Puppies use their mouth a lot like children use their hands and their voice. They nip to interact and play and discover. Puppies need to learn another alternative with humans, but nipping is normal and can be shaped out with patience, consistency and repetition.
* Spread butter on your hand or arm and encourage your puppy to give “kisses.” Encourage friends and family to do the same.
* When your puppy is playful focus on toys and do not try to hold or pet him. Like babies they cuddle best when calm.
* Puppies like babies have five basic needs: to eat, drink, play, sleep and go potty. When a baby is needy they cry; puppies nip when they’re needy—when they’re overtired or need to go to the bathroom. Leave a drag lead on your puppy when supervised and re-direct him, don’t correct them.
* Remember corrections are often seen as confrontational play and make the matter much worse. When a puppy is nipping use butter or toys to re-direct their enthusiasm.
Harsh corrections (muzzle squeezing or pinning) only frighten a puppy and make them more confrontational or fearful.
For more helpful hints on raising and caring for puppies refer to Sarah’s book You and Your Puppy, written with James DeBitetto, DVM.