Putting a stop to your puppy's nipping is essential if you don't want to end up with a dangerous, adult dog who's doesn't know that his teeth can do serious damage. A solution made from water and vinegar isn't appetizing to your puppy and can help you eliminate his undesired behavior.
Understand that Bonbon isn't putting his teeth on your skin to hurt you. His behavior goes back to his time with his littermates. He would use his mouth to play with them, and now that you're playing with him, he continues the behavior. Although his jaw is weak compared to that of an adult dog, Bonbon's teeth are sharp. As the pack leader, it's your job to teach him that your skin is sensitive and off-limits.
Making the Spray
To make the spray, fill a plant mister or spray bottle with a mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent white, distilled vinegar. The diluted vinegar won't harm your dog if it gets in his eyes. Ideally, make several spray bottles so you always have a bottle within reach when you interact with your puppy. Use a travel-size spray bottle for times when you take your puppy outside.
Using the Spray
To effectively use the vinegar and water spray, wait until Bonbon starts nipping. Say "ouch," and then spray him with the solution and stop all the fun. Aim for his mouth since this is the culprit. With consistency, Bonbon will associate his behavior with the spray and will stop nipping to avoid the unpleasant consequence. Redirect his attention to chew toys when you continue to interact with him so he learns which items are acceptable for him to mouth. Praise him when he shows interest in the toys to encourage the desired behavior.
What Not to Do
Don't use the spray after you've allowed Bonbon to nip at your hands, because he won't know why you're spraying him. Always use the spray while he's displaying the undesired behavior. Never slap or yell at your puppy when he bites you, because he might perceive a soft slap as play behavior and continue nipping. He also might start fearing you or try to protect himself by becoming more aggressive. Be consistent in your corrections and watch your puppy like a hawk, especially when children interact with him.
By Kimberly Caines
VeterinaryParner.com: Puppy Biting
The Humane Society of the United States: Puppy Nipping and Rough Play
Northern Breed Rescue: Help Your Dog to Develop a Gentle Mouth
Making Friends; Linda Colflesh
The Everything Dog Obedience Book; Jennifer Bridell
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.