When Does Puppy Nipping Cross The Line Into Biting

  • Pin It

  • Pin It

Puppy Nipping and Biting

Nipping is Normal but RAGE is not normal in puppies!

I recently worked with a client who had gotten a puppy 2 weeks prior to our meeting.  The puppy was 6 weeks old when he brought him home and immediately he had concerns that his new family member’s biting was not normal.

Within a week, he had called me for emergency help.

It is hard to imagine an 8 week old puppy having “aggression issues” but unfortunately some of them do.  These are the puppies and the clients I worry about the most as these puppies age.  Without a sincere and dedicated change in their lifestyle these puppies are hardwired for aggression issues and problems that could lead them to shelters, to biting someone, and toward ultimate euthanasia.

Puppies Can Be Aggressive??

I am sure I will get some backlash for publicly admitting that tiny puppies can have “aggression issues” because most people think that “puppies are puppies and if you just use the correct puppy training methods you will never have to worry about aggression in your dog.

However, as much as I would like to adhere to that philosophy it just isn’t true, and it isn’t fair for the owners that inadvertently end up with these pups.  Some puppies have an abnormal amount of aggression, anger and a tendency toward “biting” not “nipping” but actual BITING.

I worry about and I feel bad for both the puppy and his confused and saddened owner, who is doing all that he can to curb the behavior NOW.

Recognizing AggressionNipping and Play is normal

The first thing to realize, thankfully, is that these puppies are abnormal and therefore there aren’t a TON of them out there.  But they do exist!  I have videos of 6 week old puppies trying to inflict the hardest bite possible on me when they are angry or guarding an object.

Puppies explore their environment with their teeth and most puppies go through normal nipping stages. This tooth play is how puppies play with each other.  Puppies don’t have hands and feet so they explore and play with each other with their sharp little teeth.  Some puppies even inadvertently break their owner’s skin while nipping and biting and most often this is normal and simply a problem of impulse control and learning to keep their little chompers to themselves!

In most cases, nipping is a factor in rough play or trying to engage their owners in a game because they are wound up or bored.  Nipping can also occur as a product of prey drive; meaning things that move fast past them (the cat, your pant leg) incur a bite.

Puppy Nipping OwnerMany puppies from police dog lines are known for jumping up and biting their owners in the thigh when they see their owners run or walk past and from this type of herding dog and these types of genetics this behavior can be completely normal!  Genetics are a powerful factor!

When a young puppy clearly lashes out in pure rage and aggravation this is not normal puppy behavior.

The puppy I was working with would BITE for a number of reasons.  The first was that he was terribly food aggressive if anything, inanimate objects included, came close to his food bowl he would strike with a fierceness usually reserved for adult dog behavior and if that object happened to be his owner he would be off seeking yet another band aid for his wound.  This type of puppy possessiveness is not normal.

Likewise, while training him if I did not deliver the treat to him in what he considered a quick enough manner he would bite.  He was using no impulse control, and going from 0-100 in a matter of seconds.  The bite was not due to his guarding the treat or inadvertently being too rough with me, he would lash out and BITE me for not doing what he wanted.

Not surprising he didn’t like to be physically manipulated or touched unless it was on his terms and if his rules were broken, he would leave you with an open wound.  These were not mistake bites or nips these were serious bites meant to make an impression and keep him from having to endure something that he didn’t want.

Most puppies learn or are born with some kind of impulse control, learning to control themselves and their desires to some small degree.  Usually momma dog is critical in teaching this impulse control at an early age because she doesn’t want to get bitten and tugged on as her babies grow.  She also keeps her puppies from picking on one another in an excessive manner.  She will put an immediate stop to a severe bully in her litter by giving the bully a quick and effective bite.

Most puppies will concede dominance or power and submit to the bigger animal (stop biting and nipping)  as a means to survival.

Part of this puppy’s problem is that I believe he was separated from his mom too soon so he didn’t learn this early impulse control from her.

The other problem I believe is genetics.  I believe strongly in nature vs. nurture.  Now, don’t get me wrong I know that nurture is a HUGE part of behavior and that bad experiences can lead to bad behavior later in life.  But, I have seen dogs that were starved almost to death that would never consider being food or resource aggressive and I have seen dogs that have been beaten and abused that would never think about biting a person.

Just like not all abused children grow up to be sociopaths and not all sociopaths were abused.

When probing his owner deeper for more information on this particular pup, I asked what his mother was like when he went to pick him up.

“She had to be locked up in a bedroom because she doesn’t like people and can be really mean”.

I believe when you breed aggressive dogs, you often get aggressive puppies.  This isn’t always true, just like not all guide dog puppies that have been bred to be socialAggressive Dog are social, but the odds are greater that social dogs have social puppies and aggressive dogs can have aggressive puppies!  Aggressive dogs should NEVER be bred!

Hopefully people will read this before they consider taking a puppy from an aggressive adult dog breeding and that prospective owners will demand to meet at least one of the parents of their pup, or find a puppy from a shelter that temperament tests puppies!  This will keep many people from the heartbreak and toil that can ensue.

The Good News!

Most of these puppies if caught young enough are trainable with consistent and strict behavior modification, positive reinforcement, and socialization.

The Bad News:

It is a lot of work and you cannot fall back on your laurels and expect the behaviors to go away!

Most of these puppies need a lifetime of training and direct control from their owners or they can begin to slide back to their old ways and their desire to control their environment can emerge with a vengeance.

What NOT to do?

Don’t Result to Physical Manipulation! Use your Mind!

Don’t use your size or strength to control or bully your puppy.

I would never recommend alpha rolls, complex or negative training collars, hanging or any nasty types of punishment.

The last theory I want to hold fast to is the old dominance theory;   that would tell me to physically win all battles with a puppy like this and never “show weakness”.

As a trainer if I tell my clients to use these theories, what happens when the dog is 150 pounds and decides to finally fight back and may maul their owner?  Aggression incites aggression and even if you don’t see it right away you can deal with some pent up and hostile emotions when your dog gets big enough to physically challenge you.

Smart people learn to use positive reinforcement tools and their superior human mind and problem solving skills to teach their puppies appropriate behaviors and impulse control in order to get what they want in life.

