Why do dogs mouth?
Mouthing is displayed by nearly all puppies and is normal exploring type behaviour. Puppies play with each other using their mouths and establish bonds and figure out who is boss. However, it is not appropriate for puppies to mouth people and if owner’s do not correct the behaviour it can become a more serious problem.
Some owners are encouraging their puppy to mouth without realising it by giving the puppy physical contact, eye contact, laughing, talking to the dog, or playing tug of war with their hands.
- Teach your puppy what is appropriate to chew on – chew toys, bones, raw hides, kongs. Never people!
- Distract you puppy with an appropriate chew toy to redirect his mouthing onto this instead of your skin
- Avoid rewarding the behaviour. Completely ignore the dog, turn away, fold your arms, do not make eye contact or speak to the dog.
- You could take this a step further by getting up and leaving the room every time the puppy mouths you. This gives the puppy a time out from your attention
- Give a correction such as a verbal correction – a loud sharp “ah ah” or “no!”
- Many puppies instinctively know they have bitten too hard when they hear a yelp. Imitate a pup’s yelp by making a high pitched short sharp noise when he mouths too hard, then turn and ignore the puppy.
- Use calm assertive handling around the puppy. Do not encourage the puppy to nip or mouth by getting him over excited with squealing and fast movements. Teach children not to act like this as it encourages puppies to nip and mouth.