Teaching a Little Dog to Stop Nipping People Who Pick it Up

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 24, 2020

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with 8 year-old Yorkie Cooper who nips when being picked up and has a problem resource guarding toys and his human’s bed.

While the dog resource guarding the bed and toys was the priority for this in home Omaha dog training session, the guardians also wanted help with Cooper’s habit of nipping and biting peole when they go to pick him up.

Some dogs do not like being picked up. There are many reasons a dog dislikes being picked up, they were dropped, picked up in a way that didnt support them / made them feel unsafe, were picked up prior to an unwanted activity or the attempt happened when the dog was doing something else it preferred.

Cooper had started to nip and bite when people attempt to pick him up, especially when he wasn’t expecting it. Cooper nipped at me when I went to pick him up for our roadmap to success video at the end of the session. As this happened at the end of the appointment, I didn’t get a chance to film how to stop a dog from nipping when picked up. But that doesnt mean I cant film the secret to stopping a dog from nipping when picked up. You can learn how to train a dog to like being picked up in the free positive dog training video below.

This is an easy way to stop a dog from biting people who pick it up. It even works if you are nto a professional Yorkie dog trainer. They key is to practice in small steps to make sure that the dog is compfortable with that step a few times before moving onto the next one. It will take some practice, but Im betting if everyone in the family practices the steps I outlined in the above video once a day (10-20 reps each practice session), they should be able to pick the dog up without any nips within a week or two.

The other issue the family wanted help with was the dog’s habit of resource guarding the bed. This can be dangerous as a dog may bite one of the humans if they simply roll over into the dog when in this state. My first suggestion in this case is to make sleeping in the bed off limits, but some people have real difficulty with that change, so im offering two options below.

The first suggestion is a simple exercise you can use if your dog guards the human’s bed. The best time to practice this is any time except when sleeping in the actual bed.

Have the person the dog guards the bed from go to their bed and invite the dog on top of it. Once the dog is on the bed, go to the bathroom with some high value treats (but keep them hidden so the dog doesnt know you have them). Walk to the bathroom and then call the dog to you. When the dog gets there, give it a treat and assign a special command word for this recall like “attention,” “on deck,” “spot,” or somehting else. Only use this word to mean come off the bed to the bathroom.

After treating the dog for coming to the bathroom, have the dog go back to its starting position on the bed. If the dog wont go back to the bed, enlist the help of someone who can stay on the bed and call the dog there. Treat the dog for going back to the bed if necessary.

Repeat calling the dog from the bed to the bathroom for 20 treats, then go do somehting else. Repeat 4 times a day for a week. By the end of the week, the dog should be conditioned to come from the bed to the bathroom on command. This will allow the human to call the dog to the bathroom in the night after the human uses the facilities. This should prevent the dog from guarding the bed and refusing to let the human get back in bed.

The other option is how I usually stop dogs from resource guarding. This will work both for the bed and the toys, but since the bed guarding likely happens when the human is half asleep and not in the mood, the above steps should be a nice alternative option. You can watch me go over how to stop resource guarding in the video below.

Many people get frustrated when their dog guards objects, but now that the humans know how to address that problem in a positive way, they can lok at those behaviros as opportunities to help the dog get over the problem for good.

Just like I mentioned in the pick up the dog video, the humans will need to go slow and at the dog’s pace. If the dog barks, growls, lunges or is reactive in any other way, that is an indicator that we moved too far too fast.

We covered a number of other tips in this in home dog behavior training session. To help the family members remember them all, we recorded a roadmap to success video you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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