I will again reiterate the fact that giving advice to owners with severely aggressive dogs or puppies is irresponsible of me because I cannot see the puppy, get the necessary background, or see the individual to help them assess the best course possible for them and their dog.  If you have a very aggressive dog I suggest you find a professional that can come to you or you can meet with physically that will be able to help you.

But, I will tell you some of what I told the owner of this young puppy!

This puppy needs to work for his meals.  First, all food should come from his father’s hands, no more dog bowl to lord over at breakfast and dinner time.  This will help the puppy associate food and LIFE with his dad, and hopefully he will see how important his owner is to his survival.

Obedience starts NOW!  Understanding that he is still a baby and has a short attention span is crucial but having him adhere to rules immediately begins to teach him some impulse control!  He needs to live with a leash on so his owner can control him.

No longer will he get what he wants by using his teeth or his intimidation factor!  When dad feels teeth on him, he needs to get up and move away.  Bullies use their teeth to control the situation, when you take that tool away the puppy has to learn how to use his MIND and control himself and his behavior in order to get what he wants.

When he learns to take treats nicely from dad’s hands (I still have healing scratches from 10 days ago from the temper tantrums of this puppy), he will begin teaching the pup to handle unwanted touch by giving him treats when he allows being touched and manipulated.

Amazingly this puppy is social, so he will continue to socialize him but he will constantly watch his puppy for signs of anger (dilated pupils, freezing, staring) and he will give people biscuits to give to him before they touch and interact with him.  When other people pet the pup, his dad will get down with his puppy and give him treats for good behavior.  This step would not be recommended for puppies that are fearful or who do not want to be social with other people!

As this puppy ages his dad will be obstinate about utilizing control and gaining more control by doing basic things like making this dog do sit stays, down stays, waiting to be fed (once he starts eating from a bowl again), and other types of impulse control training.

Thankfully this puppy is very young and I believe that eventually if his dad is up for the job, this can be an almost normal adult dog.

Puppy BitingHowever, if he lets down his guard, I believe this puppy could be a dangerous adult dog.

Ultimately I feel bad for this owner.  He wanted a puppy, but he didn’t necessarily want a puppy that would require this kind of work or would inflict this kind of pain not only on his body but also on his heart because he is also worried about his puppy’s future.

He is a good man, and I believe he is taking the right steps and tools to correct negative behaviors as early as he can.

This is why I always say “Sometimes good people get aggressive dogs” and so I never judge or place blame.  The last thing this man needs is someone blaming him for a puppy that is abnormally aggressive when he is doing his best to do right by his new family member!

Never claim to know a full situation or place blame, this doesn’t do anyone any good.  Puppy Nipping and Biting isn’t always an easy thing to fix so keep in mind that only action changes behavior!

There are 97 Comments

  1. Mary T. Del Buono says:

    Hope you can answer this…our puppy is getting older he is 4 1/2 mo…he still nips us…he sees his mom almost every day she nips and bites him…we try not to let him see her…his dad (doggie) is clam…very nice dog…barks but not like mom (she is still puppy herself) they want to breed dogs…bad idea mom is to young/grouchy… what can we do? these neighbors don’t disapline dogs…mom (puppy herself) only a year old…way too young…they let the dogs do whatever they will grow out of it sooner or later…I just don’t like it…I leash dog our puppy…the sadest thing is he sees mom and dad who don’t get leashed…uggh…so upsetting to see how wild she is…I did not know she was that bad…will I ever be able to train our dog? is the question…

    [Reply]

    Chuck Corrao Reply:

    Chet; This email arrived just at the right time for me. I have two male German Shepard pups that are 11 weeks old and their puppy play is starting to concern me. They are very ruff with each other and yet at times they are best friends, when younger they were always together more so then the other pups in the litter. The aggression when it is happening would make one of those gate signs with the blood dripping from the k9’s. Strong barking, lips pulled back, charging. I have a older adult German Shepard who is not related, he puts them in their place when they push him too hard. Also I have to kennel one to work with the other, I am trying to use your hands-off method. Should I try to prevent the roughhousing,when is it too rough?Chuck

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes, when you think it is too much! Pups play with their mouths but when my pups play too hard I want them to listen to me when I say enough is enough! Separate them if you have to, but be consistent, when you tell them to stop they need to!

    [Reply]

  2. cynthia says:

    thank you for your email
    my puppy his six weeks old we relised he had been taken from his mum at 4 weeks we got him at six weeks. it is hard work the problem i am having as well as biting is he cries for me when i have to go some were if he his in the car and i go in a shop he howls and cries i have put him in the cage alittle while i have been in the house to try and stop this .he very good at night he goes in his grate hisself at 9pm and sleeps alnight ,we have granchildren and great granchildren he never bites them but we watch him all the time they put there finger in his mouth and he does bite them ,but me soon has he seens my hands he bites me or tries i dont let him ,we but him in the hall for a few minutes
    our dog his a toy poodle please can you help cynthia x

    [Reply]

  3. Rae says:

    Is’t it a better idea to just put a puppy with aggression problems down?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I suppose that becomes an individual choice and what people are willing to invest in their dog and their relationship.

    [Reply]

  4. 'Cathy says:

    6 months ago we purchased a springer spaniel 8 wk pup. She insisted in nippihng on hands and feet. I was so concerned. We have had other puppies and never did they do thiws. She did not lunge or grab to bite but liked to knaw on oknaw on your hand if you were trying to pet her. She continued to do this until about 3 months old then just stopped one day. We had to scold her for biting at feet and toes (it hurt) e
    She still likes to chew. She has to have a bone or chew toy around. As long as she had this distraction she allowed us to pet hter without grabbing our hand with a nip. She has become a lovely addition to our home.

    [Reply]

  5. ~CleoBarker says:

    Good article, i like how youre exploring more “extremes” now. It goes beyond the typical cases you read about in all the other Training blogs- even though yours is by far the best IMHO.
    ~Cleo

    [Reply]

  6. Susanne says:

    Another reminder to us all as to how important it is to know the breeding stock of our future puppy. Either get a dog from a good shelter or buy it from a good breeder who has breed dogs for several generations. Who breeds psychologicaly and physicaly healthy animals. You dont want repeat trips to the vet so rather put your money in the hands of the breeder than those of the vet! Look at the dogs the breeder has- the grandparents as well as the parents and listen to his breeding ethics and objectives.A good breader will not breed crocodiles. Fine prizes for good looks at pedigree exhibitions does not mean necessarily healthy dogs; a good working breed with hard working,gentle and honest dogs in the ancestry is the best.

