Dogs who bite, chew, or mouth their paws, limbs, or clothing during play and contact are generally disliked by most pet owners. Adult dogs’ jaws can be even more painful than puppy teeth, and adult dogs can unwittingly injure themselves when mouthing. It have a harder time suppressing their mouthing because they aren’t as responsive to our reactions as puppies are, and they’re often physically more difficult to handle due to their size.
Dogs that bite people are unlikely to have learned not to do so as puppies. It’s unlikely that their human parents instilled in them the values of gentleness and chewing toys instead.
Is It Aggressive Behavior or Playful Mouthing?
Mouthing is a common occurrence in dogs. However, some dogs bite out of fear or anger, and this form of biting can signal aggression issues. It’s not always easy to say the difference between natural play mouthing and violent action mouthing. A happy body and face are characteristic of a playful dog.
While his muzzle appears wrinkle, his facial muscles are relax. Biting with a playful intent is typically less painful than biting with a serious intent. An angry dog’s body would be rigid much of the time. To show his teeth, he could wrinkle his muzzle and draw his lips back. Bite attacks that are severe and offensive are normally faster and more painful than bites delivered while playing.
If you believe your dog’s biting suits the definition of aggressive behaviour, please seek the advice of a trained practitioner, such as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but make sure the trainer you select is qualified to assist you. Determine whether she or he has extensive education and experience successfully handling violence, as CPDT qualification does not require this knowledge.
Mouthing and Nipping in Dogs: How to Reduce Them
Dogs spend a lot of time eating, playing, and investigating new things. Of course, they really enjoy playing with other people. Puppies chew on our fingers and toes, and they use their mouths and teeth to inspect people’s bodies. When your dog is seven weeks old, this type of action is adorable, but it’s not so cute when he’s two or three years old—and much bigger!
It’s important to assist your dog in learning to control his mouthy nature. This lesson can be taught in a variety of ways, some of which are more effective than others. The ultimate goal is for your dog to completely avoid mouthing and attacking people. However, the first and most important goal is to show him that people’s skin is extremely sensitive, so he must be very gentle when playing with his mouth.
Teach Your Dog to Be Gentle by Teaching Bite Inhibition
Bite inhibition is a term that describes a dog’s ability to regulate the intensity with which he bites. When a puppy or dog hasn’t learned to bite inhibition with humans, he doesn’t know the sensitivity of human skin and bites too hard, even when playing. Many behaviorists and trainers claim that if a dog has learned to use his mouth softly while engaging with humans, he will be less likely to bite hard and break skin in situations other than play, such as when he is scared or in pain.
Bite inhibition is normally learn by young dogs when playing with other dogs. You’ll see a lot of running, pouncing, and grappling if you watch a group of dogs play. Dogs bite each other all over the place. A dog will sometimes bite his playmate too hard. The person who has been bitten yelps and generally stops playing.
The yelp also catches the perpetrator off guard and causes him to pause for a moment. Both playmates, however, are quickly reintroduced to the game. Dogs learn to monitor the severity of their bites through this type of interaction, ensuring that no one is injure and that the game can proceed uninterrupted. Dogs can learn to be gentle from each other, and people can teach them the same thing.
Allow your dog to mouth on your hands while you’re playing with him. Play with him until he bites particularly hard. When he does, let out a high-pitched yelp and let your hand go limp, as if you’re hurt. This should startle your dog enough for him to stop mouthing you for the time being. (If yelping doesn’t seem to work, say “Too bad!” or “You blew it!” in a serious voice instead.) Reward the dog for coming to a halt or licking you. Then restart the game. If your dog bites you again, yelp once more. Within a 15-minute duration, repeat these steps no more than three times.
You can use a time-out technique if yelping alone doesn’t work. In teenage and adult dogs, time-outs are often useful in reducing mouthiness. Yelp loudly when your dog bites you hard. Remove your hand when he is startle and turns to look at you or looks around. Ignore him for 10 to 20 seconds, or get up and walk away for 10 to 20 seconds if he starts mouthing on you again. Exit the space if possible. Return to your dog and invite him to play with you again after the brief time-out. It’s crucial to instill in him the understanding that gentle play continues, however painful play must come to an end. Play with your dog before he starts biting hard once more.
When he does, go over the steps again. You should tighten up the rules a little once your dog isn’t biting as hard as he used to. Make it a point to train your dog to be even gentler. In response to moderately hard bites, yelp and pause the game. Continue yelping and then ignore or give the dog a time-out for his most aggressive bites. Repeat with his next-hardest bites, and so on, before your dog will play with your hands very softly, manipulating the intensity of his mouthing so that you feel little to no pressure.
Next, teach your dog that teeth do not belong on human skin.
You will move on to the next level after training your dog to be gentle with his mouth: teaching him to stop mouthing people altogether. Consider the following suggestions:
- When your dog attempts to gnaw on your fingers or toes, replace them with a toy or chew bone.
