Dog Mouthing Affection: What Does It Mean & How Do I Stop It?

Dog Behavior


Kayla Fratt


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Since dogs don’t have thumbs, they often explore the world using their mouths. While many dogs learn that people don’t like having their wrists nibbled or their clothes pulled on, some dogs continue mouthing people throughout their lives.

When your dog mouths you, is he being affectionate or aggressive — or something else entirely?

Let’s explore what dog mouthing means.

Why Does My Dog Mouth Me?

As with most “why does my dog…” questions, we can’t really be 100% sure why your dog mouths you. But we can make some good guesses based on the circumstances around your dog’s behavior.

In other words, we might be able to figure out why your dog mouths you if we look at what happens right before and right after your dog mouths you.

Either something in the environment causes your dog to mouth you, or something that happens after your dog mouths you rewards his behavior — or both.

When people say their dog is mouthing them, they generally mean that their dog is putting his mouth and teeth on their body with very little (or no) pressure. Mouthing generally doesn’t hurt and generally isn’t considered aggressive.

There are generally two different “types” of dog mouthing:

Type 1: Play Mouthing

This type of mouthing is the most common. When a dog greets someone, is excited about playtime, or is amped up about something else, he may mouth at your hands, wrists, or clothing.

Generally, these dogs will jump and wag their tails. You might feel their canines or molars when they mouth you.

This mouthing is somewhat similar to the common “jaw wrestling” play style that many dogs enjoy. Mouthing in this case may be considered a stress release or a game. This is more common in dogs that are easily excited and don’t seem to know what to do with that excitement.

Play mouthing can get out of hand when a dog does it incessantly or increases pressure as he gets more excited.

When I worked at Denver Dumb Friends League, an animal shelter, we often struggled with young dogs that got very excited about their daily walk and mouthed the volunteers. Sometimes, these playful pups accidentally broke skin on their handlers. Not good!

Type 2: Grooming Nibbles

Far less common is the “grooming nibble.” Some dogs will attempt to groom other animals, their toys, or even you by gently nibbling with their incisors. This is generally considered to be an affectionate behavior that a dog does towards someone that he trusts.

You won’t feel a dog’s molars or canines when he’s doing a grooming nibble. These dogs are generally relaxed, not jumping and wagging their tails like the excited play-mouthers.

Most dogs mouth you because they’re simply too excited about something. In some cases, they may be aroused by a treat in your hand – in which case you work on teaching your dog to take treats gently.

Other times they may be amped up due to play or some other stimulus. They don’t have great manners or good impulse control. They know that mouthing you gets attention, so they keep it up.

As I said above, the majority of dogs fall into the first category of play mouthing. While this behavior is entirely normal and is generally not aggressive, it can still be quite annoying! Let’s look at how to deal with it.

Should I Let My Dog Mouth Me?

The answer to this question is really up to you. If your dog only mouths you gently and at specific times, you might not mind this behavior. It can be quite endearing for some owners.

However, if your dog is big and slobbery and mouths you all the time, I bet you aren’t a fan of this behavior!

debunking dominance

Let’s be clear here: mouthing is not a dominance behavior. Dominance is related to a dog’s access to a resource in a given situation. Mouthing you has little or nothing to do with acquiring a resource, so dominance is a pretty irrelevant subject here.

If your dog is not mouthing you in a playful way, but is actually fixated on putting his mouth on you or is putting hard pressure on you, he might not be play mouthing. He could be giving you a warning bite — and just because it doesn’t break skin doesn’t mean “he didn’t mean it.”


If you believe that your dog might be actually warning you that he’s uncomfortable rather than playing with you in a rude way, it’s time to get help. You can read all about aggressive dogs here, and it’s best to get help from a certified dog behavior consultant if you’re truly worried.

I’d Like My Dog to Stop Mouthing Me – How Do I Teach Him That?

While some moderate mouthing might not bother some of you, for others, dog mouthing can be a real problem. It can be painful, gross, or even scary — especially for guests or kids.

One great method to prevent mouthing is to focus on teaching your dog to do something else instead. This is referred to as response substitution, and our goal is to make that new behavior more rewarding to perform than the original unwanted behavior.

My favorite solution for dog mouthing is to teach the dog to greet someone and play with people while holding a squeaky toy.

