How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Nipping at My Fingers and Toes?

If your pooch is food oriented, have a station of treats by the door and give her attention and treats only when she’s sitting. If she’s likely to nip at toes when you are walking, practice heeling with a food reward to show her that walking calmly at your side reaps the biggest rewards. "Leave it" is a way to redirect your pet away from your fingers and toes if she starts to move toward them; she can then be redirected toward a chew or plush toy instead. If she mouths when you are sitting on the couch, give her an alternative activity to engage in, such as doing a down stay on a mat, playing a game of fetch with a stuffed toy or engaging with a frozen stuffed Kong.

Discourage, But Reward

For persistently mouthy canines, you can use an anti-chew deterrent on your socks or other areas your pup is likely to chew on. The icky-tasting substance will further help to discourage mouthing. Just be sure to use a pet-friendly spray that will not harm your skin. Spray it on the areas of your body your pet is likely to mouth before you interact with her; don’t spray it during interactions. Most important, reward and lavish attention on your dog during the times when she’s not mouthing you so that she gets the attention she craves without the biting behavior. Provide ample outlets for her mouthing, such as toys and chews.

If the mouthing gets more intense or there are any indications that the mouthing is related to aggression, immediately recruit help from a veterinary behaviorist or a certified professional dog trainer.


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