Puppy Biting: What's Normal, What's Not, and How to Curb It

puppy-biting
One of the most common issues we see poor dog training advice given for is puppy biting and mouthiness, so we're going to give you the most standardized professional advice possible for this issue.
There's a reason why it's discouraged for non-professionals to give legal or medical advice to strangers on the Internet.
 
At best, their advice could be wrong; at worst, it could it be potentially dangerous.
 
We so wish the same rules applied to dog training advice. When sensitive puppy brains are involved, it's especially important to follow professional instruction! 
 
First of all, in the vast majority of cases, puppy biting and mouthing is EXTREMELY normal, for several reasons:
 
  • Puppies explore the world with their mouths.
  • They go through an uncomfortable teething process that lasts for 2-3 months.
  • They play hard with their siblings, often using their teeth to (successfully) instigate play and attention.
  • Herding breed dogs are predisposed to nip, herd, and chase small, fast-moving things. Young children often get the brunt of this behavior.
  • Retrievers are predisposed to picking up and holding anything and everything within reach, including your hands and arms.

A word on what to avoid:

  • Above all else, avoid physical punishment when it comes to puppy biting.
  • I have heard people given terrible (albeit, well-meaning) advice over the years, from squeezing your puppy's mouth shut, to pinning them on their backs, to muzzling them to stop the biting.
  • Your puppy is *NOT* being "dominant", and you do not need to physically punish him to curb this behavior.
  • Physical punishments like this range from silly and ineffective to cruel and downright abusive. In fact, you can create fear and aggression in your dog using these types of methods.
So, what should you do?
When you bring a puppy into your home, it's your job to create fair, consistent boundaries for unwanted behaviors, including when it comes to teeth on skin.
  • If your puppy bites you, you need to ignore the behavior and remove *yourself* from the interaction, with no drama. 
    • Note: You are not putting your puppy in a time out. That involves way too much time, talking, and attention to be an effective punishment. You are either ignoring the behavior or removing yourself from it.
  • That means play is over, fun is over, attention is over. Be as non-dramatic as possible.
  • If the behavior is hard for you to ignore, go behind a door or baby gate where your puppy does not have access to continue nipping at you.
  • If your puppy tries to nip at you when you return, remove yourself again.
  • You should see a major decrease in the intensity of biting as well as the amount of biting attempts within a few days.
  • Be sure to give your pup attention and praise when they are behaving nicely!
  • All family members and guests MUST be consistent in order for this to work!

Why Does This Work?

  • A behavior that doesn't get reinforced will stop.
  • Your pup will learn that we don't react to biting with play, attention, or even a negative reaction. All of these things can be fun for a puppy.
  • Your pup will learn to self-entertain. Once they realize the nipping isn't working, they will eventually redirect themselves onto something else.
  • Your puppy will seek out appropriate ways to get your attention, like offering a "sit" or laying at your feet.

A few other suggestions: 

  • It's also important to have a management place for your puppy, such as a play pen or baby-gated bathroom. It gives you a break from your puppy, and is a calm place for your puppy to settle down if he gets too wound up.
  • Make sure your puppy has plenty of rubbery teething toys, is getting daily exercise, and is not excessively crated. If his needs are not being met, the nipping will take longer to extinguish.
  • Make sure your puppy is eating three meals a day.
  • Things we may think are punishing, like pushing your puppy away, yelling at him, etc, can be considered fun, play-like behaviors for your puppy and can encourage biting. When doing the above exercise, be as quiet and calm as you can.

When should you be concerned about biting in puppies? 

You should seek out a certified professional if your puppy:

    • Is growling, snapping, or biting when a person comes near a resource. (Food, toys, etc)
    • Stiffens and stares at the person before biting.
    • Is consistently biting and breaking skin.
    • Barks, growls, or nips (not in play) at new people entering the home.
    • Snaps or growls at children.

Need professional guidance on your puppy biting issues? We offer private and group online dog training that's accessible from anywhere in the world. More details here, or contact us.

117 thoughts on “Puppy Biting: What's Normal, What's Not, and How to Curb It

  1. What do you suggest as a “time out” spot? I have heard to not put them in their crate if that is where they sleep.

    1. Great question! The time out is actually YOU leaving, rather than you putting your puppy somewhere. He's going to realize that every time he bites, it makes you go away. Because the behavior is motivated by attention/play-seeking, removing attention and play is the best way to get it to stop. So put up a baby gate or have a room you can exit to as soon as an inappropriate bite happens. Let me know if that makes sense!

      1. Thank you. We have a 5 month old lab and he would be the perfect pup if it weren’t for the biting. When we sit down on the couch he jumps up and goes straight for the hands. I will have to stay consistent with the walking away.

        1. Has your situation gotten any better? We have a 4 month old Coonhound and dealing with the exact same situation. I don’t want to give up on her but need to find one encouragement for my husband.

          1. We have a 4 month old Lab Coonhound mix and my poor husband's hands look terrible. She's a great dog otherwise.

      2. My puppy is 4 months old, I have tried the gate but he jumps the gate, he doesn’t climb the gate he JUMPS it. So what or how can I train him from Biting??

        1. Now that's an impressively athletic pup! Make sure you're feeding 3 times a day, offering mental stimulation and physical exercise, and then do what you need to do to not give the behavior a reaction. You can go behind a closed door, stand up against a counter, etc. You don't have to stand and get bitten by any means – just do what you need to do to remove yourself without a reaction. We want to see your pup get bored with you and go grab a toy instead.