You can do this by simply giving the dog a toy before he starts to mouth people, then playing with the toy (some tugging is a great start) to remind your dog that he should chomp the toy, not you!

dog mouthing correction

This works wonders for most dogs. They quickly learn that the squeaky toy is much more fun than people’s arms.

You may also want to read our article on puppy play biting, which overlaps somewhat with mouthing affection, with puppies exhibiting even less mouthing control than adult dogs!

How to Stop a Dog Who is Already Mouthing Me

Ideally you’ll want to catch your dog before he begins mouthing you, and redirect him to a toy.

Take some time to think about when your dog mouths you — what is happening in the environment that is amping him up so much that he feels the need to mouth on you? Preparing ahead and predicting when these behaviors might occur will allow you to better redirect your dog before mouthing becomes an issue.

There will likely be times when you don’t move fast enough or don’t predict your dog well enough and have situations where your dog has begun to mouth at you. You don’t want to reward your pup for biting (even if it’s playful) by giving him a toy. So now what?

In this case, you’ve got two main options:

Option 1: Leave The Room

If your dog is mouthing you or someone else, they can (and should) leave the room. You can simply stand up if the dog is small and won’t go after your shoes.

But if the dog is big or persistent, go to another room and close the door for 10-20 seconds. This removes whatever reward your dog was getting from mouthing you, teaching him that mouthing you doesn’t get him anything fun.

If your home has a more open design, you’ll likely want to utilize dog gates to separate your home into more manageable spaces that can be used to contain your dog more easily. This way you can simply step over a gate to leave the room when your dog begins mouthing at you.

When you come back, come prepared with treats so you can scatter them on the ground to distract your dog, along with a toy. Re-engage your dog in play with the toy. So long as he behaves, you’ll keep playing with him and engaging with him. But if he mouths at you, you’ll leave again. Rinse and repeat.

Soon your dog will learn, fun only happens when he doesn’t mouth at you!

Option 2: Remove the Dog

Sometimes, it’s easier to put your dog away than it is for you to leave. For example, if your dog is mouthing you while you try to cook dinner, you might not want to exit the room and risk burning your food. Instead, put your dog in her crate, outside, or in another room for a short time-out. Then try again.

As always, try to be calm and consistent. If something isn’t working, don’t keep repeating it — try to add something else that makes it easier for your dog. Don’t just ignore your dog, either. That’s likely to make you an easy target!

Treat scatters (simply tossing treats on the floor) are a great way to help calm a dog down and reduce mouthing. It’s best to do this before the dog starts mouthing you so that he doesn’t learn to mouth you to “ask for” treats!

Common Mistakes When Correcting Dog Mouthing Behavior

Let’s wrap up by covering a few mistakes that are commonly made when pet parents are working on reducing mouth behavior.

  1. Moving too much. Make sure that you move the toy more than you move your hands and feet. Dogs are naturally attracted to what moves, so if you flail your arms trying to avoid the dog, your arms become exciting.
  2. Ignoring the dog when he’s being good. Too often, we scold our dogs for being bad and ignore them when they’re good. If you catch your dog playing or saying hello politely, reward that good behavior! Otherwise, it’s likely to disappear. If your dog gets a reaction from you for biting your arms and is ignored when he’s got a toy, he’s going to go for your arms instead.
  3. Scolding, hitting, or scaring the dog for mouthing. Many dogs that enjoy play-mouthing actually like the attention that they get from it. Scolding your dog often works as attention that they like, even if you’re trying to be stern. If you are stern or scary enough, you’re actually likely to either scare your dog or make your dog bite harder. Avoid confrontational training methods when trying to stop your dog from mouthing you.
  4. Squealing or crying to stop a dog from mouthing. This is very common advice online, but it’s not always successful. Some dogs may stop if you cry out, seeing it as a sign of pain. But many others will become more excited and aroused at your noises, which sound like playful noises or even like a squeaky toy to them! Instead, it’s best to reward your dog with less interaction and response, not more.

Does your dog mouth you? Do you like it or wish it would stop? Share your dog’s mouthing stories in the comments!

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Written by

Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through IAABC and works as a conservation detection dog trainer.

