Why Does My Dog Grab My Arm with His Mouth? (7 Common Reasons)

Categorized as Why Does My Dog
why does my dog grab my arm

I woke up to my dog licking my arm. You would think this is a typical morning for me, but I’m not the only one in the house. The other day, when we walked around the neighborhood, she grabbed my arm with her mouth and dragged me on our walk! She’s never done that before, so what’s going on?

Here’s The Short Answer to Why Your Dog Grab Your Arm with His Mouth:

This can be a learned behavior or an anxious habit; however, your dog is more likely to grab onto the clothing of any body part and start pulling if they’re feeling excited, needy for attention, feels anxious about something happening around them (such as thunder or fireworks), the teething stage transitioning from baby teeth to adult teeth which may cause pain and itchiness.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these scenarios and see what you can do to stop your dog from grabbing your arm.

Mouthing is a common dog behavior. When dogs are playing, they may grab the arm of someone passing by. You might see it while he or she plays with other dogs. One dog will chase after another and bite down hard to let go quickly for a fraction of a second before chasing again, or you might notice your fido grabbing at anything that moves.

But if they grab your arm too often without letting go, don’t just assume their intentions are harmless or playful. There is more going on in this scenario than there seems on the surface, so here I am listing some common reasons behind your dog’s behavior.

1. Your Dog is Teething

A teething dog grabs onto anything within their reach and starts chewing on it. They do this because the pain from teething causes them to feel discomfort in their mouth, which leads them to chew on items nearby until they find relief.

If you notice yourself being grabbed by your arm all of a sudden, followed by other symptoms, then this is likely an indication that my dog needs some help with easing her toothache!

Here are some of the most common puppy teething symptoms that indicate your dog’s adult teeth are on their way:

  • Chewing on everything
  • Frequent drooling
  • Whining a lot
  • Bleeding, red, or swollen gums
  • Slow to eat
  • Visible lost teeth

2. Your Dog Wants Attention

Some dog owners may not realize that their dog is seeking attention when they grab at them. If your dog has a habit of approaching you to grab your arm followed by other attention-seeking behaviors, this could most likely be because they want some love and attention from their owner!

As a dog owner, it is important to stay aware of your dog’s need for attention and ensure that they know how much you care about them. This can include spending more time with your dog, playing with them outside a lot more often, or giving them extra dog treats!

3. Your Dog is Excited

If your pet does not typically behave this way, then there must be something triggering their excitement. Dogs react differently depending on what has happened in their environment recently, so pay attention to any recent changes such as new people coming into the house or food being served for dinner.

Dogs can find certain smells exciting too, which could explain why he/she suddenly starts grabbing your arm out of nowhere if someone wearing cologne comes over for dinner.

4. Your Dog Wants to Play

Some dogs will grab your arm to initiate play, especially if they are feeling a little extra playful. To tell the difference between excitement and playing, keep in mind that he/she would also be trying to make you chase them around or licking at you as well.

There are various ways to tell if your dog wants to play or not. A good way is by looking at their body and the position of their tail; a wagging, happy tail means they want to chase you around, but an upright one with stiff movements might mean they want some space from you.

When playing with your dog, it’s advisable to pick or design a game that fits your dog breed’s characteristics well. For example, herding dogs like German Shepherds may find games like treibball, fetch and play, and agility work more interesting than other games.

5. You Have Inadvertently Encouraged This behavior

The next possible reason is that you have inadvertently encouraged this behavior by rewarding the dog for grabbing your arm.

For example, your dog may have a habit of grabbing your arm and looking at you with their puppy dog eyes every time you eat. And every time they do this, you give them a bite of the food you’re munching on.

You might think, what’s wrong with giving them a small piece of bread, right?

What could go wrong if I always reward my furry friend when they grab my arm? The answer to that question is everything! Giving rewards (even tiny bits) for unwanted behaviors will only strengthen these actions in the future because it teaches dogs that those types of behaviors are worth something – even if we don’t want them to be.

