Dogs put their jaws to work in a variety of tasks, including grinding up food, nibbling on bones, destroying noisy toys, and bringing back sticks. It’s very uncommon for overexcited pups or friendly adult dogs to want to mouth your hand, but nibbling may be dangerous and should be avoided.
Dogs’ tendency to nibble is not only a nuisance but also might put them in harm’s way. Nipping is something that most dogs do as a kind of play, but there are others who use it to convey a clear message. It doesn’t matter whether your dog bites because he’s being fun or because he’s being aggressive; you shouldn’t overlook this annoying behavior.
Around 800,000 individuals out of the 4.5 million people who are bitten by dogs every year in the United States need medical care for their injuries.1
You may save yourself a trip to the emergency room and ensure that your dog learns safe and proper methods of interacting with others by learning how to deal with dogs that are known for their biting behavior and by educating your canine companion about kinder types of play.
Why do dogs nip?
Nipping may be unintentional or deliberate, and it can take place for a variety of causes, including the following:
If you have a young dog, the likelihood is that the reason he is nipping at you is either because he is teething or because he is trying to play a game with you (puppies pinch each other for fun). Nipping is a common way for puppies to relieve the discomfort associated with teething or to investigate their surroundings.
Because they were originally trained to move herds of cattle by nipping at the animals’ legs, some dog breeds, such as Corgis, Collies, and German Shepherds, may be particularly aggressive.3
It’s not true that every dog will nip in every circumstance. Some dogs may nip at humans as an aggressive habit, while others do it out of fear, guarding tendencies, or even fun. 7 There are certain dogs that are hostile toward other canines. Their “reactive” conduct may be the result of a lack of socialization and training, fear, pain, frustration, or even a high prey drive. All of these factors may contribute to their behavior. 8
The good news is that there are various methods in which you can assist your dog with this typical undesirable dog behavior and teach your dog to quit nipping. All it takes is some patience and persistence on your part.
Steps to avoid dog nipping
Nipping is a problem that can be solved most effectively by preventing it from occurring in the first place. You may try to stop your dog from biting by using the following strategies:
Stay away from dangerous circumstances. There are particular circumstances in which certain dogs are more likely to bite than others, including when they are startled or scared. If you touch your dog while they are sleeping, eating, sick, hurt, growling, barking, or looking for some alone time, you will significantly decrease the likelihood that they will nip at you. 1
Offer a great deal of physical activity: Your dog may be attempting to get rid of extra energy by biting as a manner of nipping at things. Regularly engaging in activities such as walks, games of fetch, outings to the dog park, and other types of exercise will help your dog feel calmer, which in turn may minimize the frequency of mouthing behaviors. 4
Provide suitable toys for chewing: Because dogs use their jaws to investigate their surroundings, providing them with bones and other toys to chew on provides them with constructive chances to indulge in this natural habit. You may also use these toys to divert their behavior; for example, if your dog begins to become mouthy with you, you can give them a chew toy instead of biting you. 4
Use positive reinforcement: When you punish your dog, it may become more aggressive and exhibit even worse nipping behavior. If your dog bites other people or animals, rather of shouting at them or physically punishing them for it, try giving them a bone or chew toy to gnaw on and praising them when they do so.
In order to prevent your dog from biting out of fear in strange surroundings, it is important to socialize your dog. You may make your dog feel more at ease and lessen the probability of fear nipping by socializing them by exposing them to new people, locations, and other dogs. 1
What to do in the event that a dog bites or nips you
There are situations when techniques designed to prevent nipping are not sufficient to put an end to the habit. If your dog is constantly biting, you should do the following:
Demonstrate to your dog that the bite hurts you, since some dogs are not aware that they are causing discomfort when they bite. If your dog bites you, give out a loud, high-pitched shriek, which should startle the dog and get them to stop biting. If your dog does not respond to the yelp, you should give him a firm “no.” Give your dog positive reinforcement as soon as he stops biting. 5
Stop playing: During a game of fetch or tug-of-war, if a dog bites somebody, the game must be stopped immediately. The same may be said about dogs who try to seek attention by using their lips. Ignore your dog if they start biting you because they are trying to engage with you. This will prevent you from reinforcing the habit. 4
Take a break: If your dog is acting up, put them in their crate or another room designated as a “time-out,” and only let them out when they are calm.4
What parents should do if their children are bitten or nipped by a dog
When a youngster gets bitten or nipped by a dog, this should be a big reason for worry. If it does occur, you need to act straight away.