    2. The article says NOT to put them in time-out. Instead, YOU remove yourself. Go behind closed doors for 10 seconds and then come out. If the biting/jumping continues, go back in the room and close the door. This will take many repetitions. Give your dog treat if, when you come out of the room, s/he has 4 paws on the ground and doesn't jump or bite.

  2. Timeouts have worked great for my pup when dealing with misbehaviour but for me, the problem is getting to the timeout location! As soon as I say the word timeout he is on his back, goes limp and starts waving his paws around so I can’t grab him. Once I get him up on his feet he’s nipping me while calmly (and gently) grab his collar to timeout-Any advice for this?!

    1. Sometimes the most effective time out is one where YOU remove yourself from the area and go on the other side of a door or gate. Your pup is still losing your attention, but you aren't having to get in a battle of wills to get him to his time out spot 🙂

  3. Excellent and sound advice. In two weeks my 5-month-old Yorkie/fox terrier mix is constantly biting my hands and if I correct her she starts on my face although mostly licks.
    I never realized that reacting to this pupping biting can cause more biting.I will try leaving the area and see if that works. My big concern was when she went to my vet as the vet grabbed her she told me she snapped at her and recommended me taking her to a trainer. The three techs present thought this was playing. She is a great loving animal who I rescued 3 weeks ago. She already sits give paw, down position and stay and basically, house trained running and scrathing at door to go out. At 5 months I realize her bladder is not strong enough to hold urine too long.Never has a bowel accident.
    This article was extremely well written, presented i a simple form that makes much sense. One of the best article answering my concerns.
    Thank You
    Brian Dwyer

  4. Our 4 month old terrier mix bites our 5 year old on a daily basis. It can be when she is sitting still or moving around, and even if she’s paying no attention to him, he just comes up to her and bites. We think possibly he is seeking her attention but we are concerned this could lead to aggression. He sometimes breaks skin. We have had him for about a month as he is a rescue. We are not sure what to do as it is so stressful to see him do this.

    1. Hi! I know you posted this awhile ago but I’m having the same problem with our newly adopted rescue who is 4.5 months. Did it get better?

  5. My 8 week puppy seems to be normal but when she gets hyper and we try picking her up to stop or to put her somewhere else she tries to bite our faces. But she does not try to bite us or strangers when we are near her toys or her food. I’m just wondering if it’s normal for a puppy to lunge towards your face when you’re trying to give her a time out, but she doesn’t meet any of the inquiries for an aggressive puppy.

    1. Hi Christina – just wanted to see if you got some guidance on this. I have a puppy now and experience similar issue

      1. I've seen my German Shepherd puppy lunge and nip at my Boxer's face in order to initiate play, and she also does the same thing with me when she's not had enough exercise recently. She's just trying to get me to play with her, and she has not yet learned how to play gently. A time-out won't work for that situation because she already has too much energy built up with no outlet, like a boiler ready to explode. She needs to let off some steam before she can be her usual sweet self again. A walk helps, or I take her out to the backyard and let her chase my Boxer and me around for a while. I let her run 'til she's ready to lay down in the grass and have a nap. Afterward she is her sweet self again!

  6. My beagle puppy is biting my 2 year old and jumping up to bite her cheek. He steals everything from her hands and bites her hands and legs, even if she’s just walking around. (Obviously he’s playing but she’s not always playing). I don’t know what to do and I’m afraid he’ll accidentally hurt her.

    1. This is the same issue as me. 5 month old lab is biting on walks and it’s difficult to make it clear that attention is withdrawn.

      1. For walks, you can hold the leash out away from you to keep your pup from accessing you and wait out the biting. Saying "no" or getting in a game of tug of war with the leash can be more reinforcing. Sometimes this is also a sign that the walk is too long and your pup is overtired. It's the equivalent of a toddler tantrum 🙂 You can also use a lightweight chain leash (NOT a chain collar- just leash) to discourage biting at the leash.

      2. My 5 month old rough collie bites me if I try to stop him doing things he doesn’t like such as putting lead back on when out walking , picking him up to put in bath or car as he won’t move , and when he got out today he wouldn’t cone in and went to bite me when I tried grabbing him

  7. Any advice for when the pup is biting your older dog would be much appreciated! I have a 3 year old and 12 week old GSP, and they play tug of war and keep away and the little guy is ALWAYS biting his legs/belly/cheeks and it’s too rough. Poor guy has scabs all over him. I know they’re playing but my older boy won’t really show him that it hurts. (Not that I want him to snap at him by any means) we always try to remove the puppy from playing but they always end up right back at it. Any guidance would be helpful!

  8. My 7month old staffie cross bites me and my brother normally after each meal he starts of nipping but then jumps on my mum and bites her arms and back she in her 70 s normally he’s quite well behaved he gets exercised regularly and just has bags of energy

    1. Typically dogs are the best indicators of whether or not play is appropriate ,and will let each other know when it's too rough. It's possible your older dog just genuinely enjoys the play! But I agree that if there are scabs, it's a bit too much. You can put puppy on a long line and let them play (supervised) and then give him a warning word "easy" or "that's enough" when it's getting too rough. If he ignores the warning word, gently reel him in from play and give him a break to calm down.

