As they become more playful they can start mouthing in play and grabbing at clothing. This might seem cute when they are young puppies, but it won’t be as they get older, their teeth get sharper and the bites get stronger.
It’s important you teach your puppy not to mouth. You might not mind them doing it to you, but other people might not realise they’re playing. Think about what could happen if they do it to a child or someone worried by dogs.
How to control the strength of mouthing
First, teach your puppy bite inhibition – this means controlling the strength of their mouthing. If your dog starts mouthing you and does it particularly hard, give out a high-pitched yelp as if you’re hurt.
This should startle your puppy so they stop and look at you. Praise them for stopping and start playing again. Repeat this process as needed.
If this isn’t working, after you give out the yelp ignore them for about 20 seconds. If they continue to pester you, you can even walk away for 20 seconds. Your puppy should soon learn they get play and attention when they’re being gentle.
Transfer the mouthing onto toys or chews
Second, transfer your dog’s mouthing onto toys or chews. Some puppies will mouth you every time you try and stroke them as well as in play.
Try feeding your puppy some treats with one hand while you stroke them with the other. If you have a puppy that likes grabbing at clothing, stand still and get them interested in a toy instead.
Enjoy playing with your puppy but play non-contact games like tug-of-war and fetch. Wrestling and rough play can encourage mouthing and grabbing, and it will take longer to get your puppy out of the habit.