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Thread: Should Play Biting Be Discouraged?

  1. #1

    Default Should Play Biting Be Discouraged?

    Sorry if there is already a thread on this...

    In March we adopted a lovely little Jack Russell (he looks pure bread but who knows) who we named Jake. When we first got him he was VERY timid, the slightest raised voice near him and he cowered, but now he is comfortable in the house (it's my parents house, I don't live there but visit often) and you would swear he thinks he's the dominant male of the house - poor dad!

    Anyway he's gotten a lot more energetic and hyperactive in the last month or so and is much more willing to play games with us. When he gets too hyped up he starts nipping at our hands, grabbing on but not biting down, and personally when he does this I encourage it and play 'keep away' with my hand and get him to chase it around. I know a lot of dogs do this and it is playing and they have no intention of hurting you, but my mum asked me to stop doing it because she is worried that it will turn into aggressive behaviour and/or that if small children come over he might try and do it to them and they will get frightened of him.

    What is your view on this? Should this type of play be discouraged? I think he's just having fun with us now that he is comfortable with us.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    middle of nowhere


    I don't think this should at all be encouraged. dogs will play bite with each other, but they shouldn't with people, like you said, if a child comes to visit(even walking past in the street) it could happen, it might not be aggressive on the dogs part, but a childs skin is also alot softer. I just think it's not worth the risk, my kids play with our dog like this, but I won't let their friends do the same, I'm 99.9999999999% sure nothing will happen, but it's not worth the risk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    There is a difference between mouthing and play biting that can get too hard.
    A mother puts her mouth around their muzzles and growls. I am not a dog so I gripped the muzzle with a NO!

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    On people, yes yes yes. Ruby will mouth when we muck around but only with the boys, with my and the kids she seams to be a little more gentle. When she was a younger and she got a bit nippy I would straight away stop playing and yell no! If she copt me good id give a tap on the nose. biting is a big no no in my house.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Western Sydney


    I would discourage nipping. I reckon this is why they have toys not our body parts.
    I love cooking but I love eating even more.

  6. #6


    I certainly wouldnt be encouraging it . All of our dogs learn 'no teeth' from day dot .
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  7. #7


    we had always encouraged it with all our pups, apparently hand play was to teach them to be gentle. Dad is still a firm believer in sitting on the floor while playing with the dogs and they mouth etc but stops it when they get too rough......

    I now have kids and a puppy lab. I did alot of research on training before I got her ( she is not my first dog by far but labs are big and boysterous and my kids are 2 and 4) and decided there was to be no mouthing at all. This was because it was recommended by soooooooooo many trainers as a way of curbing puppies from chasing and biting at kids and older people. I really wanted it to be a good thing for the whole family having a pup even though she is my dog, and did not want the kids being scared of her.

    I nw have a 5 month old lab who NEVER mouths at the kids or us. It is perfectly safe for other little kids to come over still and not worry about the puppy biting at them.

    So imo I do not agree with allowing them to mouth at you, especially if there are kids around.

  8. #8


    I play rough housing with Batty. He bites gently onto my arms and wrestles with me. He does not ever start these games, he stops when asked.

    I don't have kids and don't want them but I have had other peoples kids around him and he doesn't mouth or bite them. He'd rather lick them and make them laugh!

    He's a medium sized kelpie cross though and he has a very gentle mouth - unless you're a tug toy!

    I think it depends on the dog personally.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    It's important to teach a dog bite inhibition ie not to clamp down hard. And eventually not to bite at all ideally, but I confess I'm like AngelanBatty, I do let my dog mouth me, but it's more like she's using her mouth like a hand. My dog is very good at matching my level of play ie if I play hard, she plays hard, and if I play soft, she plays soft, and she does this with other dogs too.

    But if she accidentally chomps - it's game over. I don't scold or rip my hand away. Sometimes I push my hand gently further into her mouth until she starts trying to spit me out (good). But I stop playing. I find ripping a hand away from a dog's mouth is likely to get a more severe bite.

    If we're running and she nips me - I stop - game over, again she needs to learn not to bite when I'm running. And I tell her she's a good dog if she can run with me without barking or biting. Poor heeler, goes against all the instincts.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    Its up to the individual.

    At our house, play biting is allowed and rigourously encouage. I live playing "attack the hand" with Pippi and slapsies with Barney

    Both dogs will play bite but only with us. I dont know how they know but they seem to know it is not acceptable with anyone else. They also dont bite our daughter, though Barney has just recently started mouthing her when she encourages it - she is old enough now.

    They have been taught "gentle" from a young age though. And even though they are allowed to get a bit "rough", if someone says gentle they know they are biting too hard and to ease it back a bit.

    That is how dogs play, with their mouths and biting each other. I think not allowing it is taking away a part of who they are and a very important interaction with their family.

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