Play Biting and Mouthing
Puppies Five Months and Younger
and mouthing are normal behavior for puppies. However,
it is important to redirect the puppy with toys
and not hands, arms, or pant legs. There are several
ways to correct mouthing behavior.
- When your
puppy puts his mouth on your skin, you squeal “Arrp!”
This should be done in a high-pitched voice, so
you sound like a littermate. Do not jerk your
hand away from the puppy or swing your arms around,
as this looks like a fun game for your puppy.
If your puppy puts his mouth on you again, “Arrp”
and ignore your puppy. This may mean that you
need to leave the room for a minute to provide
a "time-out." You are teaching your
puppy that when he puts his mouth on you, all
- Avoid any rough-housing
or pushing and shoving games with your puppy.
These activities encourage more biting and inappropriate
- Redirect your puppy’s
mouth to a suitable toy. When his mouth is on
the toy, praise and reward your puppy with your
- Puppies quickly
learn they can get away with mouthing small children.
Supervise children and young puppies. If mouthing
does occur, an adult should be present to correct
- Teach children to
always have a toy in each hand when going to play
with the puppy. Always having a toy to offer the
puppy is an easy way to encourage proper interaction.
Teach children the importance of the "time-out" exercise, discussed above.
- Bitter Apple is
a product that can be sprayed on human hands,
feet and clothing. It is designed to discourage
the puppy from putting his mouth on something
by leaving an unpleasant taste in his mouth. NEVER
spray bitter apple in the puppy’s mouth!
Bitter Apple can be purchased from Animal
Antics at the Wisconsin Humane Society.
- Begin manners training
as soon as possible to help establish boundaries
with your puppy. The Wisconsin Humane Society
offers the class Puppy
ABC’s specifically for puppies under
5 months of age.
Adolescent dogs go
through a stage of mouthing. These dogs are trying
to determine what is acceptable behavior. It is
NEVER acceptable for a dog to put his mouth on your
skin, clothes or shoes. In addition to the tips above, there are other things
you can do to curb your adolescent's mouthing behavior.
- If your dog places
his mouth on you during play or any time you are
interacting with him, leave the interaction for
about 30 seconds. When you return, if your dog
puts his mouth on you, leave again. Increase the
amount of time you remain gone to one minute.
Continue this until you can return to the interaction
without your dog putting his mouth on you.
- Take your dog to
a manners class.
Even if your dog attended a puppy class, a manners
class can be a great re-fresher and can help re-establish
appropriate boundaries. The Ozaukee and Wisconsin
Humane Societies offer classes designed specifically for dogs 6 months
- Increase the amount
of exercise your dog is getting. You can exercise
your dog frequently, throughout the day. This
will help him expend energy in an appropriate
way and allow him to spend more time with you.
- Provide your dog
with interactive toys and encourage him to work.
Examples of interactive toys include Kongs, Busy
Buddies, Molecuballs and IQubes, all of which
you can purchase at Animal
Antics. You can rotate and switch these toys
on a regular basis to keep him busy.
If you would like to
work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist
one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please
call 414-431-6173 to schedule a consultation.