How to stop dog nipping when excited. A helpful guide.
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Dog nipping is a common behavior, especially when your dog is excited. However, this does not mean that we should encourage the behavior. Not only does nipping cause pain but it can also be pretty scary. Picture a large dog coming at you and nipping at your hands or legs.
You may actually not be able to tell whether your dog is being friendly or he is attacking you. In this article, we are going to explore the reasons as to why dogs nip. In addition, we are going to look at the ways to stop dog nipping when excited.
Why do dogs nip?
As mentioned above, nipping is a common behavior among our canine friends. In fact, we can go ahead and say that it is a part of your dog’s genetic norm to want to use his teeth. For instance, in the wild, dogs hunt and kill prey in order to feed. These animalistic instincts are likely to come out every now and then, even when they are domesticated. In most cases, we turn out to be the ones encouraging nipping in dogs!
Your dog may also be nipping because he is exploring the new surroundings. I mean, how else can he learn how the world works? Just like human babies who will use hands to touch everything, puppies will use their mouths. Thus, it is natural for a puppy to want to nip at you at some point in life. However, this does not mean that you should leave him to continue. Teach him that mouthing of any kind, and especially on people’s hands and ankles.
Puppies like to explore
Whenever we are playing with our puppies, it gets too exciting. Sometimes it can actually get out of hand and your puppy will use his teeth during play. This might not be as scary or a subject to worry about since your puppy is young and his jaw is still not strong enough to inflict pain. Nipping in puppies might actually be playful and painless. However, as he grows older, he gets stronger and it can become painful and worrying.
Exciting play is one of the common reasons for dog nipping. It is tempting to engage in rough and stimulating play with your dog. However, your dog will get excited and even use his teeth to play. If it is painless, you may not be concerned at all and thus continue with play. Your dog does not understand that nipping and mouthing are not allowed. And it will be your job to train him that you do not accept the behavior.
Older dogs may also experience some episodes of aggression, which mainly comes with dementia. They tend to isolate themselves and want you to stay away from them. Aggression in older dogs is actually one of the leading signs of dementia.
Some of the ways to stop dog nipping when excited
1. Don’t play with bare hands
2. Don’t leave a dog alone with kids
3.Teach your dog to sit
4.Train your dog how to greet
5.Provide lots of toys
Like every other behavior in dogs, it is possible to stop and prevent a dog from nipping when excited. However, there are misconceptions surrounding this topic. For instance, some trainers insist on squealing whenever your dog is nipping at you. This is especially during playtime, with the hope that your dog will stop nipping at you since squealing will indicate pain.
Unfortunately, this does not always work and might encourage your dog to do it even more often on the contrary. This is because your dog considers squealing as a response to his actions and it might excite him. Therefore, we cannot say that squealing will help you stop your go from nipping when excited.
Holding your dog’s mouth is another myth to stop a dog from nipping. As much as you want your dog to stop the habit, bringing your hands so close to his face will only encourage mouthing. In fact, it can turn out to be very motivating to nip and mouth your hands.
So how exactly do you stop your dog from nipping when excited?
Stop the play
More often than not, you are going to realize that your dog will engage in nipping at you during playtime. Like mentioned earlier, rough play can be exciting to both you and your dog. You may not find any issues with this of play with your puppy since it does not hurt. However, your dog will get bigger and stronger, which makes nipping quite painful. At this point, you will realize how important it is to make him stop nipping.
The first step you should take is to stop the rough play immediately. During playtime, concentrate on a gentle play which is stimulating for your dog, both mentally and physically. However, whenever your dog starts mouthing your hands or ankles, you should stop the play and ignore him. This way you will be boring and there is nothing motivating your dog to nip or mouth.
In the case where your dog is nipping on your ankles, during play or walk, halting is the best way to train your pup out of the habit. Smaller breeds of dogs are actually more prone to this behavior than larger breeds. This is because your ankles and feet will be at his eye level and the movement can be very enticing to chase. Stopping the play should be the first thing you do in efforts to stop nipping habit.
Provide toys for your pup
In order to manage the biting and nipping in dogs, you will have to invest in dog toys. Toys will enable you to train your pup out of this habit in that you will be able to divert his attention. Once your pup nips at your hands, stop moving or pulling away. Instead, provide a toy and he will let go of your hands/ankles. In case he does not, ignore him and look away from him denying him your attention.
Not only does providing toys help you divert your dog’s attention but also give him the opportunity to mouth. Mouthing is actually a natural behavior for dogs. Even a young puppy will nip at your hands when practicing to use his mouth as well as strengthen their jaws. Therefore, you may not be able to curb nipping and mouthing in dogs but you can certainly be able to offer an alternative.
Puppies may tend to enjoy mouthing when they are teething. During this time, his gums might be itchy with prompts your dog to mouth and chew on your fingers. You should, therefore, get him chewing toys to help him during this period. Get the most appropriate toys that are safe for your dog to chew on.
Increase playtime for your dog
Exercising your dog should always be part of the routine. However, if you have noticed that your dog is getting too excited too fast and starts to mouth, consider increasing more exercise than play. For instance, you can increase the distance you walk your dog every morning and evening. Increase the exercises in order to burn up the extra energy your dog is generating.
Exercise is also a great way to prevent boredom when you are away from home. Not only will he be tired from all the exercising but also mentally stimulated. When we walk our dogs outside, we are exposing them to the outside world. They get to see new things every other day and sometimes they get to play with other dogs, which is good for their socialization.
