Nipping is a behavior that is completely normal
among Yorkie Puppy's, especially puppies, and has a lot to do with a
puppy’s learning process. The purpose of this article is to discuss
nipping, not biting. Nipping is a form of communication, interaction,
exploration, and play; whereas biting is a form of aggression. If your
Yorkie Puppy has a biting problem, or other aggression issues, you
should visit your vet to make sure there are no underlying physical
causes, and contact a Yorkie Puppy behavior specialist to help you
safely deal with the problem.
Puppies have no hands with which to explore the world around them, so
they must use their mouths. They mouth and nip at their mother and
littermates to communicate and play. Puppies learn something called bite
inhibition from this behavior. When puppy nips his littermates or mother
too hard, they respond with a yelp, and in the mother’s case, often with
a warning or correction. This is how they learn what’s too hard, and
what is acceptable. Puppies who are weaned and taken away from their
littermates too early do not get the chance to learn bite inhibition, so
they will be more nippy and harder to train out of nipping.
Remember that nipping is not an aggressive behavior, so do not respond
to it with aggression. Your puppy is being playful and testing his
limits through play. As with small children, a big part of learning
what’s right, is first doing something wrong. Keep a strong hold on your
patience as you train your puppy and you will do fine.
Start by giving a loud “ow!” or a shriek whenever your puppy nips. It is
important that you do this whenever your puppy’s teeth intentionally
touch your skin, not just when they nip too hard. Yorkie Puppys do not
understand the concept of “sometimes”, but they do great with “never.”
You must teach your puppy that it is never, ever ok for his teeth to
contact your skin. Come up with a command like “nice,” or “gentle” to
tell puppy when he should be careful.
When you sit down to work with your puppy, have a pocket or treat pouch
full of small, easy-to-eat treats. Hold a treat in your closed fist and
in the other hand, hold your puppy’s collar. If he nips at your hand say
“ow!” pull him away from the treat hand, and say “no, Gentle.” It is
important that you pull him away from the treat hand, rather than pull
the treat hand away from him, because that would encourage him to chase
the treat hand, making it a game. Offer him your hand with the treat
closed in your fist again, and if he sniffs it or licks it, rather than
nipping, say “good Gentle” and give him the treat.
When you are playing with your Yorkie Puppy, if he gets excited and
starts nipping, stop play immediately. In his litter, if he nips too
hard, the other puppies won’t play with him. Use the concept of social
isolation to your advantage. If you are consistent, he will learn that
nipping looses him his playmate, and that’s no fun. Also, avoid games
that make your hand or body the toy, like slap boxing or wrestling. When
you’re playing with your pup, try to keep a toy between you at all
times, this will establish what is ok to lay teeth on, and what isn’t.
Likewise, don’t play chasing games with your puppy, especially with
herding breeds. This kind of play encourages puppies to nip at your
ankles, which may be cute from a springy little puppy, but is not
acceptable behavior once he grows up to be a big, powerful Yorkie Puppy.
Another way to help your Yorkie Puppy understand that he is not to nip
people is to establish that all the humans in your home are above him in
the pack. Everyone in the family should take part in your Yorkie Puppy’s
training and care. Kids can show dominance by being in charge of
feeding. Have them always make puppy sit and stay before he can have his
food bowl. If he lunges for his food bowl before he is told it is ok,
have your child pick up the bowl and try again. A hungry Yorkie Puppy
will work hard to figure out what he needs to do to get you to leave the
bowl on the ground, so it should only take a few tries to get him to
wait for a command. You can also exert pack status with leash training.
Make sure your Yorkie Puppy always sits and is acting calm before you
put the leash on, that you walk through doors first, and that your
Yorkie Puppy does not walk in front of you. Enforcing these few positive
behaviors goes a long way towards showing your Yorkie Puppy who is boss.