Brandon McMillan's Canine Minded | How To Stop Your Puppy From Nipping
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How To Stop Your Puppy From Nipping

How To Stop Your Puppy From Nipping

If there’s one guarantee I can give you about puppies it’s they’re full of bad habits. You can’t blame them; after all they’re brand new to the world and they don’t know the rules and regulations as of yet. That’s like blaming someone for not knowing the language to a foreign country they just moved to. One of the most common and definitely most annoying habits puppies do is nipping. That little mouth has some very sharp points in it that can break through skin pretty easily. To make things worst they’re also teething so they have the constant need to chew and often you’re the victim. This is a problem that must be dealt with at a very young age because those teeth are only getting bigger and that mouth is only getting stronger. I’ve seen so many adult dogs that have this problem because the issue wasn’t solved when they were a puppy. Well I have a quick and easy technique to solve this problem for good. Let’s break this down and save our skin from any further damage…

For this you’ll only need a chew. Whether it’s a natural chew or a toy just make sure it’s something they really want. Don’t keep the chew on you. Keep it near you but out of reach of the dog.

As a disclaimer this technique works only on medium to larger dogs. Not recommended for smaller dogs. (under 15 lbs)

To begin this we’ll need you to first know the times your puppy likes to nip. Many are very predictable when you’re playing with them so if that’s the case start playing with them because this is all about timing. If you can get them to nip your hand it’s much more ideal. This is easy to get them to do because you’ll simply keep your hands close to their snout as you’re playing with them and they’ll most likely wanna nip at the nearest thing. Now this is all about timing so pay attention. When they nip you I want you to a two step in one process. You’re going to grab their collar and insert your thumb in their mouth (as they’re nipping) and do what I call the “Remote Control Hold.” The reason I call it this is because you’re going to hold their bottom jaw exactly like you’d hold a remote control for a tv. Your thumb will be inside their mouth while your other four fingers are on the bottom of their jaw. You’re not squeezing, just holding so they can’t back away. Now you’ve turned the tables on them and made their annoying habit annoying right back at them. As you’re holding them I want you to give them a “No” while continuing to hold. Many puppies will want to struggle during this process. I need you to simply continue to hold them till they’re done struggling. Once they’ve calmed down give it another 5 seconds and release them. Right after you release them I want you to give them a chew to divert that chewing on your skin onto something a little more appropriate. This teaches them what is acceptable to chew as you’re gonna pet them as they’re chewing. After they’ve chewed for a few minutes I want you to take the chew and hide it where you had it before and begin playing with them again. If they nip at you, simply repeat the process. Most dogs pick this up after 2 or 3 times. Some might take a little more so be consistent.

As always the details are how any technique is trained. There are few key things I wanna point out here. First I wanna reiterate how I don’t want you squeezing them as you’re training this. You’re just holding the mouth with no pressure and holding the collar. You wanna make it annoying for them as that’s what always breaks a dog’s bad habits. To a dog, a bad habit is fun for them and only more fun when they get good at it. Your goal is to make the bad habit annoying for them eventually eliminating the habit all together. Second I wanna point out how important it is they’re calm for about 5 seconds before releasing them. This teaches them that remaining calm will get them what they want. If you let them go when they’re struggling all you’re doing is teaching them to fight out of any situation and that’s a bad habit you definitely don’t want them growing into. It’s also important to point out how the hand holding the collar is there for control. Most dogs try and back away from this as you’re doing it so holding the collar ensures that doesn’t happen and gives you control. As we all know one of my golden rules of training is: Control, Train, Treat. We can’t train until we have control. Lack of control is the number reason most people can’t train their dog. And last and definitely not least be consistent!!! Remember training happens at the speed of life not the speed of light. Be the trainer and teach your animal correctly. Be patient and most importantly never train when your frustrated. If you get flustered just give it a minute and try again. Your dog picks up on your frustration. As I always say: “The face you show is the face that’s shown back to you.” Be the person you want your dog to look up to. Try it out and tell me how it goes. Ruff.

