matures.

Martin Olliver is a proud member of the Kingdom of Pets team ( For more great articles on nipping and biting dogs, visit:

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