If you have a puppy and you are wondering, ‘why does my dog bite my hand’, we will suggest that you read our article on puppy biting.
Usually, little puppies learn bite inhibition from their playmates but when the puppy has been separated too early from its playmates or was abandoned, forcefully separated etc, they may not have any idea how to control their bite strength.
Be wary of buying puppies in cages from pet markets. They are sold by unlicensed breeders – breeders who separate puppies from their mothers before they are 50 days old. These puppies don’t learn bite inhibition and therefore can be very mouthy.
Are They Being Aggressive?
In most cases, severe mouthing is not aggression though it may seem like it sometimes. Usually, when your dog is mouthing you, their face is relaxed, they may bow and take a play stance.
However, there are exceptions. Sometimes they bite your hand as a warning. If the bites are aggressive, you will see a difference in their body language. They will show their teeth, they may even snarl and their bite will be quick.
Adult dogs with play biting behaviours, tend to come around often and mouth you. Their tail would be wagging and they would keep coming back to play.
Why Does My Dog Want To Bite My Hand?
Why hands though? Because just like how they use their mouth to interact with their world, you use your hands to interact with your world.
You may tap the floor with your hands to play. A very mouthy dog would see your hand as a chew toy and come at it.
Secondly, if you touch a dogs muzzle, or tap their nose they are far more likely to mouth at your hands. Some dogs come to play while others can get a little riled up.
Other reasons for dogs to bite your hand is when you come in the way of their food. Dogs with a guarding issue are likely to bite anyone who tries to take their favourite bone or toy away.
How To Make Them Stop Biting Your Hand?
How you make them stop depends largely on why they are biting in the first place. So let’s try to address each situation separately:
1. How To Stop Playful Mouthing Behaviour?
If your adolescent/adult dog does not have bite inhibition, playtime might get really hard with them. Now, we don’t want to discourage playing because that is how they bond with you.
Rather, you need to get control of that mouthing behaviour.
If you have a play motivated dog, the best way to get them off the habit is to make the game very boring when their teeth touch your skin. The moment they start mouthing you, turn away and stop playing. This will confuse your dog and they may be taken aback for a second.
When they settle down, you can resume playing again. It would be best to play with a rope toy or a chew toy so that their teeth are chomping off a toy and not your fingers!
The other way to teach bite inhibition is to make a sharp noise if they bite too hard. You may notice puppies whelp when their playmate bites them too hard. This makes them stop the game for a small second then they take a play stance (a bow) to resume their game.
The whelping sound works better with younger puppies as older dogs haven’t had enough playtime as puppies to understand what that means. Instead, making the game boring might work better because it gives dogs instant feedback.
2. How To Stop Them From Taking The Treats Too Aggressively
Does your dog mouth at your fingers when you offer them a treat? You can get that under control with a little bit of training and patience.
Take a small shred of boiled chicken and hold it in your index finger and thumb. Let them try to get it. When dogs are very mouthy they might try to nip at your fingers to get the food. Wait till the nipping softens to a nibble and release the treat. This will teach them how much strength is acceptable and they cannot bite to take treats out of your hand.
3. How To Stop Aggressive Guarding Tendencies
Does your dog guard everything from food to your bed or even their favourite person? You may have received a bite right on your hand when you tried to get the thing they were trying to protect.
We have written a full article on resource guarding. So, if your dog has any problem with it, we’d like you to check it out.
But if you want to quickly take away whatever they are guarding, try a less confrontational approach. Throw a high-value treat at a distance and when they go to get the treat, take away the thing they were guarding.
This way, they do get a fair trade and you save your hand in the process. In the long run, guarding tendencies can be removed from them with proper training and dedication. Consider hiring a professional trainer if you feel the problem is too severe.
By making some of these changes you can stop your puppy from biting your hand. Lastly, we would add that you shouldn’t hit, slap or do anything to instil fearful behaviour in them. A fearful dog is far more likely to bite your hand than a relaxed dog.
Does your dog bite your hand? What have you done so far to stop it? Let us know in the comment section below?