Why Does My Dog Hold My Hand In His Mouth? How To Control It?

Dogs use their mouth as a hand in many ways instead of only for eating. Though having the hand in a dog’s mouth is common for the pet parent, most don’t know the exact reason. Hence they often ask why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth?

There may have plenty of intention behind dogs mouthing including teething, plying, greeting, or seeking attention. Whatever the reason being, the owner needs to control this behavior before it turns into a habit or makes the dog aggressive. Read on to get the complete reason for this confusing behavior and tips to reduce or prevent it before getting worse.

Related dog aggressive: Why Are Chihuahuas So Aggressive?

Why does My Dog Hold My Hand in His Mouth?

why does my dog hold my hand in her mouth

Animals have to express everything without speaking. The mouth is the main tool for a dog for interacting and exploring the world. So your pooch may hold your hand, arms, or leg in his mouth to tell you that he wants to play with you, love you, and want your attention or ask to pet you. Let’s get the brief reasons.


Mouthing is considerably more common in younger dogs than older ones, particularly those who are under one year old. The reason is that during teething in two to seven months, dogs’ gums keep breaking through. It’s a painful and irritating experience for puppies and putting something in the mount can soothe them.

Possibly your pet may find your hand around him every time it feels pain and hold it in his mouth to get relief. In this case, give your canine some chewy and teething-friendly toy so it can feel better and your hand gets released.


Puppies learn to play by nipping and mouthing. When your dogs are playing, you may notice one dog bite another. the bitten dog starts yelping while the biter back off for a moment and gets shocked or scolded. After a while, the play resumed.

Dogs understand the difference between hard biting and play-nipping through play which is okay between dogs. But your dog starts mouthy play with you, train him before getting injured.


Many pet parents experience that their furry friend holds their hand in mouth whenever they return home from outside. If you experience the same, its means your pet is glad to see you and welcoming you in this way.

It also means your dog missed you. it is nothing but a loving motive. However impatient, overzealous, or relentless pet also holds their owner’s hand in their mouth when they come after a long day of work.

Expressing Dominance

Grabbing the owner’s hand in the mouth can also be a way of showing dominance. It means your dog is trying to declare him as an alpha dog. It’s especially true when your dog holds your hand in his mouth forcefully or growls at a time.

Seeking Affection and Attention

Your pooch may also hold your hand in this mouth to get attention particularly when your focus is on anything else. Some dogs consider affection or attention as a reward, especially who don’t get enough time from their owner. However, it can be a habit if the owner allows the dog the mouthing whenever they want with the desired attention.

Excess Energy

Dogs need exercise and some require more than other breeds. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, it’ll feel bored and may suffer from downright manic. Hence it may mouth your arms or hand to get rid of desperation.

Pain or Anxiety

The anxiety of a dog can obvious in various ways including pacing up and down, finding a place to hide, and mouthing others’ hands, arms, or legs.

In addition, if your canine feels anxious, he may avoid physical contact with you to comfort himself. Hence he may hold your hand in your mouth to inform you that he doesn’t want your contact.

To determine if your dog is anxious, try to understand his body language. if his tail remains down and looks tense While mouthing your hand, its means he is feeling anxious. The other sign includes cowering, pinned ears, freezing, and tucked tail. You can also look for signs of illness or injury that can make them anxious as well.

But if you notice his tail is wagging and looks happy, then he is asking you to play.

Is it concerning if Your Dog Mouth Your Hand?

First of all, don’t compare common mouthing with aggressive bullying or biting. Taking any attempts based on misconception can make the situation worse instead of bringing any positive result. So don’t be concerned if your dog holds your hand in his mount due to teething, welcoming, or asking you to play.

Like most other pet parents, you should react normally whenever your pooch’s mouth hands, or arms. But if it gets out of control, monitor the behavior and treat it accordingly. It can happen if your dog becomes overexcited to play or meet guests, particularly children. Unlike an adult, mouthing can be the same alarming and dangerous as biting children, especially if the dog starts playing roughly.

So if you notice your children, friend or stranger feeling uneasy or scared of your dog’s mouthing behavior, you must control them through consistent training.

