Many dogs like to grab at arms, legs, shoes, scarves, or even hair when they’re excited. Dogs that nip when they’re excited can be pretty frustrating, embarrassing, painful, or even scary to work with.
Some puppies that play bite just grow out of it — but many more don’t. Unfortunately for us, most of our dogs will just stick with their habits as they mature if we don’t teach them a different way to act.
That being said – let’s teach them a different way to act! Today, we’re exploring how to stop a dog from nipping when he’s excited.
Ouch! Why Does My Dog Bite When He’s Excited?
Dogs explore the world through their mouths, for better or for worse. Though I can’t tell you exactly why your dog nips when he’s excited (I’d have to ask, and I’m not Dr. DoLittle), I can tell you some common reasons for dog nipping.
Your dog might nip you when he’s excited because:
- He wants to play by putting something in his mouth, and your hands/feet are closest.
- He wants to play by putting something in his mouth, and your hands/feet are moving the fastest.
- He’s learned that nipping makes you squeal or move faster.
- He likes to jaw wrestle with his dog friends, and thought you’d like it, too!
- Putting something in his mouth to chomp on makes him feel a bit calmer, and he’s trying to self-soothe.
Generally, dogs that nip when they’re excited are high arousal. This is a shorthand way of saying that these dogs are easily over-excited by things. These dogs often react with barking, spinning, and — you guessed it — nipping.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Nipping When Excited?
We’re glad you asked! As a professional trainer and a former animal shelter worker, I’ve got quite a few tricks up my sleeve for stopping dogs from nipping.
Common Training Methods to Avoid
First off, let’s address some common tips you might find elsewhere online, and why I don’t endorse them:
- Squealing. Some claim that squealing – as if in pain – signals to your dog that he’s playing too rough. However, in many cases, squealing just makes the dog more excited. You sound like a fun squeaky toy, after all! Better to stay quiet, especially with adult dogs.
- Holding the dog’s muzzle closed. In theory, holding a dog’s mouth closed works as a form of punishment saying “don’t do that.” In reality, this doesn’t do much other than make your dog nervous about your hand near his mouth. This can become problematic in the future when you try to get dangerous food out of your dog’s mouth, or try to brush his teeth. This tactic might stop the nipping at the moment, but it’s not the best way to teach your dog not to nip tomorrow.
- Pinning the dog to the ground (an alpha roll). Old-school dog trainers who were working with incomplete science believed that alpha rolls exerted dominance by rolling another wolf onto its back. In fact, submissive wolves roll over on their own when they’re scared. In short, the alpha roll is a pretty outdated maneuver. Pinning your dog to the ground might stop him from biting you right now or even in the future, but that’s because he’s scared of you. We’re pretty sure you want a best friend, not a hostage! Rather than enforcing your rules with violent, scary methods, try teaching your dog a different way to be excited and how to calm himself down.
- Spraying the dog with water, vinegar, citronella, or just about anything else. These methods work, so they’re often recommended by people who want to see fast results. However, it’s pretty unpleasant for your dog. While it may stop your dog from nipping in the moment, it teaches him that you (or guests) are scary or painful. This can lead to barking, lunging, or hiding in the future. Not helpful! We want calm and polite behavior, not fearful behavior.
- Shaking pennies or throwing things at the dog. People like this method, like spraying the dog, because it stops the behavior in the moment. Just like spraying the dog or alpha rolling him, these methods are scary for your dog and don’t teach him what to do instead of nipping. I’ve met dogs that were brought to the shelter because their owners shook cans of pennies at them so much that the dogs started barking and growling if people picked up anything can-like (such as a water bottle).
In short, if you try to enforce your house rules with confrontational or scary training methods, you might stop your dog from nipping at the moment, but at a price. You’re likely to scare your dog in the long run and may even make him act more aggressively down the line.
The reason the five methods listed above are so attractive – despite being deeply problematic – is that they stop the dog from nipping right now.
However, it’s kind of like giving your partner a swift kick under the table when he says something rude at dinner with your parents. It works — but it might make your partner a bit irritable towards you or even less likely to want to grab dinner again.
What if instead of kicking your partner for an off-color joke, you swiftly changed the subject to a different topic – maybe one that shows your partner would enjoy discussing? And then at the next meal, you headed off the bad joke ahead of time with something more parent-friendly?
Those two methods are what we’ll do for nipping dogs instead.
Better Ways to Stop A Dog From Nipping in The Moment (Trainer Approved)
When you’ve got an amped-up Boxer (or Jack Russell or Cattle Dog) pulling at your sleeves and nipping at your heels, you’re not thinking about an in-depth training plan. You want this to stop — now.
Luckily, you don’t have to resort to alpha rolls or cans of pennies to make that happen. Save that loose change for Coinstar instead!
