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Puppy Nipping

Image by Veronika Jorjobert

There are two types of nipping, friendly and serious. Friendly  nipping occurs during play and stages of excitement.  Serious nipping, on the other hand, is when a puppy nips in order to say “No I don’t think so!”  If you know or think your puppy is a serious nipper you should contact a trainer immediately so proper actions can be taken.  If your puppy is engaging in friendly nipping there are several actions you can take to manage it.

Now it is time to positively reinforce alternative behaviors. This can be done in several ways. Try to only pet your dog when he is calm or preoccupied with a chew toy.  The more exercise you give your dog the calmer he will be and the more opportunities you will have to pet him.  You should also practice the following exercise with your dog in order to teach him not to bite the hand which is petting him.  To do this sit in a chair and put some treats in one hand.  Pet the dog once while distracting him with the baited hand.  It is important to present the dog with the baited hand before he begins to nip.  After repeating this a few times you can gradually increase the length of time the dog is pet before giving him the treats.  This can be done by closing the baited hand into a fist.

The dog will most likely sniff the hand and lick it while you are petting him.  After a few moments open the hand and allow him to eat the treats.  If the dog puts his teeth on your baited hand stand up quickly and hold the baited hand over your hand wait two seconds and then sit down and try again.  If he jumps for the hand wait until he stops jumping for two seconds and then sit down and try again.  Eventually the dog will learn that if he puts his mouth on your skin he will not receive a treat and you will not pet him.


You should do your best to set your dog up to succeed by being able to distract him whenever petting or playing with him.  If a situation occurs and you were not prepared to distract your dog you should freeze if he starts nipping.  It is very important not to move at all.  This includes not pulling your hand away since this may instigate more play and/or nipping.  Once the biting stops wait two seconds and begin to pet or play again.  If your puppy begins to nip again freeze once more.  If after freezing twice the behavior does not noticeably decrease abruptly walk away and even leave the room. By being consistent and setting your dog up for 

success, puppy nipping should no longer be a problem.  It is also important to give him appropriate chew toys in order to provide him a release for his nipping desires.  If none of these methods work for your puppy please contact us so we can discuss more options specific to your dog and your needs.

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