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Nipping and Mouthing

Nipping and mouthing by puppies is often tolerated because it is seen as "cute." If not corrected early, however, it may lead to more serious problems.

Why Nipping and Mouthing Occur
  • Teething - Between the ages of five weeks and six months, puppies will teethe. Soak a washcloth in water, freeze it, and offer it to your puppy as a chew toy. The coldness will numb his gums and ease the pain of teething. Replace the cloth every two hours.

  • Owner-induced behavior - Excessive games of tug and war, boxing and general roughhousing with a dog will encourage him to nip or mouth.

  • Communication - Dogs communicate with their mouths. Nipping may be an expression of aggression, defensiveness, playfulness, frustration, or anger. Mouthing may be an expression of fear, insecurity, or playfulness.

Proper Training Technique
A training collar made of polished chain, with small metal links and large rings at each end, should be used. Slip the chain back through the loop at one end, forming a slip know. Place the loop over the puppy's head and neck so it looks like the letter "P" around the neck. The collar must tighten around the puppy's neck when pulled and loosen immediately when released. Attach a six-foot leather leash to the outstanding large collar ring using the leash clip.

Standing at your puppy's right side, hold the leash with both hands a bit below waist level. Jerk the leash sideways and slightly upward to the right, which tightens the collar around the neck and gives a mild negative sensation. As you jerk the leash say no in a firm tone of voice.

Set up a situation in which your puppy will be likely to nip, initiate a corrective jerk, and tell him no as soon as he begins the behavior. Use a gentle tone with a shy dog and a firmer tone with a stubborn dog. Praise him when the behavior ceases, and offer an acceptable chew toy, such as rawhide or a frozen washcloth.


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