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  1. Diane Avatar

    Hi I was given a five year old German Shepherd. she is very sweet she gets over excited when I get up in the morning or leave an come back home she will bite on the tail of my shirt . How can I get her out of this habit ? You can tell she has been hungry a not treated good had her two months a she’s gained 15 lbs But she messing up all my clothes. HELP

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Diane.
      It sounds like your doggo may be nipping because she is excited. Check out that article and try some of the strategies we share for dealing with the problem.
      Best of luck!

  2. Meghan Duerst Avatar
    Meghan Duerst

    My dog loves to play mouth, buy he will also use his mouth and paws to grab my hand to get me to pet him. He is always gentle when he does this, but it can get annoying at times when he won’t stop , lol

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Yeah, mouthing is a pretty common way some dogs solicit pets from their people, Meghan.
      Try some of the tips from the article and let us know how they work!

  3. Graybeard Avatar

    I got a rescue Lab mix pup just under 5 months old. She had no name, no collar and had never seen a Vet. She’s now 8 months old. She’s mouthy/jumpy, had no house training, was kept in an isolated room & food deprived and extremely thin (under40 pounds). The old ‘owner’ disappeared after I picked her up.
    My skin is pretty thin and by the end of the second week, I had scabs and bruises all over my hands/arms.
    House training was pretty much a snap. She’s a smart dog.
    It appears the previous owner tried to alter the mouthy behavior by ‘clamping’ her mouth shut somehow and the 4 baby canine teeth were dead (blackish). There was a small scar across her muzzle.
    It’s 3 months later. My arms/hands have pretty well healed and her adult canines came in pretty much ok (minor complications). There’s a trace o the old scar left. She’s a little over 80 pounds.
    This girl’s a high energy handful. But I knew if I didn’t ‘socialize’ her, she may not have another chance as she’s no longer the little ball of fur puppy some people think they want.
    I found exercise reduced the mouthy behavior, feeding appropriately reduced the tendency, going limp when mouthed reduced the behavior. Saying ‘no bite’ finally started to get thru to her. I found all the suggestions in this article very helpful in making her mouthy behavior start to become history.
    She’s still a high energy, alpha that tends to like having my hand in her mouth – but she’s a loving, affectionate young dog that didn’t require punishment or pain to modify behavior. This article was spot on!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Glad you enjoyed the article and that the advice provided helped, Graybeard!
      Best of luck with her!

  4. Michelle Avatar

    Thank you this article was great insight into why at 8 months I’m still experiencing mouthing with my American Staffy. We fall into the second category of him trying to groom to show affection. I’ve tried redirection, walking away and treats but unfortunately nothing seems to work. I understand and appreciate he wants to show affection towards me but an amstaf nibbling up and down on your bare skin can really take its toll on your arms. I’m lost with how to stop this, I’ve even tried going into his area late at night when he is extremely tired but he immediately gets excited and wants to nibble my arm back. Has anyone else experienced this and how have you managed to get it under control?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Michelle.
      There could be a variety of ways to address this, but the first thing that comes to mind is to ensure that he’s adequately stimulated/exercised.
      Check out some of our resources about dog enrichment to get some ideas.
      If none of those help, you may want to reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant for some help.
      Best of luck!

  5. ann hawes Avatar
    ann hawes

    I adopted a Collie 2 weeks ago. The rescue where I got her swaid that she had come to them basically feral and that she had been with them for about 2 months. Parts of her body had been shaved because her hair was so matted. I started brushing her on day 2 on because she seemed unsure of the grooming tools and I wanted her to know it could be pleasant and fun. By the 5th day she was coming to me as soon as I picked up a brush. But after a few more days, she started nibbling on my arms and legs with her front teeth. If she pinches me I yip and back up but she keeps trying it later. It feels like she’s trying to rid me of fleas.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Well, it is probably going to take some time, Ann. Just try to incorporate some of the suggestions from the article and take things slowly — you never know what that poor gal has been through.
      Best of luck!

