How to Correct a Biting Cairn Terrier Puppy

Originally, cairn terriers were bred for hunting.
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Puppies use their teeth for many reasons, including exploring the environment, relieving teething pain, communicating and playing. Most puppies exhibit normal biting behaviors; however, your puppy needs to be trained not to use teeth on people. Correcting this behavior involves more than just the biting. Inappropriate biting often relates to other issues. Fortunately, the intelligence of cairn terriers hastens their training, according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America.

Step 1

Avoid harsh responses to biting, including hitting the puppy, rolling it into a submissive position or yelling. With their sensitive temperament, cairn terriers learn better with firm, fun and consistent training, according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America.

Step 2

Respond to biting by making a squeaky, loud yelping sound to make your puppy understand the bite hurt, advises author and trainer Kathy Diamond Davis. Most puppies respond to yelping. However, if your puppy bites more, do not yelp but give a stern command such as "no bite."

Step 3

Ignore the puppy immediately if it bites, and refuse to play for at least 10 to 15 minutes. The puppy quickly learns that biting results in no play or attention, generally the opposite results it desires from you.

Step 4

Prevent anyone from playing with the puppy in ways that cause it to use its teeth, such as rough play, wrestling and tug of war, advises Vicki DeGruy, writer and chair of the Chow Chow Club Welfare Committee. Introduce tug-of-war play when the puppy develops consistent bite inhibition.

Step 5

Teach your puppy the "close your mouth" command, suggests Davis. During calm times, gently close your hand around its mouth, holding it closed for five seconds, and say, "close your mouth." Let the muzzle go and praise the puppy in a happy, up-beat tone. Increase the time to a maximum of 15 seconds. After at least a week of practice, use the command in addition to or instead of yelping when bit.

Step 6

Exercise your puppy regularly to decrease bad behaviors, including nipping. Cairn terriers become destructive when bored, but thrive with attention and exercise. Playing fetch with a ball and going on long walks with a collar and leash provide safe exercise, according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America.

Step 7

Train your dog to respect you as the leader by using the things it wants and needs, such as food, treats, toys and attention, advises the Humane Society of the United States. Require your puppy to sit or perform another command before giving it something it wants in order to reinforce your role as leader and increase its responsiveness.


  • A puppy that continues to bite aggressively after gentle training might require evaluation by a canine behavior specialist.


  • Expect a puppy taken from the litter prior to eight weeks old to require longer training, as it missed normal bite inhibition training. Cairn terrier breeders generally place puppies at 10 to 12 weeks of age, according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America.

  • Provide many appropriate, safe chew toys for your puppy to teeth, chew on and relieve biting needs.

Items You Will Need

  • Treats (optional)
  • Leash
  • Collar