Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping

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Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping

This is a discussion on Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping within the Training and Behavior Stickies forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Please PM a mod if you have a video or article you think would be helpful for this topic. This thread is to help those ...

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Old 08-08-2014, 11:12 PM
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Biting, Mouthing, and Nipping

Please PM a mod if you have a video or article you think would be helpful for this topic.

This thread is to help those with puppies or adolescent dogs who are biting, nippy, pulling on clothes, chewing... in other words, using their mouths! If you believe your dog is biting due to aggression/fear, please hire a professional.

For starters, videos:


For further reference:
Calming Signals
Suppression, Modification, Shutdown, and Fallout/
Impulse Control and Calmness

Regardless of which videos you watched above or what articles you read, you probably noticed that poking, pinching, grabbing muzzles, yelling, smacking, etc have no play in fixing mouthiness! Attempts to stop biting like that often make the dog want to play more, frustrate the dog, or scare the dog... all of which can lead to more biting, immediately or at a later time.

Why all the biting?! Some common reasons: Play, Exploration, Frustration, or Fear/discomfort. (Again, if you think this is true aggression, consult a professional. You might even consult one if you are struggling with the other mouthing.) You'll have to be observant of your puppy's dog body language, the environment, and your behavior/actions to determine which is behind the biting. Do note, though, that puppy play is often very noisy, mouthy, rough 'n tumble--this alone does not indicate aggression!

Prevention & Management:
-It might feel like you aren't 'working' on your puppy's biting if you just prevent it, but this is really key! The more dogs practice behaviors, the harder it is to change that behavior.
-Common triggers for playful biting are humans moving quickly, having loose fitting close, reaching over them, etc--thus, minimize these, and move slowly.
-If you know certain actions frustrate our worry your pup, begin counter conditioning (in some of the videos above), teaching impulse control, and relaxing. Make sure your hands are always gentle and never painful.
-If you notice your pup is super mouthy after exercise, it's time for a nap! Puppies get bratty just like toddlers when they need rest.
-If you have a mouthy pup that is not getting frequent exercise, time to add in more sessions of invigorating but human-hands-off stimulation, such as with a flirt pole, walks/hikes/swimming, puzzle toys, fetch, tug (with rules!), training, nose/scenting games, etc.
-If your pup is stop/go like most pups, and wants to mouth/play as soon as he wakes up, use a toy or flirt pole to distract him as you lead him from one place to another to keep his mouth off of you. You can also toss treats on the ground ahead of him to keep his attention moving forward, away from you, and unable to practice biting! (Yes, it's okay to use 'band-aids' as long as you spend other time training!)
-Utilize ex-pens, baby gates, and crates to contain your pup away from humans when you can't be actively working on (or otherwise preventing) the mouthing or if he needs to settle down.
-Make sure your pup has a variety of (and rotated) chews and acceptable things to destroy (such as boxes, paper, vegetables) to satisfy these urges.

What happens if/when management fails and your pup gets his sharp little teeth on you? Options:
-Stuff a toy in his mouth and make that more interesting/fun that teeth on you. Tip: Keep a toy on you, or stashed around the house, so that you may immediately redirect your puppy's mouthing.
-If pup doesn't take the toy and redirects to you, say "ouch!" or "whoops!" or yelp* in a startled/upbeat--not stern/scary-- voice AND game over. Get up and "be a tree" (be totally still and quiet) until pup calms down and takes his teeth off of you.
-If pup continues more than a couple seconds of you being the super boring tree, time to leave the scene altogether. Count to thirty (or if you can still see the pup, wait until you see him show some calm behavior) and then return. This is where gates/ex-pens come in handy. (*some pups find a human yelp stimulating; if that is the case for you, try a different verbal cue or nothing at all.)
-If after multiple repetitions of the above, you aren't noticing a difference in the behavior, try immediately (but calming) leaving the scene if your pup mouths you, instead of the redirect & tree chances.

General rule for playing with pups:
Don't rough house with a mouthy pup until he's developed some impulse control and more bite inhibition. In the meantime, during structured play like flirt pole, fetch, or tug, if teeth touch you, give the same startled/hurt cue as above AND GAME OVER. Period. Take a break away from pup for a short bit and then return if you feel like it.

As for actual "training" to decrease the mouthiness, see the videos above! A lot is focused on counter-conditioning a puppy to accept hands-on handling from humans, teaching bite inhibition, and developing impulse control.

On point, past threads (Please, do not ask your question within these threads. If you've gone through this sticky, tried utilizing some of the methods, and are still coming across issues, please start a new thread with specific information of what you've tried and what the issue is.):
My Puppy nips, bites and gets aggressive
Help - New puppy appears aggressive only with me
Guys, Zeke is out of control, yet again!
Puppy pulling on clothes
Biting - really frustrating!!!!
He's a Terrier! He's attacking! Ideas needed!
Tess, cookieface, Megs87 and 2 others like this.

Last edited by crock; 08-22-2014 at 11:17 AM.
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