How to Stop A Dog From Nipping When Excited

by McKenny Joshua | Last Updated: June 21, 2019

A lot of dogs grab at body parts such as arms or legs, clothing, shoes, or even scarves when they get excited.

Nipping in dogs when they get excited could be embarrassing, annoying, painful, damaging and scary.

Some puppies grow out of this habit as they grow older, but many do not nipping even as they grow older.

For many of these unfortunate owners, corrective measures have to be taken to prevent them from sticking with the habit as they continue to grow. This would involve teaching and training them to act differently.

Why Does My Dog Bite Me When Excited?

There are so many reasons. You may also want to know why dogs nip when excited, get ready for answers.

Dogs use their mouths to explore the world.

They nib when excited for several common reasons such as:

Dogs that nip when excited are easily overexcited and that’s their way of expressing it.  

Common Training Techniques to Avoid

1). Squealing

Squealing is wrongly advised as a training method.

By squealing, your dog gets more excited. This is because you remind him of that squeaky chew toy, therefore is it advisable you stay quiet to avoid encouraging your dog to bite.

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2). Holding the dog’s mouth closed

While this could be construed as a form of punishment by dog owners, it actually makes your dog nervous by having your hands so close and over its muzzle.

This could prove disadvantageous when you try to remove dangerous objects from its mouth or brush his teeth in the future. This could as a short term remedy but in the long run prove problematic

3). Alpha Roll

This involves pinning the dog to the ground and exerting dominance. Usually practiced by old school trainers without complete knowledge of modern animal science, this method has since been debunked as effective.

Alpha roll might stop your dog from nipping at you but it also exudes fear into your pet, defeating its purpose as a friend.

Rather than enforcing your training through force and fear, training your dog to act differently when excited and self soothe is far more effective.

4). Spraying the dog with any form of liquid

Although this method is effective and achieves quick result, it is pretty unpleasant for the dog. While it stops the dog from biting when excited, your dog quickly learns that you are scary or painful.

This could encourage fearful behavior such as hiding. It is advisable to teach your dog to stop nipping, act calm, polite and not fearful.

These aforementioned methods are like kicking your partner in the foot whenever he says something inappropriate at the dinner table with your family.

It works but it might make your partner angry and less likely to accept dinner invitations with your family.

What if instead of the swift kick you took decisive steps to change the subject to lot friendly I appropriate topics and spoke to him afterwards regarding the indiscretion. 

That’s what we intend to show you regarding dog nipping.

How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited: Trainer Approved Methods  

You can try the following trainer approved techniques to stop your dog from nipping:

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1). Toss food on the ground

This is one of the best training techniques. By taking a fistful of treats and tossing on the floor, the dog will calm down by gathering and sniffing the treats.

2). Eating food

This helps the dog to soothe and relax, creating an enabling environment for you to execute your training. Dogs are less likely to continue nipping after this but if this technique fails then you could try another method.

3). Step into his space

Step into the dog’s personal space with your body upright and in a calm manner. Do not act aggressively, just take a casual step towards the dog.

This may stop some dogs after repetitive steps. This method is not advisable for dogs that are scared of you or aggressive towards you.

4). Appear calm and boring

Most dogs nip at us because we squeal like chew toys and move our body faster which excites them and make us fun play buddies. But if you make yourself boring and calm, the dog will stop jumping and nipping at you.

5). Leave the room

If all the techniques fail you could try leaving the room whenever the dog nips at you and come back a few minutes later to toss treats.

This negative punishment used in tandem with tossing treats could truly remedy the problem.

Preventive Measures before Dog Nipping Starts

It’s advisable to take preventive measures of tackling the problems before it begins:

1). Environmental management

This can be used to prevent dogs from picking up nipping. This would entail putting your dog on a leash and dragging him back before he nips on guests and strangers.

You might also want to put him behind a dog gate or crate. In extreme cases, you could put a muzzle over his mouth for training purposes.

If you decide to try this method be prepared to reward your dog with lots of treats for calm behavior behind the barrier. If you ignore him for too long when he’s behind a barrier, you can make him more excited because he’s so ready to join the action!

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2). Differential Reinforcement

Image result for differential reinforcement dog

My favorite way to attack a problem behavior is using a method called “Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible Behavior” (DRI).

Basically, this means that we’ll reward your dog when he does something that he can’t do while simultaneously nipping you.

Most people simply teach their dog to sit when greeting people. To do this, teach your dog to sit in increasingly distracting situations.

You’re going to have to practice a lot — most dogs are good at sitting when you’re sitting alone in the kitchen in your PJs holding a bunch of treats.

But can your dog sit at the dog park? At the door when you’re about to leave for a walk? When he sees a squirrel?

Keep practicing until he’s great at sitting in really, really hard situations. If you try to ask your dog to sit when he’s not ready for the situation, you’ll just be frustrated when he ignores you and keeps jumping on your guests.

Watch out for creating accidental behavior chains during this process.

If your dog is still nipping at you between sittings, you might be rewarding a nip-sit combination. Make the situation less exciting, and then try again so that you can reward him for sitting without nipping.

3). The Hand-Target Method

Image result for hand-target method dog

My personal favorite behavior to use instead of sitting is actually a hand target. This behavior teaches your dog to press his nose to your hand on cue.

It’s a super easy and versatile trick that helps refocus your dog and move him around with ease.

I prefer hand targets for excited dogs (instead of sitting) for a few reasons: It’s tough to sit when you’re so excited.

Targeting is just easier!

It points the dog’s mouth somewhere specific. You can ping-pong an excited dog, helping to burn off that adrenaline.

In conclusion, an excellent way to control your dog’s mouth when he’s excited is to teach him to greet people with a toy in his mouth.