Using their mouths as the preferred exploration tool, puppies love to play and interact with their environment. Snipping during play is common canine behavior, but in order to prevent potential injury later on, teaching a puppy to curb his mouthy behavior is a crucial part of obedience training.
Establish yourself as top dog. It is easier to curb any unwanted behavior if your dog knows who the boss is. Never let your pooch walk ahead of you through a doorway because it may tempt him to believe that he is in the lead. Teach your playful pup how to have good manners on a leash and how to properly respond to “sit,” “stay,” “no” and various other commands so that he gets used to the idea of you being the leader of the pack.
Socialize your pooch. Dogs learn a lot from each other in social situations. Give your playful pup plenty of opportunities to play and interact with other dogs. If he nips too hard during play, your pup’s playmates will yelp and those natural reactions will teach him to inhibit his mouthy behavior.
Establish and maintain a regular exercise routine for your pooch. Puppies with a lot of excess energy to burn are far more likely to snip during play than puppies who get to exercise regularly. Choose a specific time of the day that will be easy for you to commit to and take your puppy for a long walk or a run. Not only will an exercise routine help you and your pooch stay fit, it will give him a constructive way to burn off all that natural puppy energy.
Let your playful pup know that his play snipping hurts. Every time your puppy puts his mouth on you, let out a loud yelp and immediately turn away from him. If you do this consistently, your puppy will learn that play snipping is unacceptable and will cost him the attention of his playmate.
Just say “no” to play snipping. If yelping and turning away does not seem to be effective, try repeating that technique with a twist. After you yelp and before you turn away, look your puppy in the eyes and say “no” in a firm tone of voice to let him know that you disapprove of that behavior.
Give your snippy pup something else to chew on. A good way to reduce unwanted behavior in your pooch is to encourage a more desirable behavior in its place. Whenever your puppy starts to play snip, say “no” in a firm tone of voice and then offer him a chew toy instead. If he stops snipping you and starts chewing on his toy, praise him enthusiastically for good behavior and give him a tasty treat. Eventually your puppy will learn to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable chewing material.