Dog nipping is one of the most common vices you will ever have to deal with. As much as we associate it with normal puppy development, it can result in chronic behavior. Well, no one likes a dog that keeps on nipping at ankles and even hands. Therefore, you must learn how to get a dog to stop biting early.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the nipping habit. We will also examine what happens when you do not curb this habit.
Why is my dog nipping at me?
There are several reasons why your dog has suddenly started nipping at you. In most cases, he will target your ankles and sometimes your fingers. If this starts early, you probably do not have to worry as much as adult dog nipping. Well, this can be pretty painful if you do not handle it as soon as possible. Some of the reasons why your pup is biting include the following:
While it might appear odd to observe your pup nipping, it is normal. This is especially in puppies who are just starting to teeth. They will need something to chew on at all times. You might play with him, and he will nip at your fingers.
In other cases, you may stand up to walk away only for him to bite on your ankles. If he has started this behavior at a young age, say 6-8 weeks, he might be teething. It is not unnatural for puppies this age to nip at you and other people.
Secondly, your puppy is learning the environment he is in. he wants to discover how everything, including your body parts, works. This is the same way children want to figure out everything except that puppies do not have hands. They have to use their mouths to discover their surroundings. However, once you stop your pup from nipping at this age, you will not have any more trouble later.
We all know how much puppies love to play. However, as much as we want to keep up, rough play is not healthy. Some puppies will use their mouths and teeth during play. In other cases, puppies will nip at you to initiate play.
Nipping might be a habit if you are used to playing rough with pup rough with your dog, but nipping might be a habit. This is because they have a constant need to have something in their mouths. This means that you will have to stop him from unacceptable behavior.
. Once again, this is likely to happen during play. Engaging in exciting activities like chasing while playing with him is natural chasing while playing with him. However, he might nip at you because he is excited.
When we domesticate dogs, we sometimes forget that they still have their animalistic instincts. For instance, your dog would have to fetch food for himself in the wild. This would involve hunting and chasing prey for food. These instincts are still there somehow. You might arouse his h8unting and chasing instincts during play, resulting in nipping.
This is a more severe scenario. Even though it is rare to have your puppy get aggressive, it does happen at some point. Various factors contribute to aggression in dogs. For instance, some breeds of dogs might turn out to be bold. Age and also the environment may also lead to attack as well as pain.
Dog nipping at visitors
Some dogs will nip at your visitors. Usually, this has a lot to do with dogs with poor socialization skills. In most cases, having a dog nipping at the guests is not exactly a friendly gesture for the guests. It can be pretty scary, especially when dealing with an adult dog. This is because he has strong teeth and jaws, which could cause an injury to the victim.
This starts when you adopt the pup. In most cases, change of ownership is a cause of stress and anxiety in dogs. He will be exposed to a new owner as well as a new environment. However, he will settle once you adjust the behavior of your dog nipping at you.
Understand that he is familiarizing himself with the new surroundings. He ends up creating a new safety zone for himself. In this zone, he is comfortable with you and your family. However, he might not be ready to meet new people yet.
Once you have guests in the house, your dog might behave aggressively towards them. He has already established a safe zone and feels threatened when someone invades. This might be accompanied by nipping and biting the visitor’s hands and ankles.
Some dogs will be more protective of their territory than others. This is especially common with dogs bred for security or herding purposes.
What can I do to stop my dog from nipping guests?
I have heard plenty of complaints from dog owners who cannot get to stop their pups from nipping guests. Many ways of training a dog out of this habit exist to help your dog stop this habit. However, all this goes back to why he is doing so.
A dog will bite your visitors in most cases should they feel threatened. Having people over in your house may be a friendly gesture towards you but not towards your dog. This might arouse his protective instincts that may lead to nipping.
As mentioned earlier, puppies will nip gently, and you may not feel pain. However, an adult dog is capable of inflicting injuries to the victim. Therefore, you have to address this issue as soon as possible.
For instance, if your dog is not used to other people, focus on applying socialization methods. Learn what makes him uncomfortable and thus arousing his need to nip and attack visitors. Then ensure that you withdraw the stimuli for this behavior.