  9. My 5 month Sprocker spaniel has suddenly in the last 2 weeks started picking up items to chew and if you ask for them back by saying drop and going near her she growls and snaps – today she caught my thumb and it drew blood! I’m not sure where to go with this as she was dropping so nicely with items and being rewarded for it. Just don’t want her biting my children, and want to nip it in the bud quickly. She’s very calm and lovely otherwise and we did puppy training and planned to do more training but can’t with the pandemic. Thanks

    1. This is one of those issues that really has to be addressed by a professional, because it can so easily go south if things aren't done precisely. We offer private instruction online and are being extremely flexible on payments – feel free to reach out if we can help you. In the meantime, do not reach for anything in your pup's mouth and don't try to punish the behavior. Both can result in an escalation of the behavior.

      1. My 16 wk dear hound lurcher cross mastive bull dog is stopping me go onto the back garden grass area if she is out there and I go out and do something on the grass she jumps up at me and nips me any advice pls

        1. This has likely become a game for your pup.I recommend teaching a "Wait" or a "Stay" for your pup so that you can put her in a place, ask her to stay, and reward that more appropriate behavior. If you need a recommendation for a trainer in your area, let me know!

  10. I have difficulty with wild jumping and biting a couple times a day, but usually I am not in a room where I can safely walk away, whether it’s the kitchen with food on the counters or another room where cables could get chewed. How do I walk away in that situation?

  11. (I'm sorry that this is so long) We have three puppies that are getting larger now, and they have a really bad habit of getting excited and starting to bite (one of them is smaller, so they don't do much damage, and usually don't engage in the biting as often). I understand that I should just leave the room and let them calm down, but since there are three of them, once one starts biting or or two of the others sort of gang up on me, and as someone with anxiety I almost always start having a panic attack that renders me useless until someone else comes along to help me. This usually requires trying to shout their name so that they can hear me (which is a problem when no one else is home).

    Three dogs was definitely too much to take on all at once, and I've understood that from the beginning. My mom would definitely not agree with getting rid of two or even one of them, even though I'm almost terrified of being anywhere near them, however, she requires that I help with them, even if I'd rather stay away. What should I do (about the biting)?

    1. I'm so sorry you're in such a difficult position! If walking away is egging them on more, you can also stand your ground use your body language to removing them from you in a non-dramatic way. It's hard to describe in writing, but you can lift up your leg to block them from getting to you – just be sure you aren't kneeing them, as that can be frightening and even cause injuries to the dogs. You could also consider having leashes on the dogs so you can safely remove them when they get rowdy.

  12. Hello. Been great reading these tips. Have a 8 week cockapoo pup who can play a bit too boisterously with my children – 5 and 8 years old. Constantly jumping up and nipping at them so much so they scream, cry etc. Try to distract with a chew toy which doesn’t work as just carries on. As well as myself and kids doing an ouch sound 9 times. If not stop, I separate them by holding puppy and saying settle. If carries on as by this point they are so upset, am I better off we leaving him say in kitchen ( crate is in our den) for an amount of time? Or putting him on his leash the whole time so I can then tether him to something whilst we in same room? Have read about giving treats but doesn’t this reinforce the jumping and biting behaviour? Also thinking giving the boys a chew toy to carry round do if starts they can distract? Also as part of this he will constantly want to be by my side during the day so won’t go in crate for a sleep. Many thanks

    1. Hello! Great questions. The good news is, this behavior is developmentally normal and will stop with time. So your goal is going to be finding what works for your family to prevent her from practicing the behavior as much as possible. For young children, I like having a long leash tethered to a sturdy object in the house, so that the kids can safely remove themselves when puppy gets too boisterous and puppy gets that feedback. Sometimes redirecting with a toy or treats can reinforce the behavior – "if I bite, they give me a toy, etc" so we really want to try not to feed into the behavior. Typically if the puppy is not given attention, they will try harder and harder with those annoying behaviors, BUT then they'll give up and go grab that toy themselves. And that's where the real learning happens!

  13. My adorable most of the time 9 month old porkie is really nasty and aggressive when I try to get him to leave something he wants he has bitten me I managed to pick him up by the scruff of his neck and shut him in the conservatory. But I am worried about it?

  14. Hello! I just adopted a 6weeks puppy, I have been trying to leave him alone and go to other room when he starts bitting my hands or feet, but he keeps crying a lot when I leave him. Is that normal? He also follows me all day around the house. In a few weeks i may get start getting out for 5 hours or more, to work, my city is starting to get out of the pandemic, and I don't know how to make it easier on him (or myself) I don't know how to teach him to play on his onw, and feel good at this alone time, and it's making me very worried.

    Thank you for all the great advice.

  15. We have a 5 month female doberman. She is a wonderful puppy and for the most part is great… the nipping has calmed down a bit, however I was trying to guide her into the house because she was barking at the ext door neighbors dog and whining and really just seeming to want to play with the other dog and she turned to me and growled a little bit, she also has nipped at me while I was trying to remove her from my daughter's room. So I just wanted to ask as to whether or not we should seek professional care. We are currently in our second week of basic training classes and she does very well.

