How To Stop Puppy Nipping Using "Urge-Control"
Have you ever heard of the famous Marshmallow test done by Stanford university that suggests that self-control is the number one determining factor to whether our children grow up to be above or below average?
If you’ve never read up on that study, it’s fascinating and can teach you a LOT about what it takes to teach puppies to stop nipping and control their emotional urges.
In their study, Stanford university took children into a room and asked a child to sit in a chair with a Marshmallow in front of them. The instructor then told the children that if they waited for him to run an errand, they could have two Marshamallows when he came back.
But if they ate the one in front of them they would NOT get the second Marshmallow.
Whether or not the children were able to resist the inner urge to just gobble up the Marshmallow or not, was an incedible predictor of how successful those children’s lives would be, how much money they would earn, and how happy their marriage would be.
The reason this experiment was such a big predictor of these childrens’ future success, is because there is one trait that all successful people have in common… the ability to delay immediate gratification because they realize it earns them long term gains.
Well guess what, this applies to dog’s as well!
The better your dog is at remembering to keep his emotions in check, and realizing that waiting can get him BIGGER rewards, the happier and easier your life with him will be.
Luckily for us, we can build delayed gratification, or what i call, “Urge Control” into our daily training excercises.
Build Urge Control Into every Day
Activities With Your Dog
When we weave the concept of Urge Control into all of our puppies training drills, the result is a dog who remains much more calm and emotionally stable in situations like:
- Staying calm when the doorbell rings
- Not rushing to gobble up food dropped on the floor
- Staying off counter tops
- Not nipping during a game of tug a war
- Being less aggressive on a leash towards other dogs
- Remaining indifferent when children accidentally irritate them
- and a host of other situations
One of the simplest ways I recomend people teach their dog’s Urge Control is when they first get their puppy and are working on how to stop his nipping.
Understanding Why Your Puppy is Nipping
The thing you need to determine when teaching a puppy how to stop nipping, is the main driving factor for why the puppy is nipping in the first place.
In most cases a puppy is nipping for one of two reasons.
- He is teething and finds relief from nipping and chewing on items. In this case, I recommend using a technique that I call, Cataloging Chewables which is all about how to stop destructive puppy chewing.
- He still thinks nipping is a fun way to play with you just like he did with his litter mates.
With puppies that are nipping because they think it’s a fun way to interact with you, we need to set up an environment where we take what the puppy wants (interaction with us) and hold it hostage against them.
This means that we set up a new rule for our puppy that he can fully understand.
The New Rule = “Playtime STOPS when you nip”
This means that you can play with your puppy all you want, but the second he nips you, or mouths you harder then you are comfortable with, simply stand up, and ignore your puppy.
It is not necessary to yell, swat or say no. The fact that you’ve given him the cold shoulder is sending him the strongest signal possible. Nothing else could be communicating your new “rules of engagement” better then by taking the thing he wants more then anything else in the world, (YOU) away from him when he nips.
Now Here’s What I
Want You To Do Next
Because this Urge Control drill is so effective, I want you to go practice it on your puppy right now.
Most clients of mine see a dramatic change in their dogs behavior within a matter of minutes.
After a handful of times of getting up and abruptly ending playtime with your puppy when he nips, you’ll see the little wheels start turning in his head as he realizes that you only stop playing with him when he nips.
Try to ignore your puppy for about 15-20 seconds after he nips before you resume playing with him.
If you’ll go spend some time today practicing this drill you should see nearly instant results.
But Your Work is NOT Done!
Urge Control is something that needs to be built into all aspects of your dogs life. Urge Control needs to be a rule your dog lives by, not just something to stop only nipping.
Sure it can be used for just that, but it can be something so much more when applied to all areas of your dog’s life.
So after you go try out this Urge Control technique on your dog, and see for yourself how effective it is, I want you to come back and sign up to receive a copy of my Hands Off Dog Training program that can show you how to finish up the other areas of your puppies training that need work.