In addition, if you notice any signs of aggression or distress when your dog mouths and it causes bitten bruises, pain, or broken skin, start taking it under control. Otherwise, it can cause serious arm or hand injury if you leave it untreated for longer.

How to Reduce Your Dog’s Mouthing and Nipping

why does my dog put my hand in his mouth

Dogs enjoy the time playing, investigating, and chewing. Puppies often chew the owner’s fingers and investigate the body using their teeth or mouth. Though this behavior of seven weeks old dog seems cute, it’s not appealing when the dog becomes two or three years old.

Hence it’s important to teach your pet to control this mouthy behavior. You can also do some tricks to cub it. Though your ultimate target is to train your pooch to stop biting or mouthing people, your initial goal is to realize that humans have sensitive skin. So your dog should be gentle when contacting human skin with the mouth. Some helpful steps you can take are:

Offer the Right Chew Toys

If your canine starts chewing inappropriate thing, redirect his attraction to the proper toy. Instead of encouraging them to mouth play, reward them when crew the right items.

During playing, establish a ruler like you have started the game and you can end it as well as mouth on your skin means the end of the game. If he gets mouthy during playing, put him in the crate and bring him out when calm.

Related Toy: Why Do Dogs Love Lamb Chop Toy?

Don’t Punish

Punishing can trigger more negative behavior instead of solving the problem. Verbal or physical punishment can make the dog aggressive especially if he becomes overexcited to mouthing.

So avoid the method that involves intimidation and force like scruffing, muzzle-grabbing, alpha-rolling, and leash jerks. Instead of teaching the desired lesson to your dog, these techniques can cause them severe behavior problems.

Make a Trade

Convince your pet to respond when you ask for an object in his mouth. Whenever he grabs something in his mouth, holds a treat right under his nose and says” give me that”. When he responds, reward him with a tasty treat.

Don’t Allow to Practice the Behavior

Teach your good behavior. If you notice him grabbing your kid’s hand or legs during playing, leash or crate him. You can also apply a gentle leader of the dog’s mouth with your hand when walking. 

Provide Plenty of Exercises

Though ample exercise won’t teach your pooch, not to mouth, it’ll burn off their excess energy and help keep them calm. In this case, you can take the dog for a long walk, play him a fetch game or let him play with other dogs.

However, your pup should be at least one year old to go with you for a long walk or run. Otherwise, hard exercise can affect their swelling or stunted growth.

Tips for Teaching a Dog not to Mouth

Practice the high yip to prevent your dog from mouthing. During play, a bitten puppy usually gives high pitched, sharp yip. If you notice it, mimic the high yip to shock the puppy, withdraw the hand and give the toy. That’ll discourage your canine from mouthing. But if you become a toy inadvertently, follow these tricks:

  • Say ouch loudly with a surprised tone and take the hand out of your pup’s mouth.
  • Wait a few seconds and let your dog lick the hand.
  • If the dog tends to hold your hand in his mouth again, repeat the previous steps until he stops mouthing.
  • If your dog starts licking the hand instead of mouthing, praise him and give him a toy. You can also throw the toy and ask him to get it to start the fetch game.

Related Article: Why Does My Dog Like To Lick Inside My Mouth?


1. Why does my dog mouth my hand when I pet him?

Many dog mouth the owner’s hand when getting due to becoming overexcited. They may believe that there is a treat in your hand. Hence the owner needs to teach their dog to take treats gently.

2. Why does my dog bite my arm when I get home?

If your dog may bite you when reach home from work to say you welcome and inform you that he missed you so much. If this is the case, you’ll notice they are jumping and their tail is wagging. Apart from the arm, the dog also mouths the owner’s wrist or clothing.

3. How to stop a dog from mouthing when excited?

To discourage your dog from mouthing when excited, avoid him for around 20 seconds. if he still tends to mouth again, get up and leave the place. after a short time, return to the dog and start playing with him.

Also Read: Dog Cries When Opening Mouth Wide

Final Words

Remember, your furry friend has emotion and desire. If you look at the reason why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth, most of them are linked to their needs for play, love, and affection. So if they don’t bite you, respond to their mouthing and fulfill their needs.  However, don’t let them make it a habit to avoid making them aggressive. Instead, give them some appropriate chewing toys and allow them to mouth your hand occasionally to keep the bonding strong.

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