  16. Hi

    We have a 4 month old Cockerpoo puppy and he’s very good at not biting in general but when he sees my kids running around or is running around with my kids he’s starts chasing them and biting their legs/clothes. I’ve tried to get them to stand still but he doesn’t stop biting immediately so they screech and flap and run away on to the sofa to get away

    1. Very normal at 4 months of age! Adding kids to the equation definitely makes this more challenging! Sometimes having an extra layer of management can really help in these cases, such as having a leash on him (while you’re around and supervising). That way you can grab the leash if you need to stop the behavior and prevent him from accessing the kids. You can also teach the kids how to do a hand touch with him – this is a great way for teaching dogs to interact with our skin more appropriately. Here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7DMK4RHbf

  17. Hi, my 9 week old Labrador cross is constantly biting hands and feet and clothes whilst awake, we have tried distracting with toys and at some points food. He constantly goes for my 13 year old son and marks his skin. I know he is playing and having fun as it isn’t aggressive and if he growls it’s definitely play growls… the problem is often my son can’t get away to remove himself it happens a lot in the garden and we try to go inside but the puppy is relentless, we also have quite an open plan house so difficult to put up gates or close doors…. I have ordered a puppy pen to put him in when he gets really bitey, but worried this will be ineffective or do more harm than good? I am feeding him 3 times a day and giving him the correct amount for his age and weight… and the vet said not to give him anymore as he’ll just eat and eat…
    I can see what we are already doing is improving is he bites myself or my husband it is softer pressure than it’s been but we’re worried about the constant attraction to my son…. it’s making my son stay away from the puppy and I’m not sure that good either? So I guess I’m asking I’d the puppy pen is a good alternative to removing ourselves?
    Looking forward to any advice

    1. A pen is a fine idea! Adding kids to the equation definitely makes this more challenging – I totally understand! Sometimes having an extra layer of management can really help in these cases, such as having a leash on her (while you’re around and supervising). That way you can grab the leash if you need to stop the behavior and prevent her from accessing your son. You can also teach him how to do a hand touch with her – this is a great way for teaching dogs to interact with our skin more appropriately. Here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7DMK4RHbf

  18. My puppy is not a lab but he’s got such an issue with biting and by this I mean it’s about all he does. He bites everything and everyone non stop. I have three cats and if he even spots one of them walking across the floor, he’s chasing and biting them so much so they try only to stay in high places now that he cant reach. If I try to pet him, he bites, try to walk past him, he bites, try to put his collar on for a walk, he bites. And I’m not talking nipping, he bites very hard. He’s ripped holes in many of my clothes because he will bite me whenever I am near him. I love him to death but I’m at my wits end. If I walk away he just moves on to biting a cat or some other object like furniture which I have to stop him from doing so it’s almost impossible to just walk away and ignore him. It’s really driving me and the cats insane. He is a pug, corgi mix. Any advice greatly appreciated!!

    1. The joys of having a part herding breed! I would recommend giving your pup an outlet for that drive to chase and nip – check out a flirt pole for a good outlet. Otherwise, make sure you’re following all of the tips above, especially ensuring she eats 3 meals a day and is eating enough, and is getting proper exercise and mental stimulation. You can also leave a leash on your dog if you need an extra layer of management to prevent biting. Typically the behavior should be improving by 20 weeks of age.

  19. Hi, I have a 10 weeks old puppy that is mostly aggressive unless she is sleeping. She likes to bite at the hand, face and feet so aggressively even at visitors. She’s so fast that she gets ahead of me by jumping out of the door before I could escape through the door so we both end up outside hahaha. I sometimes have to jump onto my bed which is a bit too tall for her to reach to me so she gives up after several failed attempts. But she jumps back at me the moment I step my feet down.
    What can I do?

    1. The good news is, this is very much a normal behavior at 10 weeks of age! Remember – puppy biting is not a precursor to future aggression. Make sure you're following all of the tips above, especially ensuring she eats 3 meals a day and is eating enough, and is getting proper exercise and mental stimulation. That plus not getting a reaction from you for biting will nip this in the bud quickly!

  20. We have an 8 month old pit mix who likes to try to initiate play with my 3 and 6 year old kids by biting them (I see her do this to our older boxer mix). It's hard to make the kids understand that they should ignore her or walk away, instead they start screaming and running…and I know this excites her more. I know the kids are half the problem, but Any other tips for helping her to not bite?

    1. Adding kids to the equation definitely makes this more challenging – I totally understand! Sometimes having an extra layer of management can really help in these cases, such as having a leash on her (while you're around and supervising). That way you can grab the leash if you need to stop the behavior and prevent her from accessing the kids. You can also teach the kids how to do a hand touch with her – this is a great way for teaching dogs to interact with our skin more appropriately. Here's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7DMK4RHbf8

  21. We adopted a 3-4 mo old Pom (from Kuwait) a few weeks ago and she is feisty, sweet and well socialized. She plays well and is respectful of our 10 yr old Cairn terrier and is affectionate with us. BUT when it is nap time and she is getting over tired, she becomes furious and snarly when picked up to go in the crate or pen to sleep. This doesn't happen at night. Help! I know this is a temper tantrum of an over tired pup, but I am concerned because of bites on my hand and this behavior continuing. (We are very experience dog people and have had dogs all our lives including many young pups.)

    1. This is definitely a stressful behavior, I know! What I'd suggest is teaching your puppy to go to crate on cue so that you can get her in there BEFORE she gets overtired. Stuff a Kong with some peanut butter and put it in the crate so that she can expend that energy onto something other than your hands. If she's already nippy and overtired, you can still lead her in with the Kong vs. picking her up (which makes for a very fun game of hand biting!)

  22. Our 4 month old teddy bear nipped at my husbands nose and made the inside of it bleed. Any suggestions on how to react to that?