    [Reply]

  7. valerie S A says:

    My 5 months old Jack Russel was stolen out of my yard. We searched for days. Visited the Lost dogs home for a long time, and one day sitting in a corner wa this little cross Jack Russel, we took to each other right away.

    He must have had a very hard time, because I was asked never to lock him in a small place.
    WELL we get on so well he is obedient and reminds me when it is 5 pm every day in time, I do not have to look at the clock. When he is finished I remove his dish.

    During the day when he does something I ask him he gets a reward. He loves walking with me but refuses to be on a leash, nor will he travel in the car, I have to used a little physcoligy to get him in the car.
    He follows me everywhere, never leaves my side. will not let anyone come to near me.
    How do I make him let me lease him with out catching him unawares?

    [Reply]

  8. Peter Bryce says:

    I fully agree with your statements. You can have an agressive puppy
    and if not addressed you Will have a problem.
    As a trainer my self with over twenty years of exp I fully agree with you.
    Regards
    Pete Bryce.M.B.I.P.D.T.

    [Reply]

  9. Lorraine Brown says:

    Hi
    I have a 22 week border collie, she is beautiful, lovely temperament. She has an awful habit of eating cat poo. How can I stop it if I catch her I say “no Ah Ah” and she stops but if i turn my back she would go straight back.
    She did try nipping, I bit her back once on the ear (gently) and now she does not bit me. Did I do the right thing? I don’t want my Belladonna to be aggressive as I have 5 grand kids and am a scout leader so she will always be around kids.
    I also want her to become my guide dog as I am visually impaired

    [Reply]

  10. TIm says:

    I just rescued a pit bull puppy for the gutter 3 weeks ago. We thought he was dead until he coughed so we brought him home got him checked out and he seems fine. He does at times play rough, now that he has strength back but nothing like you are describing. Just knips out of excitment when he plays. We just constantly tell him no biting. He is getting better still knips but his bites have gotten noticebly softer so hes trying. Not food aggressive at all so far and loves to be touched, held and petted. Sometimes I think hes just happy to be alive.

    [Reply]

  11. Thank you so much for this post! No one addresses puppy aggression, and I have felt like I’m the only one dealing with it!!!

    I wanted to share my story in case it helps someone else. We got a basset/beagle/? mix when she was just shy of 8 weeks old. They never told us she’d shown resource guarding or aggressive behavior — which would have been a deal killer since we have a 2 and 4 year old. We thought she seemed excessively mouthy and rough in the first few weeks of bringing her home, but figured it was a product of her high energy personality. And then she started guarding snacks she’d steal from the kids and her dinner bowl. She nipped both of the kids, and bit me hard enough to break the skin more than once. We really struggled with whether we could keep her, with our young kids potentially in danger, but didn’t want her put back in the shelter system where she was at risk of being euthanized, at least down the road.

    So we took strides to avoid guarding opportunities, crating her during meal and snack times and feeding her in her crate as well (combined with hand feeding when we could). We also reserved toys and treats that she valued highly for crate time. We increased her exercise time as we live in an apartment without a yard. We’re also working with her on “leave it” to exchange a high-value item for a treat, and working to expose her to a lot of new situations to help her get over her fear and anxiety (though her aggression hasn’t been tied to fear, thankfully).

    She’s now 7 months old, and hasn’t bit anyone in months. I’m very careful not to give her the opportunity, and when she does steal a toy and run under the couch, I lure her out with a trade, giving the command “leave it”, rather than trying to grab it back.

    We’re working now with your Hands-Off training system, and I’m seeing her responding well — even with housebreaking, which we are STILL struggling with! If you have other suggestions for helping her, I’m all ears!!!

    [Reply]

  12. lysette says:

    I got a 8 weeek old french spaniel…..who did not respect me or my 9 year old leonberger,,,,,,he would litteraly agressively go to the the leonberger when told to stay away (by the dog) I had to return the french spaniel to the breeder who reimburse me only half of the price I paid ( I’m 70 don’t have the strenght to handle agressivity\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

    [Reply]

  13. patricia says:

    i have been fortunate enough thru my years as a pet owner to get the message across to the pup right from the get go..if they are nippers thier mother should have nipped that in the bud while nursing..however,,my jax has taken to not liking me putting socks on or a coat..that means that i am going out,,not for long perhaps an hour max..he is almost two and trys to take off my socks,,and “helps me” off with my coat..any suggestions ?

    [Reply]

  14. Gina & Miles says:

    We got Miles German Schepherd from Shelter, he was 4 mth old did not walk just roll, came from investigastion of abuse, after 2 months he was happy walking normaly little dog, we had at that time older King G. shepherdm, he bacame Miles dad’y, teach him all the tricks of live, after 1 1/2 with Miles, Hunter passed away. Since then Miles change, he do not like people, special men, who took Hunter thrue front door and never return, Miles will not let any one to came thru front door, he start nipping people. He simest be afride of people, animals……, he love to play on our 1/2 acre fanced yard, he is very active and fast runer, lots of fun, very cuddly dog for mile. He is very jantile with me and my husbend, never show any agresion to us, his toys or food.
    What wet wrong ? we had German Shepherds before,Miles is one of a cined.
    Any sugestion ?
    Please reply
    Regards
    Gina & Miles

    [Reply]

  15. John says:

    In the last year I’ve dealt with three 8wk old GSD’s and all had the normal nipping and biting at playtime. Even though they were not excessively aggressive I used the leather glove method to teach that playtime biting was not permitted unless the gloves were on. When casually playing
    without gloves I would tap or lightly strike their nose and say “no bite”. With all three this worked
    perfectly and I would have a fun time playing with the gloves on and then a lot of no biting or nipping caressing after playtime. They all begin to look forward to the “gloves on” playtime.

