How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited: 6 Techniques

How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited

Puppies love to mouth at you, and often times it’s a fun game to play with them when they get all excited. But if the nipping isn’t stopped during their younger months it is a lot harder to stop as they grow into bigger dogs with much sharper teeth.

As the puppy gets older, the nipping will then turn to biting and will start to hurt. This is why it’s so important to stop a dog mouthing when excited as soon as possible. I remember this problem when our dog was a puppy…

The following are tips from a dog owner who helped us at the time. This explains how you stop a dog nipping when excited… before it’s too late and aggressive.

How you can stop a dog nipping when excited?

Mouthing. Nipping. Playful biting. That’s what we are talking about today. If you have a mouthy puppy or dog on your hands, I understand your pain – literally.

My dog was very mouthy in her youth, particularly during play and exciting events. Her excited nipping led to a brand-new pair of skinny jeans becoming unfashionably ripped more than once. It also became an issue with house guests simply wanting to say hello but were met with the pinch of tiny teeth.

Now it’s important to distinguish this playful nipping from actual biting. Mouthing is simply an excitable response that doesn’t cause harm. It is unintentional. Biting is intentional. Even out of fear, it is purposeful action.

How to stop a dog mouthing when excited
Excitement and play like this can soon turn to a nasty nip.

The problem with mouthing, however unintentional is that it is not good dog etiquette.

Some people cannot tell the difference between playful mouthing, nipping and biting so your dog may be feared for simply being overexcited. It can also cause damage to your belongings.

Learning to control and harness excitement and nipping is a social skill for dogs that you can help them with.

To stop your dog from nipping when excited, you can use vocal commands to great effect. “No” is the most universal, but there are other techniques you can use, like squealing, distracting, ignoring, and, if all else fails, enlisting the help of a professional.

Technique 1: “No” commands

“No” should be one of the first commands you ever teach your dog to stop nipping when they get excited. It is the basis of obedience training in a way. This simple command is actually very simple to train as well.

The con of using the “no” technique is that you don’t want to put a dampener on the fun. You are not discouraging your dog from being excited. It’s so wonderful to see your pup having fun – but without the nipping of course.

It can be tricky to distinguish that the “no” is related to the mouthing behavior in particular. So, you need to be very specific and timely with your command in order to link the excited nipping action to your command.

“No” is very simple to teach. Simply say it with an authoritative but calm tone to your voice. You don’t need to shout at your dog to be effective.

A low authoritative tone is more than enough.

Technique 2: Throw food on the floor

If your dog is not responding to your calm and collected “no”, they may have crossed over to the next realm. I call it “the crazy plane”.

Throwing food on the ground is a short-term solution to calm your dog down. If your dog has crossed over into the crazy plane where no words can get through, the food will both distract and consume your dog.

As they eat the treats or food they will calm down and you and reward them for their calmer demeanor.

Don’t worry that you may be rewarding them for biting or excited nipping. The “crazy plane” is a space where most instructional techniques go in one ear and out the other. All you are doing here is bringing their heart rate down and reaching a calmer state of mind for them.

Technique 3: Distraction

Distraction works very well and is easy enough for anyone to quickly do if your dog gets aggressive when excited. I have used this technique in multiple ways to snap dogs out of their excitable trance.

Once the dog looks like they are about to get nipping when excited, start clapping or snapping your fingers loudly can work to change their focus. You could also use a vocalization like “stop, look at me” or “ah ah” to bring their attention to you.

You may decide to buy a clicker as a training tool, and these are great distractors in this situation.

It is also recommended to have your dog’s favorite small chew toy in your back pocket to throw or play with which switches their focus almost instantly.

Whichever method works best for you and your pup, it is also worth pairing this distraction with a command just to reinforce it.

Technique 4: Ignore

This is an excellent technique to teach when you have house guests over; tell them to do this. Here is how it works.

  1. Your dog is super excited to see your house guest and jumps all over them.
  2. Once the teeth come out, your house guest instantly spins around and ignores your dog’s call for attention. They are as calm and boring as possible with no reaction to their buzzing excitement.
  3. Once your dog has settled down a bit, your guests can play with them again as a reward.
  4. Repeat the process every time that your dog nips when excited.

The reason I say that this is great for house guests is that a “no” or distraction from your guest is unlikely to work. The prospect of playing with someone new is too overwhelming. It’s as if your dog is laser focused and can’t be distracted as easily.

But if the person they want to play with ignores them, they will soon get the message that they are doing a bit too much. It is also an easy thing to teach your guest to do.

Technique 5: Squeal

The most effective technique I found to stop my puppy from nipping me excitedly was to squeal.

Sounds crazy but trust me this worked for me!

When a dog gets a bit too overzealous when playing with other dogs and accidentally hurts their playmate, the hurt party will squeal to communicate they have gone too far.

By squealing, you are telling your dog that they are going too far and need to settle down a bit. They may hurt you or someone else.

I found that a few occasions of squealing when my dog accidentally nipped when over-excited made her show more restraint during our play sessions in the future.

Now, it is worth noting that sometimes yelping just excites your dog further. They may confuse your “cry” for having even more fun. If that is the case, then move on to other techniques.

Technique 6: Consult a professional dog trainer

If all else fails and your dog is still unable to keep their teeth to themselves when excited, it may be time to call the professionals.

Who ya gonna call? Dog trainers!

Dog trainers are well-versed in the underlying reasons why dogs nip, to begin with and how to best communicate with them with verbal and non-verbal cues.

This list of techniques are just ones that I used with my puppy, but a trainer will certainly have a list of methods that are beyond my experience.

Conclusion

If you don’t stop your puppy nipping you when they get excited, it’s going to be a lot harder once this becomes learned and ingrained behavior.

Nip it (no pun intended) in the bud as soon as you can.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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