When a dog is nipping at you, jumping on you, barking at you, or otherwise being a bother, you have a few different options:
1. Toss food on the ground. This is my favorite go-to. Called a “treat scatter” in the shelter world, this is how I have escaped from most of my too-excited canine companions. Take a fistful of treats and scatter them on the ground. Sniffing and gathering the treats will help calm most dogs down.
Don’t worry too much about rewarding the dog for jumping up — the dog is probably so amped up right now that he’s pretty much incapable of learning. In science speak, he’s not using his prefrontal cortex right now!
Eating food helps calm him down, and then you can start teaching lessons. Dogs are generally less likely to “rebound” at you after this. If the dog won’t take the treats or goes right back to nipping, try another method.
2. Step into the dog’s space. If the dog is loose and waggy, you can try stepping into his space. Simply take a step forward into the dog with your body upright and features calm.
No shouting, pushing, or intimidating — just take a step towards the dog. This will stop some dogs in their tracks after a few tries. Do not try this with dogs that may be scared of you or aggressive towards you.
3. Be calm and boring. Many dogs jump or nip at us because we wave our arms around, squeal like toys, and generally make ourselves into exciting play objects. Some dogs will stop jumping and nipping if you simply make yourself boring. This is best paired with a treat scatter.
4. Leave the room. If nothing else is working while a dog nips at you, just leave. Step over a baby gate or step behind a closed door for a few seconds. This “negative punishment” procedure simply removes what the dog wants (you and your arms to gnaw on) when he does something you don’t like. After a few moments, return and try to cue the dog to sit or tossing treats. Repeat as needed. This approach can truly remedy the problem!
For most dogs, a boring person who leaves when they nip becomes a pretty lame chew toy. You might be done after trying these approaches, but maybe not!
If you’d like to teach your dog an alternative behavior rather than just triaging the problem at the moment, read on.
How to Stop Your Dog From Nipping in the Ongoing Future
Of course, sometimes it’s nice to prevent a problem before it starts.
We can always use environmental management to stop a dog from nipping. This might mean putting your dog on a leash before guests come over so you can pull him away before he nips.
You might want to put him behind a dog gate or in a crate. In some cases, a muzzle can help keep fingers safe while you work on training.
If you go this route, be prepared to reward your dog with lots of treats for calm behavior behind the barrier. If you ignore him for too long when he’s behind a barrier, you can make him more excited because he’s so ready to join the action!
Beyond that, how can we actually teach the dog not to nip at all?
Differential Reinforcement (aka Show Him Something Better to Do)
My favorite way to attack a problem behavior is using a method called “Differential Reinforcement of an Incompatible Behavior” (DRI). Basically, this means that we’ll reward your dog when he does something that he can’t do while simultaneously nipping you.
Most people simply teach their dog to sit when greeting people. To do this, teach your dog to sit in increasingly distracting situations.
You’re going to have to practice a lot — most dogs are good at sitting when you’re sitting alone in the kitchen in your PJs holding a bunch of treats. But can your dog sit at the dog park? At the door when you’re about to leave for a walk? When he sees a squirrel?
Keep practicing until he’s great at sitting in really, really hard situations. If you try to ask your dog to sit when he’s not ready for the situation, you’ll just be frustrated when he ignores you and keeps jumping on your guests.
Watch out for creating accidental behavior chains during this process. If your dog is still nipping at you between sitting, you might be rewarding a nip-sit combination. Make the situation less exciting, then try again so that you can reward him for sitting without nipping.
The Hand Target Method
My personal favorite behavior to use instead of sitting is actually a hand target. This behavior teaches your dog to press his nose to your hand on cue. It’s a super easy and versatile trick that helps refocus your dog and move him around with ease.
I prefer hand targets for excited dogs (instead of sitting) for a few reasons:
- It’s tough to sit when you’re so excited. Targeting is just easier!
- It points the dog’s mouth somewhere specific.
- You can ping-pong an excited dog, helping to burn off that adrenaline.
Finally, an excellent way to control your dog’s mouth when he’s excited is to teach him to greet people with a toy in his mouth.
This is the method I use with my own dog, and it really helps him chomp on something squishy while keeping my sleeves un-bitten.
I taught my dog a “get your cow” cue first, then started to cue this whenever he got excited about someone coming near. Now, he does it on his own! This works best with dogs that already love, love, LOVE toys!
If you’re more of a video watcher, here’s a demo video that I put together a few weeks ago on puppy nipping and adult dogs that nip when excited.
Puppy Nipping FAQ
Why does my dog bite my sleeves?
Your dog may be biting your sleeves in order to start up a mandatory tug-of-war session. You pull at your sleeves, and so does he! To avoid this, try walking towards your dog when he grabs your sleeves to eliminate any tension and make the game not fun for the dog.
Why does my dog nip at visitors?