For instance, if having a guest approach him is a problem, warn your visitors to steer clear of his ‘safety zone,’ usually a crate or bed. You can later teach him how to greet people and be comfortable around visitors.
You must invest plenty of time to train him out of the nipping habit. Well, this is usually a time-consuming activity but will help you stop your dog from nipping. We will discuss the methods to stop a puppy from nipping a little later in this article.
Dog nipping and attacking children
This is also another common vice in puppies. Unfortunately, children do not know the excellent play with dogs. This can lead to some kind of misunderstanding between the two. As we mentioned earlier, it is normal for a puppy to mouth and nips to get attention. However, this does not mean that it is okay. You should be very careful with a dog biting and mouthing children.
It often works when a dog nips at a child to initiate play. This is because they both want to play with each other. You will have to come in and stop this unacceptable habit as soon as you recognize it. No one wants to keep an aggressive dog at home.
Trying to control a dog nipping at children gets complicated because the behavior gives the desired outcome. For instance, when a dog bites on a child’s hand, the child is likely to screech or even run away. Your puppy, on the other hand, will take this as a way to initiate play.
The kid is likely scared and now has a dog chasing him. This will only promote the habit of mouthing and biting because the dog will always get what he wants.
Now you will need a good and productive method of making it stop. For instance, you should not leave the dog with your child unsupervised. Once again, you must learn a few tricks to break this habit. When dealing with damaging unacceptable behaviors in dogs, it is similar to the methods you use to stop certain behaviors.
What to do to break the nipping habit
There is a possibility that your nipping puppy children are a developed habit. This means that he has adopted it because no one is addressing it. To get your dog to stop nipping, you must eliminate the stimuli and offer something different.
It is the same way you can practice when you want to get out of a particular habit. For instance, if you are working to stop binge drinking, you must replace it with another activity. You can opt to go on a hike rather than go to a party with alcohol involved. Replacing these habits with productive activities will surely assist you in killing the pattern.
When you notice that your dog is attacking children, offer another activity. For instance, you can throw a ball or another toy to distract him. Alternatively, you can instruct your dog to sit, and your child will be able to pet him. Also, ensure both parties know that rough play is unacceptable and mouthing.
In addition, ensure that your exercise your dog regularly. This will eliminate your dog’s pent-up energy driving him to rough play. I mean, a good morning walk will leave him calm and tired. At this moment, he is unlikely to engage in some of these undesirable habits.
Reasons you should discourage nipping.
Well, there are so many reasons why you should not encourage biting and nipping in dogs. You should take care of this habit from a very early age. Your pup should grow up knowing it is unacceptable to bite or even mouth people. Well, below are some of the reasons why you should ensure that your dog stops nipping.
Scary to children and guests
As much as you understand that nipping and mouthing is normal behavior, it can be scary for children. This makes people want to run away, taking it for aggression. If you have children, then you must understand how difficult it is for them to have puppies nipping their hands or feet.
For instance, when you have a guest in the house, your puppy might nip on them as a way to defend his territory. And because your guest is scared, they will likely want to run away from the dog. This will only entice the dog to keep chasing them.
This is not only embarrassing but can lead to emotional trauma for children. This is especially if your adult dog is chasing and mouthing kids. Now, if you own a dog who loves to mouth, you need to handle it as soon as possible. You are obligated to see to it that it does not happen again.
This could lead to actual aggression.
We have repeatedly mentioned that biting is a normal development behavior. However, in the wrong circumstances, it can lead to actual aggression. This will have your dog attacking people and inflicting pain. Aggression in dogs requires immediate attention.
To be able to detect aggressive biting from play biting, observe your puppy. During this time, he will expose his teeth with a wrinkled face. It is also likely that he will growl while at the same time staring at you.
He will try to exhibit dominance over the victim, which is contrary to normal puppy behavior. In addition, your pup will intend to hurt and inflict pain on the victim.
That said, you will need to handle it as soon as possible. This is why you should discourage nipping, mouthing, and biting them from the very start. Read on to discover how to eliminate aggressive biting in puppies and adult dogs.
Arouses dangerous instincts
We have already established that most puppies bite and nip to get your attention. However, as mentioned above, nipping can quickly escalate to aggression. This is unacceptable since we live under the same roof with these dogs. The reaction from the biting can arouse dangerous instincts in dogs.
