'STOP' Mock Biting in dogs
Puppies bite each other during playtime. Many dogs play with people in the same way — by mouthing our hands or other body parts. Though mouthing is not biting, it can become too aggressive to be acceptable. Puppies chew on our fingers and toes, and they investigate people’s bodies with their mouths and teeth. The jaws of an adult dog can cause significantly more pain than puppy teeth, and adult dogs can inadvertently cause injury while mouthing. Mouthing is often more difficult to suppress in adult dogs because adults aren’t as sensitive to our reactions as puppies are, and they’re usually more difficult to control physically because of their size.
Teach your dog to enjoy being touched on all body parts. Start with getting your dog to enjoy your touch and work toward the goal of getting him comfortable with being touched by people he doesn’t know. It is important that dogs allow us to touch them because they may need to be handled by various people: strangers, rescuers after an emergency, the vet, the groomer.
Steps for teaching a dog not to mouth
To discourage mouthing, always use a toy to play with your dog. Teach your dog impulse control with specific exercises such as sit, wait, and leave it.
- Avoid waving your fingers or toes in your dog’s face or slapping the sides of his face to entice him to play. Doing these things can encourage your dog to bite your hands and feet.
- Do not discourage your dog from playing with you in general. Play builds a strong bond between a dog and his human family. You want to teach your dog to play gently rather than not at all.
- Avoid jerking your hands or feet away from your dog when he mouths. Jerky movements might seem like a game to your dog and encourage him to jump forward and grab at you. It’s much more effective to let your hands or feet go limp so that they aren’t much fun to play with.
- Slapping or hitting dogs for playful mouthing can cause them to bite harder. They usually react by playing more aggressively. Physical punishment can also make your dog afraid of you—and it can even cause real aggression. Avoid scruff shaking, whacking your dog on the nose, sticking your fingers down his throat and all other punishments that might hurt or scare him.
If you inadvertently become the toy, follow these steps:
- Say “No!” in a loud, surprised tone and remove your hand from the dog’s mouth.
- Wait just one second, then offer your hand for licking.
- If the dog mouths your hand again, repeat the steps above until the mouthing stops.
- When she does not mouth your hand, praise her, and introduce a toy. You can then throw the toy and say “get the toy” to start a game of fetch.
- Maintain consistency in training to reinforce positive behaviour.