Does it sometimes seem like your dog has razor-sharp shark teeth?
From a very early age dogs explore the world with their mouth. Like, babies, dogs put just about everything and anything in their mouth including your hands, the back of your pants and even your feet.
Dogs are drawn to movement
Sometimes that movement could be our hands, feet or clothing. Your dog needs to learn that chomping on you is not appropriate.
When puppies are little they play and rough-house with their littermates and mother. During playtime, the puppies learn what’s called bite inhibition; how hard or soft they can bite down before it becomes too much.
When we bring home our new dog, they may still want to bite and nip at you just like they did with their siblings and mother. It’s important to teach your dog that skin and teeth should not touch. This rule is a must if you want to teach your dog to stop biting you or at your clothes.
There are a few things you should keep in mind if your puppy keeps nipping at you:
1) Make sure you correct and redirect your dog to something they should have in their mouth instead of your hands. Yelp loudly to let your puppy know that they made a mistake and that they shouldn’t be putting their teeth on you. Even if your puppy doesn’t hurt you, you will want to teach your dog that it is not acceptable to put their teeth on you or anyone else. After you “yelp” and your dog stops biting, immediately redirect your dog to the toys they can put in their mouth. You may have to redirect your dog several times.
2) Make sure you always approach a nipping dog with a toy in hand. Put the toy in the dog's mouth before you start petting them. Dogs get excited when people approach them. Sometimes the way they handle their excitement is by nipping or mouthing. If you can teach your dog a calmer, gentler method to manage their excitement, you’ll keep your hands bite free.
3) When you drop your body posture, you make yourself more exciting to your dog. Lowered body posture leads to more nipping and biting. If you play on the floor with your dog and your dog tends to get extra mouthy, you’ll need to stand up and put yourself in a leadership role.
4) If your dog continually comes after you and bites at your feet or pants, you will use an “eh-eh” correction tone to get them to stop their bad behavior. Follow up your correction with an alternate behavior you want from your dog. Ask your dog for a sit, stay, leave it or go lay down cue. These cues will need to be taught to your dog as they won’t understand what you’re asking them to do.
5) You need to evaluate the amount of exercise your dog receives daily. If your dog does not get the right amount of mental and physical exercise, they will have a bunch of pent-up energy and will be more mouthy, nippy or bitey.
However, if your dog gets overstimulated, you may have a more rambunctious dog on your hands who wants to bite at everything.
6) You may need to give your dog some downtime or rest in their crate. The crate is not used as punishment. You will use the crate to keep your dog safe and confined to a place they can’t chew on everything. Be sure to put a busy toy like a Kong or antler (deer, moose or elk) in the dog's crate, so they can chew on appropriate toys.
7) Bitter sprays don’t work for most dogs, so don’t waste your money. The sprays tend to intrigue the dog and make them curious to test out the smell and flavor. The sprays also evaporate quickly, so even the few dogs that don’t like them will need to have the spray frequently reapplied.
Correction and redirection is the best way to teach your dog that biting is unacceptable. Use your “eh-eh” or another annoying noise to stop your dog from biting and immediately redirect them to what they should have in their mouth instead.
If your dog is over a year and they are still biting at you, you should reevaluate the “Nothing in Life Is Free” policy. They may need to go back to the basics. The dog will need to learn that all things need to be earned. Also, being more respectful will get the dog a whole lot more attention.