Put some distance between the youngster and the dog. In order for you to attend to your kid, please confine the dog to a different room or their kennel. Conduct a thorough inspection of the region for any signs of bites or scratches, and if necessary, seek medical assistance.
Determine the reason behind it.
Was the child’s behavior, such as tugging the dog’s tail or ears, chasing, striking, or climbing on the dog, a factor in the dog’s decision to bite or nip at the child? Children need to be instructed on how to show proper etiquette while interacting with dogs. When small children and dogs play together, there should always be an adult there to supervise. 2
Place a call to a trainer. Unprovoked biting or nipping is not appropriate. Call a trainer to set up sessions to address the behavior, and until a firm training plan is formed, keep youngsters away from the dog. The trainer will arrange the sessions. 2 Consider options. Not every dog would thrive in a home with young children because of how energetic they are. It’s possible that a dog who snaps at people has to be rehomed for the sake of everyone’s safety. If this is the case, you should inform the rescue organization of the reason you’re searching for a new home for your dog so that they can select one that doesn’t have children in it. 9
When to seek medical attention for nipping
Even if there are a few techniques that you can do at home to avoid nipping or deal with it when it occurs,
you may want to bring in the experts to make sure that you are doing all possible to eradicate the habit.
Find a trainer that specializes in positive reinforcement training and ask them to work with you and your dog so that you can figure out why your dog is nipping and the most effective approach to stop it.2
Enrolling your dog in obedience lessons will not only assist your dog learn acceptable manners, but it can also equip you with the skills you need to stop your dog from biting other dogs. 6 You can stop your dog from biting with a little bit of work, continuous training, and the use of positive reinforcement, and you’ll end up with a dog that is well-behaved and happy.
Get in touch with Pets Best to get further information on how to assist with nipping and to maintain your dog healthy and content.
1″Dog Bite Prevention.” AVMA, which stands for the American Veterinary Medical Association. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/dog-bite-prevention. Accessed on the 19th of August, 2022.
2 Sassafras Lowrey, Certified Behavior Diagnostician, “Why Do Dogs Bite? A Better Understanding of the Factors That Influence Dog Behavior” United Kennel Club of America. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/why-do-dogs-bite. To be released on April 1st, 2021. Accessed on the 19th of August, 2022.
3 Mary Kearl, “Why Does My Puppy Nip at Me and Chew on My Clothes?” in Why Does My Puppy Nip at Me and Why Does My Puppy Chew on My Clothes? AKC, or the American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/why-does-my-dog-treat-my-arm-like-a-chew-toy-and-playfully-nip-at-me. To be published on July 7th, 2020. Until August 19, 2022. Accessible.
4 “Managing Mouthing in Dogs.” Humane Society for Animals. https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/behavior/managing-mouthing-dogs. Until August 19, 2022. Accessible.
5 “Mouthing, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs.” ASPCA. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/mouthing-nipping-and-play-biting-adult-dogs. Until August 19, 2022. Accessible.
6 AKC Staff. “The Fundamentals of Obedience Training for Puppies: Where to Begin.” AKC, or the American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/basic-obedience-training-for-your-dog. To be published on March 2nd, 2020. Until August 19, 2022. Accessible.
7 “Dog Behavior Problems—Aggression to Family Members—Introduction and Safety,” authored by Debra Horwitz. VCA Animal Hospitals. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dog-behavior-problems-aggression-to-family-members-introduction-and-safety. Retrieved on September 5th, 2022.
8 Earin Rakosky, “What Is Aggression?,” What is Aggression? Comparing Dog Reactivity with Dog Aggression” AKC, or the American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/reactivity-vs-aggression/. Published on the 19th of August in 2020. Retrieved on September 5th, 2022.
9 “Rehoming a Dog Responsibly,” by Sassafras Lowrey, CTDI, number 9. AKC, or the American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/rehoming-dog-responsibly-know/. To be published on April 19th, 2022. Retrieved on September 5th, 2022.