Most pet owners dislike it when their dogs bite, chew, or mouth their hands, limbs, or clothing when they are playing or interacting. Adult dogs can unintentionally hurt themselves while mouthing, and their jaws can be substantially more painful than puppy teeth. Adult dogs frequently have a harder time controlling their mouthing since they are physically harder to manage and are less responsive to our reactions than puppies.
Adult dogs who mouth people likely never developed the appropriate social inhibitions as puppies. They probably didn’t learn how to chew toys or be gentle from their human parents.
Is it aggressive behavior or playful mouthing? Most dog mouthing is commonplace. However, some dogs will bite out of fear or irritation, and this form of biting may be a sign of aggressiveness issues. It can be challenging to distinguish between regular playmouthing and mouthing that signals aggressive conduct. A playful dog will typically have a calm body and face. Although his face may appear wrinkled, you won’t notice any stress in his facial muscles. In general, playful biting hurts less than more serious, forceful biting. An aggressive dog’s physique will typically appear stiff. He might furrow his brow and pull his lips back to reveal his teeth. Bite delivery during play is typically slower and less painful than that during serious, aggressive bites.
Please seek the advice of a trained professional, such as a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), if you believe that your dog’s biting falls under the category of aggressive behavior (Dip ACVB). If a behaviorist isn’t available nearby, you can turn to a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but make sure the trainer you pick is qualified to assist you. As this knowledge is not necessary for CPDT certification, ascertain whether she or he has substantial education and experience successfully treating aggression. For information on finding a behaviorist or a CPDT in your region, please refer to our article Finding Professional Behavior Help.
How to Reduce Mouthing and Nipping in Your Dog Dogs spend a lot of time playing, chewing, and exploring new things. Of course, they also like to play with other people. Puppies gnaw on our fingers and toes and use their jaws and teeth to explore our body. When your dog is two or three years old and much bigger, this type of behavior may not be as lovable as it is when he is seven weeks old.
It’s crucial to train your dog to control his mouthy behavior. This lesson can be taught in a variety of methods, some of which are superior than others. The ultimate goal of dog training is to get your dog to completely quit biting and mouthing people. However, the first and most crucial goal is to show him that humans have extremely sensitive skin and that he must be very careful while using his tongue when playing because of this.
Bite Reticence: How to Train Your Dog to Be Gentle Bite inhibition is the capacity of a dog to regulate the force of his mouthing. When a puppy or dog hasn’t developed bite inhibition around people, he doesn’t understand how sensitive human skin is and bites too hard, even when playing. A dog that has been trained to use his mouth delicately while interacting with humans may be less likely to bite hard and cause injury if he ever bites someone other than playfully when he is scared or in pain.
During playtime with other dogs, young pups typically develop bite inhibition. There is a lot of chasing, pouncing, and wrestling when dogs are playing together. Dogs bit each other all over as well. A dog will occasionally bite his playmate too hard. The person who has been bit painfully usually yells and stops playing. The cry frequently surprises the perpetrator, who briefly pauses playing as a result. However, both teammates return to the game quite quickly. Dogs learn to manage the force of their bites through this type of contact so that no one is wounded and the play may go on uninterrupted. If canines can learn how to be nice from one another, then people can teach them the same lesson.
Allow your dog to mouth on your hands when you’re playing. Play on until he starts biting very hard. As soon as he does, yell loudly as though you are harmed and let your hand fall limp. Your dog should be startled by this and stop mouthing you for a while. (If yelling doesn’t appear to work, use a harsh voice to exclaim, “Too bad!” or “You blew it!”) Whenever your dog stops or licks you, praise them. play is then resumed. Yelp once more if your dog bites you forcefully. No more than three times in a 15-minute span should you repeat these instructions.
If you discover that yelling by itself is ineffective, you can use a time-out method. Time-outs are frequently successful in reducing mouthy behavior in adult and adolescent dogs. Yell out loudly when your dog gives you a forceful bite. Then, when he jerks and looks at you or around, take your hand away. If he mouths off to you again, either ignore him for 10 to 20 seconds or get up and walk away for 10 to 20 seconds. You may leave the room if you must. Return to your dog after the brief timeout, and invite him to play with you once more. It’s crucial to instill in him the concept that playful activity that isn’t painful continues. Play with your dog until he starts biting firmly once more. When he does, go back and do it again. You can tighten up your regulations a little once your dog stops biting as severely. Make your dog even more gentle. In response to moderately hard bites, yell and stop the game. Continue yelling at your dog, then ignore him or give him a timeout for his heaviest bites. As they fade, repeat the process for his subsequent toughest bites, and so on, until your dog is able to play with your hands very softly while managing the pressure he applies to you, causing you to feel little to no pressure at all.
