"Mouthing, Nipping, Biting"

If your dog or puppy is mouthing or nipping at you, this is not play. He is testing his limitations.


Most puppies when first brought into the home will mouth or nip at you. This is the way they played and determined the pecking order within their litter. Although many owners think this is okay, or just puppy play, it is not. The puppy is developing a habit that will eventually become annoying or painful. If your dog or puppy is mouthing or nipping at you, this is not play. Once he learns that you will pull away from him when he nips you, he will use that action to keep you at bay. Before this escalates to the level of the dog growling, barking, and nipping at you, stop him now. Allowing it to continue will reach a point where you will call a professional for the behavior problem you are having, or, you will want to be rid of him.

The method that I have found to work the fastest on young dogs and puppies is to apply an uppercut to the lower jaw, causing his teeth to clash together. This correction is performed to cause discomfort to the dog, and not an attempt at knocking him out. Simply correct him with enough force to cause his teeth to clash, and the behavior will usually cease after the second correction. The dog's response to the correction is normally an attempt to lick your hands. Do not overreact and strike him again. The licking is his indicator of acceptance of your leadership and correction. If he licks, praise him. If he mouths, correct him again. The correction must be meaningful and forceful enough to get his attention.

Holding your hand with the palm facing up, as though someone were going to place money in your hand, close your hand into a fist. Move your thumb so that it is alongside the forefinger and out of the way of the flat portion of your knuckles. With that portion of your hand you will apply a swift correction to the underside of the lower jaw. This correction must be applied swiftly and in a timely manner. Do not chase the dog around the house trying to make the correction, but make the correction at the exact time of the mouthing or biting. If he bites his tongue in the process, he will stop the behavior immediately.

Never make a correction to the top or side of the nose with your hand or any devices. Doing so will only serve to agitate him, and incite him to become more aggressive. A puppy may submit temporarily, but, as he matures, he will attempt the challenge again. You must be aware of the action and be prepared to make the correction. Using a water gun or spray bottle to spray into the dog's face is also effective. Mix a solution of eight ounces of water with a teaspoonful of vinegar, and place it in your spray bottle. This will distract him from the undesirable behavior, at which time you should give a verbal command for a more acceptable action.

If you should make a correction, and your puppy growls or charges you, grab him by the nape of the neck and roll him to the floor on his back or side. Place your hand on his stomach and hold him there until he stops struggling. Do not let him up until he stops struggling. This maneuver is referred to as the "Alpha Roll," and can be effective when used on a puppy. DO NOT attempt the Alpha Roll on an adult dog. The results could be disastrous for you.

An adult dog is stronger, faster, and much more persistent than a puppy. He will use whatever tactics he can to survive what he perceives as an attack. If you feel that you cannot handle your dog, or if you are fearful of him, then let a professional handle any situation involving an adult dog. They have the experience to handle large dogs, and this dog has not victimized them.

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