How to stop a puppy from nipping
Many pet parents face the problem of a nipping puppy. Nipping stems from various reasons and you should learn to recognise the emotions that give rise to nipping sooner rather than later. If you don’t stop your pup when he nips, he might think it is alright to do so and it will only encourage him to bite and not just nip. In this blog, we will help you understand why a puppy might nip and how to stop this behavior.
Why Do Puppies Nip ?
Most puppies nip due to over-excitement. Puppies are young, energetic and enthusiastic and want to play around. They can’t communicate to us verbally so they might express themselves through nips. This type of nipping is called, “ arousal biting”. In arousal biting your pup is expressing excitement, playfulness and even frustration or anxiousness. If your puppy is facing any of these emotions, it causes him to nip at objects or people. Generally nipping is not stemming from aggression but nonetheless it can hurt. Nipping is a form of releasing his pent up emotions. Pups may also nip to calm themselves and use the means of chewing, sucking and nipping as coping mechanisms. In some cases, nipping at you may not have anything to do with you and your hand may just be the nearest thing they find to nip at.
Another reason for a puppy to nip is because he is teething. Similar to human babies, puppies get itching and aching in their gum too due to their teeth sprouting out. To get rid of this discomfort, they nip and chew at anything in sight. All puppies go through this phase.
How To Stop A Puppy From Nipping?
It’s firstly important to understand that there is a difference between nipping and biting. Nipping is unintentional and playful in nature and intent. Biting is intentional and aggressive. The problem with nipping, unintentionally as it may be, is that it is not good dog etiquette. Therefore, you should stop this behavior from a young age so that they don’t start biting as they mature. Some steps you can take to reduce nipping are:
- Observe your pup’s behavior to understand whether the nipping is caused due to arousal biting or teething. If it is due to teething, get some chew toys to satisfy his urge to chew.
- Do not encourage their nipping. If they nip once and you think it is cute and exclaim positively, they might think you like it and it would lead to you getting frequent nips.
- Training at a young age helps your puppy to grow into a well-mannered dog. When your puppy nips, use commands such as “No” or “Don’t bite” to help them understand that it’s not acceptable and then hand them a chew toy. This should teach your dog that it’s ok to chew on certain items but not on others. Be firm with your commands to maintain consistency to curb unacceptable behavior.
- When your puppy begins to nip, pull away from him as he advances towards you and use the command “No” to help him discourage his behavior. Reward him with a treat if he stops nipping when commanded.
- End play time with your pup whenever he nips so that he understands that nipping will result in an immediate halt in his entertainment activities.
- Distract your pup by throwing his favorite toy to the ground so that he goes after the toy instead of you. You can also distract him by snapping your fingers or making sounds from different objects, preferably his squeaky toy, to get him to let go of you. You can also use treat dispensing toys or actually hide treats at spots that are safe and near him. The distraction of looking for treats would help him with physical as well as mental stimulation.
- If your pup continues to nip despite all the efforts taken, consult a professional trainer. Trainers can help you assess the cause of the issue and find ways to reduce the nipping.
What Are Some Things You Should Avoid Doing If Your Dog is Nipping?
- Do not use any type of abuse to stop him. Dogs respond so much better to positive reinforcement than negative.
- Try not to squeal or make a sudden noise if he nips as it might encourage him.
- Don't hold his mouth close. It won’t do you much good and the pup could get nervous because of this sudden intrusion or he might also get scared of you and surely you don't want that to happen.
- When your pup is hyper, limit his interaction with people. He might be more prone to nipping others if he is overexcited.
The important thing to understand is that there is a huge difference between nipping and biting. When your pup is nipping, he is not trying to hurt you. There might be a reason underlying the nipping, but you can help him by identifying and addressing that issue. It is recommended to start training him from an early age that nipping is unacceptable so as to prevent him getting more aggressive in the future.