    [Reply]

  16. Nans says:

    I have a Lab who is now 1 year & 4 months old. He is very aggressive & bites when he plays.He still picks up things from the Dressing Table, Bed side table & runs to a safe place in a corner & is then very aggressive and attacks if I want to get the thing back.He jumps on any visitor to the house & is an embarassment.I was told if I get him Nuteured his aggressive nature will change! Is it true?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It certainly wouldn’t hurt! I would get him neutered ASAP if he were mine!

    [Reply]

  17. audrey says:

    I had a 5inch long puppy that everyone in the house was afraid of. The original owners gave her away at 6wks and by 8 weeks she was growling and showing her teeth if she didn’t want to be picked up. Also, her mother stopped feeding her so she may have not had the social interaction she needed.
    It was awful, it broke my heart. We had lost a dog recently and wanted to replace the love she gave us…I never wanted a “Bad Puppy.” I didn’t think there was such a thing….
    I took a look at the situation and the breed (Chihuahua & Beagle mix)I realized the chihuahua in her may make her skittish or maybe a little unfriendly. (I was used to big dopey dogs my whole life)
    Holding her down and showing dominance made her worse. (lots of bandaids)
    I realized at the same time she got agressive we had started putting a harness on her. I think it scared her and made her feel too restricted. ALso when I would pick her up from behind she felt the same way with two hands wrappin aroung her midriff. So I made the harness really loose and got lots of yummy treats. She got rewarded every time I put it on or took it off of her. I also left it on for long periods of time when I could monitor her. THings got alot better. We also had to get past getting attacked when we woke her up. Again treats helped! I thought the treats were rewarding her for bad behavior but it worked.
    I cannot impress enough how viscious this little puppy was, how disheartning it was, and how good she is now. She was like having a little wild animal . Lots of love and treats worked!!! Discipline and Dominance did not and if we had continued that route it would have been awful. Thx!

    [Reply]

    Rebecca Reply:

    Audrey, I got out chi/pek At about 6 month of age. Very fearful and nippy. I found that making her sit (with a treat)and then rubbing her tummy worked wonders. She likes the tummy rub so much she won’t break contact to nip. She now defends us with ‘terror’ barking and then hides when we take over. Worked for us.

    [Reply]

    jean chisnall Reply:

    Thank you. You just answered my query. Treats and harness problems.

    [Reply]

  18. audrey says:

    ONe more thing, taking your dog for long walks makes a much better pet all around!

    [Reply]

  19. Tom says:

    My puppy ,( Ms Daisy-American Bulldog ),clearly lashes out in pure rage and aggression .It happens when I take her outside for a walk or if I am on the phone. I know the difference between a nip and a hard bite that draws blood and pain. On 2 to 3 walks per day ,she will all of a sudden stop and turn towards me ,stare and then growl .If I move ,she will bite and jump at me.This is so annoying and dirtys my clothes .She will continue and even takes it up yet another level of aggression. She hates to hang out in her very large cage and acts as if she is being punished when I put her in it by barking for long periods. I feel like I am loosing my mind ! I have your course ,but,I was wondering if you live close to me;Port Charlotte ,Florida. I am begging for your expertise,
    Exhausted , Tom

    [Reply]

  20. Valerie says:

    A DAILY long walk helps tremendously as long as YOU are the pack leader. The dog should not walk YOU. The walk is the most important part of showing your the leader and not the dog. If your dog is high energy then 2 walks would be ideal. I have an energetic 4mo old pup – she’s much less trouble during the rest of the day if she gets her walk and sees me as the pack leader. I never let her walk ahead of me – lots of correcting sometimes but it works. I truly believe that the WALK is the most important part of training a good dog!

    [Reply]

  21. John says:

    is it ok to let your puppy nibble on you hands when you are playing with them. she dont bite its just a nibble

    [Reply]

    Nani Reply:

    That’s my question too. I have a 10wk old APBT and she likes to nibble on my index finger. It doesn’t hurt or bother me and i know she’s only playing. BUT i am a little concerned that when her teeth really come in that her nips might become bites and that she won’t know the difference, and will bite my 7yr old or new born. She’s very sweet and soo playful. My concern is her not knowing the diff between her playful nips with me and not so playful bites with others.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Don’t allow biting at all! If teeth come out you don’t interact with her at all!!

    [Reply]

    Moriah Reply:

    What happens when you can’t simply walk away because the dog follows you and continues to jump at you and bite and tug your clothing and time out doesn’t even work?
    We have a problem 8 month old female pitbull that we’ve had from the time she was 6-8 weeks old. My brother found her at work with her littermates, abandoned.
    Nearly every time you go to pet her near her head or neck she bites/gnaws on you, she doesn’t get her way she bites/gnaws on you, she doesn’t get that treat fast enough she bites/gnaws on you etc. She’ll jump up at you and bite and tug at your clothing to try and initiate play. All she wants to do outside is play chase and if you don’t she’ll jump up at you and bite and tug on your clothing. I have bruises and cuts and holes in clothing and am at my wits end.

    Minette Reply:

    She needs more exercise and training. At 8 weeks this is a puppy behavior, at 8 months this is an aggressive dog acting aggressively and will continue to get worse if you don’t get a handle on it.

    She needs exercise so that she is too tired to show these behaviors. She also needs training so that she respects you and your commands. There is no respect if an 8 month old dog is biting you.

    You can read this article http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/taste-horrible-aversive-dogpuppy-training-mouthing/

    But the key is exercise (real running) and 3-5 obedience sessions a day.

    Check out our store for help with training https://womach.infusionsoft.com/app/storeFront/showStoreFront

  22. Margo Watt says:

    I had to get rid of my puppy 5 month old Rottie because of his agression and biting me……drawing blood….etc I have pictures of all the bites, nip-bruises and blood pouring.
    I want to know if I can take the people I got him from to small claims court.
    She told me that the mom of the puppy had not enough milk and so they had started feeding the puppies dog food at 3 weeks. She also said the puppies were all little biters…..which they were.
    I did not know these factors would be a problem when I got my puppy.