- When stroked, patted, or scratched, dogs sometimes mouth on people’s hands. If your dog becomes agitated as you pet him, use your other hand to distract him by giving him small treats. This will assist the dog in being used to being touched without biting.
- Instead of wrestling and rough play with your hands, encourage noncontact games like fetch and tug-of-war. Playing tug-of-war with your dog will help him deal with arousal and anger. You’ll need to follow strict guidelines to keep tug-of-war comfortable and enjoyable for you and your dog. Keep tug toys in your pocket or in a position where you can quickly reach them once your dog can play tug safely. You can quickly redirect him to the tug toy if he starts mouthing you. When he feels like mouthing, he should start anticipating and looking for a toy.
- Use basic exercises like stay, wait, and leave it to teach your dog impulse control.
- Keep his favorite tug toy in your pocket if your dog bites your feet and ankles. When he ambushes you, stop shifting your feet right away. Take the tug toy out of the bag and wave it around enticingly. Start running again as soon as your dog grabs the toy. If you don’t have the toy, just stand still and wait for your dog to finish mouthing you. When he comes to a complete stop, compliment him and reward him with a toy. Rep these moves until your dog is use to watching you walk around without chasing your paws.
- Provide your dog with a variety of fun and unfamiliar toys and chewables so that he or she can play with them rather than gnawing on you or your belongings.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of chances to play with other friendly, vaccinated dogs. He’ll be able to spend a lot of his attention on them and will have less desire to play rough with you.
- Use a time-out protocol similar to the one mentioned above, but with a few tweaks to the rules. Rather than giving your dog time-outs for hard chewing, begin giving him time-outs if you feel his teeth brush against your skin.
- Give a high-pitched yelp as soon as your dog’s teeth hit you. Then take a step away from him. For 30 to 60 seconds, ignore him. Leave the space for 30 to 60 seconds if the dog follows you or tries to bite and nip at you. (Before leaving your dog alone in a bed, make sure it’s “dog-proofed.”) Don’t leave him alone with things that he could kill or that could damage him.) Return to the room after the short time-out and quietly restart whatever you were doing with your puppy.
- If you want to keep an eye on your dog, you can tie a leash to him while you’re home. Allow the leash to dangle freely on the ground. You should take your dog’s leash and calmly guide him to a quiet place instead of leaving the room when he mouths you. To keep him contained, tether him to a heavy piece of furniture or position him behind a baby gate when you arrive. Then either leave the area or turn away from your dog for the time-out. Untie or release him when the time-out is done, and go back to what you were doing.
- Consider using a taste deterrent if a time-out isn’t feasible or efficient. Before you start playing with your dog, spray the deterrent on the parts of your body and clothes that he likes to mouth. Stop moving and wait for him to respond to the deterrent’s bad taste if he mouths you or your clothes. When he lets go of you, shower him with praise. For at least two weeks, apply the deterrent to your body and clothing. Your dog will most likely learn to suppress his mouthy actions after two weeks of being punished by the bitter taste every time he mouths you.
- If your dog doesn’t respond when you yelp, doesn’t stop mouthing when you use time-out, and isn’t deterred by bad tastes, another option is to make mouthing uncomfortable for him. The following method can only be used as a last resort if all other options have failed. Keep a small can of peppermint or spearmint breath spray in your pocket for easy access. yell “Ouch!” and squirt a brief blast of breath spray straight into your dog’s mouth the moment your dog starts mouthing you. He won’t like the taste, and he won’t like the way the spray makes him feel. Your movement should be fast and fluid. This strategy won’t work if you and your dog get into a boxing match, and it won’t work even if your dog becomes violent or scared of you. The spray can only be used a couple of times. If you’re unable to use discipline and can’t do it easily and without causing your dog any stress, it’s better to stick to the other methods suggest here or seek professional assistance.
- Since mouthing problems can be difficult to resolve, seek the assistance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). A CPDT will provide you and your dog with community or private lessons to help you and your dog with mouthing.
- To entice your dog to play, avoid waving your fingers or toes in his face or slapping the sides of his face. If you do these things, your dog will become more likely to bite your hands and feet.
- In general, do not stop your dog from playing with you. A dog and his human family form a close bond through play. Rather than not playing at all, you want to teach your dog to play softly.
- When your dog mouths, don’t jerk your hands or feet away from him. Jerky movements can appear to your dog as a game, encouraging him to leap forward and grab at you. It’s much more successful to let your hands or feet go limp so that they’re no longer enjoyable to play with.
Dogs can bite harder if they are slap or hit for playful mouthing. They typically react by being more violent in their play. Physical discipline can make the dog fearful of you, and it can even lead to aggressive behavior. Scuff shaking, whacking your dog on the nose, putting your fingers down his throat, and any other punishments that might injure or scare him should be avoided.
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