How to stop your puppy from nipping

Labrador puppy outdoors
While not ideal, nipping is very normal puppy behaviour, so don’t be alarmed (Picture: Getty Images)

So you’ve got a puppy – congratulations, you’re living the dream.

But now that you’ve got that lovely small ball of fluff to care for, you have some training work to do.

According to a survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by puppy training coaching app Zigzag, nearly half (45%) of respondents thought nipping was a behavioural issue.

While it’s obviously not ideal, having a puppy that is a bit mouthy is actually totally normal.

It’s very important that people are aware of this, given that over a quarter (27%) of dog owners would consider giving up their puppy if they displayed behaviour mistakenly identified as ‘problematic’ for their age.

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‘This research is incredibly alarming,’ said Lorna Winter, director of the UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter and co-founder and head of training at Zigzag.

‘Over 3million of us are considering getting a puppy, however many have idealised views of companionship and simply aren’t prepared to put in the work when it comes to training or researching what is normal.’

With that in mind, Lorna has put together some tips for puppy owners on how to train their little buds out of nipping.

Don’t just use hands and feet during playtime

Alternate Their Toys to Keep Their Interest. Just like us dogs get bored with new stuff after awhile, and this includes their toys. Keep their interest by alternating their access to them. Once your dog hasn’t seen their blue ball in a month they’ll have a brand new appreciation for it the next time it makes an appearance.

Yes, it’s very easy to horse around with your pup with your own hands and feet, but it’s not a great idea.

Lorna says: ‘Never play with your puppy using just hands or feet (however tempting it is) as your puppy will not be able to differentiate this from their toys.

Mischief mixed breed puppy holding a colorful toy in his jaw
Distraction is key (Picture: Getty Images)

Keep toys handy

Further to the above, you’ll want to keep distracting toys within reach.

‘Always have toys to hand to redirect those teeth onto,’ advises Lorna.

‘Long, soft tough toys are better as they will increase the distance between your pup and your hand.’

If you have a hard time brushing your dog's teeth, squeeze some enzymatic doggie toothpaste onto a Nylabone or rope toy and let your pooch go to town on it.

Make sure they get enough sleep

Animals are a lot like humans – they need their sleep.

Sleep can also be a huge contributing factor,’ says Lorna.

‘Your puppy should have somewhere safe and quiet to sleep for between 18-20 hours per day – this ensures they are not restless and will reduce the chances of problematic behaviour.’

Keep playtime short

It will be harder for your four-legged-baby to control themselves if they’re overexcited.

‘Control playtime, so it doesn’t get too boisterous or go on too long,’ Lorna says.

Goldfish have a reputation as short-lived creatures, but given proper care, they can live as long as 30 years in captivity. The oldest captive goldfish ever recorded was won at a fair in 1956 and died in 1999 at age 43.

‘Keep your play sessions short and not too exciting.’

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