    Thank you Kindly

    Margo W

    [Reply]

  23. Gary Joynson says:

    I have four dogs at home now. My third was a rescue, blind and 1 testicle. We were waiting for his appointment with the vet when my Jack Russel bitch came into season and his ONE worked. Anyway they had 5 puppies. I had no problem re-homing them, however i would NOT let any of them go until AT LEAST 10 weeks old after they had learnt bite inhibition from each other and more importantly there MOTHER. This is the problem nowadays everybody wants a puppy right away instead of waiting a few extra weeks to form the most important learning part of a dogs life.

    Also professional breeders and puppy farms just want them away ASAP so the mother can start all over again, but hey that is another subject.
    Gary Joynson
    Calahonda Pet Dog School
    Southern Spain

    [Reply]

  24. beth says:

    This is a very important article. There are so many reasons why a puppy bites. I am saying 6-8 weeks or 3-4 months of age.. taking them from mother too young. Mother isn’t there to reinforce their bad behavior with nips from her..to put them back in place. When I bottle feed the litter from two weeks of age up they are not with mom .. so I use my fingers – usually index and middle fingers..and I punch them firmly just behind the front leg. And this firm stabb…gets their attention and I tell them NO! with a firm voice. They also have to sit for treats .. and their food..As your article has mentioned.

    However you didn’t mention, any training type technigues that can be useful and very import for puppy owner’s out there .. experiencing these difficult biting puppies…tell them things to do to help them.

    thank you..

    [Reply]

  25. Lise Graber says:

    I breed whippets and have for a few years now. Whippets are not normally agressive dogs thank goodness
    I have many different ideas from my husband who does not really have anything to do with the dogs such as feeding etc. Just play sometimes.
    I never allow my pups to interact with my older dogs as the older dog may play too rough and either teach the pup to be rough or make it timid. I have seen both happen. I have bought pups that were allowed to be around older dogs and they come here and they play very rough with other pups.
    I also do not allow my adult dogs to play-fight as with kids it can go from play to very serious and end in a big dog fight. My husband feels I am interfeering in the normal life of my dogs, and I reply that as far as I am concerned I am the pack leeder and that is the way I need it to have control. My big concern with whippet pups is to prevent them from being timid and a bigger agressive pup can do this to a smaller pup quite easily.
    Lise

    [Reply]

  26. Sherri says:

    We have a German shepherd puppy 7 months old. We got her when she was 3 months old. She’s wonderful except for the nipping and biting at our shoes, especially our 14 year-old son’s. He used to roll around on the grass and play with her,she would chase him and bite his feet. She still wants to do that. Now I know that wasn’t a good idea. We take her on walks (twice a day)and something just sets her off where she wants to bite at his feet. When just my husband and I walk her, she’s fine usually. When she would bite at me I would “freeze” and play “statue”. She figured out I wasn’t much fun. Then we used to “take her down” and hold her mouth and tell her “no biting”. That is, if we could catch her. We are not sure if it really was successful. Now we find distraction works the best, by throwing a ball then rewarding with a treat. She seems to be getting a bit better with less episodes. Her parents are utility dogs at a tow yard. This concerns me. Do we have a monster on our hands?

    [Reply]

  27. helen says:

    my puppy is now 12 wks old, boxer– bites at times, plays too rough.. Start puppy classes next wk, my husband and I started this wk..He is so smart can do any thing.. With or with out treats..We don’t know why he bites us. We put a stop to play time when he does, time out too, but still unable to break it..We love him so much. You know those big sad eyes. My husband is more concerened than I but I am doing every thing I can.. Reading , reading , reading about this..Keep hoping this will pass with our help. We want people to like him. Spoke to a trainer when he was younger, and she said we had to contol play time, and to put him time out.. None really works..

    [Reply]

  28. cindy says:

    hello all…..we got a sweet looking pup at about 11 weeks, a mixed small breed. She was bossy with our other dog and would be agressive at play…she was hard headed and stubborn. I finally tried what I had seen the whisperer do, i gently but firmly held her down on her side to show her she was not the boss of the house….it didn’t take many times doing that and she settled down and is now a sweet and loving dog. worked for me.

    [Reply]

  29. Marilyn says:

    So what do you do if you have an 8-year-old chihuahua that still bites; doesn’t like any dog treats, but does like chopped carrots, but isn’t impressed by treats to make him stop being obstinate. He won’t let us put a leash on him without biting. My husband has 8 years of scars from trying to leash him. He doesn’t like to be picked up – will bite you for that; can’t put a little coat or sweater on him to take him for a walk in the cold – biting there too. Believe it or not, we love this little fella, but are completely at wits’ end that we haven’t been able to stop this behavior in 8 years. He’s also very possessive. Can’t touch anything of his if he is in close proximity. He’ll make a running leap at you, while growling and bite you for that also. Any input would be appreciated.

    [Reply]

  30. jenny says:

    how do you trim your dogs toenails and not loose skin in a aggressive dog at 6 mouths old i tred treat but no good and tried holding him down with help and again no good made it worst what can i do please any ideas thanks

    [Reply]

    cj Reply:

    Give a treat when you bring out the trimmer, then put it away. Continue this until you get no aggression about the trimmer. THEN, trim one nail, give a treat, put away the trimmer. Continue this until no aggression. If this doesn’t work, try taking the dog to a groomer who specializes in trimming tough dogs, if there is one in your area. They often have tricks to get trimming done. Under no circumstances let this continue, as you will have an adult dog that continues to be aggressive!

    [Reply]

  31. Rob says:

    Great article but a little short on how to identify an aggressive pup.
    To “tame” my aggressive pups I use a couple of methods either alone or in combination. I make a loud high pitched scream after a bite then put that pup in a 2-4 min time out. I also combine the scream with “solitary” in a small secure place that is out of the action. Hand feeding all meals is critical and you guessed it an aggressive display equals a scream and a time out. I tell my clients this method often takes a week or more to show results. If those clients don’t notice a change in their pup’s behavior I ask them to make an appointment with a professional trainer for other methods. I try to keep it simple for my clients.

    [Reply]

  32. scm says:

    Helen,

    Don’t lose hope! I have a 10yr old rot/retriever mix who was HORRID with her biting, always in play and never aggressive, but hard enough to leave bruises, she was over a year old. I finally just turned my back and would not acknowledge her or play and just told her to go away and lay down with a disapproving look 😀 (nothing else seemed to work). For the last 9 years, I would trust her gentle mouth to take a treat from a baby.

