Puppy Nipping – OW!

Teach your dog how to control their bite to play politely.

Introduction - Read This First!

The simple answer is: dogs don’t speak “Human” so the bark instead! Barking might be annoying to us, but a lot of times it’s just a dog’s way of communicating, getting attention, or having fun. In this lesson we’ll go over the different situations where dogs bark, and especially the ones that are inappropriate that we should stop. We’ll also go over how to avoid puppy barking before it starts, and how to stop barking that’s already started. 

Recommended Products In This Lesson:

Why Is My Puppy So Mouthy??


Puppies are very similar to babies in a lot of ways. And what do babies do with everything they find? That’s right, they put it in their mouths! And remember that dogs don’t even have hands, so using their mouths is the best way they have to explore the world.

Dogs learn and socialize by playing with their mouths. So when puppies play they really like to “play bite” with their friends.

Bite Inhibition

However, it’s also very important for puppies to learn how to not bite too hard. We call this:

Bite Inhibition

Here’s a quick overview of a popular method for teaching puppies not to bite:

Before Training: Help With Teething!​


While it is very important that your puppy learns how to control the strength of their mouth, there's a good chance that they are also teething and actually need to bite down on something. Here are a few options for chews you can get your puppy to bite down on. You can also read about dogs CHEWING to learn why they chew and more ways to fix it. 

Puppy Teething Options

All of the following chews are very popular with trainers and vets as they satisfy chewing needs, are the right texture (hard but not too hard), and are easily digestible (except the Nylabone, which is not meant to be ingested). Perfect for teething puppies!

How Do I Teach My Puppy Bite Inhibition??

Step 1: "OW!"

Think like a puppy and make the same sound they would if they’re playmate bit down too hard. This sound is “OW!” (this is one of the few time you can make a mean voice!) 

Step 2: STOP

Everything has to STOP. Play stops and your hands come up when your puppy uses too much pressure while playing. 

Step 3: Wait...

Wait AT LEAST 5 SECONDS before trying to play again

Final Step: Bite Toys, Not Hands!

The final thing you can do to help your puppy stop biting on your fingers is to give them something else to satisfy their teething. DO NOT give them toys right after biting you – this will teach them to bite you more so you can give them toys!

Nipping Exercise: Lick = Treats Bite = Game Over!​

Step 1: Play A Bit

Play with your puppy a bit, touching their body, head, tail, and even mouth.

Step 2: Stop And See

After a few seconds of playing, stop for a moment to give your puppy time to “think” about what they want to do next. This is giving them a chance to make a “choice”.

Step 3: Reward or "OW!"

Your puppy is either going to play properly with you, by licking, nuzzling, or anything else, or they are going to nip too hard. Good behaviors get more play and treats and bad behaviors get “OW!” and stopping play.

Step 4: Play Harder!

Repeat the same steps as above, slowly getting more and more rough with your play. You want your puppy to know that no matter how hard you’re playing, it’s never polite to bite down on people.

More Tips On Stopping Puppy Nipping​

Here’s some more instructional videos on play biting. Try to combine some of these techniques with the ones we showed you. Remember to redirect biting onto toys and “punish” biting you with the “OW!” sound. 

Still Have Questions?

Still Have Questions?

Ask About Anything Not Covered In This Lesson

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