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Puppy Mouthing Management Guide

Welcome to Jordan Dog Training’s comprehensive guide on managing puppy mouthing. This resource is designed to help you understand why puppies mouth, identify strategies for managing this behaviour, and ensure your puppy grows into a well-mannered adult dog.

Understanding Puppy Mouthing

Why Puppies Mouth:

  • Exploration: Puppies explore their world by mouthing objects, learning about different textures and tastes.
  • Teething Relief: Mouthing helps alleviate the discomfort of teething as new teeth erupt.
  • Social Learning: Mouthing during play with littermates teaches puppies bite inhibition and social cues.
  • Communication: Puppies also mouth to express their needs and interact with their human family members.

When It Happens: Mouthing is most common in young puppies and can peak during the teething phase, around 3 to 6 months of age.

Download The Factsheet

Puppy and Dog Dental Trivia

Did you know? Puppies have 28 temporary teeth, also known as milk teeth, that begin to appear at about three to four weeks of age. As they grow, these teeth are replaced by 42 adult dog teeth. In comparison, adult humans have 32 teeth. This difference in the number of teeth reflects the carnivorous nature of dogs, requiring more teeth for tearing meat, compared to humans who have a more varied diet.

Core Management Strategies

Providing Suitable Chew Toys

Ensure your puppy has access to a variety of chew toys that are safe and appropriate for their size and chewing strength.

Teaching Bite Inhibition

Gently teach your puppy that biting hard is not acceptable. Use verbal cues like “ouch” and withdraw attention briefly when they bite too hard.

Redirecting Mouthing

When your puppy begins to mouth on hands or clothing, redirect their attention to a toy or chew item.

Positive Reinforcement

Reward your puppy with treats and praise for mouthing on their toys instead of on people or unsuitable items.

Socialisation Opportunities

Socialising with other vaccinated dogs helps puppies learn appropriate behaviours and bite inhibition from their interactions.

Importance of Play Selection

It’s beneficial at this age to avoid rough games, playfighting, chasing games, and tug of war, as these can teach and encourage the dog that mouthy/bitey games are an acceptable way to engage with us. Engaging in these types of play can reinforce the idea that using their mouth in play with humans is desirable, making it harder to discourage mouthing behaviour.

Advanced Management Strategies

Environmental Enrichment

  • Puzzle Toys and Feeders: Stimulate your puppy’s brain and keep them occupied, reducing boredom that can lead to mouthing.
  • Snuffle Mats and Hidden Treats: Encourage your puppy to use their sense of smell to find treats, providing mental stimulation and reducing the desire to mouth as a form of entertainment.
  • Interactive Toys: Toys that move unpredictably or make sounds can captivate your puppy’s attention, offering an appropriate outlet for their energy and curiosity.

Advanced Training Commands

  • “Leave It” Command: Essential for preventing mouthing on inappropriate objects.
  • Settle Down Commands: Useful for calming your puppy during hyperactive moments.

Mental and Physical Exercise

  • Obedience Training: Provides mental stimulation that can reduce the inclination to mouth out of boredom.
  • Agility Training (for older puppies): Offers a combination of physical and mental challenges.

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet can influence your puppy’s energy levels and behaviour, potentially reducing the tendency to mouth.

Managing Teething Discomfort

Frozen chew toys or treats can soothe your puppy’s gums and reduce the need to mouth everything in sight.

Professional Support

For ongoing issues, a professional dog behaviourist can provide tailored advice and strategies.

Structured Environment

A consistent routine and a safe, secure space for your puppy can help manage stress and anxiety, reducing mouthing behaviour.

The Importance of Daily Walks

Incorporate daily walks into your puppy’s routine once they are fully vaccinated to provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation. This can significantly reduce mouthing behaviour by keeping your puppy content and well-exercised.

Conclusion

Managing puppy mouthing is a crucial part of your puppy’s development, ensuring they grow into well-behaved adult dogs. By understanding the reasons behind mouthing and employing a mix of strategies from providing appropriate chew toys to incorporating structured play, environmental enrichment, and professional advice, you can navigate this phase effectively. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key to your success. For more personalised advice or support, Jordan Dog Training is here to help guide you and your puppy through this journey, equipped with the knowledge of their dental development and needs.

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Justin Jordan Trainer

Justin Jordan

Master Trainer

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Phone (07) 3264 8180      Mobile: 0422 600 774       Email: justin@jordandogtraining.com.au