    [Reply]

  33. Anna says:

    Am curious if the aggression might be caused by the pup being weaned too early? I have never had this problem but we have retrivers and have used the training technique of rolling the lips over their teeth when they are teething on your hand. It makes them not want to bite down hard on anything so they can retrive birds in the field. Also when training watch the direction of their ears. Good artile. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  34. dian says:

    When I first got my oliver a Bichon havanese I followed all your directions on making him sociable like smoothing every part of his body gently pulling his tail combing his hair gently all over while I either talk or sing to him as i still do with the result people his groomer vet and people walking their dogs etc are amazed at how sociable he is I have never touched him in anger only love and it works however I believe like you said it s his breeding too as his mom also was a gentle dog

    [Reply]

  35. Marcia says:

    I adopted a 4 yr old, 11 lb. shih tzu. She is well behaved, submissive but when we play with her she doesn’t understand the word “easy” and often leaves little teeth marks on us. How can we make her understand she has to bite “easy”?

    [Reply]

  36. Betsy says:

    I have a 6 month old female silky terrier who has a wondderful temperment, is loving and playful; however, when I brush her she nips at me and shows her teeth. She has never really bitten me, but she growls and gets so mad that I have to stop. I have tried brushing a little and stopping before she gets too angry and then starting again, but I have nver been able to complete a brushing. I took her to the groomers for the first time last week and they said she was no problem. What am I doing wrong?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I am guessing that the groomer doesn’t stop when she growls or nips and if they did it would only be for long enough to put a muzzle on her; they have a job to do.

    By stopping when she growls you are teaching her that she is in ultimate control of what is going on and it then shows her that she can growl and if you don’t listen she can escalate the behavior to nipping, and the next step will be a true bite!

    She has to learn to respect you and listen to you. My guess is that you also have not been doing any other type of obedience or training with her so there is no reason for her to listen to you especially when you pull her fur.

    You need to start with some basic obedience so that she learns to listen and respect you, and then you can gradually acclimate her to brushing.

    I would get her really tired then rub her and brush her either while she is falling asleep or when she is asleep.

    Be sure you click and treat for good responses when she is awake, give her a reason to enjoy the behavior!

    [Reply]

  37. Louise says:

    Hi,

    I have a very loving 7 month lab collie cross. She isvery sociable and loves people and play. my problem is that she gets excited when she meets people and has taken to nipping the backs of their legs. She has never done it to mee or people she knows or when she is on the lead.
    Currently it is only play but I do not want her to think it is normal but as she is off the lead when she does it, she will run, thinking it is play so I am in a dilemma…should I muzzle her??

    Many thanks,

    Louise

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would keep her on lead!

    [Reply]

  38. Toni Ford says:

    Hi,
    We have a 2 year old Border Collie mix. We got Tux at 7 weeks old from the Humane Society. At about 12 weeks he lunged at a little girl who picked up his bone and I intervened and got bit to the bone on a finger. We took all the bones and food away and all was good. When we feed him we put our hands in the dish, feed him out of our hand no problem anymore. However, I had surgery this March and was not able to get to the door to let people in, and he nipped a friend in the thigh and she did not tell us until a day later. Well she came by again and he nipped in the thigh again and drew blood. Then a friend of our sons came by and he was on crutches like me and Tux nipped him, no blood but left him bruised. We started to muzze him when new people came to the house and our friend would bring him a treat and once in the house could take the muzzle off and no trouble.

    Today, I went to put him out and a gentleman was running down the street, (I couldn’t see him, I was still coming around the corner of the house.) Tux ran to the street, nipped him in the back of the calf and drew a little blood. I am at a loss as to what to do. He comes the minute you call him and the gentleman was understanding but still warned to keep him tied. My husband wants to get a training collar, I disagree. What can we do? He was socialized and good with children from day one. He is fine on walks and lets people pet and love on him, but now in the house we have to muzzle until the people are able to get up the stairs and in the house and now I have to worry about people walking down the street, while we are outside playing with him loose.

    Thank you,
    Toni

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Call a veterinary behaviorist. I cannot diagnose behavior problems with severe aggression without seeing the dog!

    [Reply]

  39. Ann says:

    Hi,

    We have a 5 month old lab puppy that we got at 7.5 weeks from a breeder. She has gotten MUCH better at listening now(she will wait to eat until we tell her “ok”) and hardly ever gets aggressive with us during play. The problem we have is with our 13 year old son. He is often terrified because she will just go after him in the yard, even if my son is just minding his own business. Granted, we have told him countless times that he CANNOT rough house but he doesn’t always listen. The dog obviously is showing her dominance and doesn’t like to listen to him. I’m wondering if we need to have someone else, other than ourselves, tell him what he can and cannot do with the dog. It is becoming very frustrating because she is a good dog…..just not with him all of the time. He has gone sofar as to say he wants to get rid of her. Any other suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    First I would get them involved in training together. Have someone come out to the house or have him take an obedience class with her.

    Children need to learn to bond with a dog through other than rough play ways and a dog trainer can help them learn obedience and bond through learning and understanding.

    I hate to say this because it sounds so bad, but often as a professional dog trainer parents would have me come out and be the “bad guy” I would talk to them about what happens to dogs when they bite people and tell the kids how serious the problem was. We even usually talked about euthanasia and how no one else wants an aggressive dog.

    As bad as it sounds it was usually just what a “teenager” needs to hear to stop the behavior. They don’t believe their parents when their parents threaten, but if I came out and talked about having to put their dog to sleep because of aggression they usually listened.

    Then I would teach them how to play and use obedience and give them homework to do with their dogs. I would even teach them how to get the dog to do tricks as part of their assignments.

    Some kids just need a little harsh reality. And, unfortunately it is the truth, aggressive dogs usually end up euthanized no one takes into account how or why the dog is aggressive just that he is is enough to warrant euthanasia.

    Get them in a class or have someone come out and work with them and I bet you will see a change and they both NEED some training to keep the aggression from happening!

