When you get a new puppy, it’s just the cutest ball of fur, but with teeth! Just like children, puppies often explore with their mouths–so besides toys, everything from hands, limbs, shoes, clothing, or furniture can be fair game. While it might be cute for that tiny ball of fur to gnaw on a finger, allowing such behavior to persist only sets you up for a dog bite insurance claim later on. After all, the jaws and teeth of an adult dog are much stronger and able to cause significant injury, even if the animal is merely playfully “mouthing” your hand. This type of behavior is harder to quash in older animals; for one thing, they’re simply more difficult to control due to their size, but they’re also less sensitive to humans’ reactions in the way puppies are. If you encounter a pet who tends to interact this way, chances are his human failed to teach him to prefer chew toys over fingers.

When play takes a turn for the worse

Experts say that in most cases, mouthing is considered a normal part of dog behavior. However, some pets will go from playful mouthing to more intense mouthing that precedes aggressive behavior, including a painful bite. Whether it results from fear, frustration, excitement or another emotion, it’s important to curb the behavior immediately.

Spotting a problem

It can be hard to tell the difference between playful mouthing and that which is building toward a problem, but in most cases, look for a relaxed body and face, including the muzzle, in a playful pup. In contrast, a problem may be brewing in a pet whose body appears stiff or tense; the muzzle may be wrinkled and the lips may be pulled back to reveal teeth. This is a warning sign that should be heeded and addressed.

For best results, consult a trainer who has experience in training pets to develop biting inhibition, and a gentle approach to humans. And for your own protection, consult a professional insurance agent who can provide you with information about a quality dog bite insurance policy. This policy can pay for claims resulting from your liability in the event the pet you own injures someone, whether the incident occurs while you are at home or out for a walk. Call your agent today.