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Dawn Watson's Pet Tip of the Week: Mouthing

Dawn O Watson/CNBNews Contributor

When you bring a puppy home he is likely to "mouth". That term describes a young dog's habit of chewing on everything--including you! Usually, this behavior stems from the pup being removed from his mother's care before she has taught him essential manners. 

When a puppy is born (whelped is the technical term) she seeks her mother for everything from milk to protection. As the puppy grows older she will roughhouse with her litter mates. It is at this time, between the ages of four to eight weeks of age, that the mother teaches her puppies to be gentle, to go potty away from the bedding, and to control the instinct to bite unless the object is prey or food. 

When a dog is removed from the litter before eight weeks of age he has not had the benefit of this teaching and may continue to roughhouse and mouth inappropriately until he is corrected. 

Teaching a dog the essentials of dog manner is very important! Even if you have adopted an older dog, if he exhibits inappropriate behavior it is likely because he was either removed from his mother at a very early age or he has not been instructed by a pre Atahvious owner that certain behaviors are not tolerated.

I'd like to stress that the only time it is appropriate to physically correct a dog is when you fear for your life or the life of another human being as a result of the dog's actions. Gentle and calm reinforcement or a verbal "No," or "Leave it" is enough to deter a dog from any activity. If the behavior does not immediately come to a halt, seek a professional trainer to intervene. Often, a word or two of advice is all it takes to get a situation under control.

If your puppy is mouthing you, remove your hand (or whatever he is mouthing) and say a loud, "No!" Do not continue to play with him. The games are over when teeth touch flesh!

If you have a question about any dog-related issue, please call or text me at 856.981.8957 or email me at There is never a fee for a consultation.

Wado udohiyu, (thank you very much in the Cherokee language)

Dawn Watson

Owner, Brother of the Wolf, LLC

My book, Training Your Dog with Love and Compassion, is available on Amazon and in select libraries. If you would like to purchase the eBook and cannot afford it please get in touch with me and I will make sure you have it.

Pictured: My beautiful Atah.