How to Train a Newfoundland Puppy to Not Bite

Easy
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

If you are like most Newfie owners, it is easy to pick you out in a crowd. How is this possible? Is it because you like to share stories about your gentle giant or can't seem to stop showing the latest photos? Maybe, but in many cases, it's simply because of the number of bites and scratches on your hands and arms. There is nothing quite like having a new puppy at home, but if you want to survive the process intact, you will need to invest a significant amount of time training your pup not to bite. 

Defining Tasks

So, here's the reality:  puppies bite. It's what they do, in fact, your Newfie pup will bite just about anything he can get his mouth around, and often quite painfully. This is a very normal behavior and one you should expect if you plan to bring a puppy into your home. The most important thing to keep in mind is that in training your pup not to bite you should be focusing on teaching this type of behavior is not acceptable rather than simply trying to prevent it. This is exactly how he would learn to control his biting in the wild by his den mother. 

Getting Started

The good news is that unlike many other forms of training, teaching your Newf to stop biting doesn't require a seemingly endless list of supplies. You will need a pack of your favorite treats, a quiet place to work, and plenty of both time and patience to make it happen. Remember that working in short training sessions is going to be far more effective than trying to work in longer sessions. You need to keep in mind that puppies have a very short attention span, you need to work within these parameters for the best results. 

The Placement Method

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Step
1
It starts with play
In a quiet room in your house, initiate play with your Newfie and let him enjoy himself all the way up to the point at which he nips at you.
Step
2
When he nips
The moment he nips you, stop play and slide your hand under his body.
Step
3
Pick up
From this position, you should be able to pick your pup up without getting nipped. Be sure you are holding him in such a manner as to ensure he can’t reach around and bite you.
Step
4
Until he relaxes
Keep holding the pup this way until he calms down. He is going to fuss and squirm a bit, but given time he will eventually stop.
Step
5
When he settles
Once he settles, put him back down and repeat the process. The rest is all about repeat, repeat, repeat. The big thing is the time it takes him to settle should start getting shorter and shorter until he no longer feels the need to bite.
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The Here, Not Here Method

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Step
1
Overexcited biting
One of the biggest reasons puppies bite is they have become overexcited during play. But, at the same time, they also have many other reasons for biting, so be sure you know why he is biting before you start to work on training him not too.
Step
2
When he chomps down
When your pup bites you during play, your first reaction should be to yelp like another puppy to let him know it hurts.
Step
3
Not here
The next step is to turn away from your Newfie and completely ignore him. Give him time to settle back down and then re-initiate play.
Step
4
If he can't settle down
If your pup has become too excited, go ahead and leave the room, putting up a gate in the doorway to keep him locked inside. Give him a few minutes to settle back down.
Step
5
And in we go
At this point, you should be able to go back in and try again. Keep working with Newt as it will be much easier to train him as a pup than it will be if you wait until he is an adult.
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The Rattle Can Method

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Step
1
Start by making a rattle
Start out by using an empty soda can and a few coins or marbles to create a rattle.
Step
2
Playtime
Engage in playtime with your pup, one that he loves and that gets him really excited. When he nips you, shake the rattle, making lots of noise. At the same time tell him, "No" or "No bite!" in a firm voice.
Step
3
Take a hike
After this, turn and without another word or action, walk away from the pup.
Step
4
What if he follows?
If Newt tries to follow you and nip at your heels, shake the rattle, say "NO!" and keep walking.
Step
5
Peace in the valley
Be sure you give Newt time to calm down. When he does, be sure to give him a treat and plenty of praise, then resume training again until he finally gets the message and stops trying to bite you. At the same time, you should give him a few chew toys to choose from, this will also help.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Apollo
Newfoundland
4 Months
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Apollo
Newfoundland
4 Months

