All puppies nip in play with their siblings and can often be too rough. Teaching your puppy to have a light mouth in play is important in small breeds. You may have to act like a puppy yourself in the training sessions, but it results in a nip-free pack.
Play with your pug puppy and allow him to put his mouth on you and play as he did with his siblings. When he nips you hard, scream “ouch” or yelp loudly as a puppy would if he were hurt. Your puppy should be alarmed and stop playing for a moment.
Let your arm or hand go limp at the same time you yelp or scream “ouch.” This shows your pug puppy that you are hurt where he nipped you. Pull your hand back from him so he cannot reach it easily again from his position.
Give your puppy a treat when he comes to you and licks your wound gently. This instills the behavior of bite inhibition and shows him to be gentle.
Resume playing with your puppy. Repeat the yelp or “ouch” if he nips you hard again. Do this no more than three times in a 15-minute play session.
Put your puppy in time-out if he does not settle down. Turn your back to him and do not play with him for 15 to 20 seconds. This will give him the signal that you will only play with him if he is gentle. If comes around you to face you, continue turning your back to him.
Reward your puppy with treats when he lightly puts his mouth on you, but does not bite down hard to nip you. Soon he will understand and have a light mouth when playing.
Continue the training with softer bites being exempt from your puppy until he will only mouth your hand but not bite down at all on people’s hands and limbs.
- Bite inhibition training starts with you, as an owner, first. Your puppy will then understand not to bite hard when playing with other people or pets.
- Small-breed dogs tend to nip more as puppies. This can lead to small-dog syndrome if you do not “nip it in the bud.”
- Pugs have very wide, strong jaws as adults that can inflict a lot of pain if they nip someone.
Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.