6. Your Dog is Anxious and Distressed

If your dog is anxious and stressed, this can cause them to do actions that they might normally do, like grabbing your arm. Several explanations for this behavior disorder have been postulated, here’s the short answer:

Fear, separation anxiety, and some medical conditions can cause your dog to be anxious all of a sudden. As for age-related anxiety, that is usually due to arthritis or some other physical condition that causes your dog pain, and so they avoid the situation that caused pain.

Some dog breeds are also known to be more prone to anxiety. So if your dog is one of the following breeds, you should be suspicious that the cause of your dog’s behavior might be related to anxiety.

  • German Shepherd
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Vizla
  • Border Collie
  • Shorthair Pointer
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Bichon Frise
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Greyhounds
  • Havanese
  • Many toy breeds

7. Your Dog is In Pain

It could be the case that your dog grabs your arm to relieve some of their pain. This will likely be the case if your dog’s action is also followed by other signs of distress like whining or yelping.

When your dog shows signs of pain, the first thing you should do is try to give them attention and consider how they might have felt if they were a human child in pain; how would you act?

You can also distract your dog from the pain by getting their favorite toy or petting them. Then, after your dog is calm, take them to see the vet as soon as possible because there could be something seriously wrong!

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Grabbing Your Arm

Have you ever wondered how dogs communicate? They communicate using body language and facial expressions. They use these methods to express their emotions or physical discomforts, such as happiness and excitement or pain.

First and foremost, you need to stay calm and identify their emotional state and physical state before doing anything else. It may take some time and practice, but the more you are able to decode these messages, the better you will be at understanding them.

1. Ignore Your Dog When They Display Unwanted Behavior

The key to stopping your dog’s unwanted behavior is not giving any rewards for behaviors that we don’t like or want in the future and reward good behavior that you like to see. For example, if your dog grabs your arm and you say “no” before showing them some other way of getting what they want (like sitting nicely), then they’ll learn more quickly which types of behavior work best for them.

When it comes down to it, dogs are just trying their best to get things from us – but these aren’t always good things! For example, they might try pulling on clothes, jumping up when we’re eating our dinner, or grabbing a toy every time we take one out of its place. The important thing is that by changing what’s rewarding for them, we can change what they’re doing.

2. Train Your Dog Early

If your dog is still a puppy, then they’ll be more likely to do what you want them to when they grow up. The key is making sure that your pup knows the rules early on so that it’s not a huge learning curve in their adult life! One of the best ways to do this is by enrolling them in a good dog training program.

For adult dogs curbing this bad behavior may take a little more work. But there are lots of simple things you can do to change your dog’s habits for the better. Training an older dog can be tougher than it is with a puppy since you’ll need to allow them time to learn. Always be patient and keep the training upbeat. If you adopted them from a shelter or had them a while before they turned 12 weeks old, there’s no telling what their previous experiences were like.

3. Get Help from a Certified Dog Trainer in Your Area

If you have dominant dogs, it’s advisable to take your dog to a professional dog trainer because such dogs tend to be more challenging to train. When looking for a dog trainer to help you, I recommend working with someone who utilizes positive reinforcement as the go-to approach.


It is not uncommon for dogs to grab onto people with their mouths (such as clothing) when they are feeling excited, needy for attention, or anxious. It may also be a learned behavior if your dog has been given treats in the past after grabbing onto you and pulling.

If it concerns you that your dog is doing this often, have them examined by a veterinarian to rule out any possible pain from teething or other medical issues.

Related Questions

1. Why Does My Dog Grab My Arm with His Paws?

Your dog is trying to get your attention or show affection. It may also be trying to play with you.

Puppies have a natural need for touch that follows them into adulthood as well. Consequently, some dogs seem to want physical contact from their owners all the time. When this need becomes obsessive, it’s called ‘clinginess.’

When these pets are ignored, they resort to grabbing and pawing at their owner’s arms for attention. For more enduring contact needs like scratching and snuggling, the dog will try rubbing his body up against the owner’s leg.

2. Why Does My Dog Wrap His Paws Around My Arm?

Dogs may wrap their paws around their owner’s arm for a variety of reasons, including seeking attention, seeking affection, or feeling scared.