How to Stop a Puppy From Play Snipping

Don't allow your puppy to mistake your toes for chew toys.
Don't allow your puppy to mistake your toes for chew toys. (Image: Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you think it's cute when your puppy mouths, bites and chews on your hands during play, think twice. Although it's acceptable behavior among littermates, when your puppy grows up, his snippy behavior can result in cuts, bruises and torn clothes, and most likely you won't find it cute anymore. To prevent having to deal with an adult dog who uses his mouth to get what he wants, nip his behavior in the bud early on.


To teach your puppy acceptable behavior, let him know that nipping is unacceptable behavior. When you're playing, allow him to mouth your hand. The moment he bites too hard, yelp "ouch" in a high-pitched voice and turn your back to him or leave the room. Ignore him for 20 seconds -- don't look at him, don't talk to him and don't touch him. After the time-out encourage him to play again, and each time he nips a little too hard, repeat the time-out. This teaches him that aggressive play stops all the fun.

Startle Your Puppy

If yelping and time-outs don't seem to work, use scare tactics to stop your puppy in his tracks. When he's excitedly giving into his nipping fetish, squirt him with a spray bottle, blow a whistle or shake a can of coins to startle -- not terrify -- him. The sudden occurrence will make him stop. If he continues, repeat the squirt of water or loud noise. Observe your puppy closely so you can catch him in the act; disciplining him after the fact isn't effective, because he won't know what you're upset about.

Appropriate Toys

Redirecting your puppy to appropriate items to chew and bite on can help teach him acceptable behavior. Hold a chew toy in one hand and pet your puppy with your other hand. When your furry friend gets excited and wants to start nipping, show him the chew toy and allow him to put his teeth in it. Praise him when he shows interest in the toy and continue to pet him. Have a variety of chew toys or bones available to keep your puppy interested.

Be Consistent

The only way you can stop your puppy's play snipping is if you're consistent. Allowing the behavior once in a while sends the wrong message and can be confusing to your pet companion. Ensure that all family members are on the same page, because if one person allows play snipping when another doesn't, correcting his behavior will be unsuccessful. Also, avoid slapping or hitting your puppy to get him to stop nipping, because he might end up fearing you and it might worsen his snippy behavior.

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