For instance, if your pup bites you and you react angrily, chances are that he will not back down. Dogs love and enjoy a challenge. He will respond with the same amount of negative energy as you. This is why we do not advocate for punishment as a solution to a nipping dog.
Similarly, the child will likely withdraw when a dog nips a child. In addition, the kid may run away, which will only arouse your dog’s chasing and hunting instincts. This is about their wild instincts, where they hunt and kill prey. Well, there can be possible aggression exhibited in such a scenario.
How to get a dog to stop nipping completely
Every dog owner will have to deal with their dog’s nipping and biting at some point. You should have the basic skills to curb the habit once your dog starts nipping. There are various methods of doing so. However, the best way to approach a behavioral problem in dogs is always to identify where it is coming from. When is your dog likely to nip?
The funny thing about a dog nipping is that he will nip at your kid but not at you. We have already looked at some of the reasons why your dog may bite children. In such a case, you must stop the habit before it becomes more serious.
For instance, you can train your dog to sit whenever he wants to play with your child. This will encourage your child to pet him rather than engage in rough play contributing to nipping.
If your dog is nipping your guests, he must understand that you will not allow it. We are responsible for the ways our dogs behave. You will need to teach socialization and other alternative behaviors to help you stop the habit. Your guests must also know that your dog is sensitive to new faces.
In addition, you will have to teach your dog how to go to his safety zone. He needs to know how to withdraw from situations that make him uncomfortable rather than engage in a confrontation. For instance, if your dog is not exactly friendly towards guests, teach him to go to his crate. Every time you have someone coming over, instruct him to go to his bed or box as your guests come in.
To get your dog to stop nipping, use the following tricks:
Understand the circumstances causing him to nip
This should be the first step you take once you see your dog nipping. There are various circumstances in which your dog may nip. In most cases, puppies nip during playtime. When you are playing with a puppy, it is natural for him to engage in some rough play.
When this happens, he can engage in rough play. He thinks that nipping is also a part of playing. You must make it all stop. Some of the other causes of nipping may include:
Fear and anxiety
Like we all do, dogs also experience fear and anxiety when facing certain conditions. For instance, if a stranger approaches your dog, it might cause him to arouse fight or flight reflexes. In most cases, your dog will have a fight response to the stranger and thus bite.
Understand that this will not be the playful kind of a bite. This is associated with aggression, whereby you find your dog growling. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that this does not happen. Warn visitors to approach the dog from the front to avoid scaring him. In addition, your visitors should always steer clear of your dog’s safety zone.
Normal development behavior
As discussed earlier in this article, it is essential to monitor your puppy. You don’t find it dangerous when he nips, but it can develop into a lasting habit. For instance, your pup will bite your hands to understand how they work. It might appear playful or generally safe, but it is not. So you need to make it stop by teaching him that it is unacceptable to keep nipping.
Therefore, teach him alternative behaviors should he start nipping. Do not allow him to engage in this behavior whatsoever.
Your pup is in pain
Well, this is another common cause of nipping in dogs. You might be playing with your dog, and he suddenly bites you. It could be due to an injury or pain in his body. This is especially with the dogs that will nip during rough play.
If so, you will need to examine him to see if he has any injuries on his body. This type of nipping should not take long before it goes away completely.
Address behavioral causes of nipping in dogs
We have already discussed that you should figure out why your dog gets all nippy. Once you have that in mind already, it is time to address the behavioral causes. For instance, if your dog nips at children, you must devise a way to stop it.
Well, children cannot be considered as friendly to dogs. While your kids will love spending time with the pup, they may not know how to handle them. Therefore, in one way or another, children may encourage the habit of nipping. However, you can teach your children how to play with the dog.
In addition to the above, ensure that your dog is comfortable at home. He needs to feel safe even when you have guests around. If your dog has trouble accepting visitors in the house, use alternative methods to solve this problem.
For instance, ensure that he does not get to see them as they enter. You might also need to take long walks with your dog in areas he can meet other people. This will not only alleviate the fear of people but also help him socialize with people and other dogs.
Teach your puppy how to be gentle
To get a dog to stop nipping, you should concentrate on teaching him gentle play. This is not usually as easy as it sounds. However, he needs to know that you do not appreciate it when he engages in rough latitude. To do so, always play games that do not involve contact with him.
