Want to know how to stop a dog from biting? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this article you’ll discover the most common types of biting and how to correct these problem behaviors.
Although dogs are considered man’s best friend, we still must remember to respect the fact that they require proper training in order to remain safe members of our families.
One aspect of dog ownership you must be aware of is just how much damage can be done when an adult dog decides to use his or her mouth for play time or aggression.
Dog Play Biting
Perhaps the most common biting behavior is dog play biting.
When dogs play with one another they often use their mouths, and some dogs do not recognize the differences between playing with other dogs and playing with humans.
The best way to quell a dog from play biting is to immediately stop playing together once he or she clamps down on your hand or arm too hard.
It’s okay to let your dog “mouth” your hand while playing. But when he bites too hard, immediately let out a high-pitched loud yelp to let him know his hurting you. This should make him momentarily let go.
After repeating this action a few times, your dog will quickly associate his or her bad behavior with the loss of a playmate and will appropriately adjust the play style.
A dog nipping at your heels may seem cute when the pet is a puppy but it quickly becomes a nuisance when the puppy turns into an adult.
This behavior is especially common for herding breeds such as australian cattle dogs, and may be naturally ingrained. To keep your dog from biting feet, the best course of action is to teach a redirective behavior.
For instance, keep a treat or toy in your pocket. The next time your dog nips at your heels, stop walking and ask your pet to perform a different command, such as “sit” or “lie down.”
Once your pet performs the different behavior, administer the treat or toy. The goal is to teach your dog that alternate behaviors receive praise, while heel nipping receives no attention or reward.
Some dogs, especially those who are primarily dominant, nip other dogs as a form of correction when they do not appreciate a specific behavior (such as when a young puppy continually tries to play with an older, tired dog).
Corrective biting is not necessarily bad, but some dogs do not understand their own strength and can easily harm a small puppy if not careful.
How to stop a dog from nipping or corrective biting? The best course of action is to verbally correct the behavior every time it is observed. For instance, a loud noise such as a harsh “no!” or the quick blast from an air horn can startle the dog from issuing a bite.
The behavior that elicits the corrective nip should also be monitored, and boundaries should be taught to the offending dog.
Dog on Human Aggression
Some forms of dog biting are especially serious and should be attended to immediately. If a dog ever bites a human, for any reason, special measures should be taken.
To train a dog not to bite, the first step is to determine the cause of the aggression. If the bite was provoked (i.e. the dog was cornered, poked, approached during meal time, woken up from a nap, etc.), then care should be taken to socialize your pet towards these situations to ensure it does not happen again.
If your dog lashed out for no reason, your pet should be taken to a veterinarian to first rule out underlying illness or injury.
Typically, a dog that bites a human when unprovoked does so because of lack of boundaries. Unfortunately, by the time this type of biting occurs, it is likely already too late for the owner to attempt rehabilitation on his or her own and should seek the advice of a dog trainer.
Dog on Dog Aggression
Similarly to when a dog bites a human, dog-biting dogs must be assessed based on circumstance.
Some dogs become very protective of their owners or their territory and may bite if a new animal encroaches on that space. Dogs that are not properly socialized may also lash out towards other animals.
There are three keys to preventing dogs from biting other dogs and those include socialization, understanding canine body language, and maintaining the respect of your dog.
Throughout your dog’s lifetime, you should continue to introduce your pet to new sights, sounds, smells, animals, and people. Doing so will alleviate a dog’s need to be protective of his or her people or space.
You should also learn the signs of dog aggression, and know what to look for in a dog’s stance and how he will hold his or her tail, lips, head, and fur.
Finally, a dog owner must convey the sense to the pet that he or she is in charge which will eliminate the need for the pet to feel like the protector of the pack.
What Not to Do
When training a dog not to bite or nip, physical punishment should never be used. Some dogs bite out of fear, and using force will only further exacerbate this response.
If you have recently acquired a rescue dog that is prone to biting, it’s very likely this is motivated by fear from the previous owner physically abusing the dog by hitting or other physical punishment.
Additionally, some dogs may view hitting, slapping, or spanking as play and will think that is therefore okay to play rough in return.
Most likely, though, a dog that is hit will learn to associate humans with pain and will display behaviors such as fearfulness, growling, or defensive biting. It is best to use positive methods and help your dog associate good choices and good behaviors with rewards.
Remember the importance of socializing your dog. Constantly introduce them to different situations and people so they will not be fearful in normal social settings.
Time to See a Trainer: My Dog Keeps Biting Me (or Other Dogs)
Since dogs possess the power to do a lot of damage with their teeth and powerful jaws, dog biting should always be handled immediately.
A dog owner should never wait to see a trainer if the problem is not quickly resolved at home, as the issue will only escalate. Chances are, lapses in communication and routine between pet and owner are the culprit behind dangerous behaviors that a dog trainer will quickly be able to identify and work with.
Occasionally, some dogs need serious rehabilitation, and this type of training is best implemented with the help of a professional.