If you have ever been around a puppy, you understand the type of pain that puppy teeth can inflict. Needle-sharp, small and amazingly quick, puppy teeth can break skin without much effort. Although puppies seldom mean to hurt the people around them, their natural mouthing behavior can quickly become a problem.
Why Puppies Mouth
Puppy mouthing occurs when a puppy grabs at a person’s hands, skin, clothing or hair during play or excitement. It is actually a very common behavior and most puppies mouth people at some point or another. “But why?” you may ask.
Like babies, puppies explore with their mouths. Think about a teething baby: she will stick anything within reach into her mouth, slobbering, gnawing and seeking any outlet of relief for her aching gums. Puppies are the same way. Often, mouthing behavior rises out of teething pain and can be moderated or eradicated through the offering of appropriate chew toys.
In other instances, puppy mouthing is due to poor training, inappropriate play or as a result of excitement.
Regardless of why a puppy mouths people, there are ways to reduce it, redirect the attention and also to prevent this behavior from becoming a permanent fixture when the puppy moves into adulthood.
How to Curb Puppy Mouthing
Consistency can make or break any training efforts and this is particularly true with puppy mouthing. With that in mind, try the following tips and tricks:
Offer Plenty of Chew Toys: Since many puppies mouth as a method of coping with teething pain, the behavior can often be mitigated or eradicated by providing the dog with a variety of acceptable chew toys and making sure that they are always readily available. If the puppy makes a move to mouth your skin, redirect the dog’s efforts to a toy. Great options are puppy teething Kongs or Nylabones. Also be careful never to inadvertently encourage the puppy to mouth you during play (as is common in “boxing” games) as this will only solidify the behavior.
Redirect Your Attention When the Dog Gets Mouthy: If a puppy starts getting mouthy, simply withdraw all of your attention immediately. Do not punish the dog or react violently, simply get up and walk away without paying any attention to the puppy. You also have the option of quickly putting the dog in her crate and taking her out again only when she has calmed.
Provide Plenty of Positive Reinforcement: When a puppy plays without mouthing, make sure to allow the game to continue, encouraging the dog for her good and gentle behavior. When the dog is rewarded for good behavior, you are far less likely to see displays of poor behavior in the future.
If you have any questions on puppy mouthing, ask our experts today...