This dog training question comes in from a reader of our site:

I have recently became an owner of a new little boxer puppy Nova (11 weeks old)  I have had her since 8 weeks.  I have had a boxer in the past but this new little girl is totally different.  She is doing really good with the commands: sit, down, and no.  My biggest issue that I need to know how to correct is biting people.  She will listen to the ouch and no command and stop most of the time.  The other time is when she get really wild and seems to have a burst of energy and she will bite anything and everything.  We have tried to do the ouch/no and replace with toy or ouch/no walk away and ouch/no water spray.  It seems nothing phases her when shes in this mind set.  What can we do to help teach her to be gently.

My response:

The first thing you need to differentiate is the difference between a command and something you are saying.  I find that most people with young pups are simply saying ‘no’ or ‘ouch’ and that is it.  The problem is that dogs aren’t verbal learners.  They don’t learn by being told, they learn by being shown.

I’ve known plenty of pups that will respond when someone says ‘ouch’ when they are new.  They aren’t responding to a command, though, they are simply responding to the tone of voice.  The problem when you go down this path is that as the puppies realize that there is no reinforcement behind this command, there is simply a stern tone, they stop caring.  An owner who started out with a stern ‘ouch’ is now shouting at the dog in vain attempts to get the dog to listen.

It sounds like you’ve tried the spray bottle.  Have you been consistent with the spray bottle or just tried it a few times?

What I recommend to my clients is that puppies of this age are on a leash at all times.  When the puppy nips you correct with the leash and then redirect towards a toy.  Simple redirection typically doesn’t work.  Simple correction by itself doesn’t typically work.  You need a correction that is meaningful followed by a redirection that is meaningful.

If the puppy is continuing with his or her behavior then you need to adjust your correction or stay committed to it until you see the desired results.

Best of luck.