    1. The good news is, at your puppy's age this behavior was likely an accident. This typically happens when we go down to puppy's eye level or bend over them, which they see as an indication to begin play. And puppies love to play with those sharp teeth! You can try making a high pitched "ouch!" and removing yourself and ending play immediately. If the "ouch" fires your puppy up more, don't do it. I know it seems like something that you should punish your puppy for, but it really is a very normal phase in their development.

  23. Hi There! We have a now 12 week old Golden Retriever that we got when he was 8 weeks. He is definitely displaying dominant behavior, especially with our 8 year old son. We made a mistake at the beginning by letting them roll around and rough play when we first got him and we certainly regret it now. The puppy will lunge at my son, unprovoked at times. It's heartbreaking because my son wants him to be his best friend but we can't really allow them together alone. We're very much doing the ignoring trick now and hope we start to see improvement with consistency in this. Any other advice? The vet recommended the same approach. Covid has definitely complicated training but we are trying to socialize as much as possible. He's great in every other area, he goes to the door everytime he needs to go outside, my son taught him give me paw, he sits, lays down, sometimes stubborn with come here on a leash but otherwise fine. We just want assurance that this is normal and will pass with proper and consistent training! Thank you!

    1. Hi there! The good news is, this is actually not a sign of dominant behavior. We've learned a ton in recent years about the dog/human dynamic, and we've found that there is not a competition for dominance between dogs and humans. Make sure your pup is eating three meals a day and the correct amount according to the food bag, and is getting some sort of aerobic exercise each day. Retrievers love to use their mouths as puppies! It will get better. Another note – don't have your son get on the ground at puppy's eye level – this is a major temptation for them as it feels like you are inviting rough play. You got this!

  24. Three weeks ago we got a 17 week old border collie/ husky mix at a rescue. We have a 3 year old chi- terrier mix. The puppy will not quit biting at the little one no matter what we do or how the little one responds . The puppy just doesn’t seem to get she’s hurting her. She even won’t let the little one drink without pushing her out of the way.
    The little one is so upset and sad all the time now.
    Is there anything we can do to stop the behavior?
    I don’t want to have to try and return her.

    1. Hi Coleen! I'd recommend managing the pups during those wild times by separating them between a gate or something similar to give your older pup a break. If your older pup tells the puppy off with barking or a warning snap, allow that! You may also get your new pup into a small puppy class to give him a chance to socialize with other puppies. You have a mix of breeds that love to use their mouths, so try a flirt pole (look online for options) or some mental enrichment exercises to give the puppy an outlet for that energy. This behavior is annoying, but normal for this age!

  25. We have a 5 month old lab mix puppy who is amazing except for the biting. He is clearly not doing it out of aggression but it is no less painful. He mostly nips when he's asking for something, but when he gets over excited he'll full on bite and jump and has left marks on my kids.
    We try to remove ourselves from the situation as well as him and it calms him down most of the times but the next time it's the same story all over again.
    Is is just a matter of time before he stops or should we be doing something more to stop him from doing this?
    Thank you.

  26. my mini 8 week old dachshund would whine in the play pen when i remove myself after he bites. so when should i come back if he doesnt stop at all? cheers!

  27. I have a 4 month old heeler/border collie pup. She’s wonderful and incredibly smart and I have her in training and overall it has been going well. However, she is so so nippy and the biting is getting really old. We can hardly even pet her without her starting to bite our hands. It is almost always playful, but it seems like nothing we do stops her. Even offering her other toys, she will ignore them and go straight for our hands. After reading this article, I’m a little more hopeful that she’ll eventually grow out of it.

    The most concerning behavior I see in her though is when we’re playing. She LOVES to run after her frisbee or a ball outside, and mostly does really great with it. However, she sometimes gets a little too excited and she’ll start biting at my calves or jumping up to bite my arms/hands. I try having her sit but she just seems so worked up that she doesn’t pay any attention to it. I haven’t quite figured out how to settle her down without leaving her outside alone, getting nipped at the whole way to the door. She’s drawn blood a few times doing this, although I still believe it’s playful rather than aggressive. I know a lot of this behavior is just because of her herding breed instincts, but do you have any suggestions for helping her settle down when she gets too excited?

    1. Hi Sarah! The good news is, you're still within the realm of normal for your puppy's age, especially having a herding breed. I would not recommend offering toys when she starts biting, because you're technically rewarding her for biting by offering the toy 😉 I would recommend having her on a leash (or just have the leash dragging) when you're playing so that you can immediately stop the behavior as it starts and prevent her from having the opportunity to bite you.

  28. Hi, we have a 9 week old husky mix. She's sweet and very playful. She loves to nip. I don't believe she is aggressive. She always seems playful when this happens, but she bites hard enough that she has broken my skin and my 13 year old daughter's. We have tried removing ourselves to the timeout, but she's nipping hard as we try to escape! If im sitting I put my arms behind my back and stop looking which seems to help. Any advice on what to do if we can't redirect her attention and walk to timeout without the nipping?

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for reaching out with this question. The good news is, this is normal behavior and not an indicator of future aggression – although I know it hurts! She's likely finding your movement reinforcing. If you're sitting, I recommend standing up and removing your attention completely. Our rule for furniture is that if any rude behavior starts (biting, jumping, etc) the dog is removed from the furniture – only calm behavior allowed there 😉 When you're at your puppy's eye level, this is going to be a direct indicator for play, so try not to bend down to puppy's eye level or play on the ground with her until she's a bit older and has a bite more impulse control.