    [Reply]

  40. I hope you can help us. We have 10 month old bull terrier puppy, we owned both parents. Due to her mothers inability to take care of her puppies I bottled fed all puppies in the litter there were 4 puppies. We kept one of the female puppies (Stella). I love her dearly. We recently boarded her for the first time along with her her mom. Since then she as been aggressive with us and our other 2 dogs she was raised with, both weigh under 5 pounds. Today she bit me resulting in a puncture wound and bleeding. She(Stella) was in the backyard and started barking for no reason, she does this often always has been very vocal, I went out and told her “no” she continued to bark I walked up to her and told her again in a very stern voice “NO” ,she became very excited jumping up I continued to tell her no, she jumped up and bit me on forearm leaving a puncture that bleed from lower tooth and a mark from her upper tooth. I told her no again and headed for the house she continued being aggressive, I went into the house.

    Stella has always been vocal, I can not take her for a walk as she tries to chase cars and or bikes and is relentless. She can get aggressive when I try to water the yard, however she doesnt do it everytime. She is very head strong and cant not be calmed down when she gets worked up it is best to walk away. She has never been hit for any of her bad behaviorm, just verbally scolled, if anything she is spoiled. She has been spayed. Any advise would be appreciated

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I want you to read a couple of articles http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/goodness-glad-home-waiting-bite-day/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/cohabitating-herding-dog/

    Even though I know she is not a herding dog, some of the behaviors are the same and bull terriers can have a very high prey drive.

    She needs exercise and obedience!

    She has an excess of energy, this is why she is barking. Barking is fun sometimes and gives them something to do, especially when other dogs in the neighborhood chime in!

    And, obviously she is not use to listening to you. This is a simple fix, you need to work with her several times a day on basic obedience commands so that she learns to listen to you. Then listening will be an almost default for her.

    Even though my dogs often want to chase cars or bark or be naughty; we work on obedience so much during the day it is just habit for them to listen!

    But its not “easy” it takes real time and work and consistency to see a difference, but I promise it is better than a bite!

    If she continues to ignore you, keep her on a leash even outside. It would have been a lot easier for you to grab her leash and pull her in and if she had jumped to nip at you, you could have kept her at a distance till she calmed down!

    [Reply]

  41. Joan says:

    We bought a Brittany spaniel when he was 12 weeks old. From day one he has been biting. He is now 7 months old. He has gone to puppy manners and star puppy classes. I would keep telling the instructor that he continually bites and is my main concern. However, at training our dog was more interested in the other dogs, so he didn’t bite there. He told me he never saw him bite and he kept telling me it was teething. Of course now he has all his adult teeth and continues the biting. No one can pet him without being bitten. We have tried everything. We tried distracting him by giving him chew toys, sprayed water at his nose; put vinegar in the water (he acts like he loves it), used bitter apple spray and he just licks it off my arm like it is best thing going! Put coins in a can; leave the room and come back and he continues. Put him in his crate for a 2 minute time out. We just installed an invisible fence on our 1-1/2 acre property. He likes to be out only if we are out. He runs around the yard and gets plenty of exercise.
    I have five grandchildren ages 10, 9, 8, 7 and 3-1/2 who are afraid of him so whenever they are over he has to remain in his crate, or I have to hold him back with a leash. This is sure not what I expected when we got him. He will NEVER just sit by us quietly. He’s constantly moving and getting into things he shouldn’t.
    From the time we got him until he was six months old, I brought him to work. He has had plenty of socialization. Whenever anyone tries to pet him, all he does is bite. Co-workers have brought in their adult dogs and our dog just totally dominates them. He jumps all over them, biting their tails and ears aggressively. The dogs growl and open their month and he just ignores it and continues. He seems to have no fear. I don’t feel he is biting because he is a mean dog; he just likes it!
    He was bought from a reputable breeder. His parents were both show dogs.
    The invisible fence trainer told us to pull him hard on the leash every time he jumps or bites. If that does not work, use a chock chain. This also does not work, he just comes back for more.
    I really love this dog and don’t want to give up on him, but right now I am getting discouraged.
    Oh and I almost forgot, in the past month he has constantly been attempting to hump my leg. This is adding to the discouragement. He is scheduled to be neutered the first week in October. This is our second Brittany. The other one was very calm and obedient.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    He needs more exercise.

    He is jumping on you and can’t stand still because he is bored and needs more mental and physical stimulation.

    Hook him up to a bike and run him until he is exhausted if you have to but entertain his brain.

    I know it sounds silly, but dogs that are stimulated and exercise are typically normal puppies.

    Puppies full of energy bite, they don’t know what else to do with themselves.

    Run him!!! and teach him as much obedience and advanced obedience as you can.

    If you do these things I guarantee you will see a difference.

    [Reply]

  42. Iris says:

    I recently got a puppy and she is 3 months old now. I noticed her behavior is a little more than just being “playful” she isn’t just nipping but biting my hand .i have tried getting away from her when she does that, she just chase me and bites even harder. I am very frustrating about her behavior. I can’t even pet her head when she is awake, I can only do so when she’s asleep. Please teach me how to train her!!!

    [Reply]

  43. Andrea says:

    my husband got me a puppy for our anniversary last year. he was then 5 weeks of age and a husky mix with the most beautiful green eyes i’ve ever seen a puppy have. when he came to us he had terrible food aggression. if it came from a food bowl (in the beginning) best you moved REAL fast or you got bit. well for me it took 2 bites from this little bundle of fur and me being a mom with little kids around frequently as well as my own before i started looking for training answers. very glad i found help. i learned all about the sit/ stay away method, and took it one step further by making him sit. wait one minute, then give command “look at me”. During this time he would not be permitted to go near his food bowl. and when he’d finally comply with looking me in the eye i’d give his release command. it saved mine and my new puppy’s new found relationship and what was started as desperately needed training back then ( it’s a year later now) has become a game between us! =) we have recently added a full husky lad to our family and the food aggression ,sadly has reared it’s ugly head. however i stayed true to his learning and kept the new boy out of reach, even going as far as out of sight on some days. is there going to be a day when we can safely feed these two guys in the area? my full husky is not even remotely aggressive.

