9 Tips to Stop Puppy Biting

I'm often asked how to stop puppies from nipping and biting. I firmly believe 1) every puppy needs training in bite inhibition and 2) you should NEVER allow your puppy to mouth or bite you or other humans without correcting him.



color photograph of Beagle puppy biting a human hand

Yes, nipping is instinctive puppy behavior but it can be checked. If you let a 4-pound puppy bite you considering it play, you may regret it when your 15-pound dog bites a small child or elderly relative.

Here's what to do.

1. Don't take a puppy from his litter too early

I recommend any Toy breed puppy be 12-weeks old before sending him to a new home. His mother and siblings will correct him when he bites too hard and provide other valuable lessons in socialization.

2. Copy his mother's behavior when he nips you

No matter how hard or soft his nip, correct him! Yell "ouch" in a high-pitched, loud voice. This is the way his mother would react to a hard bite and it should cause him to lighten up. Then praise him and continue playing.

3. If you can't yell, spray your hands with Bitter Apple for Dogs (or similar product)

He'll decide human hands aren't very tasty. Everyone who handles your puppy must use this to make this approach work.

4. Never try to pull your hand from his mouth

Instinctively he will chomp down harder to hold on to his prize.

5. If he's hanging on for dear life, try trading a treat or favorite toy

See if he will let go and take the trade.

6. Don't play tug of war games or wrestle with him or tap his nose when he nips you

Yes, I realize other trainers do not agree (but this is my website!) but these techniques only reinforce and escalate rough play.

7. If he's male dog, consider having him neutered

Puberty causes some dogs to become more aggressive and want to dominate. Neutering helps calm some, but not all, male dogs.

8. Put your hand in his mouth every day

Feed him or brush his teeth or whatever, but make sure he understands you have full rights to his mouth and he can't bite you. Let other family members and visitors also brush his teeth so he gets used to human hands in his mouth.

9. Don't be afraid to get professional help

Some dogs are more aggressive and require professional training. If your puppy bites hard and doesn't want to let go of you or other animals, get help now. The problem only gets worse; it will not correct itself.

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