Your dog may be excited and trying to play with them! Instead, teach your dog a “get your toy” command to channel that excitement into a more appropriate behavior.
Will squealing stop my dog from nipping at me?
The common training myth is that when you cry like a puppy would, your dog will realize he is being too rough. But in many cases, your squeal is even more exciting to your dog – now you sound like a toy! Instead, stay silent and avoid giving your dog attention.
What worked for you to stop your dog’s nipping? Let us know in the comments!
March 20, 2023
My 2year old Boston recently started nipping new people coming into the house or those we meet when walking on a leash? How can we stop this?
March 21, 2023
Hey, Mike. It’s hard to say without knowing more about the situation.
If you think he’s doing so because he’s excited, then just employ some of the tips from the article above.
But it could also be a symptom of basic reactivity or even leash aggression.
Let us know a little more and we’ll try to help!
October 23, 2022
My sweet little Maltese draws blood multiple times daily on me. I’m older with thin skin and now have scarred-up forearms and hands. Quite often she gets jealous if I’m on the phone or putting on her harness but mostly it’s out of the blue. I believe I’ve tried everything but can’t make it stop. Other times, usually when I have food, she’ll cuddle on my lap. Per a DNA test she has some inbreeding from an idiot breeder. Friends on the phone hear her attack me and tell me to get rid of her. Who needs this in their faithful companion? Nobody would accept this and she would end up in a shelter repeatedly. Regardless, I love her but totally lost on what to do. I see your scatter treats idea but who has a pocket full of treats at any given moment?
October 24, 2022
Hey there, K. Sorry to hear about the problems with your little Maltese.
It honestly sounds like you may need some professional help, so consider reaching out to a certified dog behavior consultant. That’s a good idea any time biting is involved, and it is especially important when the bites are relatively serious.
And it can certainly feel strange to have treats in your pocket at all times when you first start, but that’s just something some of us have to do for our floofs. You get used to it, and before you know it, having some on hand at all times will seem completely normal.
August 28, 2022
I have a one year old German Shorthaired Pointer, and she jumps, claws, and mouths/nips me when I come home. I live in an open concept apartment and therefore can’t set up a barrier such as a baby gate and I can’t escape to another room. I have tried remaining calm, and rewarding her when she becomes calm but it takes gee a while to calm she often hurts me when she jumps and nips. Should I try greeting her with treats or a toy when I enter? I am not sure what to do…
August 29, 2022
Hey there, Jade.
An open-concept apartment certainly makes things more challenging. Greeting her with treats would probably only make her more excited to see you, if anything.
Do you have a crate or a puppy pen you can put her in when you come home? In other words, come inside and then immediately have her go into the crate until she’s calm?
Best of luck!
August 9, 2022
Have a 7months rescue pup Great Dane /ridgeback !!
She’s doing really well but she will jump up we tell her to sit and then when she does sit we pat her and say good girl then we go to walk off in the yard and then she will start jumping up and nipping if we ignore her and turn our backs on her she will keeping jumping up and nipping at our backs!! We always giver her attention but then she just keeps going and sometimes she hurts and especially with my 8year old and 13 year old she gets ruff
August 9, 2022
Hey there, Nerolee.
It may be helpful to pick up a puppy gate or utilize some other kind of barrier. That way, when she gets too excited and starts jumping up, you can just duck behind the gate to prevent her from nipping.
Stick with it and give that a try!
July 31, 2022
My dog Jaxxie get overly excited at night and wants to play bite my hand/arm and jump on my back. I tried giving her a toy, which works sometimes. I recently banged a frisbee hoping the noise would stop her whichit did. She then went and started to play with another toy and was fine the rest of the night. Can what I did cause any problem for Jaxxie?
August 1, 2022
As long as it didn’t frighten Jaxxie, it’s probably not a big deal.
Best of luck!
July 26, 2022
My 6 month old pup nips at me, my clothes and her harness when we’re preparing to go out for a walk. I try ignoring her, putting the harness away and ignoring her. I attempt to put it on once she has sat down but it takes like 15-20 tries before she ALMOST stops nipping completely.
July 27, 2022
That sounds frustrating, Maria.
It sounds like you have the right idea as far as putting the harness away when she gets to mouthy and just going very slow. It sounds like she might need more time to become desensitized to the harness. Some dogs really struggle with having a weird object go up and over their heads. I’d suggest breaking the process down into smaller steps. Start out just showing her the harness and giving treats, reward her for sniffing it. Then quickly put the harness over her head, reward with treats, and take it off again right away. Keep repeating until you can hook the harness on. It definitely might take a few days!
Best of luck!
June 3, 2022
I have 3 young dogs and live alone. They feed off each other’s energy. I’m really having a hard time because I don’t have time to or energy to work with them individually as I live alone. One is a dominant female. The youngest nips very hard tiny bits of skin. The third is a bit older but joins in with the other’s. Any multiple dog training advise.
