Dog bite inhibition training – How do I stop my Bull Terrier puppy from nipping

Home » Dog bite inhibition training – How do I stop my Bull Terrier puppy from nipping

As I have already explained in my essay “The aggressive puppy – do I have an aggressive dog?” in puppies nipping and chasing are all normal.
No need to be alarmed or think that you’ve adopted the “devil” of the litter. They are all the same. And they all more or less go through the same issues.


You’ve probably heard that it is advised by trustful breeders that the dogs will not be separated from their litter before the age of eight weeks.

Not only is that the approximate end of the weaning process. These first eight weeks in the litter among their siblings are also a very important phase in the process of socializing.

The puppies are playing with each other and the mother. And they are learning “How far they can go” or the so-called bite inhibition during play with their own kind.

If one exceeds the limits too far and starts nipping too hard, the other puppy will yelp to express pain and probably walk away and ignore the aggressor for a while. It only takes a few times for many puppies to experience that situation and know exactly where the limits are.

Once in our household, a completely new learning curve begins

Especially Bull Terriers have a very high pain tolerance and their skin and fur is designed by nature to bear a lot more impact and manipulation before it scratches or breaks.

Therefore their skin and ours is not comparable. And the situation with us humans is completely different than it was before among their siblings.

It is not a rare situation that the intentions of dogs are misinterpreted, when they “grab” people with their mouth. People tend to perceive this as an act of aggression, because a dog’s mouth can potentially cause injury. Yet, injury is not necessarily intended. A dog “grabbing” a person with the mouth can as well only mean to alert the person or hold it back the same way a human would use his hand for.

During play this kind of grabbing happens a lot, among dogs, and of course also among dog and human, once we become the new parent and play pal for the puppy.

And just as they needed to learn it with their siblings, now that they are living in our household they need to learn how easily their teeth can break our human skin and that they need to be extra careful when grabbing us.

Sadly we can’t tell them. Therefore they need to learn this through experience and repetition.

It is our task as the owners to teach them

A great way to teach puppies not do nip too hard is using the same method their siblings did back in the litter:

Loud yelping to show pain. This will also startle the dog and likely cause it to stop.

Subsequently just interrupt ALL interaction and ignore the dog for a moment.

If the dog does not stop, try moving it into a calm room or gently shove int into its crate with no distractions for a short time-out.

“Cries” behind closed doors should now be ignored as hard as it feels. The puppy needs to learn that revolting does not resolve the situation.

If you feel like ignoring doesn’t work, give it a few more tries and a slightly longer while each time.

After things have calmed down, invite the puppy back in and try to engage in calmer interaction.

Avoid very inciting games that involve a lot of “grabbing” during very excessive nipping phases. These games can play a role again once your dog has learned to control its steam a little better.

Every dog has its own learning speed. But most dogs will get it eventually.
If you feel like you are getting nowhere even after months, seek the help of a professional dog trainer.

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6 years ago

My four year old mini but has started “love bites” on people’s hands when they reach down to greet her. They aren’t aggressive but do pinch! once she greets them she lets go and is her wonderful, passive self again. I need to find a way to stop this behaviour because I don’t want it to lead to greeting children this way to, as she LOVES being with and around toddlers. I’ve tried scolding, holding her nose, asking people to hold their hands closed and low when they greet her, etc.
She also has a very bad habit of jumping and grabbing larger dogs neck ruff while playing with them, I worry that this might be an aggressive behaviour and not a playful one! She has always done it and otherwise is a very submissive dog.

6 years ago

I have a 5 month old that I have to keep outside, 1 she is bitting my young Children trying to play and the landlord too saying not inside for now. Just wondering what tactics will work for stopping the nipping.

5 years ago

I have a 7 month old bull terrier and I have try treats and talking in a soft voices and also sounding loud and demanding and she is still biting.. every time she gets excited and wants to play she bites me she is friendly with everyone else but I can’t control her I don’t know what other method to use to stop her from biting.. any advice ?

5 years ago

This is so helpful—thank you! We just got a 9-week-old bull terrier puppy, and I have been worried we got the “devil” of the litter, like you mentioned. Like the comment above, our girl is obsessive about biting our feet and clothes, arms, hands, face—every part of me. She will not stop, even after constant redirection with toys. I can’t even pet or cuddle her, because all she wants to do is bite (“grab”?) me. She is spending 75% of her time in a crate because we simply don’t know what else to do to get her to calm down. Almost all of our interactions with her involve trying to get her teeth off of us. We are meeting w a trainer next week, but any additional ideas would be great. What “mental games” would you suggest? We are desperate to train and raise her well and give her the affection she wants, but it is proving so difficult.