  6. Julie Avatar

    Mouthing since 8 week. Will not entertain a sqeeky toy. Will be 2 in July

  7. Becca Avatar

    Hi there, this article is helpful, thanks. I’ve had many, many dogs join our family over the years, but never really had a dog that mouths in the way that our young Maremma boy does, so I wasn’t sure how to take it or how to react. Unfortunately, Bruno is timid and reacts poorly to a lot of things we try with him, that have worked well with other dogs previously. We got him at 4 months old, he had been working with goats and poultry with his parents. We bought him to work with our goats and poultry, but having no previous experience with LGDs we checked out the breeders, found what we were after and inquired about ongoing training support, which seemed positive. However after bringing Bruno home and finding him timid and fearful, I contacted the breeder and received no advice or assistance, he didn’t even reply. At 6 months, Bruno began chasing and mouthing the weanling goat kids on the back of their necks, when we were working them with him, supervised. This increased, despite our efforts with his words “no” and “gentle”, and redirecting him with his chew toy called “drooly dog”, so that he began to make the kids bleed on their long ears when they were caught up in his mouthing. Again, the breeder was unhelpful, although he did reply to my request for advice. He said that he had never actually trained one before, he was given his first Maremma as a fully trained working LGD and she had trained his other dogs through example and her reprimanding any puppy misdeeds, so he didn’t know how to train them and couldn’t help. After some online research, it seemed that most people halt training exercises at 6 months and don’t begin again until after 9 months old for this breed, because they call this the “crazy age”. So we released the now weaned kids back out to the paddock for some herd comfort and brought Bruno into the back yard for further family bonding and training to work and respond appropriately with us. He was bored and became very destructive, so I went looking for solutions online again and the most common recommendation was to have 2 Maremmas together, especially in their younger months, so they can work out their energy in playing together. We were much more picky about gaining a friend for Bruno and we chose a lovely little 4 months old female that was working with goats and sheep with her parents and siblings. Unlike Bruno, who had been the last pup of his litter, Sasha was the first pup to leave her family, so we got pick of the litter with her and I spent a few hours talking to her human family, (who had 8 children so puppies were handled, confident and social), as well as meeting her parents and siblings. Sasha is great, very responsive to training and very confident. She has been a great addition to our farm and is helping Bruno to understand better how to interact with us to get positive feedback. Now at almost 9 months, Bruno is starting to mouth me after his breakfast and morning play/social interaction. Their breakfast is followed by some playtime and handling, which is done both as attention and training for Bruno to gain confidence, interact with me more and allow me to touch him without him trying to escape my touch in a fearful way. As he’s building confidence, he doesn’t want the playtime to end, but I have to go out to feed and water all the poultry, horses and goats before the morning gets away. When I say “good boy, have a great day” and start to move towards the gate out to the paddocks, Bruno grabs my hand as if to hold me back, he’s excited and happy when he does so, but I wasn’t sure how to take this, given his original fear and timidness, and the way he mouthed the goat kids. He’s still a work in progress, but I’m not giving up on him, too many LGDs end up in rescue because inexperienced owners fail, I’m not willing to fail him, so I’m back online trying to find answers and ideas. Finding your post is really helpful, I know that I need to discourage his mouthing so he doesn’t take it back to the goats when we pick back up on his livestock guardian training, but I have a couple of ideas on how to work with it now and can hopefully get him out of the habit before taking him back to the paddock. Thanks so much for making this post.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Becca. We’re so glad you found the article helpful.
      We wish you the best of luck with Bruno (and Sasha), and hope that the tips and tricks you’ve learned here and elsewhere work great!
      Keep us posted!

  8. Molly B Avatar
    Molly B

    We have a 2-3 year old rescue mini bernedoodle who was believed to have been a breeding mama in a bad situation. We’ve only had her 2 months. She’s scared of people, especially tall loud men (like my mostly deaf husband, unfortunately), but is improving so much with love and attention. She doesn’t really bark or jump on people and doesn’t seem to know how to give “doggie kisses”, and is scared and shies away if anyone tries to give her a kiss on her head…BUT, she now, very gently, tries to mouth my hand when I pet her, now that she trusts me enough to expose her belly for scratches.

    Other people may not like mouthing, but when your dog doesn’t know how else to show affection, it made me so happy. The small things are huge under these circumstances. First time she wagged her tail when I came home, first time she raised a paw when I stopped petting her to ask for more, and now this when scratching her belly. The capacity of love that dogs have, even after knowing nothing but abuse for their lives, is amazing.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      We’re glad things are improving with your pup, Molly!
      And you’re 100% right — mouthing affection doesn’t bother everyone. I don’t mind when my dog does it.

