There are many dog behaviors that you would like to put a stop to, and dog nipping should be at the top of that list. It is never ok to allow a dog to nip and steps should be taken to curb that behavior as soon as it starts.
While it is normal and usually harmless for a puppy to nip at you while playing, if the behavior is encouraged, it may be more difficult to stop once the dog gets older. That is why, even though it seems cute when they are puppies, dog nipping must not be encouraged.
Here are some tips to help you curb dog nipping at the first sign of it.
Most of the time, the dog nipping will take place during play. That is because such interaction is a completely normal part of how dog’s play. Nipping is not necessarily a sign of aggression, but since you must work to stop the behavior, one way to do that is to suspend all play as soon as the dog nips you.
Because the dog loves to play, he is going to want to avoid any action that will cause the play to stop. If you stop playing with the dog the second that he nips you, he will soon make the connection and the nipping will likely stop.
Offer a Toy
Dogs need to use their mouths. When dealing with dog nipping, you need to redirect the nipping away from your fingers and onto a more appropriate surface, such as a dog toy. When your dog is starting to mouth your hand, take your hand away and offer a toy instead.
As your dog begins to chew on the toy, offer praise. Be sure to always have a good supply of chew toys for your dog. This will help not only with stopping dog nipping, but at preventing him from chewing on your furniture and shoes as well.
Let Him Know You’re Hurt
Your dog certainly doesn’t want to hurt you, so by letting out a yelp or other sound to let the dog know that his nipping hurts, you will be discouraging the behavior. Do not yell at the dog, instead just make a sound so he will understand that his nipping caused you pain.
Similar to stopping play, making your dog have a time out is another way to discourage dog nipping. Again, he just wants to romp and play. Being forced to sit or spend time in his “bad dog corner” is not any fun in his eyes.
Once he makes the connection between nipping and having to be in a time out, the behavior will quickly diminish.
This is where many dog owners fall short when it comes to trying to stop dog nipping. Remember, it is NEVER cute or funny for your dog or puppy to nip at you. If you act like it is acceptable one minute and then not the next, the dog is going to have trouble understanding that you really want the behavior to stop.
You also must communicate this to other members of your household and anyone else who has interaction with your dog.
You all must react the same way to dog biting (nipping) every time that it happens so that the dog will really understand that it is NOT acceptable.
Even if you waited a bit too long to start to curb the dog nipping behavior, it is not too late. Just start applying the above methods today so that your dog can learn that nipping is not ok.