The Ultimate Guide: How To Stop A Puppy From Biting And Nipping

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How to stop a puppy from biting and nipping
How to stop a puppy from biting and nipping

Do you have a mouthy puppy?

Is your puppy constantly nibbling chomping destroying your hands, feet, legs, and arms?

If this sounds like your puppy then you’ve come to the right place!

Welcome to The Ultimate Guide on How To Stop A Puppy From Biting And Nipping!

I’ve raised 6 guide and service dog puppies in training (UPDATE: we’re now at 11 and counting!), worked with and trained countless other 7 week to 18 month old guide pups, and also fostered dozens of young puppies.

Believe me when I tell you I know a little bit about mouthy puppies and their little dagger teeth.

I’ve suffered a few puncture wounds in my time. However, every little nip has really just been a normal part of puppy behavior and there are a few things I’ve learned to do to help minimize damage to bloody hands, feet, arms, legs, torso, and butt (they haven’t gotten me in the face or head…yet).

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Toby a puppy who liked to bite and nip

How To Stop A Puppy From Biting And Nipping

We hear these questions all the time:

  • How do I get my puppy to stop biting my hands?
  • My puppy is great, but he’s always biting me. How do I get him to stop biting?
  • My puppies teeth are so sharp! What do I do to get him to stop his mouthy behavior?

Here’s an exact quote from one of our readers:

…My wife and I just adopted a beautiful female yellow lab. Stella is 8 1/2 weeks old and we’ve had her just over a week. I want to bounce some questions off you from what I’ve read on your site, as Stella is driving us crazy…Biting. To go along with the chewing, she’s gotten more than a touch nippy. Heck, she’s snapped at my face while I was holding her a couple of times. Again, no corrections or ignoring is helping…

–Stella’s Dad

That was actually just one of a laundry list of questions Stella’s dad had about Stella the bouncy 8 1/2 week old Labrador Retriever puppy.

So the question is how do you stop puppy biting.

A mouthy, bitey, nippy, puppy is perfectly normal and I would actually be surprised if you were not experiencing some growing pains with a nippy puppy.

As I said earlier I’ve been raising puppies for a while now and some of the others in my group have been puppy raisers for 25+ years and raised a dozen or more puppies in the guide dog program.

Every time I see them with a new puppy I inevitably see little dagger like puncture marks on their hands and wrists.

Even a seasoned puppy raiser usually ends up with some collateral damage from these playful guide pups.

There is some good news. Most puppies can be trained to regulate and minimize their biting pretty easily.

You can teach your puppy how to have a soft mouth and work on teaching him bite inhibition.

Here are some tips on things you can do to minimize the amount of puncture wounds you receive from your little vampire…I mean bundle of joy 🙂

Tips On How To Stop Puppy Biting

Tips on how to stop a puppy from biting like this lil' guy.
Tips on how to stop a puppy from biting like this lil’ guy.

One of the reasons why puppies stay with their litter mates until they are 7-8 weeks old is so they learn bite inhibition.

If you’ve ever observed a litter of puppies playing you probably noticed that some puppies will get a little too playful with biting and nipping.

When puppies are playing, biting, and nipping each other play time stops when one of the puppies lets out a yelp and walks away.

Over time puppies will learn that biting too hard ends playtime and will learn to soften their mouths. After all puppies don’t ever want play time to end…do they?

This brings us to our first tip on how to stop a puppy from biting:

