Stop Biting and Mouthing in Mature Dogs

Edited by Mian Sheilette Ong, Lynn, dwinling, Eng and 5 others

Playing with a mature dog that play bites and mouths your hand is not a very pleasant experience. A mature dog has more jaw power than a puppy. With huge teeth and that much strength, a mature dog can do a great deal of damage. It is more difficult to eliminate mouthing and biting in mature dogs than puppies. Mature dogs are less sensitive to your touch and sounds. Their large size makes it a bigger challenge for you to control them. Mature dogs that still mouth have not been taught to stop when they were pups. Mouthing and play biting can be controlled at a very young age by teaching the pup to chew toys instead of your hands. You just have to be patient and persistent enough to instill the valuable lesson in your dog not to hurt humans.

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How Do You Know if it's Aggression or Playfulness?

Mouthing is a natural behavior for dogs, however, there are also dogs that bite when they are frightened or frustrated. This type of biting can lead to aggression. If a dog is playful when mouthing, the body and face are both relaxed. Play biting is often less painful. Aggressive biting involves a stiff look. The lips are pulled back, exposing teeth, and the muzzle is wrinkled. Aggressive bites are more painful, but a lot quicker. If you want your dog's aggressive biting to stop or at the very least be controlled, seek a professional's assistance. It would be best to consult a qualified animal behaviorist or veterinarian who can truly help you with your dog. See if they are board-certified. Look for a knowledgeable and experienced person who also has consideration for the dog's overall health.

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How to Stop Biting and Mouthing

Dogs typically explore with their mouths, much the same way a child explores with their hands. They investigate, chew, and play with objects to understand what each object is. They also use their mouths to interact or play with people. At a young age, puppies chew lightly on your toes and fingers to investigate what your body is like. It may seem cute from a seven-week-old pup, but as they grow older and stronger, it stops being cute and starts to cause you concern. You have to learn how to stop biting and mouthing in mature dogs. It is never too late to train your dog to stop this behavior. You have to make your dog understand that humans have very sensitive skin and that they should be very gentle, even if it's playtime. Below are some of the techniques you could use to stop the biting and mouthing in your mature dog:

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General Guidelines

  1. 1
    Carry your dog's favorite toy in your pocket
    Give it to your dog immediately when he ambushes you, biting at your feet. This will divert your dog's attention to mouthing the toy, rather than your feet.
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  2. 2
    Provide new toys regularly to keep your dog's interest in them heightened.
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  3. 3
    Socialize your dog with other vaccinated and friendly dogs
    Let them play with each other so your dog's energy is drained. This will also teach your dog not to bite, when he finds out the consequences of mouthing another dog with bigger teeth.
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  4. 4
    Keep your dog's leash tied around him, even at home
    This way you can immediately correct your dog or lead him to a calm area when play biting happens.
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  5. 5
    Use a taste deterrent
    The bitter taste that your dog will experience after biting your hands or clothes is enough punishment to teach the dog that mouthing should be avoided.
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Specific Techniques

  1. 1
    Teaching the dog to be gentle (bite inhibition)
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    Dogs learn how to be gentle during playtime with other dogs. They wrestle, pounce, chase, and bite each other. When the bite is too hard, playing stops. The playing resumes after a while. Eventually, the dog learns that playing will not be interrupted if no one is hurt.
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  2. 2
    This involves making a high-pitched sound when your dog bites.  
    1. Start playing with your dog.
    2. Let him play bite your hands.
    3. Yelp when your dog bites hard. If this doesn't work, say a word like "No" sternly.
    4. Praise your dog when he licks you or stops biting.
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  3. 3
    Take a time out
    This should be done if yelping does not work.  
    1. Play with your dog.
    2. Yelp when your dog bites. Stop moving your hand.
    3. Play with your dog again. When your dog bites again, get up and move away from your dog. You can even leave the room if you want.
    4. After a while, play with your dog again.
    5. Repeat the steps until your dog learns that playing without biting is good. Your dog should learn that when there is biting, you stop playing.
    6. Do this after very hard to moderate bites, until you finally feel no pressure from his biting at all.
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  4. 4
    Teach the dog that teeth are not for human skin
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    This technique teaches your dog how to avoid play-biting people.  
    1. Give your dog chew bones or chew toys to gnaw on.
    2. If your dog starts play biting when being petted, distract by giving treats.
    3. Play non-contact games such as tug-of-war or fetch. This avoids using your own hands as playthings.
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  5. 5
    Have a professional see your dog if all else fails
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Helping your mature dog to stop mouthing and biting will help you gain a friendlier, more trustworthy companion inside and outside your home.

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  • Do not make a plaything out of your toes or fingers.
  • Stop moving your hands frantically.
  • Do not tell your dog to stop playing with you. You need to establish a bond.
  • Do not jerk your hands away, especially when your dog is mouthing you.
  • Do not hurt your dog. This will only make the bite harder.

Questions and Answers

How can I get my older dogs to stop biting my newer puppy?

Whenever my puppy is around one of my dogs he shows his teeth, sometimes he bites the puppy.

Mother dogs bite to basically chastise their puppies. Your older dog is trying to become the new caretaker for the puppy. When your older dog begins to show any signs of aggression, separate the dog from the rest of the household for 15 minutes. Do not show any attention during this time. If the dog bites the puppy before you can separate, you should say OW loudly and act like the dog bit you instead. If the dog shows compassion to the puppy, reward immediately with a treat. Keep a favorite toy around the dog to cause interference if the dog begins to get anxious around the puppy.

How do I get my mature puppy (11 months) 80lbs. to stop play biting me and to stop pawing?

Hi, I have a new dog (2 weeks) he is around 11 months lab mix. I have an older lab 9 yr. old. He play bites me. He paws other dogs and nobody likes it (he puts his front paws on their backs). Any advice?

Use verbal cues like DOWN each time the dog starts to put his front paws up. The play biting needs to be stopped by over exaggerating pain each time you are bitten. Use firm NO to the behavior. When the dog begins to bite, offer a chew toy immediately to signal this is what they should be chewing instead of your hand. The biting is a natural play time activity so find something that the puppy can play with that is not someone's body part. You may have to be consistent for a few weeks of NO and OW and offering the new toy but the puppy will get the message that this is not good behavior. A quick hand over the nose will also signal to stop if the puppy gets super aggressive despite your NO verbal warnings. If the puppy persists, place your hand over their mouth and nose for a few seconds. This subdues the dog. Remove the dog and do not pay attention to it for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes is up, introduce the dog back into the pack environment and see if the puppy got the message.

How to stop over excited and borderline aggressive mouthing?

I recently adopted a dog with a mouthing issue. I had known about this prior, but yesterday while I was out at the park with her (on leash), she saw two dogs and wanted to go after them. When I didn't let her, she took her frustrations out on me. Started biting at my arms and would not stop. After about 5-8 minutes of trying everything I could think of, I had the idea to tie her leash to a fence so she could calm down. That actually worked. So I guess my question is how do you calm down a dog (boxer/Mastiff mix) when she's doing this? I don't think she meant to hurt me because I know she could've done a lot more damage if she had. I just really don't want something like this to happen again. She's a year and 4 months, probably about 60+ lbs. I don't want to give up on her. She broke skin during this specific incident and I couldn't calm her down at all when she was biting. I have tried: Treats, toys, not using hands to play. I've only had her a day so everything is new. I think it was caused by: She saw two dogs and was not allowed to go play with them. I also think she didn't like that I was wearing gloves.

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Categories : Dogs

Recent edits by: Maciejka, Maria Quinney, Jen M

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