Dog nipping is a common problem faced by countless pet owners. Learn how to prevent this behavior from ever happening again by reading this guide.
Surely, dog nipping is a behavior that pet owners like you are all too familiar with – this behavior that is exhibited through the playful biting, licking and mouthing of your hands by your pet dog is a common behavior that is considered adorable by countless pet owners.
However, when the playful nipping turns into a destructive one as your pet continues to exhibit the same behavior to house guests, children and other animals, your once affectionate approach becomes a concerned one.
When he starts nipping on you hardly that he successfully draws blood and when he starts nipping on random strangers so much that these strangers actually get hurt in the nipping process, it’s time for you to go ahead and figure out what to do with your pet dog in order to stop this nipping behavioral problem for good.
Of course, for us to successfully solve the problem, we should first be aware of the reason as to why dogs nip. Why do dogs nip so much?
The answer to this agonizing question is this: Hands are to humans such as mouths are to dogs.
Simply speaking, your pet dog uses his mouth in order to explore his surroundings and get a sense of how they feel like. Nipping, as perceived by your dogs, is a form of communication and exploration. Nipping is only but natural to them!
If it is natural, then, why does my dog start to hurt me while he nips, you ask?
My friend, your pet doesn’t really want to hurt you on purpose. The real truth here is that he doesn’t really know that he’s already hurting you. He thinks he’s still playing with you so he continues to nip you even though you don’t want him to.
How do you easily stop destructive nipping for good, then? Here are five ways to help you:
#1. Teach him bite inhibition
Usually, bite inhibition is learned by your puppy when he plays with other puppies. Both puppies playfully bite each other and if one puppy bites too hard, the other puppy expresses hurt by yelping and letting out a high-pitched scream.
The offending puppy will then realize that he’s bitten too hard so to prevent his playmate from being hurt again, he starts controlling the force of his bites.
You can also apply this in your owner-dog relationship by:
- Let your pet nip your hands while playing. When he starts biting hard, immediately give out a high-pitched scream and withdraw your hand to make him surprised.
- When he stops nipping momentarily, praise him for stopping.
- Resume playing with your dog. Once he bites too hard again, repeat the process. Practice doing this cycle three times a day within 5 minutes per session.
#2. Implement bite inhibition via time-out sessions
Sometimes, older dogs won’t really care for high-pitched whining. This is where time-outs are introduced in order to leave a stronger impression. Start doing this by:
- Again, let your dog nip your hand playfully. When he starts hurting you, yelp loudly, withdraw your hand and ignore him for about 2 minutes. Don’t pay any attention to him.
- If needed, you can also leave the room so that your message will be understood better. For other times, what you can also do is to leave your dog all alone in his crate as he tries to comprehend the situation.
- After the time-out of 2 minutes, encourage him to play with you again. If he starts biting you painfully, repeat the cycle to give him the message that nice nips continue while bad biting stops. When he realizes this message, he will then make an effort to control his bites to be gentler with you.
#3. Never encourage games that involve contact
More often than not, pet owners engage in interactive play with their pet dogs. Usually, these games are tug-of-war and wrestling.
Most pet owners are under the impression that participating in these contact games promotes bonding. However, what really happens is that these games give the impression that your pet is supposed to fight for you for dominance.
Instead of these games, try games that implement obedience instead, such as fetch, training sessions and jogging around your neighborhood’s park.
#4. For severe nipping problems, you can use taste deterrents in order to prevent your pet from continuing his nipping behavior
This tip is suggested to moderate to severe cases of dog nipping. Sometimes, when your pet dog has a difficulty understanding your instructions, he will still continue doing his behavior until he encounters an unpleasant experience.
You can do this method by:
- Put on a pair of gloves. Make sure that your dog does not have any latex allergies, by the way, so that nothing too extreme will come out of this tip.
- Apply some foul-tasting substances such as vinegar into your gloved hand. Let your pet bite you while you’re wearing your gloves.
- Observe if he continues nipping you or if he decides to stop. If he continues, look for other foul-tasting substances that you can apply on your gloves. Bitter apple works well, too. The most important point of this tip is that it promotes an unpleasant experience for your dog’s nipping behavior, so in order to prevent encountering this experience again, your pet is most likely to stop the behavior that made him encounter the unpleasant experience in the first place.
#5. Consult expert assistance by having your veterinarian check him up for you
As we have mentioned earlier in this guide, nipping is also a form of communication for your dog. If you have already done these tips to no avail, maybe it’s time for your dog to visit his vet now.
He might be experiencing a medical problem so he bites you in order to get your attention.
Also, he might be having a medical condition that causes him to act restless – you can only find out the real deal behind your dog’s behavior if you let an expert assess his status appropriately.
Are you having some problems with your dog’s consistent nipping? How did you deal with it? Let us know by leaving a comment below!