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Put an early stop to puppy nipping

Puppy nipping is a common problem and can be very frustrating for new “parents” to deal with.

Nipping can become a very serious problem if dealt with incorrectly.

There are two types of nipping puppies engage in: friendly nipping and mouthing or serious nipping and mouthing.

Typically, friendly nipping and mouthing occurs during excitable greetings or during playtime with a puppy who is less than five months of age.

Puppies are not unlike human babies in their need to explore their environment by touching and tasting everything. Since puppies do not have hands, they reach out with their mouths.

Puppy nipping is also a form of social play between puppies and dogs. Puppies and dogs interact with one another by placing their mouths and paws on each other.

When a puppy grows up in a “pack” of dogs, he gets clear signals about what are acceptable and unacceptable ways to use his mouth and consequently learns how to inhibit his bite in order to remain socially acceptable.

However, since we do not want to get chewed on by our pets, puppies and dogs must learn that they cannot interact with us the same way they do with other dogs. We must teach our puppies and dogs alternate ways to greet, socialize, and play with us.

Most young, untrained puppies engage in this type of friendly nipping and mouthing behavior.

A very small percentage of puppies and dogs engage in serious nipping and mouthing behaviors as a way of saying, “No, I don’t think so!” to anyone trying to make them do something they do not want to do.

For example, if an owner has a 10 month old Doberman pincher who grab’s his arm when the owner tries to remove him from the couch, this considered serious nipping.

This would most likely indicate that the puppy is testing his dominance. This also could indicate that the puppy is living in an environment where the expectations and consequences of his behavior are inconsistent.

In these cases, the owner first must correct their relationship with the puppy first and establish leadership, before moving on with training.

Without first establishing leadership, the puppy could respond aggressively to training techniques.

There are many things that can trigger a puppy to nip and a treatment plan must be development to tackle the problem.

A successful treatment plan will include positive reinforcement of an alternate behavior, setting the dog up to succeed, consequences for nipping and mouthing, and consistency in dealing with nipping and mouthing.

Nipping is a serious problem and is best dealt with early in a dog’s life.

From a Chihuahua to a pit bull, nipping can turn into biting.

No one thinks biting is acceptable, so be ready to stop it before it starts. If your dog is a nipper, take a “bite” out of the problem and contact a professional trainer today. Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop