How to Train Dogs Not to Nip

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Chew toys and exercise provide an energy outlet and mental stimulation for your dog.
Chew toys and exercise provide an energy outlet and mental stimulation for your dog. (Image: Credit: Vera Volsanska - Copyright: publicdomainpictures.net / public domain)

Dogs do not nip because they are bad; they nip as a way to play. It is a natural behavior for dogs to use their mouths during play. A dog that nips simply has not been taught that nipping humans is an unacceptable behavior. Dogs must be trained not to nip and provided with alternative outlets for play. Training a dog not to nip takes patience and persistence. Repetition is the key to teaching them. Just like a two-year-old child, a dog needs to be told several times before he learns what it is that you want from him. These training tips are effective for every size dog and every breed of dog.

Buy a lot of chew toys for your dog. Dogs have a natural urge to chew and exercise their jaws. Buy a variety of toys so your dog does not get bored. Choose both soft toys and hard toys. Make sure the toys are the appropriate type for your size dog. Smaller dogs should have smaller toys. Large breed dogs with strong jaws should have larger and more durable toys. Regularly buy new toys to prevent boredom.

Make a loud, high pitched "yipe" sound whenever your dog nips you. The "yipe" sound should mimic the yelping sound a dog makes when hurt. In dog language, a "yipe" means "ouch." Making this noise tells your dog that you are getting hurt. Do not get mad at your dog.

Give your dog a chew toy after you yelp. The point of this is to show your dog that toys, not humans, are the appropriate thing to chew on.

Play tug of war with your dog using a rope toy or an old sock that is tied in a knot. Dogs like to play using their mouth. And dogs like to play with their humans. Playing tug of war provides an appropriate way for dogs to play with their humans using their mouth.

Take your dog for daily walks. Dogs have a lot of energy. Nipping behavior is often a symptom of boredom and pent up energy. Walks provide mental stimulation and get rid of pent up energy. Dogs with high energy levels need longer walks and more frequent walks. It is best to take your dog for a walk in the morning so that your dog does not sit around the house with pent up energy all day. You can also play games of chase or catch with your dog to provide mental stimulation and a way to release energy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consistency is the best way to train your dog. Effective training takes time and patience. Dogs of all ages have an urge to chew. Chew toys help fulfill that urge. Nipping can also be caused by teething. Teething puppies often have sore teeth and gums. Chew toys will help sooth your puppy's mouth.
  • Do not provide a sock as a toy if you are worried about your dog chewing all of your socks.

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