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Mouthing & Play Biting

Brought to you by Menoka’s Dog Manners Training



Mouthing and biting are both a normal doggie behavior and self rewarding behavior. Dogs use their mouths in the dog world with one another constantly. Because of this, they need to be taught that it is not welcome behavior with their humans. They do not readily know this or realize how sensitive our skin is. They use their mouths for many reasons, some of the more common reasons are, that is feels good on their teeth, for entertainment, to play, to investigate, and to communicate. To teach a dog not to mouth or bite human skin, we need to teach the dog “bite inhibition”. Bite inhibition can be taught through a series of stage using a method called “Yelp & Shun” discussed below.


            Stage 1: Use only for painful mouthing. When your dog mouths you hard enough that it hurts, you are going to mimic a dog’s “yelp” by saying, “ouch!” in a loud, shrill voice. You then “shun” you dog by walking away from them. Walk out of your dog’s sight for 30 seconds. It must be you who walks out of the room and not the dog being put in a time-out, hence “shunning” them. Do this each time your dog bites down on your skin too hard. Once your dog gets the hang of it and his mouthing becomes more gentle, move on to the next stage.


            Stage 2: Use the “Yelp & Shun” method for ANY mouthing and biting. This method will be used not just when the bites are painful as discussed in stage 1, but for any biting the dog does.


            Stage 3: Anytime your dog’s mouth touches human skin, yelp, but instead of shunning, give a “no reward” marker (a sound such as Eh-Eh lets the dog know their behavior was inappropriate or incorrect). Follow the marker with ignoring your dog for a few seconds.


A Few Notable Suggestions:     


*Hand feeding your dog his kibble is a great way to reduce mouthing/biting.


*There is no bette way to teach a dog bite inhibition than with another dog during playtime. If you have a puppy, socialize your puppy with other puppies ASAP! If you have a friendly dog who plays well with other dogs, find him/her a doggie friend for playdates or consider joining a dog park. You will still need to teach your dog that human skin is more sensitive than an animal’s, but dog to dog interaction is an ideal first step.


*Be careful not to use your hands as play objects. Doing so will most definitely promote mouthing/biting. Also, using your hands to push your dog off when jumping promotes mouthing/biting as well as inadvertently reinforcing jumping.


*Note: If your dog chews or bites the leash, try using a metal leash.



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