For instance, ignore him completely when your dog jumps up at you, ignore him completely. Do reciprocate play at all. Some dogs will miss this and start mouthing your hands to get some interaction with them. If he does, refrain from pulling away from his teeth. This is especially true when trying to get an adult dog to stop rough play.
Instead of pulling your hand away from his mouth, ignore him. Do not move, and do not look at him. As we had discussed earlier, dogs engage in these behaviors to get attention. Once he gets it from nipping, it will be impossible to get him to stop.
You can, however, give him a yelping sound. For instance, once he gets your fingers in his mouth, you can gently say ‘ouch’ to let him know you are hurting. In most cases, your dog will let go of your hand. Repeat this severally until he drops this habit.
You can also reinforce gentleness by offering your dog a treat. For instance, once you say ‘ouch’ and he lets go, offer his favorite treat. Alternatively, you can also give him praise or his favorite toys. This way, he will never forget that there will always be a reward when he does not nip.
Don’ts for dog training to be gentle
However, this trick does not always work. This is especially when he feels like you are rewarding him for his unacceptable behavior. Therefore, you will need to draw a line in one way or the other. Do not offer him a treat for him to let go of your hand. Instead, only show him the joy once he lets go.
Once again, do not pull away when your dog is mouthing your hand. Earlier, we discussed how we encourage this behavior by arousing his hunting instincts. Therefore, remain calm and direct him to let go.
If at all you move while he is nipping your ankles, you will only be encouraging him to keep biting on your hand. Dogs have it in them, for they are just but scavengers. It is pretty easy to arouse their animal instincts, especially when dealing with mouthing.
Do not yell at your dog even when you want to get him to stop nipping your hand. Now, in the wild, dogs would live in packs. This means that they would associate and keep each other safe. However, we immediately turn them into their bags once we domesticate them.
They, however, are sensitive enough to pick up our energies. This means that if you yell at him, he can notice that you are upset, so he gets upset. Other times, your dog might think you are cheering him; thus, it can be downright impossible to stop him. Therefore, do not shout or hit him in a bid to get him to stop nipping.
Teach biting inhibition
This is actual training that every puppy should be taken through. He has to know that biting to inflict pain on others is unacceptable. Well, as we discussed earlier, sometimes getting a dog to stop nipping is pretty challenging, especially when he is only trying to learn how everything in his surroundings works.
However, training a puppy is way more accessible than training an adult dog. They tend to pick up new habits quickly, thus proving effective.
Biting inhibition will involve a lot of activities that we have already looked at above. For instance, you will have to let him know that you do not appreciate it when being bites.
However, the best method to train biting inhibition is by letting him play with other dogs. If your puppy had the opportunity to be raised with his mother, you might not have to do this at all. This is because mothers will teach their puppies biting inhibition.
In addition, his siblings will also train him that it is not okay to bite. For instance, puppies will use their mouths when they are playing. However, it is not supposed to inflict pain on another puppy.
Unfortunately, not all puppies get the privilege of growing up with their siblings. Therefore, some do not get to learn biting inhibition naturally. If you adopt a young puppy, you must ensure that he socializes with other dogs.
For instance, you can take him to a doggie daycare near you. This will not only aid in socialization but also teach biting inhibition to your puppy the same way he would have learned if he was with his family.
My dog won’t stop biting my hands despite teaching biting inhibition.
Even as simple as it sounds, some puppies will continue biting your hands even after teaching biting inhibition. If you cannot get to stop your dog from nipping, then you can apply other methods. For instance, you can apply dog deterrents to your hands before playtime.
An excellent example of an effective deterrent is white vinegar. Apply a fair amount of the latter on your hands before you play with your dog. This will ensure that he does not mouth your fingers because dogs hate the smell and taste of vinegar.
In addition, you should only encourage play without contact. Ensure a toy is in your hand when playing with your dog. Not only will this reduce the chances of your dog engaging in rough play but also stop mouthing. For instance, get a tennis ball or a Kong bone toy. This will help you distract your pup whenever he is about to mouth your fingers.
