How to Stop a Dog from Mouthing

by Sarah Dray
It starts as a game—until it hurts!

It starts as a game—until it hurts!

Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Mouthing is similar to biting, except that it's not meant to hurt. Instead, mouthing is more of a grabbing and chewing behavior, as when Doggie grabs your fingers, arms or clothes using his mouth—but not so much his teeth. Mouthing starts as a game but can develop into a more destructive behavior as Doggie gets older, so it's important that you stop it as soon as you can.

Step 1

Buy Doggie a few soft chewing toys. If he's young—6 months or less—he might be teething. Just as for a human baby, teething is bothersome and painful, so dogs will try to chew on things to ease the annoyance. Soft chewing toys feel good on gums and will encourage puppy to bite something besides your fingers and toes.

Step 2

Create a distraction rather than punishing the behavior. When Doggie starts mouthing, remove your hand—or your feet or your clothes—from his mouth and offer a chew stick instead. He'll learn that he has more appropriate things to chew on and eventually focus on those.

Step 3

Let him know it hurts. When he tries chewing on your arm—no matter how gentle the bite is—say, "Ouch!" or make a quick whimpering sound, just as another puppy would do. This is how dogs learn when playing with playmates—the sound lets them know they've gone too far.

Step 4

Give him the cold shoulder as soon as he bites. Once you've made some noise, move away and ignore him for a while. If the room you're both in is a lot of fun—toys everywhere or another doggie to play with—move him to another room or put him inside his crate. A time-out of just a few minutes can be enough to send the message that the biting is not welcome.

Tip

  • Don't punish Doggie for mouthing. Hitting, yelling or other forms of punishment can backfire, as they don't teach anything about the behavior itself—and they encourage violence. In dominant dogs, this can actually result in a dog becoming more aggressive as he grows up.

Photo Credits

  • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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