Playing with your dog also helps you to associate with your dog and establish a special bond. Understand that this bond guarantees safety for your dog even when you are away from home. Well. Exercising and playing will not prevent mouthing directly but you will be able to reinforce training easily.
Ignore your dog
In most cases, your dog will nip at you during play, or even feeding time. It is as a result of the excitement that comes with either of the activities. In other scenarios, your dog will jump and wag his tail upon your arrival from work. It is as a result of the joy that comes with seeing you after being separated for so long. In addition, feeding time is always a joyful time for your dog. Some dogs are unable to control the excitement and may nip at your hands when you are trying to feed him.
As much as we understand this behavior, we should not accommodate it as it can be a little scarier later in the future. In order to stop your dog from nipping at you when excited, you may choose to use the ignorance method. Unlike squealing, you should stop doing whatever you are doing and be still and boring. Do not look, command or yell at your dog. Once he does not get a reaction from you, he is going to let go.
This method works because our dogs are mostly looking for a reaction from us. Once there is no reaction at all, your dog is going to stop using this behavior to seek your attention.
Train your dog how to greet
Once again, when you come back home from work and your pup is waiting for you, he will jump in excitement, waiting to touch you. This will give him the satisfaction of being around you, his keeper and best friend. However, this habit may appear to be aggressive and scary to your guests and even people at the park. When your puppy greets by jumping, licking and mouthing people, it can get out of hand.
Therefore, there is a need for you to train your dog how to greet visitors. Teach him how to greet people without excessive touch and mouthing. However, this is not always an easy thing to do as it can be hard to control the excitement in dogs. Here are a few tips that you may use to train your dog out of the nipping habit;
Divert his attention – You can do this using a toy. Make sure you always have a toy when approaching the house. This way, whenever your dog is running towards you for greeting, (and possibly nipping), you can use the toy to divert his attention. For instance, you may get a thrown ball and use it to prevent him from nipping at your hands or ankles. When he approaches you for greetings, you may throw the ball which will prompt him to fetch it.
Use rewards and praises – if you are looking to reinforce training in dogs, using treats and praises is the best solution. Your dog needs to understand which behavior is acceptable and that which is not. To make him understand, reward him with a treat or praises whenever she greets without nipping. However, do not offer him anything if he nips at you. This works because dogs like the saying goes, are loyal creatures.
Teach your dog to sit
Dog mouthing and nipping is not exactly a friendly gesture. In fact, most people will not understand the behavior and will end up pulling back. This will only entice your dog to keep chasing and nipping harder, which might end up being even more painful.
If you have not managed to teach your dog how to greet guests, you might as well teach him to sit down. This means that he should always sit whenever there is a guest at the door, or upon seeing you come home from work.
You can be able to do this by training him the command ‘sit.’ Once he starts to mouth your or another person’s hands, order your dog to stop the habit immediately and offer him a treat for his good behavior. In the case where your dog does not obey your command, deny him the treat. During the first stages of training, you might want to keep your dog on a leash when expecting guests at your home.
Walk away from him
Sometimes you may try all the above methods to no success, not even ignoring him completely. However, do not despair as there is still something you can do. As mentioned earlier, your pup will most likely nip at your hands during play or feeding time. The reaction from you will determine whether your dog feels encouraged or discouraged from the behavior.
Sometimes you have to not only ignore what he has done but also walk away from him. This way, he is going to learn that you do not like it when he mouths you or even your kid. Most dogs do so to seek your attention and reaction.
If you were feeding him and he starts to gnaw and nip your hands, even playfully, get out of the room and stay away for a few minutes before you come back. Repeat until he understands that you do not encourage this behavior at all.
Do not leave your dog alone with kids
Some dogs target kids when it comes to nipping. You may find it cute and all when your puppy is playing with your toddler but you should also be careful. It is easy for your dog to get all excited during play between your puppy and your kid. They can both get uncontrollable and your puppy starts mouthing the child’s fingers and ankles. This can be pretty scary for your kid especially when you are dealing with a mature dog.
It is advisable to never leave your dog unsupervised with your kid. This way, your kid will not encourage the behavior and your dog will not have a chance to nip at them. In order to stop a dog from nipping when excited, you must remove all the potential stimuli for mouthing.
Do not play with bare hands
In some cases, your dog will nip at your hands when excited by play. You should, however, offer him an alternative kind of play. Instead of playing with your hands, encourage other games like tug-of-war. You can pull from one side when he is pulling from the other side. This will not only allow him to mouth and strengthen his jaws but he cannot nip at your hands when his mouth is busy elsewhere.
Encourage non-touch kind of play in order to stop your dog from nipping when excited by play. If your pup had developed the habit of nipping at your hands when walking, or even at strangers, you can get him a bone-shaped toy. Whenever he initiates rough play or the slightest form of mouthing, throw the toy for him to fetch. This will definitely help divert his attention from the behavior.
Do not give your dog any chance to mouth you or other people during walks.
The best thing about dogs is that you can be able to get rid of any undesirable behavior. You just have to understand that it is a natural behavior that you will need to control. There are several methods that you can use to reinforce good behavior in dogs, as discussed above.
It is important to make sure that you have trained your dog that you do not encourage the behavior. Walk away from him when he initiates rough play that involves mouthing of your hands or ankles. Repeat this as many times as possible until your dog stops nipping. Luckily for us, our dogs have the desire to please us, which makes it easy for us to train them about good and bad behavior.
In addition, it is important that you provide plenty of exercises to burn up the extra calories in your dog. This will leave him exhausted and without too much energy that may lead to over-excitement. This not only means physical kind of stimulation but also mental stimulation for your dog.