      Keep working on building that trust!

  9. Otis Avatar

    You get what you accept!!!!!!

    You have to be a leader first and foremost, if you are unable you should get another dog regardless of the breed!
    If you are unable to get a dog to fall in line get another species, maybe a goldfish.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Otis.
      We know some people tend to approach dog ownership from a “dominance-oriented” point of view, but that’s not how we look at things.
      We want our pets to live happy, full lives, and enjoy the agency we all deserve, rather than “fall in line.”

      Accordingly, our advice is to remain positive with our pets and treat them like the family members they are.
      But we appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  10. Mariana Aguilar Rivera Avatar
    Mariana Aguilar Rivera

    Our dog is 2 years old, a rescue we got about a month ago. I was curious about mouthing because he seems to use it for a variety of things: trying to bring my hand somewhere (like to pet him), playful, and then sometimes he does it with a little too much pressure. I’ve been using the phrase “soft-mouth” and he releases immediately. I don’t even have to say it firmly, it’s like he’s heard the phrase before and he just releases. I’m wondering though, if this is a sign of an aggressive dog that I’m not taking the hint?

  11. Kathleen Avatar

    We’ve been treat training our 1 ish year old adopted dog. He’s very a smart dog. He’s learning all commands, however He’s mouthing us & jumping up when he wants a treat prematurely of earning one. What’s the suggested response to that please.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Kathleen.
      We have an article that will be published soon about getting dogs to take treats gently, so stay tuned for that. But as for the mouthing, just start by trying some of the tips Kayla lays out in the article above (redirecting your pooch with a chew toy, etc.).
      Best of luck!

  12. Joice Vidal Avatar
    Joice Vidal

    I’ve adopted a German shepherd mix from a shelter in July of this year. Idk if it matters, but we guess he might be a mix with Australian shepherd based on the color patterns. He’s super nice, friendly, and affectionate dog. He has a strong separation anxiety towards me though, which may be normal from a rescue. It doesn’t matter if he is with other people when I leave, he cries and try to leave the whole time. Today I let him running free in our morning walk. He was happily running the whole time while we were walking. Then, I stopped in a park for while. It was 6am, so I could leave him off leash. He started running and coming towards me running. He jumped and mouthed my arm. I was mad at him, so I told him to stop in a not nice way 🙁 , but he continued doing it, so I put him back on the leash and we came home. i do believe he was just playing, but a mouth of a German shepherd on your arm is no fun. Reading your article I saw it’s not dominance, which was what I was afraid of. I just would like to know what you’d recommend to stop this type of behavior. Btw, thank you for the great article!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Joice. We’re so glad you found the article helpful (and congrats on the new pooch)!
      The best way to stop the mouthing behavior is probably, as Kayla explains, redirection — give him something he can mouth (like a toy) instead of your arm.

      On another note, we’d strongly recommend keeping him leashed anytime you’re not in a dedicated and fenced dog park or your backyard. There are just too many bad things that can happen to off-leash dogs.

      He could run into traffic, he could simply run off exploring and get lost, he could approach a person who is afraid of dogs, or he could inadvertently end up in a fight with a reactive dog.

      If you love ’em, leash ’em! Best of luck with the mouthing issue.

  13. Faye Robinson Avatar
    Faye Robinson

    My dog has a habit of muzzle nibbling on furniture,floors,car seats,clothes your wearing. Virtually anything that’s not metal. How can we break this habit??

    1. AdminLogin Avatar

      Hey Faye – I’d suggest giving your dog something appropriate to nibble and chew on! Chewing is a natural and soothing behavior for dogs, so I’d suggest trying out different types of dog chews and seeing what your dog likes best. Frozen kongs, rope toys, lickimats are all other ways of mentally stimulating your dog so that he doesn’t nibble on other stuff to occupy his time.

