Puppies nip and bite, and even though it can be annoying or even painful when they do this, it’s best to keep in mind that this is what puppies do. In fact, nipping and biting isn’t all that uncommon for very young dogs, but the good news is that it is easier than you think to make them stop this behavior – easier on both you and your puppy. It starts with a few easy-to-follow steps that help the puppy learn what is and isn’t considered appropriate behavior.
Exploring with Their Mouths
Just like human babies, puppies love to explore things by putting them in their mouths, and this includes their owners’ hands and arms!
Most of the time, it doesn’t really hurt when they do this, but it’s still best to teach them early not to bite anyone.
After all, biting family members is one thing, but biting others is never something good.
You certainly don’t want to be held legally responsible for someone else’s wounds if your puppy ends up being too rough with them, because that is more trouble than it’s worth.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that there is a difference between a puppy nipping your hand and teething.
Teething usually takes the form of gnawing on your hand or arm, usually on the fleshy part.
When they’re gnawing and chewing like that, it’s usually a sign that they’re teething. Once again, teething is natural and a behavior they don’t consider abnormal.
It is your responsibility to teach them that both nipping and gnawing at your arm or hand are not acceptable behaviors from now on.
Also keep in mind that when puppies nip, it’s normally a part of their playtime, and most of the time they don’t even realize they’re doing it.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t let them know that the behavior is wrong.
In fact, there are easy ways to let puppies know that it’s unacceptable for them to nip or bite, and it starts by giving them signs that playtime is over as soon as that first nip or bite occurs.
How to Let Puppies Know Not to Nip
It’s relatively easy to teach your puppy that biting your hand is not right.
The easiest thing to do is to gently pull your hand away and tell them in a solemn voice that what they’re doing is inappropriate.
Just say something like, “no” or “oops,” then stop playing with them.
Stay solemn until they stop playing and settle down.
You shouldn’t have to do this too many times before they realize that nipping is wrong.
This technique also lets them know that as soon as they calm down, you’ll go back to playing with them, and that’s not a bad thing for them to learn.
Once they do settle down, make sure you praise the puppy and give it a treat so it’ll know that what it just did is a good thing.
Again, it may not happen the first time, but puppies are smart so it shouldn’t take long for them to learn not to nip.
Of course, even if the dog is teething, which is a natural instinct for your puppy, you can still teach it that it is not acceptable by using the same technique used when it nips. If the puppy continues to stay active even after you’ve corrected it, you can remove your puppy from your lap or even leave the room if nothing else works.
The important thing to remember is never to scold the puppy or physically harm it, because this can make your puppy afraid of you or worse, cause more aggressive behavior as it gets older.
Negative reinforcement such as this usually backfires with pets and makes the behavior even worse, so simply reward your puppy with a treat when it does what it’s supposed to do and be stern enough for your puppy to listen to you as you’re teaching it not to bite.
What If Puppy’s Behavior Is Aggressive?
If you notice that your puppy is starting to act aggressively, you need to act quickly before the behavior gets even worse.
Again, never yell, hit, or in any way punish your puppy because this rarely, if ever, works. In fact, it is more likely to aggravate the puppy and may even encourage the type of behavior you’re trying to eliminate.
Just work extra hard to reward your puppy when it does well and realize that it may take a few tries for your puppy to stop acting so aggressively.
Biting, chewing, and showing aggression are never acceptable behaviors for your puppy, and if you’ve tried all of these techniques and your puppy is still showing these behaviors, you may want to talk to your veterinarian because there may be an underlying problem that your vet will be able to help you with.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Training Your Puppy
To make things a little easier on you when your puppy is continuously biting your hand and you want it to stop, there are some things you can keep in mind so that the task isn’t quite as complicated or time-consuming. Below are some of those suggestions.
- Accept the fact that puppies bite and nip a lot. It’s part of the way they explore and learn about new things as they grow. To them, it isn’t a “bad” behavior but a totally normal one. If a puppy nips or bites you, it isn’t doing it on purpose to aggravate you or even to hurt you. It’s just doing it to explore the world around it.
- Keep in mind that the biting-inhibition response is something that has to be learned. This is not a natural thing for your puppy because it is more natural for it to use behaviors such as nipping and biting when it’s exploring its new world. This is why it sometimes takes a while to nip the behavior in the bud.
- The good news about this type of puppy behavior is that it is never permanent. In fact, it is always a temporary behavior. Having said that, however, you still need to work with your puppy so that the behavior goes away sooner rather than later and so it learns early that the behavior is unacceptable.
Puppies have a natural tendency to explore everything around them, and part of the way they do this is with their mouths.
But accepting why this is so doesn’t mean you won’t have to train your puppy that the behavior is wrong.
It just helps to know this before you start training your puppy so that you don’t have any unrealistic expectations from it along the way.
Other Things You Can Do to Stop Your Puppy From Biting
There are numerous other things you can do to stop your puppy from nipping or biting your hand. For example, if it just won’t stop nipping, try redirecting its attention from your hand to one of its favorite toys.
After all, it is super easy to distract a very young puppy because they tend to have very short attention spans.
If your puppy continues to nip at your hand regardless of your attempts to stop it, show it a toy and see if that works.
Another effective method is to try and socialize your dog a little more. The more social your puppy becomes and the more it gets used to being around other dogs, the more it’ll learn about what is and isn’t an acceptable behavior.
In fact, you may even want to enroll your puppy in some kind of socialization or “kindergarten” class to get it used to being around other puppies.
This goes a long way in helping your puppy learn even more about both good and bad behaviors.
Finally, utilizing clicker training will likely work wonders teaching your dog to control its impulses a lot better and, therefore, help it eliminate bad behaviors a little faster.
Controlling its impulses will teach your puppy that its urge of wanting to nip someone isn’t always the best thing to do.
Make sure you research exactly how to use that clicker, because using it properly is the only way to make sure the end result is the one you want to achieve.
When your puppy is continuously biting your hand, just know that it is a very natural activity for your puppy and that it is not doing it to intentionally harm you or to irritate you.
Your puppy is doing it because this is what puppies do when they play.
Correcting your puppy without fussing at it or hitting it is the best way to get rid of this behavior, and different puppies take different amounts of time to finally learn not to bite anyone, which is why patience and consistency will help it relearn this behavior in the end.
Puppies are a lot of fun to have around, but knowing exactly what to do when their behavior needs a little modification isn’t difficult.
Biting is a phase nearly all puppies go through, but it can be easier than expected to know what to do about it.
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