Does your dog grab your arms, legs, shoes, and even hair with their mouth when they’re excited? Although you may find it cute and harmless, your guests might think it is embarrassing and annoying.
Biting and mouthing usually happen during play, exercise, and whenever they are overexcited. Some puppies grow out of the behavior, others don’t. That’s why you need to help them eliminate this bad behavior before it becomes destructive and aggressive.
Find out why dogs bite when they are excited and follow our guidelines to teach your dog how to be gentle with their mouth! Here are some great ways to stop your dog from biting when excited.
Nipping and Mouthing Are Normal and Manageable
Nipping and mouthing are “harmless” ways that dogs show their excitement, affection, and curiosity. They like to explore the world with their nose and mouth. It’s like a multi-function equipment they use to east, socialize, and play!
Dogs don’t mean to hurt you when they excitedly nip. They just want to grab your attention by grabbing your arm. The pressure is usually very light, but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it.
Mouthing begins early in puppyhood but can (and should!) be stopped with consistent training. What may seem like a cute behavior won’t be so amusing when their teeth grow stronger and they don’t learn bite inhibition.
Why Dogs Bite When They’re Excited
There are several reasons why dogs tend to bite when they are excited. Generally, dogs that do this are in a state of high arousal. They react to everything with barking, spinning, and nipping.
Here are some reasons dogs will bite when excited:
- Because they are used to jaw wrestling with their fellow furry friends, they might think you like it too.
- They want to have something in their mouth, and your hands or feet are the most available.
- They learned that you respond to mouthing by giving them attention.
- Mouthing is their form of self-soothing for mouth and teeth pain.
Other reasons why dogs have a biting behavior include:
- Early experience in the litter. Puppies who have no littermates are more prone to mouthing, as well as puppies who are taken away from their litters before eight weeks. Since they do not have siblings to let them know they are biting too hard, they fail to learn bite inhibition.
- Insufficient exercise and mental stimulation. Excessive energy prompts the dog to play with their mouth. Their boredom encourages this bad behavior as they are trying to find ways to engage you in their games.
Check out this great article on how to deal with nippy dogs.
How to Stop Your Dog From Biting When Excited
Here are some surefire solutions and preventions to dog nipping or biting!
Manage the Environment
This is the simplest and most obvious solution. You can put your dog on a leash before visitors can come over. Put them in the crate or behind the dog gate to stop them from getting too excited.
In some cases, you can also try to keep your fingers safe by putting on a muzzle. Note, however, that muzzles can be inhumane when used incorrectly or too frequently. Reward your dog with lots of treats for their calm behavior.
Toss Food on the Ground
This is a short-term solution where you take a fistful of treats and scatter them on the ground to calm your dog down. It’s not about rewarding your dog for nipping you since your dog will be too distracted to learn anything. In scientific terms, they’re not using their prefrontal cortex at the moment.
After doing this, you can start teaching them lessons.
Leave Your Dog
Step over a dog gate or step behind a closed door for a few seconds. This negative punishment removes what the dog wants when he does something undesirable.
After a few seconds, return and try to ask your dog to sit.
Be Calm and Boring
Some dogs try to jump or nip because we, too, act excited by waving our arms around. Try to make yourself boring and your dog may imitate your behavior.
If you have a backyard, let your pooch relieve themselves there, and then play with them there. Play hard. Play fetch. Throw a stick. Have him go over jumps as part of his fetch game. You can also go running or walking together.
Hand Target Method
This is a method that will teach your dog to press their nose to your hand on cue. Watch the video to learn how to do this.
Reward When They’re Not Biting
Also called Differential Reinforcement, this method requires you to reward your dog when he does something that he can’t do while nipping you. Simply teaching your dog to sit will do the trick.
You have to be consistent when doing this. Do this anytime, anywhere, and any situation for them to know that they should always obey you. Do this until they can sit in really difficult and distracting situations.
Why You Shouldn’t Hurt Your Dog Back
It should go without saying that we shouldn’t verbally or physically punish our dogs. Still, here are some reasons why hurting them won’t solve the biting behavior:
- You can injure your dog.
- Positive punishment is never effective in training and can only cause fear and anxiety in dogs.
- You can damage your relationship with your dog.
- They can be aggressive towards you.
You should also never yell at your dog.
Stop the Problem Before It Worsens!
While it’s normal for puppies to bite as they explore their new surroundings, you shouldn’t let them get used to this behavior into their adulthood. Otherwise, they may injure you or others and may even develop aggressive behaviors.
Stop the problem before it worsens with consistent training, regular physical exercise, and mental stimulation. Be sure to stay consistent as the biting behavior may erupt when there’s been a period of prolonged inactivity or lack of training.
Lastly, remember that hurting your dog back is not only an ineffective way of training them but also an inhumane one!
For more tips on dog biting and other bad behaviors check out these free dog training videos now.