How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited In 5 Easy Steps

By Roxi & Huck •  Updated: 04/27/21 •  8 min read

We, too, started researching how to stop a dog from nipping when excited after we got a new puppy.

Our new dog was fond of jumping on our laps and grabs our legs, arms, hair, and even legs with their mouths open when it was excited.

My research found lots of information about dog nipping at strangers, dog nipping at heels, and even dog nipping at kids. This information was not specific enough for our needs. You see, our dog gets overexcited and starts nipping, and when you stop him, he then growls. Here is what we learned.

Siberian husky puppy nipping on a woman's hand

How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited

Some dog owners may find it harmless and cute, but guests might interpret it as annoying and embarrassing. I know we do when we visit friends with undisciplined dogs, and my husband and I do not want to be those types of dog parents.

Mounting and biting happen during exercise, play, and whenever they’re overexcited.

Some pups grow out of this behavior; others carry it into adulthood. That is why you should help them kick the lousy behavior early enough before becoming aggressive and destructive.

Start by finding out why the dog bites when he is excited and try out the methods I’ve outlined below to teach him to be calm and gentle with his mouth!

How To Stop Dog From Mouthing, Biting, and Nipping

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Method 1: Throw Some Food On the Clean Floor
This method may sound a little unorthodox to some owners, but it does indeed work for dogs that have stopped responding to the owner’s “no” command (more on “no” command later).

Throwing food on your ground can be a short-term technique to calm your canine down when he’s all excited and mouthing or biting your hands. If he has reached a point where no spoken words or commands can get through, a morsel of his favorite food will certainly distract him.

As he munches the food or treats, he will calm down – it is your responsibility to reward him for his calmer demeanor.

Don’t get yourself worried that you could be rewarding him for getting excited and biting. This is one of those junctures where most instructional orders enter through one ear and leave through the other.

What you are really doing is bringing his heart rate down, helping him reach a calm state of mind.

beagle nipping finger of hand - how to stop a dog from nipping when excited

Method 2: Distraction
Distraction is highly effective if your dog is prone to aggressive behavior or overstretched excitement. Our daughter applied this method more than once to snap her Cane Corso out of his excitable trance. Our son got his German Shepherd puppy to stop biting using this same technique. The problem is that it gets tiresome super-fast, especially when the dog makes these behaviors a regular thing.

Here is how to go about teaching a dog to stop nipping: once your dog looks like he is about to start nipping (in the middle of the excitement), start snapping your fingers or clapping your hands to shift his focus. You can also add any vocalizations in the mix or use them alone, something like “ah-ah” or “stop it, look at me” to bring his attention to you.

Even better, you can buy a clicker and use it to train him. It is a great distraction tool often used in dog training programs. It works great for our neighbor as a tool on how to train a dog to stop nipping when excited.

It can also be beneficial to have his favorite chew toy in your pocket to play with or throw, all of which will likely switch his focus instantly.

Stop Dog Nipping Method #3: The DRI

The DRI – Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible Behavior – is a similar distraction method on how to stop a dog from nipping when excited.

This means you will reward him when he does a task or anything else that he can’t perform while simultaneously nipping your hands or legs.
Most owners simply teach their pets to sit when greeting people quietly. You can utilize this by teaching your dog to sit down in distracting situations.

This training works excellent for rescue dogs and is the preferred alternative on how to discipline a puppy.

Most dogs perform better at learning how to sit when excited when you are sitting alone in your kitchen in PJs holding a bowl of treats or food.

The key is:
– Can he sit at your local dog park and not act out on his excitement?

– Not jump or mouth you when you arrive home from work or a walk?

– Not mouth, nip or jump when family and friends stopover?

Stick to the practice routine until he is good at sitting down in really, really tough situations.

If you ask him to sit when he is not ready for a specific situation, you will just be frustrated and even give up when he ignores your orders and starts to nip or jump on your guests.

Be keen to establish chains of accidental behavior during this process and monitor the progress. If your dog keeps nipping at you in-between sitting orders, chances are you are rewarding a sit-nip combination.

Make the whole situation less exciting, and then give it a shot again to reward your pet for calming down and sitting without nipping.

Method 4 On How To Stop A Dog From Nipping When Excited: Be Boring and Calm
Some dogs will try to jump on you and nip because you, too, act excited, so stop waving and moving your arms. Try just to sit or stand there and make the whole situation boring for your dog. That way, he’ll have no movements to imitate.

Method 5: “No” commands
The “No” command might end up being the ultimate solution to this problem – it worked perfectly the first time we tried it. In a way, it’s the basis of typical obedience training we all know. This command is among the simplest and also the easiest to train.

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Use “Okay” or “Free” as a release command. Now add a few more treats plus positive reinforcement. Once your fur baby gets the hang, place up to 5 dog treats in front of him, saying “no” every time you put a treat on his pedestal. Repeat the “no” part every time he jumps on you and starts nipping. He should stop.

The main drawback of applying the “no” method is that you risk putting a dampener on the playful, fun part of your dog’s excitement. You aren’t really discouraging your pet from being excited. It is fun to see him play in your arms – but without incessant nipping, of course.

Also, it can be a bit tricky on how to stop a dog from nipping when excited to make the distinction that the “no” command is mainly related to the dog’s mouthing behavior. For that reason, you must be very timely and specific with your order so that you can link the exciting nipping response to your command.

How To Stop A Dog From Mouthing

If your dog or puppy is not nipping when it is mouthing your hands, arm, or legs, you may choose to ignore the trait.
There is a danger in doing so as it may lead to an unintentional bite down the road.

As “No” is one of the most straightforward commands to teach your dog, it is the easiest way to train your dog correctly. It also is the simplest way how to stop a dog from nipping when excited. Yet, it doesn’t always work if taught incorrectly.

If these five easy tips on how to stop a dog from nipping when excited fail to stop the dog from nipping, it may be the perfect time to seek the intervention of a qualified dog trainer.

You can pay a lot of money and find a local dog trainer or use our recommended dog training resource. Why do we recommend this dog training program? Because it flat out works and saves you a ton of money too.

This professional dog training program is well-versed in virtually all underlying reasons why your dog is nipping and shows you how to stop a dog from nipping when exited. Training is also good at stopping a puppy from biting. It shows you how to communicate with your pet in the best way possible – via both non-verbal and verbal cues – to persuade him to abandon the behavior.

For more info on biting dog training – click here.

Roxi & Huck

Hello, we're Roxi and Huck. Our passion lies in researching and understanding the compatibility between various dog breeds, both purebred and mixed, and the lifestyles and housing situations of potential owners. We work alongside Mom and Dad to uncover insights that facilitate ideal matches between dogs and their human companions.

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