June 6, 2022
Hey there, Laura.
Trying to deal with behavior issues in multiple dogs at the same time can certainly be very challenging (not to mention frustrating).
Honestly, you may need to try to establish different areas of the house using puppy gates. Then, you can separate them for training and some enrichment activities (or perhaps simply keep two in one part of the house, while working with the third). Failing that, you may simply need to solicit the help of a certified dog behavior consultant.
Best of luck!
May 12, 2022
So i was wondering how to stop my dog from running at me and jumping on me and biteing me, i try to play with him outside but it always happens
May 12, 2022
Hey, Ryan. Have you tried any of the tips from the article?
April 6, 2022
Hi I find your tips really great My 1yr old German sheperd is not taking notice outside and is very reactive to dogs to play with them.
April 11, 2022
Glad you found the tips helpful, Christine! Let us know how your pup progresses!
September 12, 2021
My dog Frazer on a walk if he see another dog jumps up and bites my leg and screams , how can i stop this .
September 13, 2021
Wow. That sounds pretty extreme, Christine.
To start, you’ll need to figure out what his basic emotions are. Is he frightened by the other dogs? Is he acting territorially?
Check out our article about reading dog body language for some clues.
But honestly, if he’s actually biting you, it’d probably be a good idea to go ahead and start working with a certified dog behavior consultant.
In the meantime, do everything you can to prevent him from seeing his triggers (other dogs, in this case). This may mean walking at off-peak times, avoiding the dog park, and similar strategies.
Best of luck!
August 4, 2021
Our guy just hit 1 and has done this since he was 8 weeks old. He had a month here and there where it stopped but once he hit teens it’s back and in full effect. They normally happen on walks. He will have a zoomie and sometimes will try to “bite” us. He has gotten our arms once or twice and bruised them. All the behaviorists and trainers can’t figure out how to get him to stop. The “Treat party” does work 9 out of 10 times. We just say “Search”, throw a bunch of treats on the floor and he stops. So I highly suggest that method. My question is, will this always happen? Will he out grow this with the work we’re putting into him? It’s hard to train him when we don’t always know what’s going to to trigger him. We try to manage his environment, keep him from going on to long of a walk, have people not great him in an excited way or startle him. We have tried A LOT! but nothing seems to be showing us that this will stop at some point. We’re now thinking we have to get a muzzle for him so that we can feel comfortable with a dog walker coming. UGH!
August 4, 2021
That sounds incredibly frustrating, Judi!
Just to be clear, have you reached out to a proper canine behaviorist? I only ask because of the away you worded your comment — a lot of people call themselves a lot of things, but there really aren’t that many canine behaviorists in the world.
But honestly, we can’t tell from afar whether or not his behavior will change. It definitely sounds like you’re doing all the right things to try to adjust the behavioral problems, but that doesn’t always work. Dogs are complex creatures, and they occasionally defy our attempts to alter their behavior.
Given that, we would highly encourage you to continue experimenting with management options, including the muzzle if need be. Muzzles obviously aren’t an ideal solution, but they’ll eliminate the need to worry about your pup around others, and they’ll make it easier to continue to enjoy a full life together.
Sorry we don’t have more definitive answers, but we applaud all of your efforts and wish you the best!
August 12, 2021
I second what Ben said! And the good news is that a lot of dogs do grow out of this behavior as they leave adolescence. One thing I did when my dog displayed this behavior indoors is we would keep gates between every room and if he nipped me, I’d leave the room. I’d return with a toy, and we’d play. If he played appropriately, I’d stay with him and play more. But if he nipped at me, playtime would end and I’d leave the room. Eventually, the dog learns that to get your attention, they need to play appropriately with toys and not nip at you!
July 24, 2021
I have an 8mo beagle mix that loves to play tug….even when playing catch. As soon as treats come out she stops everything so it’s hard to reward positive behavior. She loves to destroy things by chewing so is very orally focused. We try to have plenty of sanctioned options to substitute should she find something not appropriate. She also likes to jaw wrestle with other dogs and nips when toy is in mouth to instigate playing tug. She definitely fits the category of crazy chomping and not realizing when it’s on skin vs the toy. I found a small wine with sad eyes does more than yelping to make her stop, but I definitely want to try the calm down reinforcement when not in the thick of heavy excitement to get her excitement levels down a bit. I bruise easily and am covered from nips.
July 15, 2021
We’ve recently adopted a 1 year old AmBulldog/Staffy cross. He gets over excited when playing, particularly meeting new people/new surroundings, and tends to start barking at people and jumping up.
It doesn’t seem aggressive but people don’t particularly enjoy it as he’s not exactly small!
We’ve tried some of the methods above, but he tends to just bark his head off until he gets more attention. People have said to let him bark it out but we have neighbours and don’t want to get any noise complaints.
