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Would You Hold a Puppy’s Mouth Shut to Stop Him From Biting?

One way to stop a puppy from biting is to say “no” while holding his mouth/muzzle closed for a second, followed by ignoring the puppy.

Holding the puppy’s mouth helps to get the point across – “don’t bite” – for some puppies.

I did this with my family’s last puppy, and it worked.

Some people will say “no bite” but “no” is all that’s needed. I teach my dogs that “no” means “stop what you’re doing” so there’s no need to elaborate.

Oh my God that’s so mean to hold a puppy’s mouth shut!

People are sensitive to the idea of holding a puppy’s mouth shut because they don’t want to be “mean” or “too aversive” or – God forbid – dominant.

I can see where they’re coming from, and if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.

Instead you can just tell the puppy “no” or “ouch” and walk away.

On the other hand, some puppies will be thrilled you’re holding their mouth shut! “Oh boy! Attention!”

This is yet another example where simply walking away and ignoring the puppy for biting is the most effective.

Just be consistent.

Aren’t we lucky there are so many training options?

How to stop a puppy from biting

Gently grabbing the puppy by the scruff

Another option (thanks Sandy!) is to gently but firmly grab the puppy’s scruff as you tell him no with a gentle shake. This is essentially what a mother dog would do, and the simple touch works well to get his attention and gently “correct” him.

I know some people will be shocked I’m mentioning this option, but it’s just not a big deal!

It works for cats too. Just sayin’.

What about squirting the puppy with water?

This can work too, but for me it just complicates things. I don’t always have a water bottle handy, but I can always say “no” and walk away.

A squirt in the face with water is really effective as a correction for some puppies. Yet, other puppies think this is a fun game! My retriever Ace thinks it’s great to be squirted with water! Silly Labs.

Another option is to use a product called the Pet Corrector (affiliate link), which shoots air at the dog. This is unpleasant for most dogs and helps to stop unwanted behavior.

I wouldn’t use this for really young puppies because it could scare them. I’d use it for “teenage” pups six months old or so.

Reaching your fingers into your pup’s mouth to stop biting

This is not what I would recommend because there’s a risk of the person getting bitten even harder and I also think it’s a little mean. I wanted to bring it up, though, because I know people do try this option or search for info about it.

When your puppy bites your hands, the idea is to push your fingers further into the pup’s mouth so it’s uncomfortable for him and he tries to back away.

It sends a pretty clear message. “Don’t bite me!”

Many trainers will say not to do this, and I don’t recommend it either, but if it works for you and your pup, then so be it.

Yelping when the puppy bites

I wrote a post on this last week. It can be really effective to yelp when a puppy bites because this is how another dog or pup would communicate “Ouch! You’re too rough!”

This works for some puppies, and it just gets other pups even more “riled up.” It helps to consistently ignore the puppy after you “yelp.”

How do you stop a puppy from biting? Do you put your hand on the puppy’s muzzle?

Related posts:

Stop a puppy from biting for attention

Stop a puppy from chewing


Thursday 14th of April 2022

I believe every dog is different. Just like kids. That is why there are so many methods. If the method isn't working, you are doing it wrong or it isn't the right one. Holding the muzzle for a second and saying no was the only thing that worked. Our puppy is not very food or toy motivated. She just does what she wants whenever she wants. She needs to put on weight so witholding food for meal/training times isn't an option. Tone of voice did not work, offering a more exciting toy didn't work. Yipping in pain and ignoring her worked a little while. She even showed sympathy for a little bit if I whined like it hurt, but then that eventually stopped working. Loud clapping sounds to startle didn't work very long. Water bottle sort of worked, but I had to catch it at the right moment. She was starting to catch on that the water bottle is what she should be worried about, not that I'm saying no. Crate won't work, that is her safe space anyway. I don't want her fearful of it when we leave the house. Timeout without toys didn't have immediate enough effect for her to 'get it'. If the reprimand wasn't immediate it wasn't effective. This was immediate enough she now knows what 'no' means. Took less than a day for her to figure it out.

Sandy Weinstein

Friday 29th of July 2016

i am not sure abt this. i know a lady in my area got in trouble for taping her dogs mouth shut b/c he was barking. she had to go to court, not sure if the dog was taken away or not. i know my dogs have never really done this. however, when i tickle my middle child, she likes to nip some, but i just say no and she stops. i also know when i have men come to the house like workers if they dont take the time to say hello with her she will try to bite their heels. i have the red can, Pet Corrector, i will spray it, or just hold it up and they all stop, barking, nipping at heels. it gets their attention. i have heard of the can trick, but with little rocks inside. you just shake it to get their attention. i dont think it is so bad to hold their mouth shut for a second or so, and say no bite, or no...but not longer or tape it as that lady did.


Wednesday 27th of July 2016

Hi, I have had this same problem with Willow ( four month old lab). It was getting out of control and nothing was working my hands and arms were always tore up and bleeding, she was just playing but it was to rough. About two weeks ago she just kept biting me and wouldn't stop, my husband put some pennies in a can and tossed on the floor next to her. She stopped and every time she starts playing to rough all we have to do is pick up the can. It has been a wonderful two weeks with her. My 4 year old granddaughter can even play with her now.

Sara Jones

Saturday 13th of January 2018

I have just tried the tin shaking with my bulldog pup really works ! Thanks

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 27th of July 2016

You know, I've of course heard of that trick but haven't tried it with Remy. He is still biting and pawing us so might have to try something similar to that. I think he's slightly better with the biting but still does it.

Jen Gabbard

Wednesday 20th of May 2015

The first couple times we took Laika to the vet she was still in her bitey phase. The vet would stick her finger all the way to the back of her gums where she didn't have any teeth yet. I'm still not sure why or how that would actually work to deter biting but sure enough I tried it myself and there is that secret spot in the back of a puppy mouth where they can't actually bite down on your fingers with their teeth. It sort of grossed me out and I don't think Laika appreciated it either but I just had to know for myself. For purely scientific reasons :)


Friday 15th of May 2015

Thanks so much, Lindsey! It's a pleasure to be here and I look forward to more discussions. Josie is a lucky dog, although I believe she knew exactly who she was waiting for! She has blessed me in so many ways that maybe I'm the lucky one! ;)