Teaching your dog not to play bite and be gentle should have been accomplished when he was a puppy, because of his size he was a lot easier to control. A toy or chew bone should have been given to him in place of him biting on your hands, clothing and limbs during play time. Puppies play and bite each other and when they get bit too hard they yelp and realize not to bite that hard, and as an adult they need to learn not to hurt you.
Your dog’s face and body will be relaxed when he is playful. There will not be a lot of tension in his face muscles even if you see his muzzle wrinkled. An aggressive dog’s body will be stiff and his muzzle will wrinkle as well as pulling back his lips to show his teeth. Your dog needs to learn that your skin is very sensitive and during play he must be gentle when using his mouth.
Let your dog put his mouth on your hands while you play. Give a loud yelp if he bites your hand hard, and let your hand go limp showing him that you are hurt. Your dog should stop mouthing you because he got frightened by your reaction. You also can tell him “no” with a stern voice if the yelp did not have any effect on him. When your dog stops biting and licks you, praise him. If he bites you hard after you continue playing with him yelp again. Within fifteen minutes try this again for three more times.
Another choice you have is to use a time out that can be very effective to stop this mouthy problem. Play with your dog again and yelp loudly if your dog bites you again. Move away or leave the room for a minute then try playing again so he will see that when he bites you his play time stops and if he is gentle he will get to play. Keep practicing until you do not feel any pressure on your hand and your dog can gently play with you.
When your dog has learned to be gentle with his mouth he should also be taught to not mouth you at all. When you pet, stroke or scratch your dog he will also mouth your hand. Feed him treats with your other hand to distract him so he will not mouth you and be used to you touching him. Play games like tug of war or fetch where he will not come into contact with your hands.
Carry your dog’s favorite tug toy in your pocket if your dog bites your ankles and feet as you walk. Pull the toy out and shake it while you stop walking. Start moving again when your dog grabs the toy. Stop walking if he mouths you again and wait until he stops. Praise him and reward him with a toy as soon as he stops mounting you. Continue this process until your dog stops going after your ankles and feet and will let you move around freely. Give your dog things to chew on and a lot of new toys that will keep his interest and distract him from focusing on chewing on you.
Playing with your dog builds a strong bond that is very important for both of you. What is most important to you is teaching your dog to be gentle with you as this will enhance your lives as you spend quality time and many happy years together.
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.