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Prevent Puppy Biting: Effective Strategies to Stop Nipping

Dog bite prevention training specialist, Lesley Zoromski, is a passionate educator and lifelong dog lover. Since 2003 she has trained thousands of dogs and their owners in addition to helping dozens of local rescue groups and their dogs in need.
Adorable apprehensive puppy cautiously looking at camera - Learn how to prevent puppy biting for a happy and safe pet experience!
Prevent puppy biting by training your puppy with these expert tips on redirecting their playful nature and promoting gentle behavior.

Puppies, while undeniably adorable, can also be a handful when it comes to their nipping and biting habits. From nipping at our fingers and toes to tearing apart our favorite shoes, their teeth can wreak havoc on our belongings and even leave us with painful scratches. Fortunately, there are effective techniques to stop puppy biting and chewing for good.

Training to prevent puppy-biting behavior is crucial for a harmonious coexistence with their human family. It not only prevents potential injuries but also ensures they grow up to be well-behaved and disciplined adult dogs. The key to success lies in understanding the root causes behind this behavior and implementing appropriate training methods.

In this article, we will explore various techniques that have proven to be successful in curbing puppy biting and chewing behaviors. From redirecting their attention to teaching them bite inhibition, we will guide you step-by-step on how to train your adorable furry friend. So, say goodbye to painful bites and chewed-up furniture and get ready to enjoy a peaceful and harmonious life with your beloved pup! 

Key Takeaways to Prevent Puppy Biting

•   Biting is a natural behavior for puppies and is a way for them to explore the world1.

•   Puppy socialization is important in curbing biting behavior and helps them understand the boundaries of play2.

•   Teaching bite inhibition techniques can help stop biting behavior3.

•   Children and adults may use slightly different strategies.

•   Rewarding good behavior helps the puppy learn appropriate ways to interact4.

•   The Video below shows strategies for adults to use. Continue reading to learn how to help your child with appropriate strategies and techniques.

Understanding Canine Behavior to Prevent Puppy Biting

You’ve got to understand that biting is a natural behavior for your puppy, as it’s a part of their exploration and learning process. When they’re young, puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them, just like human babies do. This doesn’t mean you have to endure painful nips, though. It’s crucial to teach them about bite inhibition—how hard they can bite without causing harm.

Dog communication plays a vital role here. Puppies learn from their mother and littermates about acceptable play behavior. If you observe dogs at play, you’ll notice they give subtle signs before escalating into biting.

Puppy socialization is another key aspect of curbing this issue. By interacting with other dogs, your puppy will understand the boundaries of play and misconduct better. If possible, find playmates for your puppy with mature dogs that will naturally but non-aggressively set boundaries.

Implementing Bite Inhibition Techniques for Children

Teaching your pup bite inhibition techniques can really help curb their natural tendency to use their teeth during play. It’s important you do this early and consistently, imparting a sense of gentle handling.

1.   Start with Simple Inhibition Exercises: Introduce soft toys for them to gnaw. Keep the puppy focused on the toy. However, if the puppy starts to bite the child, have the child let out a loud 'Yipe!'. Most puppies will be startled and back away when you yelp. Now try to resume play.

2.   If the Puppy Continues to Bite: Have your child "yipe" and completely stop play and interaction. Practice having your child pretend to "freeze" for 10 seconds and avoid eye contact with the puppy.  Try having your child fold their arms across their chest during this time.  It will help keep the fingers still and out of the puppy's reach.  Puppies usually learn to inhibit their bites to avoid losing their playmate. 

3.  Next try to resume play and encourage gentle and slow hand movements.  When puppies get stimulated they will respond and use their mouths to "touch" the child back in the same manner.

4.  If the nipping continues, a time out may be required before resumming play.

 5. Praise Both Child and Dog: Children as well as pups should be acknowledged for making an effort for gentle and appropriate play and handling.

Implementing these techniques will not only make interactions safer but also strengthen your child’s bond with their furry friend. Remember that puppies need a lot of rest, and they will get extra mouthy if they are overtired or hungry. Use a crate or X-pen and allow them to rest. Be aware that children will not always recognize if a puppy is overtired or overstimulated and you will have to step in. Always supervise interactions between your child and your puppy.