The next step is to teach your dog that human skin shouldn’t be touched by its teeth. The next phase is educating your dog to completely refrain from mouthing humans after you’ve taught him to use his mouth gently. Try these suggestions:
- When your dog tries to chew on your fingers or toes, replace it with a toy or chew bone.
- Dogs frequently mouth on their owners’ hands when being scratched, pet, or rubbed. If petting your dog sets him off, try distracting him by giving him little treats from your other hand. Your dog will become accustomed to being petted without biting thanks to this.
- Instead of wrestling and rough play with your hands, promote noncontact games like fetch and tug of war. Playing tug-of-war with your dog will help him learn how to control his arousal and irritation. You must adhere to certain guidelines to maintain tug-of-war safe and enjoyable for both you and your dog. Once your dog is capable of playing tug safely, keep the tug toys nearby or in your pocket. You can immediately direct him to the tug toy if he starts to mouth you. Ideally, he’ll begin to anticipate when he feels like mouthing and look for a toy.
- With targeted exercises like sit, wait, and leave it, you can teach your dog impulse control.
- Carry your dog’s favorite tug toy in your pocket if they frequently bite your feet and ankles. The moment he ambushes you, halt all foot movement. Pull out the pull toy and enticingly wave it. Resuming your movement after your dog has taken the toy. If the toy isn’t nearby, simply stand still and wait for your dog to stop biting you. Give him praise and get him a toy as soon as he stops. Follow these instructions repeatedly until your dog becomes accustomed to seeing you walk about without following your feet.
- Give your dog a ton of fun, fresh toys and chewables so that they may play together instead of biting you or your clothes.
- Give your dog several opportunities to play with other amiable, vaccinated dogs. He won’t need to play harshly with you as much as he can spend a lot of his energy playing with others.
- Use a time-out process similar to the one previously outlined, but slightly alter the guidelines. Start giving your dog time outs whenever you feel his fangs on your skin rather than just when he bites you hard.
- Give a loud yelp as soon as you feel your dog’s teeth contact you. the moment you say that, walk away from him. For 30 to 60 seconds, ignore him. Leave the room for 30 to 60 seconds if your dog follows you or continues to attack and nip at you. (Make certain the space is “Before you leave your dog alone in it, dog-proof it. Don’t leave him alone in a space with potentially harmful or destructive objects.) Return to the room and calmly carry on with whatever you were doing with your dog after the brief timeout.
- As an alternative, you can always keep your dog on a leash when you’re around to watch after him. Allow the leash to droop to the ground. When your dog mouths you, you can calmly bring him to a quiet spot by taking hold of his leash without running out of the room. When you arrive there, restrain him by placing him behind a baby gate or tying him to a large piece of furniture. After the brief time-out, leave the area or turn your back on your dog. Untie him or release him after the timeout is up, then carry on with what you were doing.
- Consider utilizing a taste deterrent if a time-out is not practical or efficient. Before you begin interacting with your dog, spray the deterrent on the parts of your body and clothing that he tends to mouth. When he mouths you or your clothing, halt all movement and wait for him to respond to the deterrent’s unpleasant taste. When he releases you, give him a hearty thank you. For at least two weeks, apply the repellent to your body and clothing. Your dog will probably learn to curb his mouthy habit after two weeks of getting a bitter taste in his mouth every time he mouths you.
- Make mouthing uncomfortable for your dog if he does not respond to your yelling, does not stop mouthing when you use time-out, and is not deterred by foul flavors. If all other methods have failed, only then should the next one be attempted. Keep a tiny can of peppermint or spearmint breath freshener with you at all times by keeping it in your pocket. yell when your dog starts to bite you “Ouch, then quickly spray your dog’s mouth with the breath freshener. He won’t enjoy the taste, and he won’t enjoy the spray’s sensation at all. You should move quickly and fluidly. This strategy won’t work if you and your dog start to wrestle, and it certainly won’t work if your dog starts to act violently or is terrified of you. The spray should only need to be applied a few times. It’s preferable to utilize the other methods suggested here or get professional assistance if you’re uncomfortable with punishment and can’t apply it to your dog swiftly and without difficulty. (To find a qualified professional in your area, please check our post Finding Professional Behavior Help.)
