Toby the chewing puppy:
Mouthing like chewing is a natural behavior for puppies in the wild. They need to learn how to play fight, how to nip and correct each other and they do this by mouthing other pups when they are young. The little needle-sharp baby teeth that puppies have when they are a very young help to give very extra sensitive feedback about when a bite is too hard.
Learning to mouth other dogs gently is an important step for a young puppy. Unfortunately, most puppies no longer have their siblings around to play with and learn from so we have to help them.
There is a big difference between an 8-week old puppy that doesn’t really know what it is doing accidentally mouthing your hand when you are cuddling her and a 7-month-old pup walking up to you and mouthing you for attention!
Accordingly, I shall treat the two differently!
How to stop basic mouthing in a young puppy
Most mouthing occurs when you pick up your puppy and cuddle her. You use your hands to cuddle but puppies will use their mouths so make sure that you always give her something to chew when you are cuddling.
- Always cuddle your puppy with a soft toy for them to chew on. Only call the puppy if you have a soft chew toy, not hard plastic.
- Encourage your puppy to mouth the toy. If your puppy does mouth your hand then you can make a noise that sounds like you have been hurt. Then put the puppy on the floor and walk away.
NOTE: If a puppy is being very kind then you may let some of the very light mouthings go by without a cry. This is for your puppy is learning to mouth gently as it would with its siblings. Eventually, though you want your puppy not to put her teeth on skin or clothes. Usually, around four months old a puppy should have totally stopped mouthing people.
How to stop mouthing in an older puppy
- If your puppy walks up to you and mouths or bites you to get attention then immediately isolate her.
- Stay calm and relaxed, no speaking touching or eye contact. Hold your puppy’s collar and be firm but gentle.
- Repeat and be consistent – your puppy will soon learn.
- Try to set you to puppy up to win and help it to mouth the toy
- Young puppies need to mouth to learn how to bite gently
Key points to focus on
You must stop mouthing in its tracks if your puppy is getting older such as around the 5-month mark. Any teeth on skin or clothes always lead to immediate time out. This way your puppy learns quickly and changes her behavior quickly.
Should you let your dog pull off mouthing for too long then they start to realize that nobody can ignore them when they mouth people!