He has always been (mostly) gentle with my baby who is almost a year but with me he gets aggressive quickly. We can start out with me giving him a good ear rub or belly rub and then it turns into him attacking me. I’m not being over excited or rough with him. He will do the same thing when playing, he starts out playing fetch perfectly fine and then he suddenly stops chasing his toy and turns around to bite and jump all over me. My arms are covered in scraps from his teeth and I’m not sure how to continue. He doesn’t act like this as often with my husband either.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cheyenne, I would hire a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and has experience with puppies, to evaluate pup with you in person. I am curious if pup is biting because they are treating you like another dog and trying to play rough, and this is in response to pup getting too aroused while excited about the activity then directing that arousal toward you, or if this is true aggression and a lack of impulse control for pup, which is not as typical and needs to be addressed with a professional in my opinion, and the sooner this is addressed before pup grows the better. If this is an over-excitement and play issue, then working on commands that increase self-control and calmness and setting boundaries is what I would recommend. One activity that can be practiced with a pup who is playful and not truly aggressive, is called "Jazz up and Settle Down". Which is a bit like red light, green light for dogs. During training, get pup a little excited, then command "Stop" or something puppy knows like "Sit", and freeze. Wait and completely ignore them until they calm back down. As soon as they get calm or sit, praise and give a treat. Tell pup "Let's Play!" again, and start playing and getting them a bit excited again. As soon as they start to get a little worked up (not too much at first), command "Stop" or "Sit" again, then wait, reward with a treat when they calm down, then continue the game after they are rewarded. Repeat this a few times each training session, then end the session (have lots of frequent shorter sessions throughout the day at this age). As pup improves, and can really calm down quickly, let them get a bit more excited before calling Stop. Gradually work up to pup becoming more and more excited and having to calm down quickly from a higher level of excitement as they improve. Also, understand that this will take some time and practice. Puppies have to learn self-control just like any other skill, while young. This game can help them develop it sooner though. I would practice this with a thick jacket, close toed shoes, and thick cargo type pants, or desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle if pup is drawing blood with play bites, and use the basket muzzle. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it You can also gently build respect. Check out this article. I would hire a trainer and/or use a basket muzzle before implementing if pup is aggressive though. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bear
Newfoundland
6 Months
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Bear
Newfoundland
6 Months

Growls and nips at me daily

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicole, Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you At this age, the issue can be leftover mouthing and rude behavior - more a lack of social skills, but it could also be something more severe. If pup is truly aggressive I recommend hiring a professional trainer who has experience with aggression (ask, not all trainers do), to work with you in person rather than training on your own, and desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Hank
Newfoundland
1 Year
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Hank
Newfoundland
1 Year

My hubs and I have had him since he was 12 weeks old. He has some aggression with food but thought we had overcome it. Last night I pet his head while he was eating a treat, he bit my hand and shook his head back and fourth with my hand in his mouth. So bad I had to go to the ER and get stitches. I love him, want to believe it was a freak accident, but realizing he knows he’s bigger then me and is more dominant. Worried he could unexpectedly do it again to either of my daughters. Does he remember biting me? Ive never been afraid of any dog before, but cant help being afraid of him now.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Denver
Newfoundland
4 Months
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Denver
Newfoundland
4 Months

She will not stop biting! Have tried several deterrents and she continues to bite and bite hard. My grandchildren won’t come near her because she is always trying to bite and grab.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Wendy, Check out the article I have linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" 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 bite inhibition 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 him 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. I also recommend teaching the Out command so that you specifically can instruct pup to give the kids space when needed - pay attention to the sections on teaching Out and using out to deal with pushy behavior specifically. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tank
Newfoundland
10 Weeks
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Tank
Newfoundland
10 Weeks

Tank is very good at finding a way to bite people. When we try and pet him he will nip at my fingers and forearms. He will chase your hands like there toys even when he’s very sleepy. Also when you walk by him he will sometimes not let you walk forward and will try and nip at my toes, feet and ankles. We tell him “NO” every time he try’s to do it and ignore for a minute or two but it does not seem to work. Just today he lunged at my face a got a nice nip at my cheek. I don’t know if I need to spend more time training him or if he is still young, but I need help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kameryn, First, pup is young and it's normal, but teaching a pup to control their bite takes a lot of practice and needs to be started early, so practice a lot while at the same time expecting results to be very gradual. 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 he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him 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, he 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 him calm down and rest. 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. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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