If your Labrador has a habit of mouthing you this post will show you why it might be doing it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my Labrador mouth me? Possible reasons are that it is looking for attention, it’s teething, it has not been trained not to or that you have inadvertently rewarded it.
Your Labrador might be doing if for a number of reasons and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can do to get it to stop.
Why your Labrador mouths you
Below are a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be a main reason.
It wants attention
The cause could be that it is trying to get extra attention from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when you have not been giving it much attention or if you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not bite and to stop rewarding it with attention when it starts biting. It would also help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it.
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 Labrador 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.
The cause could be that it is teething. This would be more likely if it is a puppy, it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been chewing on other things as well.
In this case, it would help to give it lots of training so that it learns what it can and cannot chew and to give it lots of things such as toys that it can chew instead.
It wasn’t trained not to
If you have not trained your Labrador not to bite you then it will not know that it is not meant to do it. There are a number of tips mentioned below on how you can train it not to mouth you.
It has been reinforced
It could also be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it.
If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it does it then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not bite and to stop rewarding it when it does.
The reason why your Labrador has been mouthing you 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 to go 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.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider about your Labrador mouthing you.
When it started doing it
If it did not always mouth you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If your Labrador started doing it suddenly, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as teething, inadvertently rewarding it or stopping training it. In this case, it would help to consider what else changed when it started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always done it, a lack of training would be more likely to be the reason. If you have trained it not to do it, your training method might not have been effective and you could try using a different strategy.
How old it is
It would also help to consider how old it is since its age will have an impact on the most likely cause.
If your Labrador is still a puppy it would make it much more likely that it mouths you naturally because it is teething.
Nevertheless, it would be important to train it not to mouth you so that it doesn’t do it when it is older.
If it is an adult then it would be more likely that it never learned not to do it.
However, if it started to do it suddenly and it didn’t do it in the past then it might suggest that something is wrong such as that it is in pain.
How to get your Labrador to stop mouthing you
Below are some things you can do when getting your Labrador to stop mouthing you.
Train it not to
One option would be to use positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see by rewarding them and avoid rewarding it when it starts behaving in a way that you do not want.
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.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
Negative reinforcement training is where you inadvertently encourage behaviors that you do not want to see by giving it rewards when it shows them. Instead, it would help to reward it when it shows signs of behaving the way you want and to stop rewarding it when it does not.
Give it distractions
In addition to the above, it would also help to give it things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to feel the need to mouth you. Things you could give it would include, toys, bones and puzzle games.
Get help from a dog behaviorist or trainer
If you cannot get it to stop mouthing you, it would also help to get the help of a professional dog behaviorist or trainer in your area. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is doing it and how to get it to stop effectively.