How Do I Keep My Puppy From Nipping Me?

by Loretta

My puppy tends to be a nipper. How can I stop her from nipping?

Answer From the Editors at Dog-Spoiling

Hi Loretta,

It seems you have already realized that your puppy's nipping habit could become a bigger problem if you let it go on - and you're right!!

Biting and nipping in itself is normal behavior between puppies in a litter. It is one of the ways they communicate and establish dominance in the pack.

Puppies bite and nip each other all the time during play, but when one puppy bites another too hard, the "hurt" one will let out a yelp and stop playing or become more aggressive. This lets the offending puppy know that their play bite has been too severe and serves as a correction. What a pup mainly learns from this is to have a softer mouth, but they will continue to nip or bite at each other during their games of play because it is part of the contest for dominance.

When a puppy leaves the litter behind to become part of a human pack, they will still have the instinctive biting tendencies that were part of their behavior with litter mates. Now, however, the consequences of biting or nipping at a human are not acceptable and have to be channeled into other allowable areas.

It's best to stop puppy biting or nipping as soon as possible because if it goes on being allowed, the puppy - as she matures - will start to believe she is dominant and when that happens it can escalate into more serious behavior.

I assume at this point that your little "nipper" is doing this biting during play time and it is not related to something she is afraid of. When a puppy bites out of fear - a reaction that can occur in response to loud noises, a particular person, or a perceived physical threat, this needs a different type of correction in which you first have to identify the trigger before you can desensitize the puppy to it.

But assuming it's play related, we have written about this very topic, along with some corrective measures you can try, here on this page page of the website.

In addition, to the suggestions you'll find on this page, here is another to try when your puppy gets into nipping mode: have a water-filled spray bottle handy and give your puppy a squirt on the nose as you loudly say "Ouch". This will not only startle her, it will also let her know that her nip has hurt you! And don't forget to add a firm "No", after the squirt, to reinforce your point.

I think if you try our suggestions for a couple of weeks, you'll fix the nipping problem easily because your puppy is going to be more responsive to correction at this age.

Of course, when you see her playing nicely, words of praise from you will build her confidence and help her towards becoming a well-balanced dog.

Good luck!

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