Nipping

All About Puppy Mouthing

Nipping or mouthing is normal puppy behavior, but it can develop into a serious problem if allowed to continue into adulthood. An adult dog’s mouth can be very strong, so even when its nipping is just part of normal play, it can still cause significant damage to human skin. If a puppy is not taught from an early age that mouthing or nipping on skin or clothes is inappropriate, then she is likely to continue into adulthood. Some dogs are more orally fixated than others but every dog should be given boundaries, especially when it comes to using their mouths around humans.

Most mouthing and nipping is playful in nature, but if a dog gets overly excited the nipping can become harder and more difficult to stop. If a dog becomes angry when told to stop, the nipping is more likely to be less play behavior and more behavior designed to control.

Some herding breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Shelties will sometimes nip at a person’s feet or heels, mimicking the livestock herding behavior they were originally bred for. Children are most likely to be on the receiving end of such nipping, especially when they are running around or playing vigorously.


NIPPING_FeaturedHow Can I Teach My Dog To Stop Nipping?

  • Teach your dog bite inhibition from an early age.
  • If your dog nips or mouths you during play or at any other time, withdraw attention immediately and walk out of the room. Wait outside for a minute or two, come back in the room and resume play. If the nip happens again repeat the exercise until your dog realizes that nipping stops all interaction.
  • If your dog plays without nipping, let play continue.
  • Give your dog plenty of chew toys to redirect her nipping onto something more appropriate.
  • Encourage non contact games such as fetch or go find. You can play tug of war but make sure you do it with boundaries so that even when your dog is overly aroused, she listens and responds to you when you give her a cue or tell her to stop.
  • Avoid wrestling or rough housing with your dog as this can exacerbate mouthing behavior.
  • Teach your dog the ‘Leave It’ cue, which is good for impulse control.
  • If your dog is getting too excited give her a time out somewhere where there is no human interaction and she can settle before continuing interaction.
  • If your dog is a relentless nipper try spraying some taste deterrent on you or your clothes. While this might not make you smell so nice for a while it will deter your dog’s desire to keep mouthing you.
  • Do not smack your dog on the nose for nipping or mouthing as this could make the behavior worse.
  • If your dog is tense when she nips at you or bares her teeth, this might be a sign that the behavior is less than friendly. Enlist the help of a certified positive trainer to help you the behavior can easily get out of control.

 

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  • Vince Fleming

    Good article! I think it's worth pointing out that a zero-tolerance policy speeds the process greatly. I'm fostering a 1.5 yr old rescue cocker spaniel with a nipping problem - he's like a puppy, and uses his teeth constantly. I've been pulling away, and adding a "no bite" if his teeth so much as touch my skin, and it's been working wonders - slowly, but it's working! If you ever allow them to be mouthy "once in a while", you're sending mixed messages, and it slows the learning process.

  • Rachel Haakma

    The only time I have issues with my girl nipping (3y/o Lurcher) is when I take her running with me, she gets very excited and nips at my leg as I run. The only way I have been able to stop it is to let her run in front of me which isn't ideal. Any ideas gratefully accepted.

  • jackie

    would you say the same techinques should be used on an adult dog who is still nipping due to the behavior having never been addressed at the puppy stage?

  • Jack Bobeck

    I really wish there was more information in the post on nipping done to guests in the house. Almost like resource guarding, but our clients come to us and say that they have a small yorkie that only nips at the legs/feet of people when they come over. Would be nice to know if this is a resource issue or nipping, and then some corrective ideas.

  • Alexandra Dean

    Any herding breeds in her? If so her instincts might be kicking in and she's trying to get you "under control".

  • Canine Paws Abilities

    When running with her by your side, if she nips, stop and give her the command; sit. Wait for her calmness, then resume the run. If it happens again just keep repeating. She'll get the message sooner than you think. Good luck!

  • Rachel Haakma

    Yes, she is part Beardie

  • Kim Rhoades

    I have a 1yr old mix who came from a rescue. He has anxiety and so when he gets nervous which is quite often he will nip. I had a friend come over one day last week and my dog nipped her on her calf. I guess he thinks that he is protecting me. When I adopted him last year I did hire a trainer to come to my home and of course my dog was an angel.

  • Sharon Fisher

    I have had a rescue lakedale/jrt for four wks he is now 10 months old I have tried everything with him, he bites when playing and bites my other dog a lot.