– Brandon

39 Comments
  • Adele
    Posted at 16:01h, 06 September Reply

    Thank you for this information. I’m hoping this will work on my new rescue foxhound. I rescued him from a local shelter 2 weeks ago and have been using your tips to train him. He is a pretty large dog but he is only 18 months old and still nips. We are working on the basic commands but he does get rambunctious when my husband or I come home. I realize he’s playing but being a larger dog this behavior needs to stop. Fingers crossed and thank you.

    • Ken
      Posted at 13:07h, 09 May Reply

      laura h – Looks like a Maine Coon. These guys don’t reach full size ’til their a several years old! It’s not unocommn for them to weigh 20+ lbs and have size 8 feets. For the most part, if this breed was any more laid back, they’d be dead. Love shot #2 — he looks so regal looking over his kingdom with the clouds around his head!

    • Abdul
      Posted at 02:56h, 19 February Reply

      I like the look but it has a too strong de9je0 vu feneilg for me. I liked the Prabal more cause she looked statuesque in it and I think that she should’ve chosen a different color this time. I’d love to see her in something red like the dress she has in the movie when she’s first glammed up.Also, my MAJOR problem with this look is her hair. I liked it in LA but here I just can’t. Those bangs look really bad and the whole hair do should’ve been more simpler. I hope she’ll grow the bangs really soon cause in my opinion they don’t suit her

  • Susan
    Posted at 02:48h, 15 September Reply

    How about if the puppy is about 6 months old and mostly Shepard and she thinks nipping (hard) is fun. I try to do that remote control hold on her and she just chomps down with her top, sharp, big teeth and I have to let go. Please help.

  • Nancy Barnett
    Posted at 13:33h, 16 September Reply

    Brandon,
    I am new to the “avid” animal loving world. I am now retired from owning my business and have time to get involved with rescue organizations and because I am out going I tend to proselytize for a cause. I watch Lucky Dog regularly and am so taken with your messages on training. As I experience the volunteer world I see such so much that needs help. One of the biggest ways I see in helping make the adoption effort successful if giving people skills for their pet. You possess the skill sets they need, I tell everyone to watch you. Do you have any tee shirts(say with the seven commands), promotional items to place at adoption events? Is there anyway you could create a format or something that shelters could give out to assist new owners in guiding their new pets?
    Thank you for all you do for the precious babies without homes and the ones finding new homes.
    Best regards,

    Nancy

    • Kterin
      Posted at 02:55h, 19 February Reply

      To me the dress isn’t actually that simialr to the Prabal, the silhouette is slightly differetn and the colour is more tame. The thing that really would have set this look apart would have been the hair. It looks awaful here, yesterday it went withthe cool vibe of the prabal dress, but here something much sleeker was needed, either marcel waves or a deep parted laquered bun, like Rooney mara. It is like gym hair here, whoever cut her bangs needs their hari dressing license taken away (do you get hairdressing licesnes?).The only thing is that if she goes for gold again I will be sick of it, imn the same way I loved Rooney mara for the first few looks because it changed from look to look but now I am sick of it.

  • Sande Callahan
    Posted at 21:33h, 09 November Reply

    Help! I have a Jack Russell puppy (10 months old) that I desperately need help with. It’s not that he is a bad puppy, but he is very much of his own agenda. He likes to play ball, but doesn’t want to relinquish the ball so we can actually play ball. He knows sit, stay, off, down, no, and come, but it’s if he wants to. He cannot go outside unless he is on a leash or a backyard line because he will just run. And finally, he just will not stop jumping, nipping, grabbing and pulling at clothing on my husband. He’s better with me but sometimes he just won’t stop. We have tried numerous things to get him to quit, however it’s usually into the crate or outside on the line. I have had a lot of dogs throughout my life, but this little guy just wears me out. I am retired and guess I don’t have the energy I use to. I took him to puppy training, however we were kind of kicked out of the class because he was so active and didn’t want to listen. I’m just at my wits end with him. Hope you can give me a little help.

