Outcome: Stop your dog play biting

Don’t punish your dog for biting! It doesn’t work.

Below are four ways to stop your dog biting without punishing him (e.g. by putting him in a crate, or saying “No” loudly). This tip was taken from the Dog Training Planner.

Curbing play-biting/mouthing/nipping is the top priority for new puppy parents. Consistency and a positive, gentle approach allows us to quickly and effectively teach a puppy to make the right choices. The emphasis is on teaching the puppy the appropriate behaviours, instead of correcting them for making reasonable mistakes.

Remember that puppies love to interact with their humans in all sorts of ways, and learn from every interaction that we have with them. As an alternative to using aversive punishment, this multi-faceted approach allows us to creatively connect with our dogs by employing positive reinforcement and harnessing a relationship that is based on trust and respect.

Puppy play biting is a completely normal, healthy and necessary for your puppies development. It’s the combination of teething and the curious mind of a young dog.

The goal is to teach your dog not to use their teeth to bite human skin (your hands).


First of all, it’s important to know the two bad solutions to stopping your dog from play bitting…


Bad Solution 1
The “OUCH” method: This is where you make a loud sound to let the dog know that it is really hurting us.

Bad Solution 2
The “AVERSIVE PUNISHMENT” method: This is where you punish the dog for play bitting. This method may at first appear to work for us, but the bitting will probably be redirected to other people. This is not good if the dog is going to be interacting with lots of people, especially young children. The approach to any problem behaviour should be proactive verse reactive. In other words, you don’t have to wait for the dog do do something wrong in order to show them the correct alternate behaviour. This is especially important when curbing play bitting.


The good news is that there are several good (proactive) solutions to stop your dog from play bitting…


Good Solution 1: Don’t Wait For The Dog To Something Wrong

Punishing a dog for play biting only teaches him to stop biting people who punish them effectively, the bites just get redirected to other people (a big problem if your dog is going to be around young children). Be proactive rather than reactive. Being “proactive” means that you don’t have to wait for the dog to do something wrong in order to show them the correct, alternate behaviour (see solutions below). This is especially important when curbing play biting.

Good Solution 2: Provide Suitable Teething Toys

Always have a couple of toys available for your dog to chew on such as: nylon bones and peanut butter stuffed kongs.

Good Solution 3: Teach “Off”

This is a word that teaches your dog to stop or back off your hand. Grab a handful of delicious treats and allow your dog to sniff your closed fist. If this is your first time doing this, be prepared to outlast a very persistent puppy because it will sniff and lick for several seconds to try to get to the food. Tell your dog “Off” just once and wait until he back offs. Immediately rewarding him the second he backs off.  Do this several times and your puppy will respond to the “Off” cue very quickly.

Good Solution 4: Teach Tug With A Toy

Get an appropriate toy to play tug with your dog, and have fun playing. The message this “tug playing” communicates to your dog is that toys are much more fun to play with than hands.

Good Solution 5: Remove Yourself From The Room

Remove “YOURSELF” From The Room: In the rare occasion that any of the above three solutions don’t work, simply remove yourself from the room long enough for your dog to reflect upon the event that lead to the loss of their favourite human playmate (you). After 60 seconds go back in, talk to your dog and pet them (we want the dog to know that we still love them, but we won’t tolerate them bitting our hands).

Closing Thoughts

The best way to train a dog to do anything is by teaching them from the inside out, by focusing on what you want the dog to do, instead of what you don’t want them to do. This is the only way that we can guarantee that the dog will learn to think and not simply react.

Dogs are able to acquire a number of advanced skills from a very young age.

The truth is that the more things that we teach them, the better they become at learning, and we do at teaching.

Dog Training Planner