Invest in several toys for your dog. These will help you engage in a non-touch kind of play. In addition, they are pretty helpful when it comes to playing with children. You should always have a toy in your hands if you want a dog to stop nipping. This means that whenever your dog wants to bite your hands, throw the toy or give it to him.
In addition, when puppies are developing, they will get to a point when they want to have something to chew. This is especially when they are teething.
They will constantly need to chew non-food items, which may also involve nipping your hands. However, you can get several toys for your dog to chew during this time. It will also help burn excess energy and prevent your dog from overexcitement.
Use a leash whenever you have visitors.
He might have trouble adjusting to the new home if you have recently adopted a dog. Well, after a few days, he may be already adapted to his environment. However, this does not .mean that he is okay and accommodating to other people.
He might act aggressively or even nip at your visitors. In this case, you may consider having him on a leash when people come to your house.
In addition, warn your guests to stay away from their bed or crate. This is because he already knows that it is his safe place. Therefore, he is going to react whenever he feels threatened. Also, warn your visitors not to shout at your dog. They should also approach the dog from the front as opposed to behind. This way, your dog will not nip at them in a fight/flight reaction.
Alternatively, you can have your dog head to another room when you expect visitors to your house. Also, get a toy and distract him when you get to the door to welcome the visitor. You can alternatively offer him a treat to keep him busy when you have guests.
The goal is to replace nipping with more exciting behavior. As we mentioned earlier, you have to offer your dog an optional method of nipping.
Watch out for aggression in a dog.
In the first section of this article, we mentioned that it is possible to be dealing with aggression when a dog starts nipping. Therefore, you should be vigilant to notice when this happens. Watch out for signs of dog aggression such as growling and even howling.
Some dogs will also bark scarily while staring at the stimuli. Usually, he will be pretty aggressive towards the visitors and sometimes children. However, you can get a dog to stop nipping out of aggression.
Dogs bred for security purposes, such as the German shepherd or even a Labrador, tend to nip more than others. This can be a result of aggression that comes with their protective nature. Watch for the signs to know whether a dog is squeezing out of charge.
These will include a dog in a posture ready to attack. He will also bark and growl while staring back at the subject. In this case, you may consider getting the opinion of a professional dog behaviorist.
However, ensure that you discourage aggression in puppies at an early age. You can do this by teaching him how to be gentle and inhibit biting. If you are dealing with aggression in an older dog, you may want to dig more into it. This way, you can determine whether it is related to dog dementia. Therefore, seek professional assistance if you suspect aggression in your dog.
Always supervise your dog while playing with children.
You must always supervise your kids if they are playing with the dog. As much as puppies are friendly, children are not exactly pleasant to them. This can lead to an actual act of aggression from either party. For instance, your kid can hit the dog, which will attack them. Even though rare, there have been reported cases of dogs’ aggression towards children.
Therefore, ensure that you teach your puppy how to be gentle. Also, educate your kids on the dos and don’ts when playing with the dog. Alternatively, command your dog to sit when your kid is petting them. This should get rid of any misunderstanding between the two. Ensure that the two are not left alone at any given time.
In addition, avoid rough play with your child. It is common for kids to want to chase and even wrestle with the dog. Puppies also enjoy this kind of play. However, your dog may nip your child when it gets too exciting. He may also bite because he is in pain.
Do not punish your dog.
You should never consider punishment as a solution to any undesirable habits in dogs. Do not hit or yell at him when you are trying to get your dog to stop biting. This will create a negative impression on your dog. In addition, if you inflict pain on him, he might also retaliate with a painful nip. Therefore, use the mentioned above to stop a dog from nipping rather than punishment.
Lastly, you will need to know why your dog is nipping. Well, as discussed in this article, dogs may bite when subjected to various circumstances. Observe your dog’s notice when he is doing so. This way, you can approach this behavior from the source. For instance, if he bites when you are wrestling, you should no longer engage in such kind of play.
Suppose he is nipping when you play fair and exciting games; withdraw from the play. Could you not give him any form of attention? This is because dogs engage in certain behaviors to get the desired outcome.
You should stop your dog from nipping immediately you notice this behavior. Get to know why he is engaging in unacceptable behavior and stop him. I hope the above methods are going to be of help to you as you get your dog to stop nipping.