If your dog has been grabbing your arm, you’re probably wondering why and what can be done about it.

This post will show you a number of reasons why your dog might be grabbing your arm and what you can do to stop it.

So, why does my dog grab my arm? Possible reasons why your dog grabs your arm are that it’s teething, it wants attention, it’s excited, you have inadvertently reinforced the behavior, or a lack of training.

There are actually a number of nuances to consider when trying to figure out why your dog grabs your arm. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do to get it to stop.

Why your dog grabs your arm

Each of the different reasons why your dog grabs your arm will likely come with some clues in the way that it does it.

Below, I will mention a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely.

It’s teething

The reason that your dog has been trying to mouth your arm could be that it is teething. This would be more likely if it is still young and if it has started trying to chew on other things as well.

If it does seem to be teething then it would be important to train it to only chew things that you want it to. You will likely find that lots of “leave it” training would work well for this. It would also likely help to give it lots of things to chew on such as toys and dog chews.

Related: Why does my dog go between my legs?

It wants attention

The reason that it grabs your arm could be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it when you have not been giving it much attention for a while and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.

In this case, it would help to avoid rewarding it with your attention, when it grabs your arm, by turning your back and not giving it attention until it stops trying to grab it.

Related: why does my dog walk behind me?

Excitement

The reason that it tries to grab your arm could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it goes out for a walk.

In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about until it stops grabbing your arm if possible.

You have inadvertently been rewarding the behavior

It might also be the case that you have inadvertently trained your dog to grab your arm. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things that it wants when it grabs your arm such as attention, toys or treats.

Instead, of giving it things that it wants, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it does not grab your arm and to reward it when it is behaving how you want it to.

A lack of training

It might be the case that your dog does it because it has not been trained not to and it does not know any better. If you have not trained your dog not to grab your arm then it would help to do so by following the tips mentioned below.

Things to consider

Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider when trying to figure out why your dog has been doing it. Once you have a better idea of the cause it will become much easier to get it to stop.

If your dog grabs your arm aggressively

If your dog grabs your arm aggressively then that would be a more serious problem.

Probable causes for it grabbing your arm aggressively would be mistreatment, pain, a lack of training or being aggressive towards it yourself.

In this case, the best option would be to get the help of a certified dog trainer or behaviorist in your area.

Its age

It would also help to consider the age of your dog. If it is still young then it would make it more likely that it is teething or that it does not know any better.

If it is an adult then it would be more likely that you have been inadvertently rewarding it and you need to train it not to and to avoid rewarding it.

When and where your dog grabs your arm

The timing and location could also be useful to consider.

If it only seems to do it when you are about to take it for a walk then it would make it more likely to be due to excitement. Whereas, if it seems to do it all the time then it would be more likely that it has not learned that it is not ok to grab your arm.

How to get your dog to stop grabbing your arm

There are a number of things that you can do to get your dog to stop grabbing your arm. The best option for your dog will largely depend on the cause.

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you get your dog to do things that you want by rewarding it for doing them or showing signs of doing them.

To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop grabbing your arm you would:

  • Stand up turn away and hide your arms when it starts grabbing your arm leaving the room if necessary.
  • Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts grabbing your arm
  • Repeat the above until it learns that grabbing your arm causes it to lose your attention
  • Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well

Avoid negative reinforcement

Negative reinforcement training is where you reinforce bad behaviors by inadvertently rewarding it for misbehaving. As mentioned above, this could be why your dog has been trying to grab your arm.

Instead, of giving it things that it wants when it does it, try to avoid rewarding it and to train it not to grab your arms using positive reinforcement training like above.

Avoid overreacting

Dogs will usually be highly in-tune with their owner’s emotions. If you tend to get reactive around your dog then it could be causing it to become reactive itself. When around your dog it would help to be calm and to train it to behave the way that you want with the use of positive reinforcement training.

Give it exercise

Dogs will often require lots of exercise, depending on the breed, they can require as much as an hour of exercise per day. If your dog is not getting much exercise then it could be causing it to become more hyperactive and to grab your arm. In this case, it would help to make sure that it does start to get exercise. If you are unable to do it yourself you could get a dog walker to do it for you.

Get help from a dog behaviorist

If you can’t figure out why your dog grabs your arm, it does it aggressively or you can’t get it to stop, consider getting the help of a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you will be able to get expert help tailored to your specific dog.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.