    [Reply]

  44. fash says:

    pls how can i train my puppy germansheffern cross help u can send me a email:fash.victor@yahoo.com ……tnx

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    try our puppy programming

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/PuppyProgramming

    [Reply]

  45. Dre says:

    Hi,

    I have a now 8 week old rescue red nose pitbul/brindle boxer mix. I got her in an around 6 weeks old. When I first got her she was a dream. Minus the peeing and pooping she was fine. She slowly started moaning and that was the only noise she would make. Now all of a sudden she had a HUGEEEEEEE biting and growling problem. This is my first puppy I have ever owned. Didn’t get to meet the parents, but her first 6 weeks of life were remotely to good and clean. Basically grew up in a pen with 15 other puppies with just pee and poop everywhere. Back to her growling and biting. Now when she is doing something she is not suppose to be doing and you try and stop her and say no she starts growling and getting very aggressive. I did not think it was to huge of a deal until today when I pulled her out of the room. She then tried to run back in and I put my leg out in front of her to stop her. She then growled and bite my leg as hard as she could. I did not know how to react because I heard it is not good to be aggressive with pitbull puppies. So I just grabbed her and put her in her cage and walked away. I do not want to get rid of her but I have a new born nephew and a young niece. I dont know what I am going to do she is with out a doubt showing aggression and rage. Please help!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Call your veterinarian and get a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.

    I cannot diagnose aggression over the internet, especially when small children are involved and there has already been a bite.

    You need someone to come out and witness the behavior to put you both on a behavior modification program to keep you both, and the children in you life safe.

    [Reply]

  46. Rachael Hyde says:

    We have a 17 wk old Italian Spinone pup who is doing really well. We collected her at 10 wks old,as we had a holiday booked so we couldn’t pick her up at 8weeks. She is housetrained already,and wasn’t difficult to train her to go outside, so we were very lucky there. She knows most commands and does them extremely well. I have just started her at a weekly training class. Her mother is a docile placid dog so we were hoping ours would be too.
    I have had dogs all my life from pups, rescues, or older dogs, and we have never had aggressive dogs but this one has an aggressive tendency towards me. I am the one that feeds her and trains her, and most of the time she is ok. She has a long walk every day, where she is let off the lead and her recall to the whistle and hand signals is brilliant, and she also has a shorter walk on the lead around the block.She isn’t food aggressive and I can put my hands in her bowl or remove the bowl with no problem whatsoever. She pulls sometimes on the lead yet we are getting over that, but just as the above people have experienced, our Spin tends to growl and bite only me, never having broken the skin but I have loads of bruises. I have tried the gently approach, turning my back, putting something of hers in her mouth in exchange, and lastly the past 2-3 days I have got fed up with it all and put her in her crate until she has calmed down. She gets lots of praise when she gets training right but this aggression towards me has quite foxed me. It seems to be just me, not my husband, but he is stricter and would tap her on her nose quite hard, but surely that will make her more aggressive. She doesn’t get treats if she gets it wrong and I have never punished her for toilet mistakes or other “mistakes”, and anyway she doesn’t make many. I don’t want harsh treatment, I just want safe and good training. What is the answer?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    With true aggression the only real person who can help you is a behaviorist who can see it.

    I can speculate, but I can’t see the aggression and under what circumstances it occurs.

    I do know that honest to goodness running and true exercise usually helps. If she is sleeping she is not challenging you. And ramping up obedience.

    If she has aggressive tendencies, I would not let her off leash, that should be a privilege earned.

    So doing obedience and working exercise is important and getting someone out who can see her behaviors!

    [Reply]

  47. Lina says:

    I have an american bulldog he is almost 4 months old. I had him since he was 11 weeks old. He plays very rough with my 8 year old daughter. he bites her shoes, socks, and sometimes feet. He looks crazy and does not listen if you tell him to stop. I hold him from the collar until she can go inside otherwise he’ll try to chase her. He is a good dog but he likes to snaps us the adults too. He knows how to sit for a treat but i being trying to teach him to give me his paw or letdown and he wants to snap me is like a little alligator. He has no food aggressiveness, but today i tried to take a ball from his mouth and he growl at me. It this normal or he is just aggressive?. I see also he is no submissive as other dogs i had before he has temper.
    Thanks and help!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would get someone out to the house to assess him and help you.

    American bulldogs are known for being dominant and possessive and difficult to own.

    But I would get help before he seriously bites your 8 year old.

    [Reply]

    lina Reply:

    Thank you for your advise. I’ll look for help a.s.p.

    [Reply]

  48. Suja says:

    Hi, I have a 5 months old female labrador puppy. I find two different characters of her. Whenever she finds an outsider, she never bite them or bark at them but she bites the people at home very badly. I am confused whether its because of love or she is really angry. Please reply me

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    My guess is she has a short temper

    [Reply]

  49. Leda Lyons says:

    Hi,I have a wonderful 4 1/2 year yellow lab Pebbles,which she is wonderful and has never showed us any kind of aggression.On Monday I received Harley a male 8 week old silver lab for my birthday,anytime Harley comes near Pebbles she growls and shows her teeth and wants to bite Harley.Pebbles even runs behind the couch to get away from Harley.We have included Pebbles in everything she goes to family outings,swims with us and she always has mommy and daddy time.Pebbles has been raised around my daughters 2 dogs so she does mingle with other dogs great.But this worries me,because Pebbles has never ever showed this kind of behavior. Pebbles will wait until Harley is asleep and she will clean his eyes and ears and smell him all over.Please help me find a solution for this behavior,I love them both and I just want both of them to get along,Do you have any suggestions? Thank you so much for taking your time to read this,I appreciate any suggestion that you have regarding this matter,Leda

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would keep him on a leash in the house while you provide manners and training to him and this will allow her to feel like she has more control of her environment.

    I make all my puppies hang out on tie outs or leashes until they have appropriate house manners and 100% potty trained and listen to me.

    This allows me other dogs to interact with the new puppies but on their own terms. If they don’t want to be pounced they know where the tie down is and can avoid the puppy or initiate appropriate play.

    As I write this my 5 month old puppy is sitting on the ground on his tie down with the other dog’s choosing to be just out of reach 😉

    [Reply]

  50. Can anyone help? I have a 14 week old Black and Tan coonhound he’s very nice and a loving dog. However when he doesn’t get his way he bites and has a fit . He won’t listen and saying no makes thing worse . Any help would be very grateful as I’ve been trying everything.
    Thank you he realy is a good dog

    [Reply]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *