Nipping, also known as mouthing, is normal behavior exhibited by puppies as part of regular play. That said, you ought to correct this behavior as soon as you notice it no matter how cute you think it is. If not, your puppy could carry it into adulthood, exposing you and other people to danger.
Unlike a puppy’s teeth, an adult dog’s teeth and mouth are very strong. Therefore, when an adult dog nips you, he could tear into your clothes or skin.
Teaching Your Dog to Stop Nipping
You can train your puppy to stop biting using the following tips:
- Stop playing or giving your puppy attention the moment he nips your clothes or skin.
- Get up and walk out of the room for about five minutes and resume playing as soon as you come back. Let play continue as long as your pup is not nipping.
- Each time your dog nips, repeat this exercise until he learns that his behavior earns him less attention and play.
- Puppies like pulling, seeking, and grabbing during playtime. Redirect your dog’s nipping energy into something more appropriate such as chew toys.
- Play games that help you to set boundaries such as ‘tug of war.’ Such games teach your dog to listen when you tell him to stop.
- Also, teach him cues that help with impulse control, such as the ‘leave it’ cue.
- If the dog’s nipping behavior doesn’t stop, try spraying some taste deterrent on your skin and clothes. While it might not smell very nice, the taste will keep your dog from biting you.
What Not to Do While Teaching to Stop Nipping
- Do not hit your dog’s nose when he nips as it could worsen his behavior.
If your dog’s behavior does not improve, consider enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer. Note that some breeds of dogs such as the Australian Shepherd nip at people in a bid to mimic their natural livestock herding instincts. This puts children in danger as they run around when playing. Note that if a dog gets excited when nipping, it becomes harder for him to stop.