Terriers have a reputation for being somewhat nippy. But even though biting may be common behavior, you don’t have to live with it or encourage it. Responsible terrier owners need to actively discourage biting and nipping right from puppyhood. You should be putting an end to mouthing and biting by the time your terrier pup is 15 weeks old.
So, keep reading for three easy-to-implement tips that can help you stop your terrier puppy from biting and nip this nipping problem right in the bud.
1. Always encourage your terrier’s good behavior with positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is a effective training technique that rewards a puppy or dog with praise or a treat every time that dog does something right, but it also means withholding any praise or attention when your terrier does something wrong, like biting or nipping.
You can use positive reinforcement with your terrier by praising him or her each time he simply licks or nuzzles you or just “plays nice.” Use what trainers call your “praise voice” to encourage that good behavior. Should your terrier nip or bite, stop praising him or her immediately and move on to tip two.
2. Be consistent and firm when you say “NO.”
If your terrier bites or mouths you, even if it’s an unintentional nip, always reproach the dog with a firm and swift “no,” Then, stop all play, remove yourself from contact with the puppy and walk away.
While you don’t need to be over-the-top harsh or aggressively scold your terrier, it’s important to deliver a firm “no” that sends a clear message to your terrier puppy. This, along with the break in attention will show your terrier that biting, mouthing and nipping are not allowed. Eventually, your dog will stop.
3. Provide distractions for his mouth.
Sometime you have to think of terrier puppies as being like babies. They may nip, bite or mouth because they’re bored or even hungry. A young terrier puppy should be fed small meals several times a day and while you need to be careful not to over-feed your dog, you do need to make sure he’s getting enough for his quickly growing body. Try to counter biting with a small snack, but never let the dog think you’re rewarding his nipping with a tasty treat.
If your terrier is well-fed and still insists on nipping, mouthing and biting, try distracting the dog with a bone or game of tug-and-war. Some dogs, especially terriers, are natural chewers and biters. Having an appropriate distraction for their mouths (that’s not your ankles or your favorite chair) is going to save everyone, including the dog, a lot of headaches.
Ideally, you want to see any mouthing, biting and nipping stopped by the 15-week marker. If your terrier is still mouthing at 4-months, it’s time to get serious with your counter-training. Though the behavior may be cute or seemingly harmless now, it could develop into a bigger problem in the future once your dog is larger and possibly more aggressive.