  • Frances Poupart

    How can I train a jack russell terrier puppy not to bite

  • megan

    my newly rescued Australian shepherd was from a mill type situation and i don't think as ever learned from an early age so now he is 2 years of age and when people come over or if a ball is being bounced around he nips them, and his nips are very hard, he then will follow them around glued to their said, he is trying to get their attention to play? is this over excitement? how do i stop this?

  • Abi Frunk Davis

    I have a BC who nips/herds people as they come in the house. You can't ignore it cause she is usually attached to someones trouser leg. You can tell her what she likes but she still does it and if you try and get her to guide her away, she will literally clamp on to said trouser leg... she is a rescue and 10 years old now, we've had her over 3 years. Never does it to children but I would like people to be able to come in without it happening. Even if we put her in another room, and then allow her out, she will do it (this isn't every person and every time when some one comes in)! I don't think the above guidance would work for her... we've tried most of it.

  • Jijiha

    So much information on nipping, it's great...I have a follow up question: how do you stop a 10 month old rescue from nipping at other dogs' back legs while at the dog park.

    Some days he's fine, never does it, other days the dynamic is different.. he'll start with the nipping. I leash him up and take him out immediately but I don't know if he gets "cause and effect".

    Usually this behavior takes place during a running streak and he's far away from me.

    Any suiggestions?

    Thanks so much in advance,

  • Michelle Boatright

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a33b05cdab81c0f48f6dba24e779c9b8796133383e6006757164ff6285de79a.jpg My friend who is staying with me has a 10 month old Pomeranian ... who plays with my cattle dog.. they roll around with their mouths open not ever really nippi g .. just mouth open and the act like they might nip but really don't and they bump or poke their noses in the other ones ear and shake a few times with the nose in the ear .. they have done it to me and it tickles!!!! But my house guest says my dog is hurting her dog when neither one is even nippi g or even play biting !!!! Help me from getting in a fight with her... she constantly snaps at my dog if she gets with in 5 feet of her dog and it's making my sensitive feelings cattle dog sad cuz she loves the Pomeranian

  • Michelle Boatright

    Is there a way I can send a short video to you guys ? I really think they are playing normal and in a healthy way ... I need someone to better inform us

  • Maura

    I've a 10 month old Husky and she only nips/bites me. She won't nip anybody else in the house, and gives them licks. She tears at my clothes, jumps up and bites my wrists, my arms and anything else she can grip with her teeth. She growls when she does and it's like she's playing tug o'war with me. I've tried ignoring her, being a tree, rewarding her when she doesn't do it, breaking the behaviour by asking her to sit and giving her a treat but it's gotten so bad that it really hurts and if I try to be a tree and put my back to her she just keeps finding somewhere else to bite. For the 1st 9 months of her life she lived with only me and she's living with me and my partner , his 2 children and a cat (they have a mutual respect for eachother). I thought she might be annoyed at me for the changes in her surroundings and is attention seeking, but whatever the reason how on earth can I make this stop as I really can't bare the pain of the bites anymore. Hope someone can help me. Thanks.

  • Maura

    I've a 10 month old Husky and she only nips/bites me. She won't nip anybody else in
    the house, and gives them licks. She tears at my clothes, jumps up and
    bites my wrists, my arms and anything else she can grip with her teeth. She
    growls when she does and it's like she's playing tug o'war with me. I've tried
    ignoring her, being a tree, rewarding her when she doesn't do it, breaking the
    behaviour by asking her to sit and giving her a treat but it's gotten so
    bad that it really hurts and if I try to be a tree and put my back to her she
    just keeps finding somewhere else to bite. For the 1st 9 months of her life she
    lived with only me and she's living with me and my partner , his 2
    children and a cat (they have a mutual respect for eachother). I thought she
    might be annoyed at me for the changes in her surroundings and is attention
    seeking, but whatever the reason how on earth can I make this stop as I really
    can't bare the pain of the bites anymore. Hope someone can help me. Thanks.

  • Cockermom

    I have a two year old American Cocker Spaniel, that has in the past 6 months started to nip at people other than my husband and I. She is great with other animals including our other Cocker Spaniel , it's just people that come into the house, male and female. I have trained and showed Cocker Spaniels for years but never had one that nipped, so I need some help with this one. We have taken her to a pet friendly mall many times and she has behaved, it is just recently started this nipping at the ankles, this has happened twice and that is twice too many! Any help will be appreciated.

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