Bringing a playful, energetic puppy into your home is an exciting experience. However, one behaviour that can puzzle and concern new puppy owners is their penchant for mouthing or nibbling. While it may seem worrisome at first, mouthing is a natural behaviour in dogs, particularly puppies. In this blog, we'll delve into the reasons behind this behaviour and offer tips on how to manage and redirect it effectively.
1. Exploring the World:
Puppies, much like human infants, use their mouths to explore their environment. It's their way of getting to know objects, textures, and even people around them. Their mouths are incredibly sensitive, allowing them to gather information through taste and touch.
2. Teething Discomfort:
Just like human babies, puppies go through a teething phase. The discomfort from new teeth emerging can lead them to seek relief by chewing and mouthing. Providing appropriate chew toys can help soothe their sore gums and redirect this behaviour.
3. Social Interaction:
Dogs are social animals and use their mouths to communicate with each other. Mouthing is a form of play and interaction among puppies. It's a way for them to establish boundaries and engage in friendly, non-aggressive behaviour.
4. Excess Energy:
Active, high-energy puppies may resort to mouthing as a means of expending some of their pent-up energy. Regular exercise and play sessions can help reduce this behaviour by ensuring they're adequately tired and stimulated.
Dogs are known for their strong desire to be close to their human companions. Mouthing can be a way for them to seek attention, whether it's through play or as a means of getting you to interact with them.
In their early months puppies learn and digest a lot of information through observing human and other animal behaviour. They will copy behaviours that they observe. They observe us using our hands an awful lot and so they wish to touch, hold and move things like we do. These observations lead to experimentation with the mouth as it's the only appendage they have they can be used for this function.
7. Training Opportunities:
When managed correctly, mouthing can serve as a training opportunity. Teaching your puppy bite inhibition – the ability to control the force of their bite – is an essential skill that can prevent accidental harm in the future.
Understanding why puppies mouth is crucial for responsible pet ownership. By recognising the natural instincts behind this behaviour, we can respond in ways that are both constructive and nurturing. Providing appropriate outlets for exploration, teething relief, and social interaction can go a long way in ensuring your puppy grows into a well-adjusted, happy adult dog. Remember, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key to helping your puppy navigate this phase of their development.