If your dog has been mouthing your wrist, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog mouth my wrist? Possible reasons why your dog mouths your wrist are that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it is teething, excited, bored, being dominant, looking for attention or your dog thinks that it is ok to mouth your wrist.

There are actually multiple possible reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be the result of a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there is a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog mouths your wrist

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been mouthing your wrist and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

Encouraging the behavior

The reason why your dog has been mouthing your wrist could be that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it does it, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding your dog when it does it and to reward your dog when it does not do it.

Teething

The reason that your dog has been trying to mouth your wrist 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.

Excitement

The reason that it puts your wrist in its mouth 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 putting your wrist in its mouth if possible.

Boredom

The reason why it has been doing it could be that it is bored and looking to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it has not been able to get exercise and if it tends to stop doing it after getting exercise. It would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Dominance

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’s looking for attention

The reason why it puts your wrist in its mouth 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 mouths your wrist, by turning your back and not giving it attention until it stops trying to mouth your wrist.

It wants you to do something

The cause might also be that it wants something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you would normally give it things such as food or a walk.

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.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

What else happened when your dog first started mouthing your wrist

If your dog did not always mouth your wrist, 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 is different when your dog mouths your wrist

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 your wrist.

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 wrist

If your dog puts its mouth around your wrist aggressively then that would be a more serious problem.

Probable causes for it mouthing your wrist 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 your wrist

Below are some options you have when stopping the behavior.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for putting your wrist in its mouth. 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 your wrist and to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to start doing it.

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 mouthing your wrist you would:

  • Stand up turn away and hide your wrist when it starts mouthing your wrist 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 mouthing your wrist
  • Repeat the above until it learns that mouthing your wrist causes it to lose your attention
  • Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well

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.

Exercise

Dogs will often require lots of exercise, depending on the breed, they can require as much as an hour or more of exercise per day. If your dog is not getting much exercise then it could be causing it to become more hyperactive and to mouth your wrist. 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

If you can’t figure out why your dog has been mouthing your wrist, 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.