  1. Make your puppy think he is hurting you when he bites by letting out a puppy yelp!  Basically you are trying to replicate the same behavior as one of the other puppies in the litter.  So, let out a nice yelp to briefly startle your puppy and stop playing with him.  This will teach your puppy that when he bites to hard playtime ends.  Ending playtime is key when you do this because I’ve seen and experienced puppies that think the yelp is just part of the game and if you continue handling or playing they sometimes get more excited and come back with an even harder bite.
  2. Redirect your puppy biting by slowly removing your hand from his mouth and replace with one of his dog toys.  This is probably our favorite technique.  Whatever inappropriate item your puppy is biting whether it be your hand, arm, feet, or face (like in the example from our reader) slowly remove the item from your puppies jaws and replace with his favorite dog toy or chew then leave him alone to play with his toy for a while.  We have found that it’s a good idea to have lots of different textured toys as your puppy will most likely get bored if all he has is a bunch of plush toys. Here’s a sample list of textured toys in our collection:
    1. Plush Dog Toys – aggressive chewers tear up plush toys in seconds. We took away all of Dublin plush toys. Two we use and recommend are Dragon Chew Guard Dog Toy which is a little more durable for a plush toy and the Hide-A-Squirrel because when pups pull out the squirrels it simulates the de-stuffing.
    2. Nylabones – we like the Dura Chew Double Action Bone, but be warned this thing will hurt if your puppy drops it on your bare foot.
    3. KONG Toys – if you have an aggressive chewer try the KONG Extreme! Even Dublin didn’t chew through that one (although I’ve heard other dogs have).
    4. Bully Sticks – we buy the 6 inch Best Bully Sticks (we like this size better for our puppies) in bulk and although they say odor free they still stink…although not as bad as most I’ve tried. Even my finicky dog, Linus loved his bully sticks.
    5. Himalayan Dog Chews – another favorite for redirecting bitey behavior away from your hands. We have three dogs making the 3 pack Himalayan Dog Chews the perfect size.
    6. Deer Antlers for Dogs – we’ve heard good and bad about deer antlers and my advice is read about it and decide if it’s the right chew for your dog.
  3. Give your puppy a command.  If you’ve been working on basic obedience then giving your puppy a command will sometimes get him to stop biting and go into obedience mode.  We teach our guide dogs puppies “Leave it” pretty early on and once they know what it means a quick “Leave it” will get them to stop.  However,even just telling your puppy to “sit” or “down” (if they know these commands) could easily break their nippy mood.
  4. Exercise  your pup’s mind and body – there are two sides to this coin. You want your puppy to get plenty of exercise both physically (long walks, playing in the yard with him etc.) and mentally (work on his training and get him thinking). However, have you ever seen a kid who’s overly tired? You guessed it they act crazy and the same can happen with your puppy.
  5. Try using Bitter Apple Spray. So how would you use Bitter Apple Spray to deter a mouthy puppy?  If your puppy is in that nippy mood then spray a little bit of Bitter Apple Spray on your hand and then let him put his mouth on your hand.  Most puppies will usually take a few bites/licks of your hand then start smacking his chops licking his jowls trying to figure out where that horrid taste came from.  After doing this a few times your puppy will figure out that putting his mouth on your hand results with an icky taste in his mouth.  Most pups hate the taste of Bitter Apple Spray, but some actually like it so this will not work with all pups.  One more word of caution…if you’ve already received a few puncture wounds from your pup’s little vampire teeth then you might not want to get Bitter Apple in the sores because I know from experience that it stings like heck!

At about 4-5 months our puppies lose all of their tiny dagger teeth and they are replaced with adult teeth.  It’s also around this time that our pups usually stop their mouthy, biting behavior.

One more word for the wise.  NEVER SLAP OR HIT YOUR PUPPY!  Your puppy will probably think one of two things:

  1. You are playing and he’ll come back trying to bite you even harder or
  2. He will learn to fear you and your hands.

Hitting your puppy will most likely lead up to even bigger behavior problems down the line.

Every puppy is different some of these tips may work with your current puppy, but not with your next puppy.

We’ve experienced this first hand with Linus and Stetson.

Yelping made Linus more excited and more likely to continue his bitey behavior.

On the other hand the yelp seemed to startle and confuse Stetson who would abruptly stop biting at first yelp.

If you think your puppy is being overly aggressive or none of these tips are helping with your puppy you should seek a certified professional dog trainer and set up an in-home training session so the trainer can experience your puppy’s behavior first hand.