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Using Distractions, Toys, and Strategies to Redirect Behavior

Introducing distractions and toys can be a great way to redirect your pup’s natural inclination to use their teeth during play. Choose toys that are safe and appropriate for your puppy’s age, size, and breed. Durable chew toys are often the best choice as they withstand your young pet’s strong jaw and sharp teeth.

The timing is crucial for introducing a toy as a distraction when they are actively biting. I’ve had many clients try to follow the advice they heard or read online to redirect a dog to a toy as soon as the puppy bites. The clients are usually frustrated because it doesn’t seem to deter their puppy. The step that they are missing is to give a verbal correction—”no” or a negative sound like “eh,”eh”—the first nip. Then allow the puppy to briefly stop biting before redirecting to a toy. See the difference? One way you are rewarding the biting with a toy and the other way you are first correcting and then redirecting.

Another good strategy to prevent puppy biting is teaching appropriate games for your children and the puppy to play. Fetch, Hide & Seek, or Nose Work Games are all wonderful games for both your child and your puppy. Besides being fun for interacting with your puppy, toys and games will help satisfy your canine’s natural urge to chew and play.

Avoid wrestling and chase games, which encourage biting, jumping, and the puppy using its mouth to grab, hold, and tear. Although these are natural canine urges, they should not be encouraged with your child, as they usually backfire and children can accidentally get hurt.

Positive Reinforcement to Prevent Puppy Biting or Chewing

Rewarding your dog for non-biting actions with positive reinforcement can be highly effective in curbing unwanted behavior.

Here’s how you can do it:

Start by recognizing and rewarding patience.
◦ When your puppy is calm and not biting, show appreciation with quiet praise or treats.
◦ Encourage moments of quietness and tranquility

Next, promote gentleness.
◦ Reward the puppy when they interact gently with you or others.
◦ Use verbal affirmations such as ‘Good dog’ or ‘Well done’.

Consistent positive reinforcement and clear communication will make your pup understand that non-biting actions result in rewards. Remember, patience is key during this process. With time, your puppy will learn to associate calmness and gentleness with positivity, and soon you will have a well-behaved pup who understands that biting isn’t an acceptable behavior.

Prevent Puppy Biting: Some Bite-Size Questions

  1. How can I stop my puppy from biting?
    To stop your puppy from biting, you need to teach them bite inhibition. This involves redirecting their biting behavior to appropriate chew toys and teaching them that biting humans is not acceptable. Using positive reinforcement, you can train your puppy to understand that biting is not appropriate behavior.
  2. Is it normal for puppies to bite?
    Yes, it’s normal for puppies to bite. Puppies explore the world with their mouths, and biting is a natural part of their development. However, it’s important to teach your puppy not to bite humans and redirect their biting behavior to toys instead.
  3. Is there another way I can teach my puppy not to bite?
    You can use the yelping method. Whenever your puppy bites too hard, yelp loudly to imitate the sound another puppy would make. This will startle your puppy and teach them that biting causes discomfort. You can also redirect their biting to a chew toy every time your puppy bites.
  4. How long does the puppy-biting stage last?
    The puppy-biting stage usually lasts until they are around 4-6 months old. During this stage, puppies are teething, and biting helps alleviate the discomfort they feel in their gums. However, with consistent training and redirection, you can help your puppy overcome this biting phase.
  5. Can a dog trainer help stop puppy biting?
    Yes, a professional dog trainer can help you stop puppy biting. They have experience dealing with puppy behavior and can provide you with effective techniques to train your puppy not to bite. They will also guide you on appropriate methods of redirecting your puppy’s biting behavior.


  1. https://www.paws.org/resources/nipping-and-rough-play/
  2. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/mouthing-nipping-and-biting-puppies
  3. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/stop-puppy-biting/
  4. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/positive-reinforcement-training

Help Protect Your Child with "Stop, Look & Paws"

Our Dog and Child Safety Activity Kit

Stop, Look & Paws is an interactive dog body language learning activity that is a fun way to learn dog/child safety. Whether the children in your life own a dog or just comes into in contact with dogs, Stop, Look & Paws is a valuable resource for any family. (That is because over half of the nearly 5 million annual dog bites are to children. Research shows a key contributing factor is children not understanding dog body language.)

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