When puppies are with their littermates, they wrestle and play by biting and nipping one another. This type of play teaches puppies how to be soft and not hurt one another. It is essential that your puppy have the time with its littermates to learn to play appropriately with other dogs.
Unfortunately, when you get your new puppy home, it hasn't yet learned that humans are different than their littermates. It may still be under the mistaken belief that play biting and nipping is an appropriate activity to continue with humans. It is up to us to help puppies understand that play biting and nipping is only appropriate with other dogs, never human beings.
Here are the steps to help your puppy understand that play biting and nipping is not acceptable with humans.
- Avoid engaging your puppy in play to the point of being over-stimulated. Instead, play in a controlled manner.
- Teach puppy exactly what to do by rewarding good behaviors, such as sit, down, watch, etc.
- If puppy should bit or nip at your arm from being over-stimulated, do NOT take your arm away from puppy's mouth. This action causes puppy to go into chase mode and want to go after your arm in a fun game. Instead, push your hand into puppy's mouth and say, "no, bite" or "oops" or "uh huh". This action is uncomfortable for puppy and it doesn't take long if you are consistent for puppy to understand biting and nipping are not productive. Reward puppy for settling down after the correction.
The following video walks you through all the steps you will need to make sure your puppy learns that biting or nipping at humans is the wrong thing to do.