Always remember when raising and training your puppy to be consistent, persistent, and patient.

Puppies can be a lot of work, but the work you put in now will show when you’re pup becomes a well-behaved full grown dog.

I hope those tips on how to stop your puppy from biting helped.

What about you guys?

Do you have a puppy who likes to bite?

What have you done to help keep his biting at bay?

Tell us all about your experiences in the comment section below.

One final note. If there was one thing I thought you should try immediately the next time your puppy starts biting your hand it would be…

Redirect your puppy’s mouthy behavior with a bully stick. We haven’t had a dog yet that didn’t love his bully stick.

Exchanging my hand for a bully stick has always worked for me. As an added bonus your puppy will enjoy chewing on his bully stick for a good 10+ minutes.

Over time your puppy will learn:

  • Chewing on Bully Stick = OK.
  • Chewing on Hand = No Bueno.

I hope that helps. Good luck with your puppy. Let me know if you have any questions.

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How to stop your puppy from biting and nipping: the ultimate guide. If you have a puppy then you probably already know about their sharp little vampire teeth. As puppy raisers of over a dozen puppies we’ve seen it all and today we’re sharing our very best training tips for puppy’s who like to bite and nip. #puppybiting #puppybitingtrainingtips #puppybitingstop #puppynipping #puppynippingtraining
How to stop your puppy from biting and nipping

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  1. Hi guys, I have a 6-month old puppy, and I’m wondering how I can get him to stop biting, so this article helped me a lot. Also, I want to teach him to “shake hands”… Been searching for some methods, found this one, and I’m wondering if yo think it will work, if I follow this method?

  2. My puppy is almost 5 months old. I’ve literally tried everything and nothing is working. The main thing I’m doing right now is getting up and removing myself from him and that’s not even working. When I yelped it made him bite me harder and go even more crazy. I tried giving him a toy or bully stick but he finds my arms, legs, face much more exciting. It’s to the point where he is breaking skin and making me bleed almost every time. I honestly don’t even know what to do at this point, it’s so frustrating.

    1. If you’re still having issues you should try contacting a certified professional dog trainer for an in home evaluation.

      Sometimes our puppies get so excited they bite at everything except the appropriate toys/chews. We do a few different things to help:

      #1. We grab our puppy’s favorite chew and let her settle down in the crate.
      #2. We grab our puppy’s favorite chew and let her settle down on a tie down.
      #3. We cradle our puppy to help her calm down (this can take several minutes). Once she is calm we release her with an OK.

      Hopefully one of those things helps you with your puppy. Good luck with your training!

    1. We haven’t worked with deaf puppies, but I’ve found that redirection usually works best, basically replace the inappropriate object (arm, leg, etc) your puppy is biting with an appropriate object like a plush toy or bully stick.

  3. Hello my name is Rozell Austin. I picked up My Shih-Tzu Pet 4/25/20.He did a little puppy nibbles and more puppy nibbles than I was accustomed to,so I looked you folks up and a few other sites and went to work on training!He was 8 wks old and yesterday I decided I was going to give him a good bath,meaning shampoo/hair conditioner! I have to say I carefully eased into everything with Zeus, because of his high anxiety and tantrum behavior!His biting got much better and I actually thought we were doing great till last night when he bit me hard and drew blood! I was very upset,but I kept my cool and said NoBiting several times and backed it up with finger flicks at his nose!Well he settled down,I thought we were understanding each other till morning and he tried again to bite harder when he wanted his way!This has got to stop!!! I have a 11yr old very well trained and Zeus now 15wks old and I am getting a Girl puppy 2 wks ,she will be 10weeks old! I thought I need a trainer?, I have always train my own and only went into training when I wanted to do more than the basics,Please Help

    1. Most puppies bite until their adult teeth come in. When we raise our puppies we try to redirect biting from our arms/legs to appropriate chews like bully sticks, plush toys, and KONGs. I wouldn’t recommend flicking the nose with your finger this can cause an increase in biting or possibly other behavior problems.

