It can be a very annoying, painful and potentially dangerous experience if you have a dog that nips hands, legs or clothing when you are supposed to having fun! This behaviour can cause injury as well – but we need to remember it’s not “on purpose”, it is a natural behavior and it’s the way dogs explore their world – it’s their form of communication, interaction and play. But still, it’s important to “nip the nipping in the bud” so that it does not become ingrained behaviour in the dog as an adult which makes it harder to manage. Adult dogs have probably never been trained to do otherwise, but of course it’s never too late – it just may take a bit more time, but it’s worth it to ensure you can have a fun time with your fur friend in the long run.
How to train your dog to stop nipping
1. When the nipping starts, stop the play right away. Make it clear that it hurts by giving out a loud yelp (or in human language “ouch”). Then once the nipping has stopped, there’s no more play and simply turn away from her.
2. Distract your pet after she has given you a nip by giving her a command to sit or lie down. Then praise and reward her.
3. Make sure your dog knows your hands are not for playing with! Give your dog a toy instead of your hand and be sure to praise your pet when she starts chewing the toy.
4. When you are playing with your dog you could be inadvertently encouraging the nipping behaviour. So try to give games like tug of war a miss and don’t ask her to jump up. Fetch and retrieve games are excellent but make sure your pooch knows that the toy being retrieved must be dropped and at all costs avoid a situation where you are fighting her for the toy!
5. Lastly, and this applies to ALL training, be consistent. Decide how you are going to approach the problem, and apply it at all times and make sure all family members do the same – otherwise it will take longer and it can be undone in an instant.
Thank you to Louise Harding, Dog Trainer & Animal Wrangler for Animal Talent, based on the NSW Central Coast.
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