How to Effectively Prevent Puppy Mouthing

Apr 3, 2023 | Dog Training Tips

Landscape-oriented image of a puppy training session in a living room, aimed at teaching puppies to avoid mouthing and chewing.

As caring dog owners, we understand how important it is to address behaviours such as puppy mouthing and chewing. This guide aims to provide you with all the necessary information, tips, and techniques to help your dog overcome this issue and lead a happier, healthier life.

Puppy Mouthing: A Natural Exploration Behaviour

Mouthing is a typical behaviour exhibited by puppies during their early stages of development. It serves several purposes and plays a crucial role in their learning and socialisation process. Here’s an overview of how mouthing is related to a puppy’s normal development.

Puppies use their mouths as a tool for exploration and interaction with their environment. This mouthing behaviour serves several purposes and is essential for their cognitive growth. Key reasons for puppy mouthing include:

  • Understanding Texture: Puppies mouth various objects to discern their texture, enabling them to differentiate between various surfaces and materials.
  • Exploring Taste: By mouthing items, puppies learn about the taste of different objects, helping them identify what is safe to eat and what should be avoided.
  • Assessing Shape: As puppies mouth objects, they familiarize themselves with different shapes and sizes, developing their ability to manipulate and interact with items in their environment.

This natural developmental phase is experienced by all dogs, albeit to varying degrees. It’s crucial for pet owners to recognise the importance of puppy mouthing in order to support their puppy’s growth and development.

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Understanding Puppy Mouthing and Chewing

Puppy mouthing and chewing are natural behaviours that serve multiple purposes, but when they become excessive, they can lead to destruction of personal belongings and injury to people. If you’re struggling to manage your dog’s chewing and mouthing behaviours, it’s essential to seek professional help from a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist when:

  • Your dog’s chewing and mouthing behaviours are causing injury to themselves or others
  • You have exhausted all available training techniques without success
  • Your dog’s chewing and mouthing are accompanied by other concerning behaviours, such as aggression or excessive fear
Nature of Puppy MouthingRecognizing puppy mouthing as a normal part of development is crucial for dog owners.
Causes of Excessive MouthingCan include teething, boredom, anxiety, and nutritional imbalances.
Preventive MeasuresProviding chew toys, ensuring mental stimulation, and establishing a consistent daily routine can manage mouthing.
Dietary ConsiderationsMonitoring and adjusting the dog’s diet can address mouthing related to nutritional issues.
Training and Behavior ModificationConsistency and patience in training are key to managing mouthing effectively.
Professional InterventionSeeking professional help is essential when standard training techniques fail or if mouthing leads to injury.
Importance of Addressing MouthingAddressing mouthing and chewing behaviors is vital for the dog’s well-being and the owner’s peace of mind.

Causes of Puppy Mouthing and Chewing

Before tackling the problem, it’s crucial to understand its root causes. Common reasons for excessive chewing and mouthing include:

  • Teething and dental Issues: Puppies experience teething between three to six months of age, which can cause discomfort and lead to increased chewing. Adult dogs may also experience dental pain that results in excessive chewing to alleviate discomfort.
  • Boredom and lack of Stimulation: Dogs require mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Without sufficient outlets for their energy, they may resort to destructive behaviours such as chewing and mouthing.
  • Lack of sleep: Overtired puppies may cause them to mouth and chew excessively. Ensure they are getting enough sleep during the day and at night.
  • Anxiety and stress: Anxiety and stress are common causes of excessive puppy mouthing and chewing. This behaviour can serve as a coping mechanism to help them feel more secure and relaxed.
  • Nutritional imbalances: In some cases, nutritional imbalances can result in increased chewing and mouthing behaviours. Addressing these imbalances with appropriate diet adjustments can help alleviate the issue.

Preventing your Puppy Mouthing and Chewing behaviours

Prevention is key when it comes to managing unwanted behaviours in dogs. Here are some strategies to prevent excessive chewing and mouthing:

  • Provide appropriate chew toys for puppy mouthing: Supply your dog with a variety of safe and durable chew toys to satisfy their puppy mouthing & chewing. Rotate these toys to maintain your dog’s interest and engagement.
  • Encourage Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Ensure your dog gets adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and frustration, which can lead to destructive chewing.
  • Establish a Routine: Establishing a consistent daily routine for your dog can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of security, ultimately decreasing the likelihood of excessive chewing and mouthing.
  • Monitor Your Dog’s Diet: Monitor your dog’s diet and consult with your veterinarian to ensure proper nutritional balance, which can help prevent chewing and mouthing related to nutritional imbalances.