  4. My dog is over a year old and bites at my legs when I go out or come in. He jumps and dirties my clothes,not allowing me to to get dressed for an occasion. What’s the solution, please?

    1. You might start with a group obedience class where you can learn how to teach your dog some basic house manners and obedience skills. Also, it will give you a chance to have a trainer assess your dog and give you some tips on how to handle behavior problems.

  5. I have a border terrier who’s about 18 weeks old and constantly nips. He latchs onto your leg and bite extremely hard never leaving go. How do I resolve the issue because if not I fear we will have to give him back.

    1. Working on a puppies bite inhibition is a slow and long process. It takes time, patience, persistence, and consistency. We make recommendations in this article, but what has worked best for us is redirecting to an appropriate behavior such as instead of chewing on your leg replace your leg with a bully stick to chew on. When we work with our puppies we do this constantly and consistently and as I’ve mentioned before we usually see improvement after their baby teeth fall out and their adult teeth come in, roughly at around 5-6 months old.

  6. We have a 12 week old Mini Australian Shepherd. He will “mouth” our hands, but he will also jump up and nip our noses. Tonight he nipped my nose and drew blood. It typically happens so fast that substituting something else for our faces isn’t feasible. Other than keeping our faces away from his mouth 😉, is there anything else we can do so that he stops?

    1. I’m having the same problem with a 10 week old Australian cattle dog pup (kelpie/lab mix). Worried about her getting my 5 year old in the face.

  7. I have an adorable Bouvier pup that is ten weeks old. He’s doing well with sit/stay. We are still working on ‘come’. He’s doing well with the wee wee pads, thanks to your suggestions. My problem now is that he continues to bite (mouth) and I can’t seem to stop that behavior. My husband and I are going to need blood transfusions soon.

    1. We have an 11 week old Bouvier that’s in a bad biting or nipping phase. I just reached out to the breeder with pointers, since she seems to have great with other recommendations. This is what she recommended: ..he is bored or looking to play. I would purchase a small pack of chewies (smalls ones to hand him but not choke) so when he starts to grab your pants, bite, mouthing…hand one to him. You can also redirect with new toys or ones he favors. If he becomes persistent…..when he jumps or bites, simultaneously gently push his head down and say no. Do not use the hand gesture and chewies at the same time….he will think that is a reward system for chewie…

      We also started adding a long morning walk to train against going after autos and bikes. Exhaustion and lots of positive training with freeze dried beef liver is helping! We also picked up some Nothing to Hide “fake rawhide” Chew sticks and he loves to satisfy his chew on those.

    2. Working on bite inhibition with a puppy definitely takes time. What works best for us is showing your puppy what is appropriate to chew on by replacing your hand/foot with an appropriate chew toy like a bully stick or plush toy. It will take time and puppies usually start showing improvement around 5-6 months after their adult teeth come in.

  8. Hello. I know this may sound strange but it’s true and I’m needing your expert opinion. I am part of a nudist colony in Central California. We have recently adopted a yellow lab who is a bit nippy. He has developed a habit of biting our members….. members. We have tried everything including replacing the objects with some silicone/rubber shafts we had laying around but it’s been no help. This is causing a bit of strain at the camp. Can you please give us advice?

    1. Maybe cover up when the dog is around. It probably thinks things that dangle are toys I doubt it’s trying to hurt anyone but for safety should probably not have those bits out when the dog is around. Maybe should have a cat instead? Good luck!

  9. My 17 week year old bulldog puppy bites and nips a lot! Seems like he does it more with women more than men. So should this go away in another month at 5 months? He hasn’t lost any teeth yet

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! You should always be working on getting your puppy to bite/chew on the appropriate things. Teaching him that biting things like your hands, feet, furniture is not good and redirecting him to his toys, chews, and other appropriate items. At around 5-6 months when the adult teeth come in it usually gets better, but as I mentioned you’ll want to work on his bite inhibition before that so he’s not biting/chewing with his adult teeth.

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