Maybe you’ve been playing frisbee with your dog in the backyard, or you’ve just come home from work and Fido greets you with an excited, whole body wiggle, ready to play. You get down on all fours to wrestle and roughhouse, and then it happens - your fingers or hand end up in his mouth and he just can’t stop nibbling. Dogs learn to bite their owners’ hands in a variety of ways. Puppies curiously explore the world with their mouths, young dogs might give a quick nip to get attention from their owners, and sometimes your dog might be interested in your salty skin or the remnants of the pizza you just ate.
It doesn’t matter how biting hands has become a habit, it’s important to put a stop to it before it becomes an issue. Breaking the hand-biting habit takes some commitment, especially if your dog is a bit older, but with dedication, your dog will soon understand that hands are not for biting.
Teaching your dog not to bite your hands is important to ensure your friends and family feel comfortable around your best friend, and to ensure the habit doesn’t develop into anything more serious. Before you start, you should make sure you know why your dog is biting your hands. If it truly is for play or attention, his mouth and body will be relaxed. His tail will be wagging and he may even stick it in the air as a sign of play. However, some dogs will bite or nip out of fear or aggression. If your dog looks nervous or curls his lip in an unfriendly way before he bites, you should seek help from a trainer or behaviorist immediately to curb this bad behavior. Dogs might also nip if they are in pain, so make sure your dog doesn’t have any tender lumps, bumps, or joint pain. If you suspect your dog might be biting because he is in pain, make an appointment with your vet to assess any treatment needs.
Once you’ve determined that the hand biting is a playful bad habit and not a more serious issue, you can begin teaching your dog to stop biting your hands. Most dogs learn through play and experience, so playtime with your dog is the perfect time to start. You will need:
There are several methods you can try to stop this naughty but playful behavior. Methods like giving verbal cues work best for puppies and young dogs, while providing a chewy alternative is sometimes more effective for older dogs. Whichever method you choose, your best buddy will learn an important lesson that will help him interact with people and dogs the rest of his life.