We’ve got a staffy greyhound puppy for my sons 2nd birthday present as he is in love with dogs, we already have a sphinx cat also so my son is well used to animals and how to touch them etc. the puppy is very affectionate and calm, bit nervous around other big dogs, has quite good recall and knows some commands, it’s only when he gets very excited that he starts mouthing and dragging my son by his sleeves and hands. Usually before a morning walk he’ll show he wants to go out and play and runs after my son trying to get his attention jumping up and pulling at his clothes, he also does this out on the green pitch when my son runs after him or tries throwing a ball and runs with the dog, the dogs attention will go to my son and again he will nip and jump and pull at his sleeves. This upsets my son and so he will cry or fall or try to pull which creates further over excitement from the dog, when I then try to get the dog off he will grab at my sleeves. When this happens we pick my son up and cease play by putting the dog back on the lead but after couple of minutes of my son is walking on his own again and the lead is off he’ll try it again. I want to stress that it doesn’t seems aggressive and that the dog is very gentle otherwise, and has not done anything with malice but this makes it impossible for my son to either run around by him self outside or at home as the dog then tries to steal his toys etc and if that doesn’t work he’ll pull at his clothing. How do we stop this effectively?
You must immediately establish the general rule that the dog is never allowed to pull on any hands or clothing at all. Not just when interacting with your son, but it's completely off limits for him. All adult family members must always enforce this rule without exception.
As soon as your dog grabs someone, stop what you're doing and stop your dog. You must tell him "No!" in no uncertain words. It's actually helpful to put on the act of a disappointed parent or stern teacher and make your voice angrier.
There are 3 gestures that you could do to further discourage the behavior:
- Make your hand into a "snout" like you would do in a sock puppet, then "bite" your dogs flank or neck. Don't grab him and don't cause him any pain, just push your finger tips into his side and tell him "no" at the same time.
- Lay your hand on top of your dogs snout and gently envelop it with your hand as if a mother dog yould take it in her snout. Hold his snout still until he lets go of the sleeve, then let him go. Don't grab so hard that you cause him pain and don't slap him.
- Fill some screws or nuts into a empty, small plastic bottle. When your dog misbehaves, either rattle the bottle or - if that doesn't stop him - throw the bottle at the ground in his direction, but intentionally missing him. (It's the rattling that should deter your dog, not being hit by objects.)
Needless to say, the fun should stop immediately if your dog misbehaves (at least for half a minute). If he pulls to go on a walk, remove your son from the scene and don't go on a walk. If he pulls to play with a toy, take the toy away for some time.
As mentioned in the comments, it's a good idea to hire a professional dog trainer who can analyze the situation and give you advice specifically for your individual situation.