July 15, 2021
Not sure if Kayla will have a chance to respond (she stays pretty busy training pooches), but you may want to try wearing him out a bit first, before you start working on the training techniques.
It’s amazing how much a little bit more exercise can help with some issues.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll probably just need to reach out to a trainer or canine behaviorist.
Best of luck!
July 14, 2021
I have a 8 month old poodle mix. Not the maltipoo I was told but I believe jack russell. She is sweet as can be. But when we come in from being gone she gets overly excited and jumps up and nips my 7 year old granddaughters leg. The dog loves her and she loves the dog, I kno it is not aggression just put excitement as if to say “me first”. How do I stop the behavior? I don’t want this to ruin the relationship she has with the puppy.
July 15, 2021
Just try some of the suggestions from the article — with practice and patience you should be able to reel in your little gal’s excitement.
Best of luck!
July 1, 2021
Charlotte is a 3 month Collie her problem, nipping, biting. She keeps biting pulling on clothes. I stand still keeps biting. I leave room and I come back and she starts all over. She will be playing with toys and than out of blue will attack me.
July 2, 2021
Three months of age is still pretty young, so we wouldn’t panic at this point. However, the “attacks out of the blue” are a bit concerning.
If the issue continues, we’d recommend getting in touch with a canine behaviorist and have the pooch assessed.
Best of luck!
June 21, 2021
I enjoyed your video re: dog nipping. I recently rescued a 1 year old pitt bull mix from a local shelter. She is high energy and playful, but gets really excited at time and wants to mouth/nip on my hands but does not realize her own strength, and has the jaw pressure of an alligator. I am subsequently riddled with embarrassing bruises all over my forearm. I’ve tried yelling “No”, acted like I’m crying (because of pain), and popping her on the behind with a rolled up magazine. None of it seems to work. I will try to stand up and ignore her like you demonstrated in your video and see if it works. She’s got some other behavioral issues that I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed about. Hoping not to have to bring her back to the shelter. Wish you were down her in Louisiana to come work with her. Lol. Best wishes!
June 21, 2021
Hey there, Kathleen.
Sorry about the issues with your little pibble, but definitely give Kayla’s tips a try.
Incidentally, we obviously love Kayla, but there are canine behaviorists in every corner of the country. And the sooner you find one who is helpful, the better!
Best of luck!
June 13, 2021
We have a smaller dog, part Jack Russell, and adopted a large puppy! Part lab and has the longest legs! The large puppy has chased the 3 year old Jack outside and was fun for a while! Now the puppy gets STREAKS OF ENERGY! It’s pouring outside and now is chasing the smaller dog and biting him! He cries and we can hardly catch either!
My husband is a nervous Nellie and wants to HIT-the! puppy! I’m beside myself
My husband and I are fighting too much!!
Can you help me please!!
June 14, 2021
Hey there, Judy.
Sorry you’re struggling with your pooch, but we’d definitely discourage your husband from hitting the puppy — that is not only cruel (and potentially a crime), but it will make matters worse.
There’s not much we can do from afar, so we’d recommend reaching out to a canine behaviorist for help.
June 13, 2021
I just read the article on nipping. I have a 16 month miniature poodle who loves to nip the back of my legs. I now have some ideas to work with! I especially like the idea of a target and having her touch my hand.
June 14, 2021
Glad you found it helpful, Sally!
Best of luck!
June 13, 2021
I have 2 months old husky puppy who is doing great in learning and growing, but there are few times in day when he gets overexcited and start biting. For example, in the morning when I get up and get out forn my bedroom, he seems to be so happy and excited to see me, wiggling his tail and start biting my hands, feet, pants. I am trying to redirect him on toys but I does’t work. I can not leave the room because he bites my pants. Sometimes I cilmb on bench he can’t reach and turn away from him. Is that okay to do? But soon he will grow and cilmb on that bench :/ I also find it helpful to calm him when I grab him gently on neck skin and pick him up in my arms facing wall until he calms. Is that okay?
June 14, 2021
Hey there, Andrea.
Turning away from him is not a problem — in fact, that’s more-or-less what you want to do if redirection isn’t working. He needs to learn that when he bites, playtime (fun) is over.
But scruffing him (grabbing him by the neck skin) is not a good idea.
If he has a crate (or you have somewhere else you can put him when he’s overexcited), just start placing him inside when he gets too excited. Also, you may want to try to learn to recognize the signs that he is getting overexcited, so that you can go ahead and shut things down before he starts biting.
Best of luck!
May 29, 2021
Our puppy is a 4.5-month-old, 28 lb retriever/shepherd mix. When we play fetch with him outside on the long leash, we find that he gets really zoomy and eventually starts ignoring the ball and jumps on our legs/bites us. He does this at the end of walks as well. On walks, we can sometimes redirect it by luring him to heel with a treat, but we’re having a hard time figuring out how to stop/prevent this behavior, especially when playing fetch.
