nipping my knees

Posted by Lea
Dec 21, 2007
I have an 11 week old Hungarian Vizsla pup who during play sometimes gets overexcited and nips at me. When I turn my back on him or walk away he jumps at me an nips the back of my knees(it hurts) or nips onto my clothes and holds on tight. Do you have any ideas to stop this behaviour?
Posted by Todd
Jan 1, 2008
Hi there Lea.

Thank you for your question. Puppies nipping is a very common problem and most puppies will at some stage do it. But that is not to say it isn't a problem and there is no way of fixing it

The first thing i would say is to try and avoid overexciting him. When puppies get very excited they often do strange things like nip. This usually evokes a repsonse from the person and the puppy quickly learns to get attention for misbehaving.
So whenever you feel he is getting too excited make him sit and stay. Praise him when he responds and make him stay till he has relaxed. If he refuses to sit do not try and force him as this will only make him think you are playing. Instead reprimand him with a growl or an Ahhhh, don't yell as it often makes things worse. The second he sits you must praise him.
This method of reprimand and reward is the best way to change an animals behaviour in most circumstances.

Now specifically for the nipping your pup must learn that this isn't a game and is not acceptable. The key to this is he should never be allowed to nip no matter when, where, who or however cute it may seem. This includes people coming into the house, everyone should know what isn't acceptable and be told how they can react if he misbehaves. Letting him away with it on one occassion can make things very hard when you try to correct it again.

So here is the method of stopping nipping that i have used with my boxer and does work very well. The key is consistency and patience. There are a number of ideas in the Biting and Nipping section in SitStayFetch but if these aren't working this should.

You have to let your puppy know that its biting is unacceptable. The best way to do this is by demonstrating yourself as the alpha dog by growling menacingly, the way an alpha dog would.

*Sit down with your puppy and hold out your hand. If he bites growl sharply, say "AAHH" rather then "NO", and do not yell it, growl it; make it quite gutteral.

* In your case you may have to do this when he is nipping at your knees. If he nips at you you must reprimand him as above and then follow with a sit command. This will teach him it is not okay and make him stop. Then you should turn away again, if he still nips then growl at him again but make a sudden movement at the same time eg stamping your foot.

*If the puppy goes to bite for a third time be ready for him and give him a little thump on the nose and growl once more (thump hard enough for the puppy to actually feel it) with the hand you are holding out. Generally, I do not recommend you hit your puppy, however, in your particular case this may be the only thing that will get the message across.

You need to be consistent no matter the circumstance. I do recommend reading the section in SitStayFetch as this explains a lot of things and will help you with some other pointers. It is good you got on to him so early and i am sure you will have success with time and patience. Good Luck.

Kind Regards
Todd Field