Maybe you’ve been playing frisbee with your dog in the backyard, or you’ve just come home from work and Fido greets you with an excited, whole body wiggle, ready to play. You get down on all fours to wrestle and roughhouse, and then it happens - your fingers or hand end up in his mouth and he just can’t stop nibbling. Dogs learn to bite their owners’ hands in a variety of ways. Puppies curiously explore the world with their mouths, young dogs might give a quick nip to get attention from their owners, and sometimes your dog might be interested in your salty skin or the remnants of the pizza you just ate.
It doesn’t matter how biting hands has become a habit, it’s important to put a stop to it before it becomes an issue and especially before your puppy moves on to the practice of biting your face, or begins to get too rough with the kids. Breaking the hand-biting habit takes some commitment, especially if your dog is a bit older, but with dedication, your dog will soon understand that people are not for biting.
Teaching your dog not to bite your hands is important to ensure your friends and family feel comfortable around your best friend, and to ensure the habit doesn’t develop into anything more serious. Before you start, you should make sure you know why your dog is biting your hands. If it truly is for play or attention, his mouth and body will be relaxed. His tail will be wagging and he may even stick it in the air as a sign of play.
However, some dogs will bite or nip out of fear or aggression. If your dog looks nervous or curls his lip in an unfriendly way before he bites, you should seek help from a trainer or behaviorist immediately to curb this bad behavior. Dogs might also nip if they are in pain, so make sure your dog doesn’t have any tender lumps, bumps, or joint pain. If you suspect your dog might be biting because he is in pain, make an appointment with your vet to assess any treatment needs.
To learn how to stop a dog from biting, you first need to determine why the pattern of your dog nipping is forming. Once you’ve determined that the hand biting is a playful bad habit and not a more serious issue, you can begin teaching your dog to stop biting your hands. Most dogs learn through play and experience, so playtime with your dog is the perfect time to start. You will need:
There are several methods you can try to stop the naughty but frisky behavior of puppy play biting. Methods like giving verbal cues work best for puppies and young dogs, while providing a chewy alternative is sometimes more effective for older dogs. Whichever method you choose, start early, and your best buddy will learn an important lesson that will help him interact with people and dogs the rest of his life.
My dog nips me or scratches every time
I go to pick her up. I usually don’t pick her up except in certain circumstances I have to. How can I get her to stop?
Hello Jenna, It sounds like she needs trust and respect for you built. I suggest desensitizing her to being touched and handled and generally adding more structure and certain obedience commands to increase her respect for you. To desensitize her to being touched practice the following as often as you can with her meal kibble. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. For example, touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold her collar and give a treat. Touch her tail gently and give a treat. Touch her belly, her other paws, her chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Touch while she is eating the treat and stop touching as soon as the food is gone. You can start this exercise while wearing thick leather gloves until she is more comfortable if she may bite when you touch even while eating food. The following methods and commands are good ways to build respect: Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo If things get worse, you feel overwhelmed, things are dangerous, or you want the help, hire a professional trainer to help you with the above exercises, especially the touch with treats. Ask lots of questions and find a private trainer who specializes in aggression and behavior issues and comes well recommended by previous clients who have struggled with similar issues with their pups. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My puppy is 4 months old and seemed to go and bite my ankles and feet since the first day we brought her home. She somehow goes straight for me feel and ankles some days and doesn't stop. It hurts so much and I feel like I've tried everything!
Hello Carley, First, if you can find a free puppy play date class attend one of those with her so that she can learn how to control the pressure of his bite by playing with other puppies. Petco and some other pet stores with training offer free puppy play classes if you call and ask for the schedule. If you have any friends with puppies under 6 months of age, set up play dates with those puppies too. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Second, check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Yelp" method. At the same time however, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told her not to. The order or all of this is very important - the yelp method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Also, know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep at it. Finally, I would invest in some good close toe boot type slippers to wear inside right now - so that you can do the above calmly instead of jerking away or yelling because it hurts when she bites - the exciting movement or vocalization probably makes pup think it's a game even more - and is miserable for you. While teaching pup this, some good coverings on your feet should help you do so with less pain. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Not aggressive, just very playful. Loves to jump and mouth on me, especially on guests. I’ve tried redirecting her with a toy, and ignoring her. It’s gotten better but is still very bad (it’s been 3 months since I’ve started)
Very cute - and strong! Soc will benefit from obedience classes right away. Group lessons will socialize him with people and other dogs, and teach him commands he needs to know to be well-behaved. Sit, down, stay, and come are all essential. The down and stay commands are what you need to use to have Soc not jump on people. Read these guides for instructions: https://wagwalking.com/training/perform-the-down-position and https://wagwalking.com/training/perform-a-long-stay. Then you can use these commands to do the Wait on Mat Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-visitors-calmly. Good luck and have fun training!
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Gracie (a Toy Poodle) does not like to be petted/touched when sleeping on your lap. She will do a gentle growl, and will turn to snap at you if you continue. My wife thinks she should put her fingers/hand in front of her mouth to stop this, but it does not help, and eventually she was bit. How do we deal with this?
Hello Randal, First, no more climbing into your lap right now. Pup is essentially claiming you and making the rules here, so things that help her do that are off limits for now. Second, I would work on building respect. Check out the article linked below. I would follow all three methods right now. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Third, if pup does not bite when not on your lap, I recommend desensitizing pup to touch using her daily meal kibble. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold their collar and give a treat. Touch their tail gently and give a treat. Touch their belly, their other paws, their chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. If pup does bite when on on your lap when touched, I recommend hiring a professional trainer or desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle that treats or a lick or peanut butter on a straw can be passed through, as an added safety measure while desensitizing. The touching exercise should happen often - every day when you can, and should be gentle and fun for pup. Finally, work on directional commands like Off and Out, to help with pup claiming people or objects as their own. Out command - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Off - section on "The Off Command" and "How to teach Up and Off" from the article below: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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