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Getting A Little Mouthy!


Guest NRN13
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So we got Cleo in August. She's quirky and sweet. I've written before about her occasional space aggression and resource guarding though (her "quirks"!). I think it's getting better, but hard to tell since we are completely avoiding any chance of her getting aggressive or possessive anyway. We're working with her though.

 

But I wanted to ask about something different. Sometimes I'll be petting her and I guess she's decided she's had enough, or maybe I'm not doing it in the right spot, but she'll "mouth" me. She opens her mouth and goes for my hand. Kind of slowly. Not biting down, not growling, not hurting me in any way, but definitely putting her open mouth on my hand. I of course immediately stop whatever I was doing that she didn't like. Sometimes it's if you pet her too far down her back towards her butt or haunches, sometimes it's belly rubs that she grows tired of. She turned 2 (today, as a matter of fact!) Is this just juvenile behavior as she learns the ropes? or is this aggressive that could possibly lead to something else/worse? And how should I handle this? Thank you!

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My girl gets mouthy when she loves what I'm doing and wants to play. Don't know if that's what happening with you, but teeth mean different things with different dogs in different circumstances.

 

Same here. Sweep mouths affectionately and excitedly, usually right before she flops over into a roach when we're petting her.

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Hmmm, interesting! Cleo gets mouthy when she's excited and with this cool weather, she's frisky when we go out. But this is inside when I'm petting her. It definitely seems like she's telling me to stop whatever it is I'm doing - which I totally respect and do! But is there something I should do or say when this happens?

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She doesn't like what you're doing (or she did like it but has had enough) and she's asking you very gently to please stop. Nothing wrong with that at all. You're doing the right thing by respecting her and stopping. No need to do or say anything more, unless you want to say "sorry" to her for inadvertently hurting her or making her feel uncomfortable. I think it can be quite uncomfortable for them being touched or stroked in certain places, such as bony areas, but they are all different, just like people. Over time you'll learn what she likes and doesn't like, and she'll become more comfortable with you too, as long as you continue to respect her.

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Guest Wasserbuffel

 

 

She doesn't like what you're doing (or she did like it but has had enough) and she's asking you very gently to please stop. Nothing wrong with that at all. You're doing the right thing by respecting her and stopping. No need to do or say anything more, unless you want to say "sorry" to her for inadvertently hurting her or making her feel uncomfortable. I think it can be quite uncomfortable for them being touched or stroked in certain places, such as bony areas, but they are all different, just like people. Over time you'll learn what she likes and doesn't like, and she'll become more comfortable with you too, as long as you continue to respect her.

 

I agree with this. Since you're stopping right away there shouldn't be any escalation of the behavior into aggression. It's actually pretty useful to have the dog give you a signal when it's had enough. You might try modifying the behavior by teaching her a different signal to give. There's another poster on here whose dog, Katie, has been taught to touch her hand as a signal that she's open to more petting. The owner occasionally stops what she's doing to offer Katie the chance to let her know how she's feeling. If Katie signals yes, she continues, if she ignores the hand then the owner leaves her alone. I think it's an incredibly respectful way to interact with a dog who might be a bit sensitive about things.

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Guest mischaluvsgreys

My greyhound also likes to "mouth" us. It seems to be a friendly gesture. When we're playing sometimes she opens her mouth wide and places it over my hand. She never bites down. It's as if they know not to hurt us. I don't mind it at all as long as you don't think it is aggression coming from your grey. Good luck.

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Guest Wasserbuffel

 

 

When we're playing sometimes she opens her mouth wide and places it over my hand. She never bites down. It's as if they know not to hurt us.

 

Mine did that once to my throat! I was on the bed and DH was teasing her to play attack me, when suddenly I had teeth on either side of my throat and a hearty growl in my ears. I think she was just as surprised as we were, because usually when she play bites me I'm standing, and the only things she can reach are my arms.

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I like the idea of giving a signal, but teeth can be a little intimidating. You can discourage the mouthing by yelping in a high pitched way as soon as the teeth touch your skin. It sounds a little silly, but that's one of the ways dogs develop bite inhibition among each other. She'll stop the behavior if she thinks she's hurting you.

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Sometimes I'll be petting her and I guess she's decided she's had enough, or maybe I'm not doing it in the right spot, but she'll "mouth" me. She opens her mouth and goes for my hand. Kind of slowly. Not biting down, not growling, not hurting me in any way, but definitely putting her open mouth on my hand. I of course immediately stop whatever I was doing that she didn't like.

 

I've had two who did this if you got a ticklish spot and they wanted you to stop. She's being very gentle; I wouldn't discourage it, I'd just stop as you are doing.

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Exactly what Hawthorn said.

 

I like the idea of giving a signal, but teeth can be a little intimidating. You can discourage the mouthing by yelping in a high pitched way as soon as the teeth touch your skin. It sounds a little silly, but that's one of the ways dogs develop bite inhibition among each other. She'll stop the behavior if she thinks she's hurting you

In normal puppy nipping cases, I'd probably recommend this. But, in this case, the dog has done nothing wrong. There is no behavior to correct except our own. I'd recommend stop touching the dog where she finds it uncomfortable because it's probably related to physical discomfort. Can you imagine? I wouldn't want someone touching a sore spot of mine, either! It's just basic courtesy :)

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