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.

How do I get my puppy to stop nipping or biting me?

Puppy Nipping or Biting is Natural

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!

Attention

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.

Mixed Signals

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”.

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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.

4 ways to stop your puppy from nipping or biting:

1. The Freeze Game

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.

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.

How do I get my puppy to stop nipping or biting me?

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2. Bait and Switch

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.

3. The Yelp

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.

4. For the stubborn puppy

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.


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About the Author

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.

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  1. My puppy will escalate with the biting behaviour if I say ouch or yelp. What do I do then? I have been turning away and ignoring her for awhile, but it only helps for a short period of time.

    Now I put her in a time out, either leashed or in her crate. She is getting older (almost 3 months) and I need to stop this biting now.

    1. Consistency is going to be key. You don’t need to turn away, but stop all play and/or movement, a stern “no” and freeze your hand or whatever she is trying to bite. Do not look at her, do not give her any inclination that the biting is getting her anything in return. Depending on how stubborn she is it can take a few times for her to get the idea that bitting equals nothing other than her being ignored.

  2. Our 4 month old lab is restive biting after we put a toy in his mouth then he lunges fir an arm amd it hurts!!!!

    He holds on! Any tips? Should we immediately put in time out?

    1. Instantly stop the play and yes a time out in a play pen. High pitch “ouch” when he does it. He’s most likely teething right now plus he’s learning how to play… mouthing is normal between puppies, so he needs to learn that mouthing people is not acceptable.

  3. I have a 3 and half month old puppy half St. Bernard half Australian Sheppard, she was younger then I thought when I got her only 6 weeks. I was told she missed a lot that she would have learned from her mom, so be patient. But the biting is crazy we have an older dog and she has caused her ears to bleed from the biting and chewing. How can I get her to stop biting my older dog?

  4. I have a 13 week standard schnauzer, He plays really rough with me and me only. He draws blood on me. My parents play with him but he doesn’t bite them as hard as he bites me. Please help- I cannot take it any longer..

  5. I have a puppy that bites, I have tried giving a toy in place of my finger/hand and have tried saying ouch loudly but that just seems to excite him even more. Any suggestions? He’s a long haired mini Chihuahua

    1. It’s usually just a phase. How old is your puppy? Once they get past the teething stage and get their adult teeth, it should stop. This happens around 4-6 months old. For now, continue to not allow him to bite.

  6. Thank you for ideas on how to stop biting..on the past my husband and I have been rescue parents of Golden Retriever adult dogs and never had this problem
    Our Martin died recently. So we decided on a puppy… Lololololol neither of us have ever had to train a puppy
    Thanks for your help

  7. Hi, my puppy is 14 was now. Have had her since she was 8 was. Rescue .I am very frustrated. She bites , HARD like she means to hurt you. I try redirecting her with a toy. She will take the toy just to get it out of her way of your ankle or leg. We try staying still but she seems just to bite harder or just doesn’t stop. I’m just not sure what else to do. Bitter apple works for a second. If you pick up the bottle she barks and bites at you. Time out doesn’t calm her down, and getting her in timeout is hard when she is very mad. Hazel can be very sweet when she tired. Any help would be appreciated . My 22-25 kids are just so sad they can’t snuggle with her because of the constant biting. Tossing a ball or playing tug just seems to spirit an unwanted attack. I have had 5 dogs in my life time and none seem to be as stubborn as Hazel. She is Lab, border collie, Aussie mix( we were told)

    1. Hi Barb, I’m so sorry you are feeling so frustrated. Is your puppy is 14 YEARS old or 14 MONTHS old? If she is 14 years old, her biting is not the same as a puppy biting. It sounds like she really needs a strong leader that will not allow her to get away with this behavior. There is a website that I recommend taking a look at: http://solidk9training.com/free-advice/, they are an awesome resource for difficult dog behaviors. If you don’t find that to be enough, I suggest finding a local behaviorist dog trainer that can help you one on one. You can read our article How to Find the Perfect Dog Trainer.

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