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Nipping and Biting in Puppies

Puppies spend a great deal of time playing, chewing and investigating objects. All of these normal activities involve puppies using their mouths and their needle-sharp teeth. When puppies play with people, they often bite, chew and mouth on people’s hands, limbs and clothing. Biting is natural behavior for a puppy. However, this kind of behavior may seem cute when your puppy is seven weeks old, but it’s not nearly so endearing when he’s three or four months old—and getting bigger by the day.

It’s important to help your puppy learn to curb inappropriate nipping or biting behaviors. There are various ways to teach this lesson, and most puppies are fast learners. The ultimate goal is to train your puppy to stop nipping and biting people altogether. There are four different methods that can help to alter or cease your puppies biting habits.

Inhibit the Biting

When puppies play, they tend to mouth each other, this is completely normal. However, it's possible for the mouthing to become a bite. When it does, the puppy being bit will yelp, causing the biter to release. While training, this behavior can be exploited by having a human imitate a yelp sound, or by shouting a loud "Ow" sound. Once the puppy releases, ignore them for around 20 seconds before resuming play. If this puppy bites more than three times in a 15 minute span, cease playing. The goal is to show the puppy that playing gently can continue, but rough play will stop.


In order to teach your puppy that human skin contact is not acceptable, you can use redirection. When the puppy tries to mouth you, make sure to pull your hand away before contact, then provide either a treat or chew toy until they bite that. You can also choose to play non-contact games, such as fetch and tug-of-war. Just remember to not let the tugging become too aggressive. It is recommended to teach your puppy to "Let go", so you can remove something from their mouth without they responding aggressively.


In order to distract your puppy from chewing on items their environment, such as furniture, you can buy a plethora of safe chew toys from plush toys to rubber and plastic items. You can also buy "hide the treat" toys, which will not only distract the puppy, but also provide mental stimulation, as they discover how to obtain the treat.


There are various products available that are designed to prevent dogs from licking or chewing. These products place a bitter taste on the item, which deters the dogs from placing the item in their mouth again. However, there are two important steps when using this method for training purposes. When the dog spits out the item, make sure the smell it, so that they recognize the item, which will prevent them from doing so again in the future. Also, make sure to not give them water immediately after tasting the product, otherwise they will learn that they can chew the item, and remove the taste with water afterward.

These are some of the most basic methods for training your puppy not to bite or chew on people and unhealthy items. Make sure to consult with Dr. Waxman, and Veterinaire Pet Care before trying these methods on your own.

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