      1. Hi! Thank you for this great advice. I am practicing the 'removing myself' when my 11 week old Coton starts to nip and bite and pull on clothes. We have baby gates so I go behind them or into another room behind a closed door. The problem is he barks when I remove myself. I'm afraid I'm just replacing one unacceptable behavior with another. Any suggestions?

        1. Great question, Patti! And a very common response we see from puppies. You're just going to want to wait for at least 3 seconds of silence before you return – that will ensure you aren't reinforcing the barking!

  29. I have a terrier mix puppy that constantly bites me and my family whenever we try to touch her. She's very sensitive and she becomes "crazy" whenever she starts biting. Her bites do hurt and break my skin. Is there any way that we can stop her from biting or at least calm her down? She is 10 weeks old and has been cited as a "shy, non-standard puppy".

  30. Hello,

    we have a 7 month Cavapoochon , he has always been a bit bitey as a pup but we did do puppy training and always managed it wth distraction techniques. we were hopefuly he would grow out of it. but that has not been the case.

    it seems when he is tired or overly excited we cannt stop the biting. if me my husband or a fmaily member do sonething he doesnt want his meediate recation is to mouth at you. today on a walk he picked up some plastic whoch i tried to get out of his mouth and again he went for me and managed to pierce my skin. he also has this bahnaviour with his groomer.

    we dont know how to deal with this amd what are the best steps to improve the behaviour – any tips?

  31. I have a 4 month old English cocker spaniel, in the last few weeks he’s become more boisterous and seems to be nipping much more, I have tried removing myself by leaving the room but he doesn’t seem to care, he just starts playing with his toys – is this the desired outcome or does it mean I should try s different tactic? He’s s totally hyper active puppy who seems to always be wired and full of energy and just seems to get to the point he becomes boisterous and it’s impossible to calm him down

    1. Yes! This is exactly the desired outcome. You're teaching him that when he is excited and wants to play, he needs to go grab a toy, and not your skin 🙂 Self-entertaining is a great sign that you're on the right track!

  32. If someone else is in the room with you do they also have to leave the room or just the person the puppy has nipped? So for example if my partner is cooking dinner and my puppy nips me do we both leave or just me? Sometimes it’s not always practical for both people to stop what they’re doing and leave the room (cooking, washing up, eating etc)

  33. We have a 11 month old shitzu who just recently has begun to growl and even bite when being picked up. One time it was when he was laying on the coach and another time was close to bed time to go in the crate. Both times we were looking to pick him up. He never has behaved like this since we have had him. He also isn't a fan when we have to dry his body/paws when coming in after a rainy walk outside. He gets nippy. Any suggestions?? Will this settle down as we always believed he was the sweetest natured dog.

  34. I have an 11 week old male Golden Retriever. He is very bitey, and breaks the skins at least once a day. I am concerned about his aggressiveness when biting as he tries to bite me or my clothes and wants to tug them . I can't walk away as he follows and latches on to my clothes preventing me from leaving. I am growing afraid of him and worry he will notice the fear from me. Also, He is very stubborn and also refuses to come inside after he potties. He lays down and refuses to budge for several minutes. Sorry this is long but any advice you can give is appreciated.

    1. Hi Rita! I'm sorry you're going through this, but know that what you're experiencing is normal (albeit annoying!) I'd recommend increasing your pup's daily exercise and mental enrichment (look up "Flirt poles" on Amazon – it's an excellent way to give bitey pups an outlet! You can also try leaving a leash on him (supervised) so you can simply remove him from you if he starts to get too rough. If you can let me know the city/state you're located in, I can find an in-person training referral for you! For the pottying, are you in a fenced area or is he on a leash?

  35. Hi, my 6 mth old Aussie is constantly mouthing everyone or licking. I'm sure he is just super excited and loves attention. Is walking away the same thing we should do with the licking? I don't mind it here and there because I guess that is their way of showing love but he just doesn't know when to stop. I also don't want him to think its okay to lick all over everyone especially if a guest comes over.

    1. Hi Vivian! For some dogs, this is a way of coping with overly exciting or stressful situations. Try giving your pup a special toy or chew that they ONLY get when guests come over – you'll likely see a big improvement!

  36. Hi there,
    We have a 12 week year old female french bull dog. We are fortunate she does not chew on furniture however, she loves to bite us and has a particular interest in feet. We feed her 3 times a day (100g royal canin and 1 wet pouch of pedigree puppy food). We also include a lot of water in her food to ensure she is hydrated. Not all the times but very often when we put on our flip flops to go outside she immediately goes for our toes and pierces skin sometimes. We have tried to shut her outside and turn our back to the door when she is looking and sometimes we bring her in she licks us and stops, not always the case.
    We have tried picking her up when she bites and asking her to sit and stop but nothing works consistently. We will take her to puppy classes in a couple weeks as she recently had her last shot. My wife is at her wits end, so hoping this is temporary. Should we given her something to help her teething? We don't do a lot of treats as keen to control her weight. Any advice is helpful…
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Fiona! Ouch – this sounds painful for sure! I would suggest putting a leash on her BEFORE you put on your flip flops, so you can prevent her from accessing your feet at this time. At this age, management like that goes a LONG way to preventing lingering habits. You're about to go through the teething process, so you may see a worsening for a few weeks, but you should be seeing major improvement by 20 weeks of age.

