Nipping or mouthing is normal puppy behaviour. It can develop into a serious problem if allowed to continue into adulthood.

An adult dog’s playful nips can leave bruises or break skin.  An excited dog will nip harder and be more difficult to stop.

Every dog needs boundaries, regardless of size or breed, especially when it comes to using their mouths around humans.

A dog may become angry when told to stop. The nipping can turn from playful to controlling.

Herding breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Shelties will sometimes nip at a person’s feet or heels, mimicking the livestock herding behaviour they were originally bred for.

Children are most likely to be on the receiving end of such nipping when they are running around or playing vigorously.

How Can I Teach My Dog to Stop Nipping?

· Teach your dog bite inhibition from an early age.

· Avoid wrestling or rough housing with your dog as this can exacerbate mouthing behaviour.

· Encourage non-contact games such as fetch or go-find. You can play tug of war, but make sure you do it with boundaries so that even when your dog is overly aroused, they listen and respond to you when you give them a cue or tell them to stop.

· If your dog nips or mouths  withdraw attention immediately and walk out of the room.

· Wait outside for a minute or two, come back into the room and resume play.

· If the nip happens again repeat the exercise until your dog realises that nipping stops all interaction.

· If your dog plays without nipping, let play continue.

· Give your dog plenty of chew toys to redirect their nipping onto something more appropriate.

· Teach your dog the ‘leave it’ cue, which is good for impulse control.

· If your dog gets too excited give them down time somewhere where there is no human interaction so they can settle.   Try carrying a toy or use treats to distract or refocus the behaviour.

· Do not smack your dog on the nose for nipping or mouthing as this could make the behaviour  worse.

If your dog is tense when he/she nips at you or bares his/her teeth, this might be a sign that the behaviour is less than friendly.  Enlist the help of a certified positive trainer to help you as this behaviour can easily get out of control.

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