Teaching Your Puppy to Stop Nipping

Since puppies are used to playing with their mouths, they often unwittingly bite or nip at our hands. They’re not intentionally trying to hurt us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful! Try these tips from your Temecula veterinarian to control and prevent puppy nipping.

Discourage Bad Behavior

Teach your puppy that nipping and biting is unacceptable. As soon as she nips your finger, look at your puppy and say “Ouch!” or “No!” firmly and loudly. Don’t scream it, but be firm. After you’ve said the word, ignore your puppy by turning your back or even leaving the room if necessary. Don’t pay attention to her again until she’s calmed down and isn’t nipping. This, combined with the encouragement of good behavior described below, should work to teach your puppy that nipping is bad.

Encourage Good Behavior

Praise your puppy in a gentle voice when she doesn’t nip or bite. Offer a chew toy with your other hand while you’re petting her—this will give her an acceptable object to bite on, fulfilling her instinctual nipping habits and not resulting in painful bites. Continue to praise your dog when she uses the chew toy.


A word about consistency—you’ll need it if there’s any chance of this conditioning training working! Don’t lapse in your training against nipping and biting, or your dog will become confused or think it’s okay to bite and nip sometimes. Have all family members perform the same routine to prevent this behavior. Different techniques by different family members will only confuse your puppy more.

What Not to Do

Never hit your dog to discourage behavior—she’ll only become afraid of you and then potentially aggressive. Even mild slaps might be misinterpreted as an offer to play, which won’t solve anything. Physical contact is not the way to get your puppy to stop nipping; it simply doesn’t work and will almost surely be counterproductive. Set up an appointment with your Temecula veterinarian to get more information and ask about more ways you can stop your pup’s bad behavior.


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