If your dog has been putting its mouth around your arm a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of common causes and what you can do to stop it.
So, why does my dog put my arm in its mouth? Possible reasons why your dog puts your arm in its mouth are that it is excited, bored, trying to get you to do something, it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded, teething or that it is trying to get attention from you.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to figure out what you should do to get it to stop.
Why your dog puts your arm in its mouth
Below are a number of common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do about them.
Encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for putting your arm in its mouth. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it puts your arm in its mouth, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is behaving the way you want it to and to stand up and completely ignore your dog when it starts trying to put your arm in its mouth until it calms down.
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.
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.
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.
The reason that it puts your arm 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 arm in its mouth if possible.
It wants attention
The reason why it puts your arm 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 arm, by turning your back and not giving it attention until it stops trying to mouth your arm.
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.
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 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 putting your arm in its mouth
If your dog did not always put your arm in its mouth, 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 it tends to do it
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 put your arm in its mouth.
How old it is
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.
If it does it aggressively
If your dog puts its mouth around your arm aggressively then that would be a more serious problem.
Probable causes for it mouthing 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.
What to do about your dog putting your arm in its mouth
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for putting your arm 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 arm 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 arm you would:
- Stand up turn away and hide your arms when it starts mouthing 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 mouthing your arm
- Repeat the above until it learns that mouthing your arm causes it to lose your attention
- Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well
Avoid being overly emotional 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.
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 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.
If you can’t figure out why your dog has been putting your arm in its mouth, 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.