- Don’t be reluctant to seek the assistance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer because mouthing issues can be difficult to deal with (CPDT). A CPDT will provide group or one-on-one lessons that can help you and your dog with mouthing. To locate a CPDT in your region, please refer to our post Finding Professional Behavior Help.
- To get your dog to play, stay away from flailing your fingers or toes in his face or slapping the sides of his face. Actually encouraging your dog to bite your hands and feet by doing these things.
- Don’t stop your dog from generally playing with you. The link between a dog and his human family is strengthened via play. Instead of not playing at all, you want to train your dog to play gently.
- When your dog mouths, try not to yank your hands or feet away from him. Your dog can perceive your jerky movements as a game, leading him to lunge forward and seize you. Letting your hands or feet become limp and less enjoyable to play with is a much more effective strategy.
- When dogs are spanked or struck for mouthing around, they may bite more forcefully. They typically retaliate by playing more violently. Physical punishment can also instill fear in your dog toward you and possibly lead to actual aggressiveness. Avoid punishing your dog with physical acts that could harm or frighten him, such as scruff shaking, hitting him on the nose, sticking your fingers down his throat, etc.
How can I teach my dog to stop mouthing off?
Calmly direct your dog to a suitable toy when he begins to chew something inappropriate. Thank him for chewing the right things. Never support mouthing while playing. Choose a toy and follow a set of standardized rules when playing tug of war: I start the game, I finish the game, the dog must give me the toy when I ask for it, and teeth on my skin end the game instantly.
When your dog starts to grow mouthy while you are playing with him, stop the game. Place him gently in a time-out area or his crate. Only release him once he has calmed down.
Punishing your dog could actually make the issues worse that you’re attempting to address. Any dog, but especially one that has been stimulated or is overexcited, might become aggressive in response to physical or verbal punishment.
Avoid using any techniques that involve force or intimidation, including leash jerks, muzzle grabs, alpha rolls, and scruffing. These could cause major behavior issues because they don’t teach the dog what is appropriate. As a punishment for mouthy conduct, put your attention on taking away the items your dog enjoys.
Teach your dog to give you something that is in his mouth without lunging at you. Place a delectable goodie in front of his nose and say, “Should I have that? Give him the treat when he drops the object.
You must instill good conduct in your dog. Keep him on a leash or inside the home if he chases and bites your kids as they play. Use a Gentle Leader if he mouths your hand while you are walking. Stop moving and gradually draw up on his Gentle Leader; when he stops mouthing, release the strain.
If your dog discovers that mouthing you causes something positive to begin or something negative to end, he will keep doing it. Some dogs come to understand that getting their owners’ attention by leaping up and grasping them is preferable to going to the kennel. Others discover that if they don’t want to be restrained, they can end it by gently mouthing. Let the consequences motivate the desired conduct.
Exercise that is difficult won’t make your dog stop mouthing you, but it will help you get rid of extra energy that can aggravate mouthy behavior. Play with other dogs, fetch activities, and long walks can all be beneficial. Till your dog is a year old, stay away from running and long walks (more than a mile). He is still forming the growth plates at the ends of his bones, so strenuous exercise may result in edema or even stunted growth.
Some dogs utilize their jaws because they have discovered that doing so causes their owners to react favorably. Giving your dog lots of positive reinforcement and instruction will help him/her become “legal pursuits that will attract attention to him for the proper factors.
- Learn to high-yip. A high-pitched, piercing yip is released by the puppy who is being bitten when playtime between puppies becomes too aggressive. To shock the majority of puppies, imitate the high yip; then remove your hand and replace it with a toy. Stop utilizing this technique right away if you realize that it just makes your dog more excited.
- Keep an eye on children and puppies as they play.
- Many kids will require your assistance because they can’t apply these methods on their own. Puppies pick things up quickly and may discover that aggressive play and biting can terrify young toddlers. Children enjoy doing things that make pups overexcited. Until the puppy and the toddler learn how to play appropriately, adult supervision is required.
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