  14. Dawn Moles Avatar
    Dawn Moles

    Our dog mouths our wrist when we have been away from the house and come home. The only other people she does this to is our eight year old granddaughter and our next door neighbor both of whom she loves very much. She is never aggressive when she does this. Although you feel her teeth she never clamps down. The only thing you walk away with is wrist full of slobber. She loves to be a lap dog (65pounds) and occasionally she will do this when she wants to be loved on and hugged. Although at times it’s pretty gross lol we know that when she does this she is showing her love for us and therefore we do not feel the need to prevent it. She is an extremely affectionate dog and sinks she only weighs 5 lb. Unlike most dogs she wants to be hugged and cuddled and kissed and loved on almost constantly. She does have an issue with separation anxiety, probably because we take her pretty much everywhere we go. She is an extremely active dog. A Blue Heeler and Australian Shepherd mix. We were a little worried in the beginning as we were told by our vet that her breed is not the most loving dog but more so a working dog. She is evidently an exception to that rule. She is the smartest and most affectionate animal we have ever had. She does have a very strong protective instinct. When swimming with our granddaughter if she splashes too much she believe she is drowning and will immediately go to her bring her to shore. She is definitely a gift from heaven in our heart.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      She sounds fantastic, Dawn.
      And if the mouthing isn’t a problem for you (and she’s gentle while doing so), we wouldn’t worry about it!
      Thanks for sharing.

  15. Ashley Avatar

    My dog mouths a lot and usually its just when he is excited and missed me or bored, however he gets over excited for my 12 year old and constantly tries to jump on/wrestle him and mouth him although much more aggressively. When he is over excited he doesnt listen until i say “ kennel” or “outside”. Which he takes immediately as his cue to calm down. My son as gotten claw or tooth scratch marks and we cant get the behavior to stop. My son mostly doesnt mind and most times enjoys the tough play however i do not since i have a 22 month old(which my big goober is very careful with!) any advise on how to stop this? He listens if its anyone else but with my son or boyfriend my request goes un noticed even when calm but very firm.

    1. Meg Marrs Avatar

      Hey Ashley – some dogs are good at only playing rough with certain family members, but it sounds like the best thing might be just to stop roughhousing all together just in case, especially with the little one around. When he gets excited, I’d suggest redirecting to a toy. Maybe there is a favorite tug toy your 12-year-old can grab when he comes home and engage in play with the dog via the toy. If the dog nips or gets skin while playing, have your son (or whoever is playing with the dog) drop the toy and leave the room. You can resume play after 30 seconds or so with the toy. Rinse and repeat until your dog learns that playing with your son via the toy means good times, but getting too tough or accidentally getting skin means play time ends.

      I understand – my guy is the same way. He gets very mouthy when he gets excited, but has been much better after engaging in the play mentioned above, as well as practicing a “get your toy” command to help him redirect his excitement onto an appropriate toy or chew!

  16. Catherine Avatar

    My dog (Staffordshire bull terrier, who is 10 months next week) is so so mouthy, in the house I am now doing the place command which is actually helping, also before he greets a guest he grabs a toy straight away, but when we are out for a walk and people would come over and pet him he would mouth at their gloves/hands or coats, (only when they pet him) He doesn’t hurt him they say but its not the point to me its really aggravating me as I feel like I’ve tried everything and I desperately need him to stop! Why does my dog do this? Is it a puppy thing and he will grow out of it? Any help or advice would be so appreciated!

    1. Liz Avatar

      My Aussie puppy ( Corcoran} was very mouthy. We stopped the habit within a few weeks with the following exercise:
      When he nibbled at our hands we placed our hand in his mouth ( gently) and held his lower jaw open for a few seconds and said a firm NO. The same exercise was used if he was nipping at our heels. These dogs like to herd.
      We repeated the exercise every time he exhibited nibbling behavior. Soon after we would reward him with a treat if he obeyed a command ( like sit or stay).

      Our Corcoran was a true joy to have….He proved to be a loyal friend and protector to each member of our family. He was also friendly and gentle with new people. He was a brilliant dog who graced our life for fifteen years.

      I wish you and all the dog owners on this site the best.

