If your dog has been mouthing you a lot, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog mouth me? Likely reasons why your dog mouths you are that it is teething, playing, has learned that the behavior is rewarded, or that it was not trained the right way.
There are a number of possible reasons why your dog mouths you and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Why does my dog mouth me?
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog mouths you and what would make them more likely.
The reason why your dog has been mouthing you could be that it is teething. This would be more likely if your dog is a puppy and it has started mouthing and chewing on other things a lot as well. In this case, it would help to give it things that it can chew on and to start training it to learn what it can and cannot chew now using “leave it” training and positive reinforcement training.
It is excited
The cause could be that it gets excited and it is trying to show its excitement.
This would be more likely if it only seems to mouth you when you’re about to do something exciting such as going out for a walk. It would also be more likely if it tends to show other signs of excitement when mouthing you.
In this case, something you can try is to stop it from mouthing you by standing up and turning around or by leaving the room. You would then reward it when it shows signs of behaving the way that you want it to. Doing this will teach it that mouthing you does not get it what it wants.
Not enough 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 do it then it would help to do so by following the tips mentioned below. It could also be that you have trained it in the wrong way. In that case, it could help to try training it using a different method.
It wants something from you
The cause could also be that your dog wants something from you. This would be more likely if your dog mouths you more at a certain time such as before you have fed it in the morning or before you have given it exercise. In this case, it would help to wait for your dog to stop mouthing you before giving it what it wants.
Encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it mouths you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.
With that being said, it could be doing it due to bullying behavior which would be more likely if it tries to get you to move and if it shows signs of aggression when doing it. In this case, it would help to avoid encouraging the behavior and to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to with training programs such as NLIF (“Nothing in Life is Free) dog training.
It is exploring
Dogs interact with the environment using their mouths and their noses as much as they do with their eyes and even more so when they are puppies.
The reason why your dog has been mouthing you could be that it’s interacting with you. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.
Even if this is the case it will still be important to get it to stop by training it not to mouth you.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause.
If your dog has always mouthed you
If your dog did not always mouth you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start. If it started doing it suddenly and it is a puppy, it would be more likely to be due to teething.
What else is different when your dog mouths you
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to do it since the timing could also have something to do with it.
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 mouth you.
The age of your dog
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 the behavior and you need to train it not to do it and to avoid rewarding it.
How aggressively your dog mouths your arm
If your dog puts its mouth around you aggressively then that would be a more serious problem.
Probable causes for it mouthing you 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.
What to do about your dog mouthing you
Below are some things you can do about your dog mouthing you and how you can get it to stop.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for mouthing you. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to, to stand up and completely ignore it when it mouths you and to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to start doing it.
Give it training
One option would be to get it to stop with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see from your dog by rewarding it when it shows signs of displaying them and avoid rewarding it when it does not.
To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop mouthing, you would do as follows:
- Start giving it positive attention
- Stop giving it attention by turning your back and hiding your hands when it starts mouthing you
- Carry on giving it attention when it stops mouthing you
- Stop giving it attention again when if it starts mouthing you
- Repeat the above until it learns that mouthing you results in you not giving it attention
Below is a video showing you how to use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop.
Be calm with it
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.
If you can’t figure out why your dog has been mouthing you, 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.
Why does my dog mouth me when I pet it?
If your dog mouths you when you pet it, the cause could be that it is excited, it is teething or that it has learned that it gets rewarded for mouthing you when you pet it. Instead, it would help to immediately stop petting it whenever it starts mouthing so that your dog learns that mouthing you results in it not getting what it wants.
Why does my dog only mouth me?
If your dog only mouths you, it would be more likely that your dog has learned that it can get away with mouthing you or that the behavior is rewarded. Again, it would help to immediately stop giving it attention as soon as it starts mouthing and to only give it attention while it is being well behaved.