June 1, 2021
It sounds like you’re on the right track — you just need to teach him some other ways to behave when he gets worked up.
Just make sure to keep safety in mind (especially if you have young children) and try implementing some of the tips Kayla shared above, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a trainer or behaviorist if you aren’t getting good results.
Best of luck!
May 29, 2021
I have a Belgium Shepard (4 months) we he gets too excited he starts nipping really hard, there is no way to stop him, tried to walk towards, tried to ignore, tried to distract, but he’s just focused on bitting and when corrected tries to bite even more…
When walking he’s calm, but if I try to run for excercie he just gets crazy and starts to try bite me (really bad bitting) or the leash as well.
June 1, 2021
If you’ve already tried some of the techniques discussed above and they haven’t helped, it may be time to consult with a canine behaviorist.
Best of luck!
May 26, 2021
My golden is 8 1/2 months old 72lbs. He will play ball with me and out of the blue starts attacking me. Bites hurt and I have trouble getting away. I ignore him by turning my back and he still bites my butt or elbow or leg. He does this without playing. Other times he can be calm and snuggle. Need help
May 27, 2021
Yikes, Karen! That sounds pretty scary!
Given your pup’s size, and the relatively unpredictable and serious nature of the bites, we’d recommend working with a canine behaviorist ASAP.
We’ve got our fingers crossed for you!
April 29, 2021
Our dachshund/terrier rescue mix, Beckett, just bit my husband. Beckett hides in what we call his Secret Headquarters (under a chair) when he doesn’t want to do something. My husband tried to pull him out (when treats did not work) and got a good nip. Beckett sometimes nips when excited, but this was more. WHat do you recommend?
April 30, 2021
If the nip was a one-time thing, we’d probably talk about the circumstances of the event and how to handle things differently in the future when he is chilling in the Secret Headquarters (hilarious name for his hiding place, btw).
But given that he nips at other times too, it’s probably time to speak to a private, force-free trainer.
Best of luck!
April 18, 2021
My puppy is 9 months, didn’t get his adult teeth until 7-8 months. He takes treat’s gently, but goes over the top with jumping in the air and at me. He’s in the expen when this starts. I turn my back on him, Just bought two new tug toys which I present oneI’ve tossed kibble, done the nose touches, ask him to sit, and walked away for maybe 30 sec. Will try your other suggestions. Need help with the barking which occurs when someone comes into the house or when he gets over excited. Thanks
April 19, 2021
Hey, Cindy. It sounds like you’re on the right track — just keep at it and definitely employ the tips above. Remember, puppies can take a while to figure out the rules, so just be patient.
As for the barking issue, we have an article on dogs who bark at everything. Give it a read!
April 1, 2021
Thank you so much for this post. Our doggo landed with us two and a half weeks ago. He is a 7-8 month old GSD and Catahoula mix with a heart of gold but playfully nips and apparently wrestled with his last family. He has his times, near bedtime, when he gets super nippy and tugs at the kids’ clothing and lunges for toys. While not aggressive, per se, it is an accident waiting to happen. We aren’t going to give up on him just yet. You have given us so many ideas to use to get us all to a calmer place. (Treats to scatter, prefilled kongs and treat balls and rawhides are going to be stationed all over the place.)
The hand-target idea will be so useful. Unless he is wilding out, he redirects quickly with a “sit.” The problem with a sit is that he came to us with a healed, broken leg that was never set by a veterinarian. Over time, even when the emotional scars from violence fade, frequent “sits” may become painful. We don’t know about that yet, as he is still growing, but changing course right now feels right.
Thank you for giving us some starting points.
April 1, 2021
So glad you found the article helpful, Laura. We hope the tips help you address your pooch’s issues so you can all enjoy a long, happy life together.
One quick note: Kayla doesn’t mention it here, but in other articles, she’s explained that you can usually substitute laying down for sitting if need be. Lots of dogs find laying down more comfortable — especially pooches like yours, who have injuries.
Best of luck! Let us know how it goes!
March 21, 2021
We throw competition frisbee with Cooper. He was hard to get excited to chase the frisbee.He now chases, retrieves the frisbee but there is a one minute time for this event. Cooper jumps with excitement and nips/bites while getting really to throw the next throw. How do you keep the excitement up, but avoid getting bit. Cooper is one year old and I have gotten bit a couple times during the event.
March 23, 2021
Hey Bonnie, that is definitely a frustrating situation! One thing you could try is working on some impulse control exercises so Cooper can practice lowering his arousal level. You could also try giving your dog something to do before the next throw, so he has some other way to channel all that excitement. You could try asking Cooper to do a few hand targets, some tricks like spin or sitting between your legs (although I think something with some movement would probably be more helpful for him). Another option could be to teach a “place” command a couple of feet back from where you are holding the frisbee until the toss. Good luck, competitive frisbee sounds like tons of fun!
