Although it might not hurt, and even seem cute when your puppy nips on clothing, hands and ankles, in the long run it is not a good thing. To stop this behaviour, puppies need to learn bite inhibition – the ability to control the pressure of their bites. They usually learn this from playing with other puppies, but there are other ways that you can stop your puppy from nipping.
How to stop your puppy from nipping
Let puppies play with your hands
In order to help teach them bite inhibition, you should let puppies play with your hands and fingers. If they bite down hard make a high-pitched yelp noise, imitating one that another puppy would make when hurt. This should startle them, and they will let go and may start licking your hand. Praise them for this, and then resume whatever you were doing before. If they repeat their behaviour three times within a 15-minute period, give them a time out, meaning that you completely ignore them for a 10-20 second period. This will help enforce that their behaviour was not okay.
Give them time outs
For time outs you can either ignore your puppy completely for 10-20 seconds, or if this does not seem to be working, leave the room completely for a bit (making sure they cannot follow you and that they will be safe in the room alone), and then return and continue what you were doing before as if nothing happened.
Use treats and toys!
If your puppy starts to get nippy while people are petting him, try to pet with one hand while feeding a few treats with the other. This will distract them from nipping at fingers and create a positive association with being pet that doesn’t involve nipping.
Also try to keep a toy around with you as much as possible, that way you can put it in their mouth to distract them from before the nip. Preventative measures are one of the best ways to stop your puppy from nipping. Also if they tend to go for ankles and feet you can preemptively use a toy to keep them away.
Things to avoid
Don’t wave fingers and toes in your puppies face in a way that entices them to play. This will make them want to bite you. You should also not discourage your dog from playing with you, just make sure that they know their limits. If your puppy does bite down on you, try to avoid pulling your hand/foot etc. away in a jerky motion as they will see this as you initiating a game and cause them to lunge forward and try to bite again.
Make sure you avoid using any sort of physical aggression towards them when you stop your puppy from nipping. Slapping or hitting dogs will cause them to become defensive and bite down harder. Never do anything to hurt or scare your dog, since it can also cause your dog to become aggressive.
Be patient and understanding. Playful mouthing is normal behavior for puppies and young dogs, but nipping is not okay as it could become an issue later on and therefore should be nipped in the bud at a young age.