  17. Karla Avatar

    We have a 5-6 y.o. Labradoodle that we adopted about 3 years ago from a prison training program. He’s got a WONDERFUL temperament despite a really rough start to life (he was pulled from being a bait dog in a fighting ring). It’s decreased in the years since we brought him home, but when my husband or boys rough house/wrestle/play, our dog likes to nibble/grooming mouth on their legs and arms. He instinctively avoids contact with our skin, and aims for areas covered with clothes, his tail is always wagging, so I know it’s a playful trait. BUT, when young kids/babies are at our house that aren’t part of his ‘pack’ (our two boys), he is almost obsessive about trying to instigate that type of play with the kids. He can’t relax when they’re around and is constantly shoving his nose by them, doing that grooming type of nibble on their legs and back. It drives me crazy! Is this something I should worry about? Or just head off by hard exercise on a day I know people will be here and hope that his energy is spent? I don’t want to close him up in a bedroom when kids/babies are around, but I also don’t want to assume he’s not capable of accidentally hurting someone’s child with his idea of play.

  18. Heidi Avatar

    My Husky/Shepherd dog loves to mouth my hands and arms while snuggling with me, and sometimes can get a little rough. I don’t mind it, and she knows not to do it to anybody else. My mom hates it, though, and thinks I am teaching her bad manners. I think it’s a bit of a stress release for her. Simply a difference of opinion or should I teach her not to at all?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Heidi.
      It depends on who you ask. Some trainers fall on the “never let your dog mouth you” side of the coin, while others don’t see it as a huge problem (assuming it’s gentle, your dog stops when you tell her to, etc.). I’ll see if I can get Kayla or one of our other contributing trainers to weigh in further.
      Best of luck!

  19. Blair Avatar

    My blue heeler was taught “give me a kiss” as a way to show her when it’s okay for kisses vs when to stop. Sometimes when she’s more hyper she comes at us for what I consider an open mouth kiss. As soon as her open mouth makes contact with us she pulls away, it’s not aggressive and she never ever chomps down. We want to get her to stop doing this before we start having babies. Any tips or tricks would be welcome! Thanks in advance!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Blair.

      It doesn’t seem like it should be terribly tricky to teach your pooch to stop giving kisses, as it seems you’ve already established some boundaries. Just use gentle corrections when she does, and try to redirect her to another activity that you don’t mind.

      In other news, this: “what I consider an open mouth kiss” made me chuckle (my dog seems to delight in doing the same thing).
      Best of luck!

  20. Trudi Avatar

    My 8 month old puppy is constantly mouthing my arms my feet my ears and it’s getting me down and then he starts growling I think it’s only playing but constant x

  21. Terrie Crispin Avatar
    Terrie Crispin

    My 2 yr old male Australian Cattle Dog mouths me often. My arms, hands and even my chin are the usual places. He is always frisky when he does it, and I dont want to make him think its bad. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and my hands are usually in alot of pain, and even though he isnt trying to hurt me, or never bites down, often its very painful. I dont like him mouthing my chin, for obvious reasons…slobber! He didnt do this when he was a pup, and started at a year old. I tell him “no chew” firmly, and remove his mouth from me, but he continues to mouth me.

  22. Casper’s mom Avatar
    Casper’s mom

    Lol my year and half DAD Pom mouths my hand. He is constantly patting my arm or if laying any part of my body. When he is alerting it’s different like non stop licking and snuggling. Is this just a way of him saying I’m here for you mom? This is also at nighttime.

  23. Donna Avatar

    I have an autistic son who loves to run around the yard. Our puppy chases him but also bites on his legs as well as his clothing. I have been separating the two of them, but is there a way I can get her to run with him but not bite his legs?

  24. Gina Rippley Avatar
    Gina Rippley

    I do not let my dog’s mouth me, i teach them (no bite) they try to as puppies and I stop them .I do not allow dogs to act like they’re playing biting me ,it can turn in to something else I make sure my dogs understand this is not something i except or tolerate as play

    1. ranjini Avatar

      We adopted a 2.3 year old beagle a month ago. The beagle is mouthing us all the time, everytime he wants to interact with us. Sometimes the mouthing is also quite hard. If we try to ignore or turn away, he jumps and bites wherever he can. Could this be because he is just getting used to us and it might stop in a few months once he adjusts to his new home?

      1. Ben Team Avatar

        Hey, Ranjini.
        It could be because your pooch is getting used to his new home, but it may also be part of his overall behavioral pattern.
        Definitely solicit professional help if the nipping doesn’t stop within a week or two.
        Best of luck!

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