How to stop a puppy from nipping at your legs. This actually works.
One of the most common questions I am asked on a regular basis is How to stop a puppy nipping at your legs. It is so annoying, isn’t it? And, if not stopped will get worse and more aggressive. I am going to show you how this can be stopped using a method that actually works.
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Biting and nipping is normal puppy behavior as it is how the way they explore. Puppies definitely want to familiarize themselves with the surroundings and they use their mouths to do so. This is why your puppy is nipping at your legs and sometimes hands.
It might also be your puppy’s way of initiating play with you. However, you should not encourage him to carry on with this behavior as it may turn out to become a chronic behavior.
You may also notice nipping when puppies are playing with each other. It takes a few steps to get your puppy to stop nipping at an object and your legs. As we all know, in the wild, dogs fetch for themselves in order to survive.
However, when we adopt puppies, this means that he will not have to hunt in order to eat since you provide that. Domestication has limited dogs and we now live together despite our massive differences. This does not mean that puppies do not have these animal indicts that motivate them to hunt. Nipping and biting can also be a way for your puppy to express his instincts.
Movement is most likely to motivate your puppy to nip. When you are moving your legs, your puppy will be tempted to join in thinking that you want to play. Even though young puppies may not hurt you by nipping, it might become a dangerous behavior later in his life. This brings about the need to curb this behavior.
We want to control the undesirable behaviors in our pets in order for us to live together and in harmony. Therefore, in this article, you are going to unfold some of the most effective methods you can use to stop a puppy from nipping at your legs.
One of the greatest thing about puppies is that you can always teach him out of the habit. As easy as this might sound, it is quite some task but it comes with excellent results. It might take some time to teach your dog but once you get there, you will not have any more problems with him. Now, you will need to teach your puppy alternative behaviors to nip at your legs. And to be able to do that you will need to understand your puppy.
Often, puppies want to be applauded for their good behavior. It actually encourages your puppy to keep up the good behavior. Therefore, using rewards will actually catalyze the training process. Once your puppy develops the habit of nipping at your legs, he is going to need to replace it with something once you start the process of curbing nipping kick off. Therefore, it is important that you provide an alternative positive behavior for him. Below are 8 ways in which you can be able to stop a puppy from nipping;
Once your puppy nips at your leg, you should stand still. This is because movement, as said before, is quite a motivator to nipping and biting. Once you move, your puppy may feel the need to nip at it from the hunting instincts, just like in the wild.
Nipping on a still object is not as enticing as it is to chase a moving one for your puppy. Once you stand still, your puppy is going to get bored and eventually let go. Usually, once you pull away from him, you are only stimulating him to keep nipping.
Provide alternative behavior
Like said earlier, it is important that you provide alternative behavior to nipping at your legs. There are several ways of doing this, including rewarding. Distract your puppy by offering him an alternative activity to carry out. For instance, you can do the following;
- Teach your puppy to sit down – Puppies are quite obedient pets, and especially if they have been already trained. It is quite difficult for your puppy to engage in undesirable behavior when he is busy doing something else. In addition to this, puppies feel good when they are pleasing their masters. Use this to your advantage.
- Maintain eye contact – Once your puppy starts nipping at your legs, stop and make him look at you. This method works best when reinforced by dog treats. Once the looks at you, bring the treat to his eye level. Usually, smaller dogs tend to nip at legs and ankles more than larger dogs. Well, as we all know, your puppy’s attention will be on the treat rather than nipping.
- Make your dog walk by your side
Puppies that will nip at legs usually walk behind their owners. Well, most dogs do that. Smaller dogs may get enticed to nip at your legs especially since your legs are at his eye level. For this reason, making your pup walk by your side will minimize the chances of him nipping at your legs. As said earlier, if he nips at your legs, stand still. You can train your dog at home and without a leash until he stops nipping.
Once again, good behavior in dogs is easily reinforced by a treat. So make sure you carry bite-size treat and reward him whenever he gets it right.
Encourage non-touch play
Puppies enjoy playing and sometimes they may get too excited. This may lead to your puppy nipping at your legs during play time. Therefore, you will need to come up with a way to inhibit this kind of behavior. Non-touch play is thereby recommended if you notice your puppy nipping at your ankles.
In other times, your puppy may nip to initiate play. Remember that the goal here is not to completely stop your puppy from mouthing. This is because mouthing is actually healthy for your dog’s jaws. However, it is important that he stops nipping at your legs so that he does not grow with the behavior.
You can be able to encourage play without your puppy having to touch you or even nip. Encourage non-touch play sessions like tug-of-war which will meet your puppy’s needs. He will enjoy play and also get to mouth or nip at something.
