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Puppy Nipping: Normal & Not Personal Pt. 1

Something you need to know before you get a puppy:  They Bite!

They can bite hard.
It can hurt.
It can look like aggressive behavior (its not).
It can be very frustrating if your not prepared and ready for it.

Whether you call it nipping or biting, the fact is that all puppies do it. Some nip harder than others but it’s not a sign of aggression. Nipping is a very natural behavior for puppies and it’s going to last for a few months, until your puppy matures and grows out of using his mouth to explore your flesh.

So let me share with you some tips to getting through the nipping phase of puppyhood while still enjoying your puppy:

#1. Be Proactive. Be Prepared.

Being prepared sets YOU up for success too! By implementing these tips, you can be ready when toys are boring and skin is tempting.

  • Prepare multiple small Kong’s filled and frozen with tasty, soft rewards (liverwurst, broth, sweet potato, yogurt etc).
  • Rotate toys to keep their value. Removing access to all the toys makes them more valuable when you need them the most.
  • Use soft toys that puppy can sink his/her teeth into. Provide something soft like a frozen wash cloth to chew on OR ‘Puppy Nyla Bone’ which is specifically for puppies. Its malleable and not meant for adult dogs for this reason.
  • Redirect your puppy by putting those toys he hasn’t seen for a couple of days, in his mouth instead of your fingers and hands and pant legs.

  • Puzzles or sniffing games are easy  and exhaust the brain. Hide smelly treats in a towel and encourage puppy to search for them. (This also is a starter for ‘find it’ and other search games that come later).
  • A slow feeder either home made or purchased that spills food/treats only after puppy works for them. Again, brain game keeps puppy focused and brain engaged.
  • TRAINING!   Using your food reinforcers, work puppy on his basic obedience of Sit, Down, Touch/Targeting, Stay.
  • If there is more than one of you, support each other and spell each other off when puppy starts to get mouthy.  This helps when you’re lacking patience.

  • Play hide-n-seek around the house. Get your puppies’ mind OFF of you and engaged in something that requires movement and searching.
  • Go outside and allow him to engage in something more powerful than you: the outside world, which is your competitor on most days.
  • Expen for breaks when all else fails. Place puppy in here with a Kong or other occupier.

Expect your puppy to nip and bite and remember that nipping, at its worst, tends to be when your pup is very tired.  Be ready!

Next: An unknown secret to handle biting when it feels personal.  I’ll talk about that in part 2.


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