How To Deal With Your Dog Biting and Nipping!

Biting & Nipping

A dog biting and nipping is not an uncommon behaviour during puppyhood. This behaviour can continue into adulthood if it is not ‘nipped’ in the bud from an early age.   It is also important to understand the difference between a ‘bite’ and a ‘nip’.

Puppies learn important lessons during play with each other. Have you ever watch a litter of puppies or group of young dogs playing? They pounce on each other, wrestle and chase each other around. They also bite each other, ears, tails, scruff of the neck or a nice chunky piece of flesh, basically anywhere they can grab. Occasionally, they get a little over zealous and bite too hard, the playmate will yelp and will stop playing. The ‘biter’ will be shocked by the yelp (as they never mean to hurt each other) and play will stop for a minute. Within a few minutes they will be resume playing again. This type of play teaches a puppy to control the intensity of their bite and play can continue without anyone getting hurt. Puppies learn from Dog Biting and Nippingeach other during play and from their mothers how to be gentle, and this lesson can transfer to being gentle with people. This lesson during puppyhood is referred to as ‘bite inhibition’.

Whilst a puppy is also prone to bite during teething, if he is not taught to be gentle as a puppy he is more likely to nip as an adult dog.

Tips To Stop A Dog Biting And Nipping

Training a puppy bite inhibition from an early age is an essential part of obedience training. A few basic tips to teach your puppy not to bite is:

  • Ensure you give your puppy plenty of teething toys and chews
  • During play, if your dog bites or nips, immediately stop playing and withdraw attention for a few minutes and resume play, if your dog nips you again, stop play again until your dog realises this behaviour is unacceptable
  • If your puppy bites and nips other pets in your house, immediately separate them and give the puppy a time out for a few minutes, then let play resume. If he does it again, continue this practice until he realises dog biting and nipping is unacceptable
  • Avoid rough play and wrestling with your dog as this will encourage biting and nipping
  • Never smack or flick your dog on the nose or face as this will make it worse and encourage aggressive behaviour (important to note – it is never acceptable to smack or strike your dog under any circumstance)
  • If your dog snarls, bears his teeth or growls then this could be a sign of aggression and involves a Dog Biting and Nipping different training approach. This is usually an adult dog behaviour, a puppy very rarely shows aggression.

Nipping is usually a non-aggressive behaviour. Even a well-trained dog may accidently ‘nip’ as a result of over excitement during play or to get attention.

A dog that bites however, is a little more serious than just a playful nip. There are a number of reasons a dog may bite.

  1. Possessiveness
    • Food – some dogs are very possessive over food, especially if they are a rescue dog and been food deprived previously;
    • Toys – just like kids, dogs will have their favourite toy and can get possessive;
    • Human – Mum/Dad – some dogs are overly bonded with their human and will be extremely protective which can border on possessiveness. This is especially the case if your dog feels as though you are in danger by another human, dog or animal, he will protect you by biting the other person or dog
  2. Fear – If a dog gets a fright or is startled, he might bite out of fear
  3. Pain / Injury – if a dog is in pain or injured they will give a warning growl not to touch and will bite if handled, causing them pain.

It is extremely important to understand what may cause a dog to bite and equally important to teach children the various behaviours which may cause a dog biting or nipping.



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