To work out how to stop my puppy jumping up and nipping, I had to look at why she was doing it.
Not every puppy will be acting like a crocodile on springs for the same reason, but there are some common causes.
To reduce the behavior we need to look at why it’s happening, and ways to reduce the temptation.
Nipping when jumping up is worth addressing as a separate issue to general biting, because once you know the cause it can be even easier to avoid.
Jumping, nippy puppies are usually motivated by one or more of:
- Exploring with their mouth
- Hanging clothes
- Wiggling fingers
- Over excitement
- Accidental rewarding
Jumping and biting is totally normal for most puppies, but we can reduce it a lot by altering our behavior and managing our homes.
Exploring with their mouth
Puppies love to chew, gnaw and nip at everything they can. It’s a way of exploring and interacting with their environment.
Even babies, who have hands to pick things up with, still shove everything they want to investigate into their mouth.
Your puppy can’t even handle the world around her, so it’s no wonder that everything of interest ends up bitten.
But to want to explore with their mouths, your puppy needs a target for that attention.
They need to see something that they want to get to know better.
A tempting target.
How to stop my puppy jumping up and nipping my clothes
Clothes are a major source of puppy nipping, and a big cause of their bouncing to grab too.
When you don’t have a puppy in the house then your clothes can be chosen for fashion, convenience, comfort, work, fun. Any number of reasons!
Once that puppy arrives home, for the next few weeks they’ll need to be all about bite avoidance!
Loose, flappy clothes are a puppy favorite. As are those which have bows, or trailing ties.
Find tight fitted outfits that don’t fidget invitingly just out of your puppy’s reach.
And always wear something on your feet!
How to stop my puppy jumping up and nipping my fingers
Few things are quite as shocking as when you are having a quiet chat with someone one minute, and find a puppy hanging from your hand the next.
Fingers are a seriously tempting puppy tooth target.
They hang low, wiggle around and often contain tasty or fun things. What puppy wouldn’t be keen to try and take a taste!
Dealing with finger nipping involves changing your behavior just a little, until the habit and desire are gone.
Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. But your fingers will be if they keep dangling down like that.
I’ve been laughed at on more than one occasion by people who see my walking around with my hands in the air when there is a puppy in the house.
But who gets the last laugh when my digits are bite free!
Try to get out of the habit of overly gesticulating when you talk, and if you’re standing or walking around the puppy just pop your palms onto your shoulders.
If they aren’t hanging down, your puppy won’t jump towards them.
What do you do then your puppy jumps up and nips at you?
Most people exclaim in surprise. They might move suddenly.
Some might even absentmindedly reach down and give the puppy a pat on the head.
Or stoop to play with them at their level.
Anything you do that the puppy enjoys, from funny noises to your attention, rewards the puppy for jumping up and nipping at you.
Even if that wasn’t your intention.
When your puppy does jump up and nip, try your very best not to react.
Move your hands or the clothing they were going for slowly up out of reach, and wait them out.
How to stop my puppy jumping up and nipping my kids
The same management methods we used above can work well to help stop your puppy from jumping up and nipping your kids.
But, they won’t always completely resolve the issue.
Children are a much easier target for your puppy’s teeth.
This means that sometimes when they are in the line of fire, we need to use containment solutions too.
Crate training is incredibly helpful here, as you have somewhere that your puppy can go when they are being nippy.
A crate surrounded by a playpen is even better if your kids are around for much of the day, as this allows your puppy somewhere to play and muck about without interacting with them directly.
You can find lots of great techniques specifically designed to help kids dealing with nippy puppies here.
How to stop my puppy jumping up and nipping my guests
When your puppy is little you need as many visitors as possible. Which can feel counterintuitive when your puppy plays up for the new faces.
But it’s vital that your puppy gets used to lots of strangers popping over for a coffee.
Happily greeting people of all ages, shapes and sizes.
That way they’ll be accepting of your visitors when they grow up, rather than being wary.
During this time it’s tempting to let your guests make a fuss of your pup regardless of their behavior.
But you can end up setting yourself up for problems later on.
It’s not always popular with your guests (a few names spring to mind for me…), but you need some clear and simple house rules when you’ve got a puppy.
My puppy house rules include:
- Settle in then say hello – wait five minutes before letting them pet and greet the puppy.
- Ignore them when they are jumping up and nipping.
- Don’t wrestle – no play fighting or rough housing.
- Stop petting if they bite.
Most people will follow these rules as they are pretty straight forward. But not everyone.
Some people think they know better.
For these people you need….
Plan B – remove your puppy
You’ll need to be firm here, but you can do it in a cheery voice with a little self-deprecation thrown in for good measure if you feel the need.
Here are some of my go-to’s:
- It’s the puppies nap time now, sorry!
- Time for a potty break!
- Oh dear, you’re a bit too much fun, calm time now!
Each of these must be said whilst physically lifting your puppy up and away from the situation.
If your pup is crate trained then pop them in there and close the door, leaving them with a fun chew toy and a handful of kibble.
Otherwise go outside, pop the puppy down in the backyard by your feet and stay there but ignore her while she calms down. And so do you!
They’ll soon grow out of it…
As you’ve seen there are lots of measures for managing a puppy jumping up and nipping, but as with so many other problems the main solution is time.
Almost all puppies grow out of jumping up and biting at you as they grow older.
I have rarely seen one over 6 months old that still does it, and beyond that it’s usually only when they are extremely over excited.
Try to manage their time and play carefully, as well as your outfits for the time being, and things will soon be a lot more peaceful again!
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