It's a fact: Puppies like to nip! So, it's important that they learn quickly it is unacceptable to use those sharp little teeth on human flesh. Allowing the nipping and biting encourages the behavior to continue. However, there are several ways you can teach your pup more acceptable behavior.
Allow the puppy to nip or bite your hand during play. Immediately let your hand go limp and make a yelping sound, as if in pain. If he doesn't notice your pain response, say something loud and stern that is not a normal command, such as "Too bad!" or "That's wrong!" Praise him lavishly if he stops biting or licks you. This helps him make the connection between not biting and positive reinforcement.
Give the puppy a "time out" from play when he nips. At the first sign of biting, yelp loudly and pull your hand away. Then either completely ignore the puppy, or walk away and refuse to play with him for a short time, such as 30 seconds. Then return to playing with your puppy. Repeat this process if he continues to bite.
Stop giving the puppy attention when he nips. Remain quiet, rather than yelling "No" or pushing him away, and direct his attention toward a chew toy. If he continues to nip, repeat the action. This step can show him that it is only acceptable to use his teeth on a chew toy during play.
Protect your feet and ankles from nipping; if your puppy attempts to bite you, stand completely still until he stops. Praise him lavishly before you begin walking again. If possible, reward him with a favorite toy. Repeat this process as needed to direct his attention away from moving feet.
Spray your hands and arms with a bitter-tasting deterrent, such as Bitter Apple, before playing with the puppy. When he nips you, he will not like the taste he receives. Repeating this process several times can deter him from further nipping.
- Keep plenty of chew toys around to engage your puppy and encourage him to keep his teeth off of you.
- Make sure your puppy is receiving enough uninterrupted rest. If not, he may be cranky and stressed, which he will try to relieve by biting and nipping.
- It is no longer recommended to strike a puppy or dog with a rolled-up newspaper for training or punishment.
Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."