Puppies have sharp teeth. And as they instinctively use their mouths to explore and taste things (including you) and when playing, those sharp teeth hurt when puppy takes a nip at you with them. You are going to get nipped by your new puppy. Accept that as a fact. However, there are steps you can take to discourage them from doing so and protect yourself from scratches and cuts from those sharp little teeth at the same time.
Given that nipping is natural for a puppy to do – for example, they do it to their siblings as part of growing up and developing – so one step to take is to try to socialise your puppy with other dogs.
Let them do what comes naturally to them if possible. You may then find that they are calmer when back in your company as they’ve had their fun with the other dogs and are them less inclined to take a nip at you when they think they are playing and see you as a dog substitute.
There’s another beneficial by-product of mixing your puppy with other dogs. A puppy will learn how to interact with their fellow canines which can help when out for a walk, for example, because the puppy has picked up essential doggy social skills.
Just as you and I played with other children in the area when we were young and learned at the same time, you can allow your puppy to do the doggy equivalent.
Another method you might use to help reduce the puppy’s tendency to take a nip at you is to build correct behaviour into your regular training routine and general interaction with your puppy. Encourage and reward good behaviour but do not punish bad behaviour.
While that may sound like a contradiction, it’s not.
If you do punish a puppy for bad behaviour, expect retaliation. Puppy does not know why they are being punished, and they will (forgive me a slight pun) bite back – quite literally – with those sharp teeth and take a nip at you because they see it as an attack and it is their instinct to fight back. Well, wouldn’t you?
When puppy decides it’s time to take a nip at you, instead of getting yourself worked up, shouting at them or (even worse) hitting them (please don’t do that) try ignoring them until they stop, gently but firmly put them back on the carpet or even in their bed.
Then when they do stop, are back on the floor, in their bed etc. give them lots and lots of praise.
By doing this, you are teaching a puppy that when they nip, they do not get your attention until they have stopped.
And when they do stop they get your praise. Much more fun for the puppy. Taking these simple steps should help to reduce the puppy’s nipping instinct, and you will have a better trained, better-behaved puppy as a result.