    Keep up the good work on you’re show. I enjoy it so much.
    Thank you and best regards
    Sande

    • Vickie Crane
      Posted at 20:39h, 12 July Reply

      I have an 8 month old Jack Russell and we are experiencing the same things you are. I am very interested in a reply. We had labs before and never had trouble training them. This Jack is beating us and I need to know how to handle him better. He is a whole new ball game for us in training. He is sitting now; finally got him potty trained after 5 months; but if he isn’t on a lead or leash; he just runs until he can’t anymore. I have not tried the clicker training and will take your suggestions on the biting. Any other suggestions are appreciated. My son has a Jack and says he sees himself as the alpha dog and I am the pack. Obviously, he has the upper hand right now!
      Love to watch your show and enjoy your website very much.
      Vickie from Wisconsin

  • Tana Nuite
    Posted at 15:25h, 21 February Reply

    My husband and I have a lab mix pup named Tesla. She is about 4 months old and has no problem with sit, lay, crawl, roll-over. We’ve done the remote hold and it seems to work in getting her to not nip our skin. The thing is, she is going after our shirt sleeves now. Any suggestions on how we can correct this behavior?

  • Ashley
    Posted at 15:20h, 04 April Reply

    Hello Brandon,

    We love your show and have picked up some nice tips along the way. I grew up having dogs around and several at that. We recently rescued a 6 month old blue/brindle pitbull puppy, her parents had amazing temperments, extremely sweet dogs. Our puppy Zoey is also extremely sweet, however we would like to break her of chewing and nipping early. We have tried the thumb on the bottom of the mouth, which we will continue. We also know she is really smart, she picked up on sitting in 2 days, with sessions of 15 minutes, only because she would eventually get bored. If you point and tell her no she thinks that is another time to lunge at your finger while wagging her tail, she also playfully crouches and runs toward your face and nips. We would like to take this out of the equation asap. Do you have any advice???

    Thank You,
    Ashley

    • Ashley
      Posted at 15:25h, 04 April Reply

      Correction Zoey is 6 weeks not months!

  • Jenneh
    Posted at 13:40h, 13 June Reply

    Brandon,
    I love your show, I watch it a lot!
    I have a siberian husky that is getting close to two years old. She likes to bite (arms and hands) during playtime inside. I’m not sure how to solve this problem. She is very smart and knows lots of commands, but she ignores a “no” command during this time.
    Thanks, Jenneh

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    Posted at 19:59h, 18 June Reply

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  • Melissa
    Posted at 19:00h, 23 June Reply

    Last November I had a female German Shepherd mix dog come into my yard. I live in the county. Many dogs are dropped and left in the county by owners who no longer want them for whatever reason. It took me weeks before I could even approach her. After I started be able to get close and handle her, when I walked away she would nip at the back of my legs. By this time I was able to wrap my hand around her mussel and hold until she stopped fighting. I used this as discipline. She stopped nipping at me. She also being around my husband now, no longer nips at him. I think she is an intelligent dog. At first I was going to take her to the shelter, but I think she has potential and I decided to keep her in fear she barks at strangers and may not be adopted in a shelter. I have 3 other dogs. She gets along with them, although plays aggressively at times, but calms when told to. She now sits, and is Kennel broke. She does well in the house. She is improving at stay. lay down, and , understanding the word no. We are also working on heeling and walking on the leash. The problem I have though, I have an adult son who lives with me. The dog still nips at him I am told. How can I break her of this? I don’t think the thumb thing will work. She has been spayed. The vet thinks she is around 18 months to 3 years old. Any suggestions?

  • Linn Newton
    Posted at 13:28h, 01 August Reply

    Please give us a technique for a small dog. We have a 8 week old , 8-9 pound puppie and I need techniques fo stop her from hitting, she’s a rescue and Mom was about 25-30 pounds. I’ve always had Labs so the smaller breeds are very different .

  • Pat Lavender
    Posted at 14:59h, 27 August Reply

    In reading your training tips for nipping puppies, you say this technique should not be used on small dogs. I have a 5 month old , 4 pound, Maltese puppy that we have just purchased. She has 5 months of no discipline at all, so I am starting from ground zero with her. She, like all puppies, likes to play and chew on your fingers. How will breaking her from that be different than the post for larger dogs. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Love your show, watch it whenever I can. Keep up the great work.