Toys to redirect his attention
Toys are quite effective when it comes to redirecting a puppy’s attention. You will, however, make sure that the toys are interesting enough to grab his attention. There are several types of toys that could work to your advantage. A great example is a food puzzle toy that is sophisticated enough but also quite interesting for your puppy.
Additionally, you can also get an ankle to tug toy if your puppy won’t stop nipping at your legs. Once he grabs your legs or ankles, stop and present the toy to your puppy. This will automatically take his attention to the toy and thus leave your leg alone.
My puppy will not stop nipping when I leave the house. Could this be aggressive behavior?
This is a common and disturbing question among new puppy owners. Nipping and biting do not always indicate aggression in puppies as it is completely normal behavior. However, we cannot completely brush off the possibility of aggression in a puppy that is nipping. Usually, this type of nipping will be painful and you can tell that your pup is upset. Before we proceed, let us look at some of the signs of aggressive nipping in puppies.
How do I tell if my pup is throwing a tantrum?
There are so many factors that you may need to look at if you are wondering whether your puppy is being aggressive. Usually, your puppy will nip at your legs playfully and without aggression. His face will be relaxed as he is doing something he loves to. However, if he is growling and snarling angrily, you should be a bit careful. This could lead to future aggression.
Some breeds are actually more aggressive than others. For instance, if you have a Labrador, you may experience a bit of aggression at some point in life. Therefore, you may need to pay a bit of attention to him in order to understand his nipping.
Aggressive nipping may be accompanied by the following signs and symptom;
- Painful nipping and biting whenever provoked. This might actually be something as simple as petting him or touching him when he does not want to be touched. This will trigger frustration and your puppy may bite or nip at your legs or hands.
- Pulling back his lips to expose his teeth. Well, there is a thin line between playful nipping and actual aggression. When your pup is aggressive, he may nip at you with his teeth exposed followed by angry snarling and growling. His face will definitely not be as relaxed as it would be during playful mouthing.
- He nips at you hard. When your puppy is trying to play with you by nipping at your leg, it is usually harmless and he does not want to hurt you. However, when he is exhibiting aggression, he will usually nip at you hard
Why is my puppy this aggressive?
Once you recognize that your puppy is exhibiting aggressiveness, it is important that you address it as soon as possible. However, to do this, you must understand your puppy well to tell what is causing the aggression.
In most cases, dogs are aggressive when they are afraid or frustrated. For instance, you may touch your pup in a way that he does not appreciate. This could lead to aggression and thus nipping at you. Additionally, a puppy may nip hard when he is feeling threatened and has to defend himself. It is therefore important to understand what is causing the aggression in order to treat it.
Furthermore, over-exciting play can also promote nipping hard. It is therefore recommended that you encourage gentle play and in some cases refrain from touching him.
Avoid situations that expose your puppy to the possibility of nipping. In addition to this, spend as much time as you can in order to understand him. This way, you will not have any trouble ruling out the situations that result in aggression in puppies.
What should I do if my puppy is nipping at my legs aggressively?
We already mentioned that you should take your time to learn more about your dog. You should be able to understand the source of aggression in order to curb it. One thing you should never ever do when a dog is nipping at you is to pull away. If he is aggressive, this is only going to entice him and even get him angrier.
So what should you do instead? Stay still until he lets go. You should refrain from producing a yelping sound to exhibit pain. It is exactly what he wanted to do, to hurt you. Therefore, even if it hurts, do not pull away or even scream.
If your puppy is throwing a tantrum at you, then you will have to figure out why and eliminate the source of aggression. You should also be very careful to solve this problem immediately as it may result in future aggression.
Once again, refrain from aggressive and overexcited play if your puppy is nipping at you. Instead, take some time to teach your puppy gentle play.
Daily exercise is good for your dog’s health. It also helps in burning up the extra energy your dog may have, allowing relaxation. Furthermore, when you are playing with a puppy that won’t stop nipping, you should encourage non-touch play. Instead, you can replace it with other games like tug-of-war or throw a ball for him to fetch.
When you are training your pup, reinforce good behavior by offering a reward or praises. This will encourage him to keep up the good work since it gets him treats. However, training a puppy out of a habit may take some time. Be patient with him and he is definitely going to adopt good behavior and stop nipping.
Ignoring your puppy when he nips at your leg may also work to correct the behavior. You can be able to do this by standing still when he nips. Do not pay any attention to him and he will let go. This will teach the puppy about alternative ways to initiate play or get your attention. Once he lets go, reward and praise him for encouragement.
You should not encourage nipping at whatever cost. This is because it could possibly lead to aggression and biting later in life. Instead, correct this behavior using the above-discussed methods. However, it is important that you take your time to observe understand your puppy.