Prevent Puppy Nipping with Tips from a Certified Dog Trainer

Biting, gnawing, pinching, whatever you call it, when a puppy is a biter, it's not fun. Click for expert tips to prevent puppy nipping.

Have you met Erika Gonzalez of From Dusk Till Dog? She’s a certified dog trainer who knows a thing or two about not only training dogs but coaching humans, as well. In the video below, she’s going to teach you how to stop puppy nipping and mouthing once and for all.

Erika teaches dog owners how to better communicate with their dogs using humane, positive reinforcement methods backed by science. She’s a Fear Free Certified Trainer, a member of the Pet Professional Guild, and a mentor trainer for students who are learning dog training themselves. 

Puppy Training Tips & How to Prevent Puppy Nipping

 

“Do you have a nipping puppy at home? Do you feel like your limbs and your clothes have become some of your puppy’s favorite chew toys? If so, you know I got you.

“Avoid yelling physically correcting or shouting, ‘No!’ to your puppy. All of these options are either going to scare your dog, startle them, or further entice them to nip the heck out of you. And both are not optimal outcomes. Instead, redirect them to an enrichment activity, especially if your puppy has a zooming hour or witching hour, some like to call it. Strategize giving them these activities specifically at that time.

Here are three things you should avoid doing and some things to do instead to help turn your puppy from herding land shark to a no-nipping champ:

1. Puzzle Time for Redirection and Mental Stimulation

dog using dog brick puzzle

“One really fun activity you can provide is some type of puzzle toy like this Outward Hound and Nina Ottosson puzzle toy. This is for puppies and it’s a beginner’s level one and you can fill it with some high-value treats like these Wholesome Pride Freeze-Dried Treats.

Place them with these little white bones and put it down for your puppy to play with that instead of your hands. Avoid roughhousing with your hands. This can accidentally cause your puppy to believe that hands are a playtime toy. Redirect to a playful activity that does not involve being super close to your hands.”

2. Flirt Pole for Bursts of Exercise

best dog toys for boredom

“One of my favorite options for this is a flirt pole. Not only is this going to provide some fun and exercise for your puppy, but this allows you to engage with them with your hands being far away from their mouth.”

3. Novel Dog Toys for Good Behavior

“You want to avoid screeching, running, or any sporadic type of movement. Now I know this is easier said than done, but trust me you’re going to want to try. Otherwise, you have just become the world’s most enticing squeaker toy. 

Instead have a novel squeaker toy nearby – keyword on the novel. You can keep these types of toys nearby ready to go strategize for when your puppy starts to get into that nip mode. You can pull one of these out and get them interested in that.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that nipping is a completely normal behavior for teething puppies and chances are even if you did absolutely nothing. Your puppy will probably outgrow this phase on their own, but if you stay consistent with these tips I’ve provided, along with focusing on reinforcing good behavior when you see it, chances are you’ll survive your little land-sharks nipping phase with a lot less holes in your clothes, and a lot less teeth marks on your body.”

Other Bite Inhibition Tactics

puppy chewing on the best toys for puppies

There are other solid tactics for discouraging puppy biting. Sometimes play biting can go a little too far. Here’s what to do when your puppy tries to bite: When your dog displays this puppy behavior and bites human skin, you and your family members should YELP loudly.

Yes, really! During puppyhood, when a puppy bites during play with their littermates a little too rough, the dog on the receiving end of the puppy nip will let out a “yelp.” This essentially signals to the biter that what they did wasn’t cool, and they don’t want to engage in rough play like that.

Another way to get your dog to stop biting with those sharp puppy teeth is to take a time out. Each time your puppy nips, whether for attention or during a game of tug of war, immediately ignore them and walk away. Your body language should show them that you aren’t interested. Act like they don’t exist until they’re calm, then acknowledge their existence. 

This works over time as your puppy learns that their aggressive behavior gets them the opposite of what they want — your time and attention! Reward your puppy’s behavior by petting them and giving them praise each time they are calm and settled.

If you still struggle to curb your puppy’s mouth nipping, consult a puppy class trainer, socialization trainer, or animal behaviorist.

Unboxing!

Now that you know how to discourage your new puppy’s (or adult dog’s!) unwanted behavior, Erika has some new dog goodies to flaunt!

“I love me some dog products and who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned unboxing video! Today, I get to combine both of those fabulous things. So, come unboxing with me while I unbox these great packages from our friends at Outward Hound. Let’s see what we got…

Tail Teaser Wand A.K.A. ‘Flirt Pole‘ 

“Oh, yes, lovely, one of my favorite all-time products. This is a flirt pole. My dogs absolutely adore this. Oh, there’s a note! “Let the games begin.” So cute. Alright, let’s see what we got in here.”

Hide A Hedgie 

“What’s this? Hide a Hedgie stimulates mental play with Hide N Squeak Fun. Oh my gosh! This is like a burrow toy. Only it has a top that’s spongy! It looks like it’s a bungee and then it has cute hedgehogs to hide around some treats.”

Treat Tote 

“Look at this guys a treat tote! You can’t go wrong with this.”

Zip and Zoom Indoor Agility Kit 

“Oh my gosh. This has been on my wishlist for months and I am so excited that I have this right now!”

Petstages Orka Tire 

“Amazing, super tough. This is a durable toy. You can fill the inside of the tire in here with treats or your dog’s dry food.”

Hedgehogz 

“Um, hello. What’s up? Oh, goodness I love this. So this is the Outward Hound Hedgehogz!”

Squeaker Balls 

“How cute are the squeaker balls? You can’t go wrong with that.”

Petstages Mini Bone Tug 

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Strobe 

“Fun! Awesome.”

Petstages Mini Dentachew Dog Chew Toy – 3 Pack

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound’s Puppy Tornado 

“Super excited about this I love puzzle toys absolutely adore them Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puppy Tornado.”

Outward Hound’s Dog BrickPuppy SmartWobble Bowl, and Dog Worker

“I am beyond excited to try all of these products with my dogs. Now. if you’ll excuse me, I have some enrichment to take care of.”

Check out bestsellers from Outward Hound and our brand family!

Editor’s note: This post was updated in November 2021 to reflect the most pup-to-date information.