  37. My 5 month lab has 2 instances where he starts biting and jumping at me and my husband, usually breaking the skin. The first is when playing fetch in our yard. He fetches only a few times and then when we throw a final time, it seems like he gets bored and decides it's more fun to bite us instead. When we try to walk away, he bites our backs or clothes and it usually takes a rough few minutes to leave the yard. The other time is on walks. He randomly starts biting and jumping at us. It can be at the very beginning or at the end of our walks. He's on a leash, but he's about 60 pounds at 5 months. I try to hold him away from me but he just bites my arm. Today, we were walking on a trail and it took about 5 minutes of him biting me to finally calm down. My arms are pretty beat up. We have 3 kids but we've been good about always being there and intervening quickly when necessary. I want to keep exercising him but I don't want to keep encouraging the behavior since we can't effectively walk away. Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Ashley! For the fetch issue, I'd recommend having a leash dragging while you play (or a long line) as a backup plan so that you can interrupt the behavior right away. But what I want you to try is at the end of the game, BEFORE any biting begins, ask him for a sit (or something else he knows well) and reward that behavior with food. You can then walk back inside with him, periodically asking him for a sit along the way. It's going to teach him a much more appropriate alternate behavior at the end of the game! And as for the walking, try switching to a front-clip harness like the Freedom Harness, which should make it more difficult for him to be able to bite you while on leash.

  38. This article and the comments have made me feel better for sure! I rescued a somewhere between 3-5 month old Shepherd mix and he's very smart and very friendly. We've always pet him when we feed him and reached for his bowl from the beginning to make sure to avoid any food territorial issues and he's great! We've also been implementing the ignore and walk away when he gets too aggressive during fetch or just hanging inside. My concern is that he loves meeting new people and gets really excited when we walk by someone on the sidewalk and often will jump at them as they go by. I try and control it with the leash but I don't want him to be scared of people. I think part of the problem is that people get so excited when they see him (who can blame them! It's a puppy!) he gets riled up and when they go to pet him, he goes to bite their hands. It's never aggressive, his tail is wagging and he is clearly trying to play but I don't know how to best stop it. I want to keep socializing him but I worry he'll just keep nipping! I hope continuing reinforcement at home will help, and I know even 4-5 months is still young, I just don't know when I should really start to worry.

  39. Hi! This article and comments were so helpful. My 4 month old lab/hound mix bites a TON, which I know is normal but that doesn't make it less frustrating! When we're inside I try to be consistent about turning my back and/or leaving the room. But one situation that I find extremely difficult to navigate is (usually when we're on a walk or in the backyard, but sometimes just in the apartment) he'll jump up on me and latch his teeth into my pants/legs and not let go. I don't know how to disengage without getting him off me (and also his teeth HURT and he frequently breaks the skin), but I know anything I do physically to get him off me just riles him up more!

    1. Hi Sara! Thanks for writing. This does sound painful! It sounds like your dog is highly motivated by the act of biting (not in an aggressive way- just the fun of the tug). I would suggest buying a flirt pole (this one is my favorite: https://www.amazon.com/Outward-Hound-Tail-Teaser-Flirt/dp/B0042I5G2I) and incorporating it into your pup's daily exercise routine. You may also want to keep a leash on your dog during times you feel this behavior might happen so that you have an easy way to swiftly remove him as soon as he starts up.

    2. Oh my gosh, I could have written this! We rescued a lab/hound mix who is just now 4 months old. His biting is horrible! He often even looks mean when he's doing it. The backs of my legs especially, are covered in bruises from his bites! I'm afraid if I just turn my back to him, he'll bite the backs of my legs even more! We have to wait a few more weeks to start puppy training, but his biting is out of control. I am very concerned because he's growing like a weed and I'm afraid the bites will be worse (more painful). And I don't want to restrict/crate him every time someone visits, especially my mother or the grands! Other than his biting, he is also a great boy and extremely smart (learning tricks quickly – sit, shake, high five, lay down, and roll over already!).

  40. Hi! Our golden doodle is 5.5 months… she is mostly great but the biting seems to have worsened over the past few weeks… she’s lost a lot of teeth and I think most of her grown up teeth have come in but maybe not all… just wondering how long the biting lasts? We are being more consistent about leaving the room as she seems to do it for attention or when she’s tired but I’m getting worried as she gets older that it’s less age-appropriate and more of a concern.

  41. My 6 month old Bernese Mountain dog appears to be aggressive and just wants to bite you while you walk or not. He also goes after the smaller 2 year old Mini Aussie in the house and sounds angry when doing so but it appears to be severely rough playing. He doesn’t attempt to play with the 4 year old golden retriever because of past interactions in which the golden snapped at him for the rough playing. Any suggestions to get him to stop the roughness/biting?

  42. Hi, I know this is a late reply, but I was wondering what you would do in a situation where you have an obnoxious puppy who won't leave an older dog alone. He barely mouths anymore except when I grab his collar to lead him a way from my other dog.

    1. Does your older dog ever tell him off with a bark or a snap? Other dogs are the best teachers in these situations, so definitely give him the chance to (within reason) set boundaries with the puppy. If your older dog struggles with this, I'd recommend getting your puppy around a few other adult dogs that enjoy playing, but will teach some boundaries of what's too much. You can also work on an excellent recall for your pup to call them away from your other dog.

