Every person that adopts a puppy will ask this question… how do I get my puppy to stop biting me? It’s important to understand that nipping is a natural behavior for a puppy.
Puppies are much like human babies in that they use their mouths to explore their world. You may think it’s cute now when your 6 weeks old puppy is using his mouth to play with you. But puppy teeth are sharp and can really hurt.
Plus, your cute little puppy is going to grow up super quick, and you don’t want a dog that thinks it’s okay to bite you… even if he is playing! Biting is one of the leading reasons why dogs are being turned over to shelters!
Your puppy is most likely nipping or biting you to get your attention. So the goal is to never give the puppy ANY attention, good or bad, when he bites. I’m not saying to ignore the biting, because it’s important to correct the behavior BEFORE your puppy becomes a dog… so keep reading.
You must be consistent! Play wrestling with your puppy is fun, but if he doesn’t understand not to bite yet, then you need to stop the rough play until he is trained to understand that biting is not part of the rough play.
Don’t allow your puppy to bite even if you are just “playing”.
Remember, once your puppy grows up into an adult dog, it’s not going to be cute or fun anymore. You have to be consistent in order for your puppy to understand that you don’t like him biting.
If he puts his mouth on you, you are going to freeze. Do not move your hand or body for 5-10 seconds. When your puppy removes his mouth from you, then you can continue to play or pet your puppy.
Repeat this 2-3 times, if the puppy still goes for your hand, then get up and walk away from your puppy for a minute. If your puppy is biting your ankle or foot, then do not walk away until he stops biting.
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This will quickly teach your puppy that mouthing does not equal play. It may take several attempts, but if you are consistent your puppy will figure it out.
BONUS: This also works on teaching your dog to drop a toy. If you pull on the toy, moving it back and forth, your dog thinks you’re playing. If you freeze and don’t move the toy, the dog will automatically release the toy.
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This technique works for some dogs, but will likely need to be combined with one of the other techniques to be fully successful. When your puppy puts his mouth on you, immediately swap for a chew toy. This will help him understand what he is allowed to chew on. There are some great options on Amazon for puppy chew toys, giving them a great outlet to do what comes natural… chewing.
When your puppy was still with his mom, she would yelp when the puppy would bite too hard. Litter mates do the same thing, if another puppy would bite too hard during playtime they give out a yelp. A dogs yelp is a warning signal to another dog or puppy to stop biting because it hurts!
You can use this same technique with your puppy simply by making a high-pitched, loud “OUCH” when he bites. I recommend using this with the freezing technique mentioned above.
A mother dog will also teach her puppy not to bite her by putting her mouth on top of the puppy’s mouth. She doesn’t bite the puppy, but rather just puts enough pressure on the muzzle to let the puppy know she does not like the behavior.
You can teach your puppy using the same pressure technique. Squeeze the bottom of the puppy’s mouth with two fingers, hold for a couple of seconds until the dog is somewhat uncomfortable. It is NOT your intention to hurt the puppy, just use enough pressure on the lower part of the jaw and just under the chin, so the puppy does not like it. The puppy should not be yelping or be in any pain.
Remember, he’s still a puppy… it takes time for young puppies to learn, so be patient. Now that you have four different ways to stop your puppy from biting you, you should start seeing his behavior change pretty quickly.
P.S. So I want to hear your story, do you have a successful technique to stop your puppy from nipping not listed above? Comment below and help our Rescue Dogs 101 community learn more.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.