March 13, 2021
I started holding my hand closed with a treat in it towards the puppy, and the hand only opens when puppy sits, and gives me eye contact. The nipping stopped immediately, and I get great focus. The target method works great too!
February 11, 2021
My puppy is starting to bark and get bitey when he is overly excited and wants attention. I play with him and take him on long walks but of course, sometimes I have to work! I agree with a lot of this article, I have tried the “ouch” method and it just makes things worse, for example. Or flinching away makes him think it’s a game. The problem with giving him treats is that he’s soooooo food motivated that the minute he even thinks food is coming into the picture, he will immediately stop any bad behavior and just wait for food. That doesn’t mean the bad behavior won’t start up again though when he’s not around food. I can’t leave the room, he’ll tear the place apart! We do tie outs sometimes, not for long periods of time but just to calm him down and that helps. Any extra advice for a crazy food motivated little dude? he’s a very sweet puppy labradoodle, almost 6 months old.
February 15, 2021
Hey Angelina – the good news is that you can use the food motivation in your favor for sure! Instead of waiting for bad behavior to appear, try to catch your dog before he begins a bad behavior cycle, and use treats to reward an alternative behavior that you do like. So – for example – if your dog goes crazy when coming inside after a walk, practice doing a target “touch” as soon as you step in the door so that your dog has something new to focus on.
Why do you think your dog tears up the room when you leave? Does he have enough toys and chews? Some dogs are really smart and need puzzle toys, chews, and frozen lickies to keep themselves occupied and stimulated, or else they will make their own fun!
February 8, 2021
Pets names Kaios 1 and a half yrs and Zoey 6 months And they love peanut butter raw hides
January 16, 2021
Have a Coton puppy, Poppi with high energy! Your video very helpful!
December 30, 2020
My dog isu controllingly crazy and nips any time someone comes over and even with us she allready puts toys in hermouth but wi paw and scratch
December 8, 2020
My puppy is Joey. He loves Lukes mini treats and he has a bad habit of nipping hands and feet when too excited.
August 8, 2020
My dog Yodi gets excited when my granddaughters come each day. He jumps and nips at them. Can you give me some advise
July 26, 2020
Thank You for writing this. I can’t find an answer though anywhere to my question.
I have a new puppy. Puppy
Training isn’t new to me, I have 2 other dogs. My 9 week old puppy keeps nipping the back legs of my 18 month old dog and hurting him. The 18 month old keeps trying to play but the 9 week old
Keeps getting him with those baby teeth. I tell her no and try to discourage her with a toy, but she goes right back. I’m nervous the older dog will snap at her if she doesn’t stop. We’ve only had the 9 week old puppy 2 days and I’m sure she will age out of this with our help but is there any advice you have to help?
July 27, 2020
Immediately ending playtime when the younger pooch starts getting nippy will probably help her learn the lesson over time.
Also, it may help to tire them both out a bit before playtime, by taking them on a long walk or something first.
Best of luck!
July 12, 2020
Hi there. Thank you for the great article and video! We have a 3 month old Australian Labradoodle who is a real sweetie most of the day. We have been working on mouthing with him, which he mostly does when he is tired or over-excited. Although he has improved, we find that he often jumps up, barks and nips at us or our clothes when we are sitting at the table. I have tried standing and crossing my arms and ignoring him, and also asking for a sit, but he repeats the same behaviour again and again. It appears he is looking for attention. I’m not sure if doing the ‘treat scatter’ or rewarding him for good behaviour is advised in this situation because then we would be feeding him at the dinner table. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
July 4, 2020
Hi Kayla, I have a 3 month old Rottie that will come up behind me and nip my leg and he will bark at me. What do you do to stop these ‘demand’ type behaviors?
June 27, 2020
Copper 10 weeks old. Loves “Zukes”
May 12, 2020
Mika my border collie/black Shepard rescue. When I first adopted her I was warned that she had a tendency to lunge and nip. They wanted to make sure she was adopted in a household with no kids as she had been returned because of those behaviours and they were going to put her on Prozac. She stopped this fairly soon after I brought her home, thankfully, but after 2 years has started to lunge and nip at my son (adult) when he stands or goes to leave the room. They seem to have a good relationship, Mika is very affectionate with him, and him to her. She has gotten him a couple of painful times on his knees. I would like to stop this before it gets any worse.
Thank you for your help! I am looking forward to your response!
May 13, 2020
It sounds like you should really work with a trainer or behaviorist to get to the root of your pup’s issue. And we’d recommend doing so sooner than later.
