How to stop dog mouthing

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Mouthing is natural for dogs, but they can be trained that it is not always the way humans prefer to communicate.

Congratulation on your new dog!  This is an exciting time for both of you. 

If you take the time to teach your new dog some manners, your relationship will be happy for years to come.  

Puppies learn by feeling things in their mouths.  You can consider your puppy’s mouth to be very similar to our hands for learning purposes.  Puppies express a lot with their mouths and one hard habit to break them off his mouthing.  Every puppy mouths and some mouth more than others.  There a few simple tricks that you can teach your dog so that your time together is fun.

The first thing you can try to stop your dog from mouthing is to verbally command your dog when it occurs.  A stern “no bites” or some similar phrase will help them to associate their biting with your command.  Dogs need a clear signal from you in order to associate their actions with your words.  Always use the same words for your command so your dog will see the connection.  As you clearly state your command, you can gently remove your dog’s mouth from wherever they are biting you. 

Young puppies have very short attention spans so be patient as your puppy grows and know that this command will eventually click in their head.  If you command your puppy not to bite and they stop, it is a good idea to celebrate and praise or play with them.  “Good no bites” or something similar will help to learn that they get more attention when they don’t bite than when they do.

Another way to stop your dog from mouthing is to buy a spray called “Bitter Apple” and spray it on whatever they are chewing on that they should not be.  Spray the “Bitter Apple” when the puppy is not looking or doesn’t associate you with the spray.  If they are chewing your couch after you sprayed it, they will simply think that the couch tastes yucky and will not chew it anymore.  

It also helps to have specific chew toys for your dog.  As you guide your dog with an “No bites” command, you can also reward them by providing a toy specifically for them to chew and say something to the effect of “play with your toys”.  If you can use positive reinforcement, your dog will be much more responsive.  After a while, your dog will learn what is okay to mouth and what should not be chewed.

If you have a problem dog that doesn’t seem to get it, you can spray “Bitter Apple” directly in their mouth as you catch them in the act.  A really stern “No bites” should be associated with this spray.  Most dogs hate the taste and will learn quickly from this.  You can also take some vinegar with water and put it in a spray bottle to accomplish the same effect.  Be very careful not to spray this into the eyes of your dog.  After a while, you can simply pick up the bottle when your dog is mouthing and they will stop because they know that the taste is not pleasant and they recognize the bottle.

Be very patient in trying to train your dog.  They need clear guidance from humans in order to learn.  Occupying your dog’s brain and keeping him/her socially active is also a good idea to help curb an “mouther”.  Many times, chewing or mouthing can simply be a sign of boredom in dogs.  Keep this in mind and try to engage your dog and involve them in your life.  A happy dog is one that listens better and minds their manners well.  Most of all, enjoy your furry friend and treat them well.