Training Techniques to Stop Puppy Mouthing and Chewing Behaviours

Employing effective training techniques can help teach your dog appropriate behaviours and discourage unwanted chewing and mouthing. Some useful techniques include:

  • Redirecting Puppy Mouthing: When you catch your puppy mouthing or chewing inappropriately, redirect their attention to an acceptable toy. Praise and reward them for engaging with the appropriate item.
  • Teach the “Leave It” Cue: Teaching your puppy an errorless “leave it” cue can help them learn how to access the important things in their lives. Have a robust, well-generalised “leave it” cue can be helpful when attempting to redirect your puppy’s mouthing and chewing.

When to Seek Professional Help

Preventing puppy mouthing and chewing

When Puppy’s Mouthing and Chewing Behaviours Get Worse

In some cases, your dog’s chewing and mouthing may be persistent and difficult to manage. It’s essential to seek professional help from a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist when:

  • Your dog’s chewing and mouthing behaviours are causing injury to themselves or others
  • You have exhausted all available training techniques without success
  • Your dog’s chewing and mouthing are accompanied by other concerning behaviours, such as aggression or excessive fear

Professional assistance can provide valuable guidance and support in addressing your dog’s unwanted behaviours and help you develop a tailored plan to manage the issue effectively.

Addressing Puppy Mouthing

Addressing your puppy’s mouthing and chewing behaviours is crucial for their well-being and your peace of mind. By understanding the causes, implementing prevention strategies, and employing effective training techniques, you can help your dog overcome this issue and lead a happier, more balanced life.

Remember that consistency and patience are key when working with your dog, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if necessary.

If you find this article interesting, you might want to check out our blog and podcast section.

About me

Jim Gillies, a Certified Dog Behaviourist and Trainer in Glasgow with over 10 years of experience, prioritises canine well-being through modern, science-backed methods. Handling 4000+ cases of 1-to-1 behaviour training, Jim is fully accredited, insured, and recognised for addressing various behavioural issues including aggression, separation anxiety, and more. Jim holds qualifications in level 5 (merit) Advance Diploma Canine Behaviour Management and level 6 Applied Animal Behaviour. Explore his insightful blog and podcast, sharing expert knowledge on dog training and behaviour. Certified by the IAABC, Jim’s expertise makes him a reliable choice for addressing your dog’s needs.

Contact information

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How can I safely get something out of my puppy’s mouth?

Begin by calmly approaching your puppy, gently holding their muzzle, and using the command “drop it” while offering a trade for a treat or their favourite toy.

Is it harmful to hold a puppy’s mouth shut?

Holding a puppy’s mouth shut can be distressing and may harm your relationship with them. It’s important to use positive reinforcement techniques instead.

Should you ever hold a puppy’s mouth closed as a disciplinary action?

No, this method is not recommended. Training should focus on redirection and teaching bite inhibition through positive reinforcement.

My puppy chews as if something’s in her mouth when it’s not. Why?

This could be a sign of teething or exploring their environment. If it seems excessive or compulsive, consult a veterinarian.

Do mother dogs carry their puppies by the mouth?

Yes, this is a natural behavior. Mother dogs gently pick up their puppies by the scruff of the neck to move them.

Is it normal for puppies to sleep with their mouths open?

Some puppies may sleep with their mouths slightly open due to relaxation or minor breathing variations. If you notice any signs of distress or unusual breathing, contact a vet.

Why is my newborn puppy constantly opening its mouth?

Newborns may open their mouths for various reasons, such as hunger, the need to breathe more deeply, or even early vocalizations. Monitor to ensure they’re feeding and breathing normally.

How do dogs safely carry their puppies in their mouth?

Canines have an instinctive ability to carry their young gently by the scruff without causing harm, allowing them to transport their puppies as needed.

What should I look for in my Pomeranian puppy to ensure a proper bite?

A ‘bad mouth’ in dogs refers to dental issues. In Pomeranians, check for correct alignment of the jaws and that the teeth meet in a scissors bite.

Is it appropriate to hold my puppy’s mouth shut when he bites me?

Instead of holding the mouth shut, redirect your puppy’s biting to appropriate toys and use positive training methods to discourage biting.

How do I open a puppy’s mouth to remove something dangerous?

To open a puppy’s mouth, gently press on their lips against their teeth which usually causes them to open their jaws. Be cautious to avoid getting bitten.

Why does my puppy frequently open his mouth, as if yawning?

This could be a sign of stress or an attempt to cool down. If it’s frequent, it’s advisable to check with a vet to rule out any health concerns.

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