Why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth? (6 Reasons why)

Why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth?

Is your dog always holding your hand in his mouth? If you’re wondering why, here are 6 potential reasons. Some people believe that dogs do this because they’re trying to show dominance over their human, while others think it’s a way of expressing affection. Keep reading to find out more.

Table of contents

6 reasons why your dog holds your hand in his mouth

It's a way of showing affection

If your dog loves you, he may well show it by holding your hand in his mouth. This is because he associates your scent with happy memories and feels comforted by it. Dogs often lick their owners’ faces as a way of saying ‘I love you’, so this behavior isn’t too surprising.

Sign your dog wants to play

Dogs often grab onto things with their mouths as a way of initiating play. If your dog grabs your hand and starts chewing on it, he’s probably just trying to get you to play with him.

Your dog is anxious

Dogs can get anxious just like humans, and this can manifest in different ways. Some dogs may pace up and down when they’re stressed, while others may try to find somewhere to hide.

If your dog is feeling anxious, he may well seek out physical contact with you as a way of comforting himself. Holding your hand in his mouth is one way of doing this.

To know if your dog wants to play or is anxious, you’ll need to know your dog’s body language. If he’s wagging his tail and seems happy, then he’s probably just looking for a playmate. But if his tail is down and he seems tense, it’s likely that he’s feeling anxious and is looking for reassurance from you.

Teething puppies

Puppies start to teeth at around 3-4 months old, and they can find the process quite painful. Chewing on something hard (like your hand) can help to relieve the discomfort. If your puppy is going through a teething phase, try giving him a chew toy to gnaw on instead.

Expressing dominance

Some people believe that dogs lick their owners’ hands as a way of showing dominance. This is thought to be because they’re trying to assert themselves as the alpha dog.

This is probably the case when your dog exerts more force than necessary when licking your hand, or if he growls while doing it.

Your dog likes the taste

Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can often identify different smells on people’s skin. If your dog likes the way you smell, he may start licking or nibbling at your hand as a way of getting more of that scent. This is most likely to happen if you are sweating as dogs are attracted to the salt in sweat.

Why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth?

Consider if your dog is expressing affection or aggression

Before you can figure out why your dog is holding your hand in his mouth, it’s important to consider whether he’s being affectionate or aggressive. If your dog is licking your hand in a gentle way, it’s probably because he loves you and wants to show it

On the other hand, if he’s being more forceful with his licking (or if he growls while doing it), this could be a sign of aggression. In this case, it’s best to seek professional help from a trainer or behaviorist.

Is it considered bad when your dog holds your hand in his mouth?

Whether or not it’s considered bad depends on your personal opinion. Some people may not mind if their dog licks their hand, even if it is a sign of dominance. However, others may find it off-putting or even dangerous if their dog is too forceful.

So, be sure that your dog doesn’t hold other people’s hands in his mouth without their permission.

Why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth?

How can you unlearn your dog to hold your hand in his mouth?

If you want to stop your dog from holding your hand in his mouth, there are a few things you can do.

Ignore the behavior

Dogs often do things for attention, so if you ignore your dog when he’s holding your hand in his mouth, he’ll eventually get the message that this isn’t the kind of behavior you’re looking for.

Redirect his attention

If you can’t stop your dog’s undesirable behavior, consider diverting his attention to something else. It could be a toy or a snack that does it for you. If you can get him focused on something else, he’ll be less likely to hold your hand in his mouth.

Train him with positive reinforcement

You can also train your dog not to hold your hand in his mouth using positive reinforcement. This means rewarding him when he doesn’t do it, and ignoring him when he does.

Over time, he should start to associate the good behavior with getting a reward, and the bad behavior with not getting one.

Seek professional help

If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog is still holding your hand in his mouth, it’s best to seek professional help from a trainer or behaviorist. They’ll be able to assess the situation and give you tailored advice on how to deal with it.

Why does my dog hold my hand in his mouth?

FAQ

Puppies often chew on things as they’re teething. Chewing on your hand may give them relief from the pain. If your puppy is excessively chewing, try giving him a chew toy to gnaw on instead.

If your dog growls while holding your hand in his mouth, this could be a sign of aggression. In this case, it’s best to seek professional help from a trainer or behaviorist.

Some dogs may only hold your hand in their mouth when you’re petting them. This could be a sign of affection, or it may be because they enjoy the taste of your skin.

Final word

There are a few different reasons why your dog may hold your hand in his mouth. It could be a sign of affection, or he may be trying to express dominance. If your dog is being too forceful with his licking, or if he growls while doing it, this could be a sign of aggression. In this case, it’s best to seek professional help from a trainer or behaviorist. Otherwise, you can try ignoring the behavior, redirecting your dog’s attention, or training him with positive reinforcement.

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