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. I’ve got a 10 week old German shepherd puppy. We’ve had her for 2 weeks. The first couple days were hard, but then we got in a routine. I was able to redirect her biting. But in the past couple days days she has started biting hard not wanting to go in her crate for a nap. Bully sticks don’t seems to redirect the behavior. A command does, but then when she sees me closing the door she is upset and starts biting again. It’s like she’s throwing a temper tantrum. I ignore the yelps once the door is closed (which she wasn’t doing before) and then she’ll settle down. What am I doing wrong? How can I get her to stop biting when going in the crate and yelping once the door is closed

  2. We just adopted an 8 1/2 week old lab puppy. What is a good way to help her burn off her energy while she is still too young to take out on walks or bring in the grass? Just trying to make sure she is getting enough exercise and hopefully help with some of the biting.

    1. My 8 week old French Brittany puppy will not stop biting at me. It may be my legs, hands, shirt, pants etc., No matter what I do which includes bitter apple, stay still, turn my back, yelp and ignore him he runs after me and attacks. The only time he does not is when he is in bed with me at night.
      I love him very, very much and I’m concerned that I may be doing something wrong which will effect him when he is no longer a puppy.
      It appears that my puppy is experiencing separation anxiety as well. He always wants to be with me, but then he attacks me. He does not share any of these issues with my husband.
      How can I help control the situation?

      1. Valerie, we are in the same position with our 9 week old English Springer. If you come across a solution please let me know! We are at our wits ends! And if we find something that works I will come right back here to let you know!

  3. Thanks for the great advice! We have just got a Cavoodle pup, he is now 10 weeks old. He is pretty nippy and bitey but we are working on it using the strategies you listed above. He is also bitey and nippy when we visit friends or he meets new people. Just wondering if we should continue socialising him with new people or should we stop until we have trained him to manage his biting better, meaning he can then interact with new people better? Thanks!

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! If he were my puppy I’d continue introducing him to new people to help get him socialized. One thing I would do is before introducing the puppy I’d let people know that he’s bitey/nippy and then teach them what I’d like them to do when he bites to help with training. Good luck with your puppy!

  4. I have a seven week year old MorkiePoo I am struggling with her nipping and biting at my toes, hands and I want to learn what to say to her when biting besides giving her a toy can you help me?

    1. Seven weeks old is a little young to be away from mom and littermates. This is actually the time when she would be learning about bite inhibition from mom and siblings. We raise mostly Golden Retrievers and Labs and in our experience the mouthy behavior usually continues until after their adult teeth come in at around 5-6 months old. Before then you can do some of the things mentioned in this article. Every puppy is different and some things work better than others. For instance, one thing we try to do is make a crying sound when a puppy bites us to imitate what a littermate might do. Some puppies will stop while others get excited and start biting more. Another way you can imitate a littermate is when your puppy stops biting just leave the play area and ignore them by walking away. And as you mentioned using a chew toy to redirect behavior which is one of our favorite methods for bitey puppies. Good luck with your training!

  5. Hi!

    We have an 11 week old goldendoodle (more golden retriever than doodle). At night time he goes crazy and won’t stop biting and growling at us.

    We’ve tried staying still, walking away, grabbing his collar to hold him still (not hurting him). But it only seems to deter for a few minutes.

    During the day he’s great! We can take away toys, pull on his ears/tail, and take away food without any issue.

    We’re first time dog owners and unsure if this is normal behavior. Any insight?

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! If you’re giving him lots of mental and physical exercise during the day then it’s possible that he’s overly tired when night time comes around. If you’re crate training then you might just try crating him to see if he goes to sleep. Our current puppy does this and acts a bit crazy when she’s exhausted. As soon as we crate her she goes right to sleep. On the other hand if your puppy is not getting enough exercise then it’s possible that you need to exercise him more. While many of us will give our puppy plenty of physical exercise it’s also important to exercise their brains as well. Try having several training sessions throughout the day and see if that helps bring down his energy level at night.

  6. I have a 10month old yellow lab. He been biting and hard and won’t stop,tried the yelping and ow and that hurts..he even bit me in my thigh few hours ago pretty high up and broke into tears..take him out and no change..tried treats and bones and filling toys with dog treat spray can flavored stuff for dogs..Help its hopeless.I always say puppy stage or made excuses cause he was the runt and weighed 8lbs at 8weeks old. Vet said we saved his life from a legit dog breeder from starving..I love my boy and it kills me I’ve had dog with nippings and play biting but this is beyond and he in training to be a service dog. What can I do that I haven’t done yet?live in housing apt so can’t let him bark and bite like he does every day for like 2hrs..even attacks my butt,feet,arms,legs,thighs..feeling hopeless.

    1. As I mentioned to another reader at 10 months old your dog is probably not teething anymore. I’d recommend a certified professional dog trainer for an in home evaluation.

  7. We adopted an 11 month old pup in May of this year from the Humane Society. She is loveable kind dog however, any time she plays or gets excited she will bite or nip. She recently bite my thigh and left a nice bruise. I know she is excited to see us when we get home from work but I have to say we are not liking the jumping biting much at all. We have tried the ignoring until she calms down, saying OUCH loudly and toys and treats for listening with no luck. I’m at a loss. I’m affraid she’s going to nip the wrong person and it will end badly. Any suggestions on how to help with this?

    1. At 11 months old your dog is probably no longer teething or having issues with adult teeth coming in. I’d recommend bringing in a certified professional dog trainer for an in home evaluation that way they can observe your situation and give you a plan to work on your dog’s behavior.

  8. Hi I’ve got a nine week puppy every thing is for biting So I freeze a piece off carrot long bit and that’s helping when he has his mad crazy moments I calm him with puppy toys I got on line overall it’s been not too bad patience is the trick🤨🤨

  9. I got a 7 weeks old puppy and I tried everything to stop her biting me, but nothing worked. She nips playfully first, and then it gets into biting my ankles, hands, toes and clothes. When she bites the sleeves or leggings, there is nothing that makes her stop.. she just gets more and more aggressive, pulling hard.

    1. Most puppies are very bitey until their adult teeth come in at around 5-6 months old. However, it is important to minimize their biting when they’re young. What works best for us is redirecting the biting by giving our pups their favorite chew toy in place of our arms and feet. Also, it’s important to have many different types and textures of toys as your pup will often get bored of the same toy.

  10. We adopted an abandoned puppy who was found at 5 weeks and don’t know if he had any puppy interaction. What do you suggest for our puppy so he gets use to other dogs. He is almost 11 weeks old.

    1. We start brining our puppies to puppy kindergarten to help socialize them with other puppies. Most puppy kindergartens will teach some obedience and usually allow some free play time for puppies. Make sure whoever is offering the puppy kindergarten requires all the pups be up to date on their vaccinations. Good luck!

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