If you can’t find a trainer, check out Journey Dog Training — they offer a variety of long-distance training options, and you can get a 10% discount at that link.
Best of luck!
May 12, 2020
We have Kodi, he Barks at my hubby and is mouthing. He’s a 16 mos old husky. Was kenneled a lot by former owner
February 29, 2020
Toys toys toys toys
February 13, 2020
My rescue girl is two. Her name is LuLu. I’ve had her one year and half. She has starting nipping
February 11, 2020
Chet (two in July) gets extremely excited when we have visitors and has bitten legs. He mouths at us when we come home. He is also very reactive when we are walking on a leash and cries and strains when we see dogs. Chet loves any treats.
February 5, 2020
I wish this would work. My roommate’s 16 month old Coonhound/Lab mix is an excite biter but only on me. When she or her daughter play with him he acts like an angel but around me he attempts to jump on and bite me especially when I am trying to discipline him for chewing/ humping the dog beds. He’s also chewed holes in our blankets. But roomie doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with his behavior!
January 16, 2020
My rescue pit Chip is super sweet, marshmallow. He is extremely food-motivated, which is understandable, so he’ll eat anything I give him. He nips our hands whenever he’s excited. Often it’s while we’re walking by him.
January 14, 2020
3 month old puppy, Lab/Pitt, biting, nipping and excitement upon seeing us. Also, when visitors come around.
Put her on a leash because she’ll get under the fence and is not time to go for walks yet as per Vet.
Have read reasons on how to stop, cool!
Every puppy needs to have playtime but in my case, I have BC with Lymph nodes, very fatigued and feel its unfair for the Puppy.
Is there any other way for me to have that bonding time with her?
Understand you have to kneel but I can’t due to fatigue and treatment, please help!
I help look after the Pup with my daughter while she’s at work but Puppy tires me out. Any tips would be greatly appreciated so it’s easy for myself and the Pup. She’s already growling at the door when others arrive and to me, its protecting her space, I think. Hear from you soon, thank you.
January 1, 2020
Hi, my name is Jessica. My dog Nomad is bully mix that gets really excited and nips at the back of legs. He does this at different times but with people (kids and adults) coming I to the property and wen the kids are playing. Another time he did it was when being boarded and taken to the run outside. Consequently he isn’t allowed at that kennel anymore.
December 6, 2019
Great article and the video was also helpful. Thanks for sharing these tips and also explaining why some punishments are not a good idea to implement (example: water bottle sprays). And your Border Collie is adorable!
November 11, 2019
Hello, I have 8 months old blue heeler. He is nipping/biting a lot. Usually when he is excited. The weird thing is he is doing that mostly only to me. He is absolutely ok with other people. Sometimes he bites my partner too, but not as much as me. I train him, feed him, take for walk…I tried everything you described in the article, but nothing helped. He is very food motivated so treats helped but I do not always have them on me, however, he is very happy to bite me again, so it stopped him only for that moment. Even when I offer him toy, he rather grabs my hand. Sometimes it really hurts me so it is impossible to leave the room or it is very hard to catch him and close him somewhere. What helps to stop him immediately is when I “hug” him and hold him until he is calmer. But I would like to teach him not to do that at all. Any tips for this case? Thank you
November 11, 2019
Hey, Sarka. Sorry to hear about the challenges with your pup!
Check out our article about puppy play biting — you may find some of the tips provided there helpful.
If that doesn’t help, you’ll likely just need to speak with a private trainer.
Best of luck!
November 4, 2019
Hi my name is Diane, my dog is Peetie and he nips/bites ppl who come in my door. He is a 100 lb pitmix and he doesn’t nip at me………..how can i control that?
October 11, 2019
Thank you for this. I watch this persons dog all the time but he is a giant puppy whom bites and claws me up. I have scars now and he stops after 10ish min but by that point Im covered in bruises and scratches. I will take notes of this and hope he will stop excite biting me!
May 28, 2019
my comment not showing . so ask again. Justice, a 80 lb 8 month dobie is being train as my service dog (I have difficulty walking any distance without losing balance) When he visits home from training/board he wants to grab my clothes, tearing. I can’t turn away quick enough. Need a cane now to keep m stable…he is not afraid of it (Thank goodness)
May 28, 2019
Justice is being trained to be my service dog (Ihave stability issues when walking) he wants to grab my cl.othes when he visits me from traing program. I can’t turn quick enough when he starts this…and I fall. He is 8 month Dobie. 80 lb
May 24, 2019
I have a dog that just nips at children. the dog is just over 2 years old. great with other dogs, great at the dog park. Great with adults. But I have to keep toddlers away from her even if they are not bothering her sometimes if she find them and nip at their legs or butts
January 25, 2020
I have the same problem with my dog
January 25, 2019
2 1/2 Australian Shepard, barking, nipping and hearding small, older dog.