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How to Stop a Dog from Biting When Excited: An Expert’s Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to stop dog from biting when excited

If you’re a pet parent, you may have experienced your dog getting overly excited and nipping or biting you. While it may seem harmless, biting can be a serious issue and needs to be addressed. Fortunately, there are several effective methods to stop your dog from biting when excited.

As a dog behaviorist and trainer, I’ve seen over-excited dogs biting a lot.  I’ve seen them bite other dogs, bite strangers, bite their owners, and even bite themselves. Most of the time, it’s just play-biting, but sometimes it can be serious and a signs of true canine aggression.

Mouthing behavior in this article refers to when a dog “mouths” you. It’s important to recognize that there are degrees of this behavior. A play-bite may just leave a scratch but a serious bite can puncture the skin.

When dogs get too excited, they sometimes show aggression. This article will take a deep dive into how to help them, but here is a quick overview of key points for dogs biting from hyperexcitability.

Key Points to handing Hyper Excited or arousal biting in dogs

  1. Balance Attention: Some dogs get overexcited because of too much attention. Learning when to give attention and when to ignore can help manage their excitement levels.
  2. Consistent Training: Regular dog training sessions are crucial. They help your dog understand expected behaviors, reducing their excitement-induced aggression. Sometimes, you may need a professional dog trainer to help you stop your dog using you as a chew toy.
  3. Behavior Techniques: These methods can be really effective:
    • Desensitization: Slowly and safely introduce them to exciting situations, so they learn to stay calm.
    • Counterconditioning: Teach them to associate excitement with positive, calm behaviors.
    • Response Substitution: Redirect their excited energy into non-aggressive activities or commands.
  4. Avoid Overstimulating Situations: Try to keep your dog away from scenarios that make them too excited and lead to aggression. This could mean managing their playtime or interactions with others.
  5. Create a Calm Environment: Have a safe, quiet space for your dog, like a crate or a special area, where they can calm down and feel secure, especially when they start to get too worked up.

So, mouthing can take many forms, and luckily, usually when a dog nips when excited, it’s not a sign of true aggression. But to understand how to get a hyper dog to stop biting, we first need to look at why this happens by identifying the kinds of “mouthing behavior” you can find in dogs. 

Identifying the Types of Excitement-Induced Biting

To understand why your dog may be nipping when they are energetic, we need to first look at the most common kinds of biting.

1. Playful Biting

A common behavior especially in herding breeds like Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs, playful biting or nipping is often a sign of exuberance. These dogs might nip at heels or engage in a light, playful bite during exciting moments. This is a natural behavior pattern, especially noted in herding breeds, attributed to their instinctual herding traits.

2. Puppy Biting

Puppies, in their exploratory phase, exhibit biting as a form of play and discovery. This behavior is not just a manifestation of excitement but also a part of their learning curve, particularly in understanding bite inhibition. Breeds like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are particularly prone to this as puppies. A notable example is the Vizsla, known for the ‘sharkies’ – sudden, intense bursts of biting that can be both painful and challenging to manage.

5. Arousal Biting

In older dogs, arousal biting occurs when they become overstimulated and revert to biting due to a lack of learned bite inhibition as puppies and is most common in adolescent dogs (dogs aged 6 to 18 months are most prone to arousal biting). However, it can happen in adult dogs too. This behavior is different from playful nipping or rough play, as it stems from an inability to properly process and handle overexcitement or strong emotional states.

Essentially, arousal biting happens when dogs are so prone to big emotions, like overexcitement, that they don’t know what to do and just start jumping on you and nipping or biting. This can happen during play, or when you come home after a long day. They may even nip visitors.

4. Redirected Aggression

A more serious form of biting occurs when a dog experiences redirected aggression. This happens when a dog, overwhelmed with excitement or frustration (for example, upon seeing another dog), redirects this intense emotion towards the nearest target, often their owner. This form of biting is particularly concerning and is a common reason behind serious bite incidents.

A recent study published in MDPI provides insights into redirected aggression in dogs. It shows how intense emotional stimuli can trigger unexpected aggressive behaviors, underlining the importance of understanding and managing these triggers.

Steps to Stop Biting in Hyperactive Dogs

So, once you identify why your dog may be nipping when they feel feverish and exuberant, let’s look at steps to deal with the behavior.

Step 1: Avoid Punishment – Understanding the Role of Stress in Canine Behavior

In addressing biting behaviors in hyper dogs, the first and foremost step is to avoid punishment. This approach is backed by the insights of renowned experts like Dr. Andrew U. Luescher and Dr. Ilana R. Reisner, who emphasize that behaviors stemming from conflict or stress should not be met with punishment.

But why is punishment not the answer? It’s simple: When a dog displays conflict behaviors (like biting when they’re overexcited), it’s a sign that they’re stressed. Punishing them can actually increase their stress levels. While it might seem like punishment stops the behavior at the moment (this is called behavioral suppression), it doesn’t address the root cause – the dog’s underlying emotional state. In fact, it could worsen the situation.

For example, if you punish your dog for biting (or growling), you may suppress that behavior, but it doesn’t teach them how to deal with the intense feelings of excitement. So your dog may start a new behavior, like obsessively chasing their tail, barking, humping, or digging.

In a nutshell: Think of a hyper dog’s biting like a cry for help rather than a naughty act. Punishing them is like telling them to be quiet without finding out why they’re upset in the first place. It’s essential to look deeper and understand the stress or excitement causing this behavior, rather than just trying to stop it with punishment.

