Great Tips to Stop Puppy Nipping and Mouthing

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 28, 2016


Tank is a twelve-week-old Chocolate Lab puppy who was adopted last week. His guardians scheduled a puppy training session with me to address some puppy issues, but the priority items were potty training and to stop nipping. The bonus was some kennel training because Tank was very unhappy when put into his crate.

Tank lives with a six-year-old Bassett Hound named Stanley and they were both excited to meet / see / sniff me.

When I sat down with the family to discuss the puppy and the human’s questions, Tank and Stanley decided to take a well timed siesta.

I had spent a good portion of my initial phone call with Tank’s guardians stressing the importance of the Critical Socialization Period as he only has a few days of it left.

Because this invaluable developmental period often determines how well adjusted and confident a puppy will become, I always stress taking advantage as this is time you will never get back. The link in the above paragraph details the CSP and includes a checklist of 300+ experiences you should get your puppy to make sure these situations aren’t something it is afraid of later.

We started out going over puppy potty training. This is one of the first lessons most people try to teach their pup and something many people do poorly. Introducing the command word in a way that the pup recognizes is the important first step. Linking the action with the reward is a close second.

If you are looking for puppy potty training tips and secrets to potty train your puppy easily, you should check out this article on potty training posted in the Quest Ed section of this website.

Next up was Tank’s habit of nipping, mouthing or chewing on his human’s hands and skin. Puppies sample things with their mouthes and this often results in puppies chewing things we would prefer they didn’t. I spent a couple of minutes going over some tips and secrets that will help stop puppy nipping.

The tips detailed in the above video are usually sufficient to stop a puppy from mouthing and nipping, but for some pups, the best teacher is another puppy.

I recommended that the guardians enroll Tank in our next puppy socialization class which will start in a few weeks. In addition to assistance in putting a stop to puppy nipping, the socialization experience Tank will receive by meeting, interacting and playing with other puppies will go a long ways toward helping the puppy grow up to be confident and adjusted around other dogs.

As we were wrapping up the discussion of puppy class, I remembered a few additional tips, including a few crate training tips that will help Tank get over his fear of going into the kennel.

Since his guardians ordered a puppy play pen and will be following my suggestion for setting up a puppy play area as detailed here, I didnt get into too much kennel or crate training as the puppy play pen usually kennel trains the puppy for you.

The puppy play pen also helps keep your house clean during potty training as well as prevents your puppy from getting into a habit of chewing the wrong things. One of the little secrets I have learned during my time as a dog behaviorist is its MUCH easier to avoid developing bad behaviors than training a dog to not engage in them. Having a safe place you can put your dog where it can’t get into trouble is a true game changer when it comes to raising a puppy. Just make sure you don’t life the puppy over the play pen. If you do, you will likely need to follow the advice outlined in this article.

I wanted to spend a little time going over some puppy training so that his guardians can help Tank develop some basic obedience and skills so I handed my camera to one of them so I could train the puppy to sit, train the puppy to lay down, train the puppy to come and train it to move into a sit from a down position.

I recommended that the family practice these four basic commands a few times a day for the next week or two. Just like humans, the more a dog practices, the better at them they get.

We finished up the session by helping the puppy get over a fear of the kennel. Many puppies develop a fear of the kennel because their family never actually trained them how to use it and stay calm inside.

The first thing I did was determine how Tank felt about it. That only took a sec as he wouldn’t go anywhere near it. Since it was located in a bit of a confined space, we pulled the crate out into the hallway so I could do some crate training in a new setting. Sometimes changing an environment can go a long ways towards helping a puppy change its perspective.

Once we were in a new location, Tank was much more relaxed around the crate. I spent a couple of minutes showing the family how to use positive reinforcement to get Tank to actually enjoy being in the kennel.

At first, I could only get Tank to step one paw inside the kennel. But I stuck with it and 10 minutes later I had the little guy sleeping inside the kennel with the door wide open. I recommended that the family bring the kennel into the living room and continue practicing the positive puppy training method I showed them upstairs. With the right approach and technique, Tank should get more comfortable in the kennel.


  • Each family member helps Tank get exposed to 5 items on Critical Socialization checklist a day until he is 14 weeks
  • Set up puppy play pen with kennel inside and door to kennel always open
  • Do not pet puppy when it jumps up or engages in any unwanted action or behavior
  • Take pup out to potty 10 min after waking up, 15 min after play starts and immediately after waking up
  • Take puppy to desired potty area and reward 5 treats if on the spot and fewer treats when going further away
  • Say command word when puppy starts to eliminate and immediately after finishing
  • Pet / reward after pup does any desired behavior while saying the command word (Here, sit, crash, up)
  • Yelp loudly and freeze whenever pups teeth tough a human’s skin
  • Practice training Tank to come as demonstrated in session
  • Practice basic commands; sit, lay down, up
  • Practice tossing treats into kennel and say command word when puppy picks it up
  • Leave treats in kennel when puppy is away
  • Tie bone or other high value item to back of kennel
  • Enroll in the Dog Gone Problems puppy socialization class
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This post was written by: David Codr

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