It’s cute when a small puppy play-fights with you, nibbling on your hand or arm with its milk teeth. It’s quite another story when the puppy grows up, and the bites can do serious damage. Puppy nipping training can prevent this, so you, your family, and visitors are safe from a hard chomp.
The difference between how to make a puppy stop biting and how to make an older dog stop biting is vast. If you adopted an older dog that never had training not to bite, you may be dismayed to find out that its favorite chew toy is you. Rescue dog bite training is much more complicated. It requires more consistency and dedication than training a puppy, but it can be done.
So, how can you train a dog not to bite? We have a few simple tricks, but you must consistently train to get the best results.
Stopping Puppy Biting Early
Puppies naturally nip at each other, whether in play or for more serious reasons, like competing for food or attention. Usually, the mother (or sometimes its litter mates) will issue a loud yelp, indicating that the bite was too hard. Training puppies to bite with moderation is natural, and you can learn it, too.
When a puppy nips down on your hand, arm, or other body part, you can respond with a loud, sharp “ow!” or similar noise. Be careful, though. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), some puppies may get more worked up if they get a response.
Alternatively, when a puppy bites, put them in time-out. Quietly turn around and leave the puppy or put it in its crate for a few minutes. This indicates to the puppy that when it bites, playtime is over, with no exceptions. The goal is to teach the puppy that biting will not evoke a response from you. If you yell at or swat it with a newspaper, this type of punishment teaches the puppy that biting elicits a response. Instead, the puppy must learn that biting will get no response.
After the brief time-out, you can resume playing. If the puppy bites again, repeat the “time out” and play resumption. Use this time-out training cycle every time you play until the puppy learns not to bite.
Biting during play or roughhousing may not be the only time that your new puppy gets its chompers around something it shouldn’t. You can also train the puppy not to gnaw on fingers, arms, or other body parts. When it tries to gnaw on or mouth you, substitute a chew toy or rawhide treat instead. The puppy will learn that these are appropriate for chewing, and people are not.
Take note of when the puppy bites. Repeated bites when it’s frustrated aren’t something the puppy will grow out of and often require professional training and intervention to curb.
Training Your Rescue Not to Bite or Nip
Training an older dog, especially a rescue, not to bite requires more time and dedication than training a puppy. The dog already has bad habits formed about nipping, mouthing, gnawing, or frustration biting. It also has a more developed personality and temperament than a puppy. You may benefit from taking the dog to a professional dog trainer who can give you personalized tips for curbing biting.
If you want to train the dog at home, you can use the same yelp-time out-resume method as you would for puppy training. You can also use bitter sprays to deter chewing and biting. If the dog bites you, try spraying mint breath spray directly into its mouth. Both taste and sensation are displeasing and may deter the dog from putting teeth to skin.
What Not to Do When Training Your Dog
You should never hit an animal to train it. This can make the dog more fearful of being touched or handled. Shouting at your dog can make them fearful, too, so don’t do it. Avoid being inconsistent in training, as this will confuse the dog.
Is Bite-Training Overwhelming? We’re Ready to Help!
If you’re looking for puppy-biting training in Austin, we can help. The Walk! ATX Pet Care team works with breeds of all ages and sizes to reduce biting and make dog ownership safer and happier for both you and your pup. Call us today for more information about how our professional dog trainers can stop the nipping.