Step 2: Making Biting Uninteresting – Teaching Boredom Over Excitement

One of the most effective strategies to curb biting in dogs, especially hyperactive ones, is to make the act of biting uninteresting. The goal here is to teach your dog that biting leads to boredom, not excitement.

The Misconception of ‘Ow’ Squeals 

It’s a common piece of advice to squeal in a high-pitched voice, like saying “ow,” to startle a puppy and stop them from biting. However, many puppy owners report that this approach might pause the biting momentarily, but it often resumes shortly after. The high-pitched noise can actually make nipping more enticing for the puppy, turning you into a human squeaky toy!

The Effective Approach – Stay Still and Calm

Instead, when your dog nips at you during play, the best response is to stop moving. Remain still, calm, and look away from the dog. Count to five in your head and completely ignore any mouthing behavior. This might mean wearing old clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit tattered if your dog is particularly persistent. The key is not to react – no squealing, no sudden movements.

If you squeal, shout and move your hands around when a dog is very excited, you will only increase the excitement and reinforce the biting. 

Implementing the ‘Biting Means Boredom’ Rule Through Positive Redirection

When your puppy or dog stops biting, that’s your cue to offer them an appropriate toy to chew or play tug with. This teaches a simple yet crucial lesson: biting means the game stops and they get no attention, whereas biting the right toy means fun continues. This way you redirect their excitement to a more appropriate behavior. 

To put this into perspective, let me share my experience with my puppy, Arthur. He used to bite my hands during play, but through this method – stopping all play and ignoring him when he bit, then rewarding him with a toy when he stopped – Arthur learned that biting my hands was uninteresting and led to no fun.

Step 3: Reinforcing Calmness – Managing Excitement Levels

The next step in curbing biting behaviors in hyper dogs is to consistently reinforce calmness. This involves preventing your dog from reaching excessive levels of excitement.

Managing Excitement During Playtime

Allow your dog to have playtime, but keep an eye on their excitement level. Use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely excited. If your dog reaches above a 6, pause the game. Resume only when they have calmed down. This teaches your dog that overexcitement leads to the end of fun activities.

Homecomings and Visitor Interactions

When you come home, avoid immediately fussing over your dog. Greet them only once they are calm. Similarly, instruct visitors to ignore your dog if they are overexcited. If necessary, use a crate as a temporary measure to manage their excitement when guests arrive.

Step 4: Providing Proper Energy Outlets

Suppressing a behavior without providing an alternativ-e-archive can lead to increased destructiveness. Therefore, it’s crucial to channel your dog’s energy positively.

Enhance the duration and intensity of playtime and exercise. Activities that stimulate both the mind and body, such as agility sports, can be particularly effective.

Step 5: Investing in Training

Comprehensive training is vital to modify your dog’s behavior effectively.

Essential Commands

Teach your dog basic obedience commands, such as ‘go to your place’, ‘leave it’, and others. These commands are instrumental in changing your dog’s behavior through verbal cues.

Teaching ‘Settle’

For high-energy breeds, it’s crucial to teach the ‘settle’ command, which means going to their bed and relaxing. This command helps in managing their energy and encouraging calmness.

Step 6: Developing Impulse Control and Bite Inhibition

Finally, focus on teaching your dog impulse control through games that require patience and control. Simultaneously, work on bite inhibition to ensure they understand the limits of acceptable mouthing behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some effective techniques for preventing my dog from nipping visitors?

If your dog tends to nip or bite visitors, one effective technique is to train them to greet visitors calmly. You can start by teaching them the “sit” command and rewarding them when they follow it. Once they have mastered this command, you can ask them to sit when visitors come over. This will help them stay calm and prevent them from nipping or biting.

How can I calm down my puppy when they’re biting and excited?

Puppies tend to get excited and bite when they are playing. One effective technique is to redirect their attention to a toy or chew bone. You can also try playing calming music or using a calming spray to help them relax.

What are some tips for stopping my hyper dog from biting?

Hyper dogs tend to bite when they are overstimulated. One effective technique is to give them plenty of exercise and playtime to help them burn off their excess energy. You can also try using a calming supplement or spray to help them relax.

Why do dogs tend to nip or bite when they’re excited, and how can I prevent this?

Dogs tend to nip or bite when they are excited because it is a natural instinct. One way to prevent this is to train them to greet visitors calmly and redirect their attention to a toy or chew bone. You can also try using a calming supplement or spray to help them relax.

What is the difference between dog nipping and biting, and how can I stop both?

Nipping is a gentle bite, while biting is more forceful. To stop both, you can teach your dog the “leave it” command and reward them when they follow it. You can also redirect their attention to a toy or chew bone and use a calming supplement or spray to help them relax.


In conclusion, stopping a dog from biting when excited requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. It is important to understand that dogs bite when they are excited, fearful, or stressed, and it is our responsibility as pet owners to provide them with the necessary training and socialization to prevent this behavior.

One effective way to prevent biting is to redirect the dog’s attention to a toy or treat when they start to get too excited. This teaches them that biting is not acceptable and gives them an appropriate outlet for their energy.

Consistency is key in training a dog to stop biting. It is important to establish clear rules and boundaries and enforce them consistently. This means that everyone in the household should be on the same page and use the same commands and techniques when training the dog.

Positive reinforcement is also an important part of training a dog to stop biting. Praising and rewarding the dog when they exhibit good behavior will encourage them to continue that behavior in the future.

Remember, stopping a dog from biting when excited takes time and effort. It is important to remain calm and patient, and to seek professional help if necessary. With the right training and socialization, your dog can learn to control their biting behavior and become a well-behaved member of your family.

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.