  43. We have a 10 week old Lab puppy and she constantly bites and pulls on the pant leg of my 4 yr old son. My son is starting to be afraid of her and i do not want that we don’t want to give her up but i am afraid as she is growing and getting bigger that she will be aggressive towards my 4 yr old any tips you can give me? Thank you.

    1. The good news is, play biting is not a sign of future aggression. The little ones in the house always get the worst of puppy biting. Make sure you follow all of the tips in the blog (including appropriate exercise, enough meals/food, and find a management strategy that works for your family.) And you should begin seeing improvement by 5 months of age!

  44. Hi our lab pup is currently 14 weeks old. We are having a nightmare with nipping and biting. This only really happens during play time…more so evenings. We made the mistake of letting her up on the sofa for cuddles and naps…however she has progressed to thinking she is the queen of the house when on it🙄 We have done all the coaxing for down, rewarded with a treat etc but she gets back up and then refuses to comedown. If I say 'no' and 'down and attempt to remove her she barks and tries to bite. This is also the case when playing with her. She will purposely go out of her way to nip me if I tell her no. This is especially if I tell her no when she is playing too rough with our children. The nipping/lunging and barking at us when she doesnt want to do something is starting to worry me. Any other time she is great! If there are treats involved shes a little angel! Very clever and obedient and learns new tricks all the time.
    Shes very friendly with people and dogs and just wants to be fussed over and play. It's just when we are all together (myself, husband and children) and we invite her in for affection & play time she becomes extremely bossy 😩
    She has nipped us quite a few times, and my kids too- again this is only during play. She isn't over protective of food or toys whatsoever, the issue is only when playing, but she is very rough and as I said, when being told no or down barks , lunges and nips.
    Another issue I have is stones😩😩 she constantly puts them in her mouth…tried the trade for a treat which works…..only now shes cottoned on a stone for a treat🙈any tips with that? Our back garden is full of stones…we've managed to secure most of them with a clear paint/glue sealer….however there is a large area we cannot do due to drainage issues and therefore cannot seal there. We could remove but this is a big job and as we are renting want this to be a last resort. Its not just stones, soil , sticks, anything! I'm worried she will choke…but i suppose this is a part of the Retriever nature? Any help would be really appreciated, thanks!

    1. At 14 weeks, you are in the heart of teething! However, based on some of the issue you're describing, I'd recommend some professional guidance to help you see improvement more quickly and prevent other issues from developing. We offer virtual training, or I'm happy to find a referral for a trainer in your area.

  45. Thank you for the great video. In addition to biting and nipping, my 5 month old mini schnauzer (11.2 lbs.) puts her rather large paws on the front of my feet as I am trying to walk and I am concerned that I will step on her and/or trip and fall. Any suggestions to curb this behavior? She moves very quickly and always seems to be under foot.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. The good news is, this is often a sign of a friendly, affectionate dog who just loves being around you! I recommend teaching a "wait" cue for stairs especially, so you can go up or down first without worrying about your pup being underfoot. Typically they learn over time to be careful of human feet!

  46. I have a 2 year old husky/heeler mix dog, (fixed male), and just rescued a puppy… 9 weeks old female, heeler/german shep/pit bull (according to what owners said)… my male dog is VERY good with her, very patient, plays with her, very gentle…. my worry is about how vicious she is when they are playing… she doesnt bite me, not even as mouthy as i expected (more a licker than a nipper with me) but her playing with him is very "bite" oriented… constantly attacking.. he will pin her, but ive only heard him make her yelp a couple times… both times when she bites his face… now i know he can take care of himself, but is it normal for her aggressive biting to continue with him, and will it translate to her later behavior around other dogs when she is older?

    1. Typically dogs are very good at working these things out. We want to see that both dogs respect when one has had enough, and back off if the other one shows signs of needing a break, or yelps. So far it sounds like you're within the boundaries of normal!

  47. We have a 4 month old bully who 90% of the time is great but sometimes she jumps and bites both inside and on walks. We try to turn away but it doesn't do much. Is this something that she will grow out of or something that we need to look more closely at fixing now? thanks

  48. My 5 month old Goldendoodle has a biting issue. Just when it seemed as if teething was ending he started loosing his puppy teeth and now it's starting all over again. He's mouthy when I'm putting on his harness mostly. Now on walks he goes for the leash or my pants leg if I don't have on something that's close fitting. Shorts work best, but now it's getting a little nippy out. Does this typically end when all of his puppy teeth have fallen out and permanent teeth are in? He doesn't naw on furniture. Just my hands, arms, pants leg, and leash. Other than this he's AMAZING!!!

  49. Hi! So we have a four month old lab/retriever mix and he is super chill other than when we are out on walks and we start walking back to our place. Then he goes a little psycho and starts turning on his back, then starts biting at our legs and jumping up biting our hands. It's gotten fairly aggressive at points. It becomes so challenging to get him back to the door and we aren't sure the best way to handle this situation. Any advice would be much appreciated 🙂

    1. This is often a sign that the walk is a bit too long – try shortening your walks and bringing a bit of food with you to do some training as you go. I would also recommend a front clip harness like the Freedom Harness (be sure to clip it at the chest) – this can help prevent the behavior.

  50. What should you do if you cannot leave the room? I have many online video meetings and cannot leave the room, but my 9 week old mix breed keeps nipping me.

    1. Great question, Greg! I would recommend a play pen that your puppy is in (along with some appropriate chew toys) during your meetings, so that nipping is simply not an option.

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