Reply to  Dorothea Cornelius
3 years ago

We just got an eight week old boy who also bites like a possum all the freaking time. We have Inc. chasing games, I have given him leather straps and chew toys and sometimes redirection does help a little bit. He does hate being separated from us so we have set up a time out and quiet time run in the livingroom as we dont want him associating his crate with punishment. For the most part we also spend 60 to 70% of our time trying to remove his teeth from our skin or our clothes or my hair- and as much as I hate to strike animals the only thing we have found Is flicking him between the eyes when his biting gets to an extreme level. If he has to be flicked he instantly goes to time out. We have discovered that all of these things combined with a very loud yelp by the person being injured has started to turn the biting into licking instead 🙂 Rough housing with these puppies is not recommended if trying to curb biting. Our playtime consists of lots of hugs and scratching and running fun loops up and down the hallway and playing tug of war. Routine is very helpful- very smart dogs. We keep him on as strict a time schedule as we can for eating and naps. Yes naps!!! Ours takes three to four full naps a day in his crate, since hes only 8 weeks- but we make sure to keep him up for three hours before bed and make sure to do alot of playing during that time for a puppy to sleep most of the night. Paint sticks and vinyl webbing straps are good for wearing down those teeth and they seem to prefer them to chew toys. Very proud dogs, so be sure to tell them often when they are good and give them lots of hugs and kisses. This will make their separation time more unbearable for them.

Marie merriman
5 years ago

I have found theses answers very help full I have a 10 week old boy and he’s a typical bull terrier puppy . If he gets to rough bitting . We put him in his crate only for a short while or try and distract him through play you do have to be very firm . There beautiful dogs but can be very stubborn we have got him some mental stimulation toys as well to distract him . Make sure all family members use the same methods to train him or he or she will get confused .

Alex Naveiro
5 years ago

Hi Everyone!

We recently brought home an EBT. She was 8 weeks when we picked her up and is now coming into week 12. The first few days she was very passive, sweet and cuddly, but things quickly changed once she became more comfortable with her surroundings and new home. I was really really concerned about her biting until i read some of these comments which reassure me a bit that shes not overly aggressive. With that being said, she is very mouthy and plays extremely rough. She is constantly looking for something to bite and her bites continue to get harder which is concerning my GF and I. We’ve been trying to provide as much exercise as possible but the behavior seems to be intensifying instead of decreasing. I’ve also noticed shes not as “kissy” as other puppies that I’ve had in the past. Any insight is greatly appreciated.


James Marshall
3 years ago

Hi Dorothea and readers

My wife and I are new parents of an English Bull Terrier, took her in at 9 weeks and she’s coming up to 14 weeks now. In some aspects these last few weeks have been hard, taking their toll on us and adapting to the new person in our lives and home but in others and at times when Milo shows her affection or demonstrates what she’s learned, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’d read up on their behavioural traits and having had and been around dogs most of my life, thought “what’s all the fuss about?”. Let me tell you, and one thing we had to and are still learning ourselves, is that owning your first English Bull Terrier is NOT the same as “just a puppy” from another breed. Yes they are challenging and show signs of a rebellious / stubborn nature but when their true self shines through they are simply amazing dogs. Do stick with it and have faith in what the real experts say, not just the “armchair experts” who know it all! It’s pretty much a 50 / 50 learning experience for us and building that bond now at an early stage, picking up tips and appreciating help and advice along the way IS working.
Granted not every “tip” will work and probably most won’t initially, but I have definitely understood a couple of actions that DO work, try them and see;

The puppy MUST have the right amount of sleep (a lot more than we initially were offering her). Milo is now almost 14 weeks and sleeps, not necessarily always by choice but when we feel is “her” time (might be different time for others and the lifestyles they lead) and this totals around 17 or 18 hours a day. Since offering her this extra couple of hours we’ve noticed a massive positive difference in her behaviour.

Your puppy, well ours certainly, MUST get enough to eat. Like most people we offer training treats while interacting with her but have been following a fairly strict 4 meals a day routine starting at 0630hrs and then every 4 hours. We use the more expensive puppy food for her and followed the advice for English Bull Terriers regarding portion control. This did not work and she was still hungry and following other advice, increased her portions slightly and boy what a difference it’s made, again to her behaviour. Poor little girl was hungry and trying to tell us in her own way.

Finally, from my point of view only, when they are awake and it’s either training or playtime, you MUST focus your time and energy into your puppy. We tried otherwise to juggle work and our mealtimes at the same time and it does NOT work. Invest the time in “your” puppy and it will pay off. Milo seems to respect us more and responds faster and makes the right choices more regularly since we’ve done this. Not all day and yes we do both have jobs and work pays the bills and all that, but what I’m saying, though albeit a few weeks of experience, is that this time forms the bond with your puppy and all three of these bits of advice flow into one another; if she’s had enough food, she’ll sleep, if she’s had enough sleep, she’ll play / interact nicely.

Don’t get me wrong here, she is still a little madam at times and does nip and mouth and make the wrong choice sometimes, but she’s a puppy and still learning, just like we are, but since we’ve followed these three traits Milo seems to be happier and I know we are too.

Good luck and don’t give up.

Monique Bezuidenhout
2 years ago

Good day,
We have an 8month old Bull Terrier boy that keeps nipping our 6year old little girl (human, if this was not clear… LOL) my mother is pressuring me to rehome although I know in my heart that he (Rolo) is not aggressive. this happened now twice when I was not in the room / at home. we are having him spayed as well tomorrow as we do not want to breed with him.

How will i get him to stop nipping my 6 year old, as I have 19month old twins as well. i am scared he will turn aggressive.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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