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Mouthing, Nipping and Biting

We must understand that mouthing, nipping and biting are behaviours puppies offer in order to elicit a social response from us. These behaviours are not to be confused with teething. Teething is a completely separate behaviour that is not related to unwanted biting. During this unit, we will discuss how you can prevent naughty biting altogether.

"The main reason puppies become mouthy is unfortunately due to the way we interact with them"

Training Dogs Online


biting, mouthing and nipping


The way we play with puppies, can be working against us. Playing on all fours, running, jumping, waving hands and using high pitched voices can elicit mouthy puppy behaviours. Simply because we are interacting with them as though we are puppy playmates. Keep social interactions relaxed and hands off. Don't act like a playmate.


Teaching puppies how to respond to being physically pet is often forgotten or overlooked. Petting your puppy on the head or vigorous petting when they are tired or over-stimulated will cause them to use their teeth. Overly handled puppies, are more likely to be mouthy in situations of arousal.


An overtired puppy is a mouthy puppy. Don't forget, puppies require 18-20 hours of sleep per day. The mouthiest time for puppies is when they are overly tired. Visit the Sleep and Confinement unit for more support. 


When a puppy is in a state of arousal, they can become very mouthy. This usually occurs in puppies who are not getting enough confinement time and live in busy environments. This means they are not relaxing enough throughout the day. These puppies tend to chase your feet and bite at your clothes.

Image by Matthew Foulds

Training Dogs Online

"Mouthy puppies don't exist in our world, because we don't elicit or encourage the behaviour. Changing how you and your family interact with the puppy is the key to success".

What should you do?

Prevention is always the best way to resolve mouthy puppy behaviour. When your puppy becomes mouthy, nippy and bitey, ask yourself the following questions; 

  • Is your puppy tired? 

  • Is your puppy over-stimulated? 

  • Is your puppy mimicking your social behaviour? 

  • Am I pestering my puppy? 

  • Is my puppy bored?

Once you are able to identify why, you can have a better plan to resolve the behaviour. I will say that 99% of clients with mouthy puppies, stop seeing the behaviour when they increase crate time and stop interacting with their puppies inappropriately. 

When your puppy begins biting behaviours and you need to take on a more reactive roll, simply redirect the behaviour and give them something they are allowed to chew on. 

Be proactive!  If you have a mouthy puppy, don't allow them the freedom to practice the behaviour.


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