At Vetwest Dog Training we focus on many problem behaviours that we often see in dogs. Below we highlight some of our methods of dealing with Mouthing and Chewing.
If you would like more information on dealing with these behaviours please call our Dog Training hotline on 9404 1134 or you can book in or find out more information on our Dog Training course here.
Mouthing is normal dog play but it is inappropriate for dogs to play this way with humans. Have a no tolerance policy of dog’s teeth on human skin.
There are two methods recommended to teach your dog not to mouth:
A) Whenever your dog tries to play by biting you give them an appropriate toy to chew on and praise them when they take it. Eventually, they should learn what they should be using their teeth on. Sometimes dogs do not get the message and see biting you as a way to get you to interact with them by giving them a toy. Should this happen then go to plan B.
B) Each time your dog’s teeth touch your skin for any reason walk away immediately without saying anything. You only need to leave for about 10 – 15 seconds as it is not the length of time you go for but the act of leaving that teaches your dog that biting will result in the game finishing and you leaving.
Dogs and puppies arousal levels can continue to increase the longer you play with them and this can result in them getting to the point of biting or mouthing. Teach them to play calmly by playing with them for a minute or two, then give them something appropriate to chew on to help them calm. Come back when they are calm and play for a little longer and then give them something to chew again to help them calm. Build the length of time you play gradually but if your dog makes a mistake and mouths you, immediately stop the game and leave without saying anything.
If your dog is in the habit of mouthing when they first see you in the morning or when you get home from an outing it will require some management to fix. Only greet your dog after they are calm which means not letting them in the moment you get out of bed or come home. By leaving them outside until they are calm they will learn that calm behaviour gets them attention.
If your dog is already inside the house you should totally ignore them until they are calm. Any jumping up or mouthing should result in you immediately leaving the room. Be consistent and they will learn faster. Resist the urge to tell them off as your dog will see this as attention and the inappropriate behaviour will continue.
Dogs love to chew things so we have to teach them what is appropriate to chew. Remember they have no idea that your shoes are any different to a football or that the stick that fell out of the tree is different to a chair leg, but they can learn.
Make sure your dog is confined to an area where they cannot get to your furniture or skirting boards unless you are right there with them. Vicks Vapour Rub, Citronella Oil or Tea Tree Oil all have a rather strong smell so you could put some on the items to discourage your dog from touching them if you are unable to confine them. It may be worthwhile putting it on even when you are there so they never think about touching those items. Make sure you rotate their toys so they always have new things to play with.
If you do see them chewing do not give them attention by asking them to stop as it can turn into attention seeking behaviour. It is better to pretend to be interested in a squeaky toy and when your dog comes over to see what you are doing give them the toy and use the Vicks to prevent further chewing.
This method of distraction will also work if your dog has your socks or some other item they shouldn’t. Don’t chase them as most dogs love that game. Again pretend to have fun with the squeaky toy and then let them have the toy. This way there is no connection between them having the item and you wanting it.