    Thanks!!!

  • sua chua quat dien
    Posted at 07:16h, 04 November Reply

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Finding the time andd actual effort to generate a
    great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to get anytthing
    done.

  • Priscilla
    Posted at 12:22h, 03 February Reply

    obviously like your website however you have to check the
    spelling on several of your posts. Several
    of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform
    the truth on the other hand I’ll certainly come again again.

  • Lisa naglich
    Posted at 00:29h, 07 October Reply

    I have 8 month old bulldog, and he is a chewer and bitter. His jaws a very strong and i have tried this method and he keeps coming back and biting again. I nervous because i have never had a dog that bit, and i am afraid if he does not get it he will continue this behavior and really hurt someone. He has a very sweet personality so im not sure why and what i maybe doing wrong. He can sit, laydown, shake, and rollover; so he listens very well. Any suggestions?? I need help with this one

    Thank You,

    Lisa N.

  • Jenniffer Jude Slachtovsky
    Posted at 18:30h, 02 December Reply

    Brandon, I was hoping you could explain what appropriate cuddle play/indoor play, is?. When I am in the house wrestling around on the floor with my dogs, what is appropriate behavior for both I and my dogs so that they don’t feel the “need” or have the “urge” to nip during play?

  • Dorothy Gomez
    Posted at 05:26h, 10 January Reply

    Just read your nipping training tips and the comments submitted by others and I’m wondering if 9 weeks is to young to teach him to stop nipping at us? I usually end up putting him into his crate but I don’t want to over use this tool (is that possible?). I look forward to your help with this issue, which is one of many I am experiencing trying to teach my very new puppy.

    Thank you,

    Dorothy

  • Dorothy Gomez
    Posted at 05:26h, 10 January Reply

    Just read your nipping training tips and the comments submitted by others and I’m wondering if 9 weeks is to young to teach him to stop nipping at us? I usually end up putting him into his crate but I don’t want to over use this tool (is that possible?). I look forward to your help with this issue, which is one of many I am experiencing trying to teach my very new puppy.

    Thank you,

    Dorothy

  • Heather McClure
    Posted at 13:16h, 09 February Reply

    I just adopted a 6 week old hound mix puppy, He has an upper respiratory infection and 3 intestinal parasites he is on 4 different medication and I have only had him since February 4th. He is a chewer and biter. I tried the hold the collar and remote control technique but he squirms drops to his back and continues to bite. He really hurts when he bites, even though he is only 7 pounds he gets so excited and starts to bite me, his blanket, my pants, shirt… if you have any suggestions PLEASE let me know. My email is sydmonty13@sbcglobal.net. Thanks Heather

  • Christine S
    Posted at 14:20h, 09 April Reply

    I have a similar problem as Susan. I have a brand new puppy 13 weeks old. He nips at everything. My pants as I walk, my toes, my hands. I want to play with him, but he gets excited and seems to prefer to chew my hands instead of the toys. He will deliberately ignore the toy in my hand to get my finger. I’ve tried the remote control grip, but be bites down with his top teeth leaving marks. He also likes to flip over while I’m holding the collar making it very hard for me to continue to hold his mouth without completely twisting my arm while still holding his collar with my other hand. Suggestions would be much appreciated. This nipping is most unenjoyable.

  • Christine S
    Posted at 14:20h, 09 April Reply

    I have a similar problem as Susan. I have a brand new puppy 13 weeks old. He nips at everything. My pants as I walk, my toes, my hands. I want to play with him, but he gets excited and seems to prefer to chew my hands instead of the toys. He will deliberately ignore the toy in my hand to get my finger. I’ve tried the remote control grip, but be bites down with his top teeth leaving marks. He also likes to flip over while I’m holding the collar making it very hard for me to continue to hold his mouth without completely twisting my arm while still holding his collar with my other hand. Suggestions would be much appreciated. This nipping is most unenjoyable.

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    Posted at 16:54h, 12 August Reply

    So what techniques for nipping can you use on a small dog 8lbs?

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