The most common question I asked is “How to Stop a Dog from Biting” This can be particularly distressing and stressful for you as a dog owner. After all, who wants a dog or puppy continually biting. There is also a particular danger is there are children around.
Biting is not exactly a nice thing, especially in adult dogs. Puppies will most often use their mouths in efforts to investigate things. Just like children have hands to explore and discover things, puppies use their mouths and teeth. It is usually not a bad thing at first. However, you should not encourage mouthing and biting in puppies as they will grow bigger and older with the same habit. This is not only scary but it can get dangerous if your dog has aggression issues. In this article, we are going to look at some of the things that make your dog bite, both adult dogs and puppies. In addition, we will look at the ways to stop a dog from biting.
Why do dogs bite?
In order for us to stop a puppy or adult dog from biting, we must understand where they are coming from. In most scenarios, we find ourselves playing and wrestling with our puppies. This will not be as harmful at first since the puppy is still young and therefore his bites are not painful. His jaws and teeth are not strong enough to inflict pain on your hands or ankles. However, as he grows older, he becomes stronger and thus if you do not discourage this habit, he might inflict serious injuries.
Now, there are various reasons why puppies bite. For instance, your puppy might be curious about your feet as you move. Some of them will actually nip at your limbs when you are walking because he is excited to catch them. It is usually a playful gesture from your puppy. Other puppies will bite at your hands when you are playing. In both instances, this could be as a result of movements. Let us go back a little bit and look at the natural dog behavior.
In the wild, your puppy would probably be learning how to hunt. Movement, any kind of movement, will entice your puppy to chase. This is the same way when you are moving your hands or your legs, your puppy will be so tempted to chase. It is their natural way of surviving. However, we cannot encourage biting as we now domesticate dogs. We live under the same roof with them, and thus the need to control the habit in order to keep everyone safe.
When does your puppy bite or nip? This is a good question to consider when you are looking to stop biting. Like in the above-stated examples, some situations arouse your puppy to nip. Other puppies bite as a way to greet you.
Is the puppy biting harmful?
As mentioned earlier, your puppy biting on you and other things is not exactly harmful. However, it is a gateway to other undesirable habits, especially in the adult life of a dog. Once your 6 weeks old puppy bites on your fingers, it is gentle and playful. However, do not fall for the trap! When you continue playing, you are only allowing him to adapt to the behavior of nipping. As much as he wants to play rough and touchy games with you, you should resist. You will need to learn how to stop the dog from biting and mouthing all the same.
When your dog gets stronger, let’s say 2 years, biting is not going to be as nice as it used to be. He is capable of biting to cause injury. This can get worse when your dog is experiencing aggression. He might deliberately bite you or other people with the intent to hurt them. Therefore, you should not encourage your puppy biting at you or children, not even during play.
You should also be able to differentiate between a dog biting playfully and out of aggression. In most cases, your puppy will bite your fingers with his face relaxed, when he is trying to initiate play. However, an aggressive dog will howl and growl in preparation to attack.
Most pet parents are worried about their dog’s relationship with their children. This is another reason to make sure that your dog does not bite at all if you have kids. This is because dogs do not understand children behavior and neither does the child understand the dog’s habits. Therefore, it is very likely for a commotion to occur leading to injuries.
Now that we understand biting in puppies, let us look at ways to stop it. How do you stop a dog from biting you, children and guests?
How to stop a dog from biting: Proven Tips to curb biting
1. Teach biting inhibition 2. Walk away from your dog 3. Train your dog to be gentle 4. Provide a distraction 5. Get chew toys 5. Plenty of exercise 6. Train non-touch play 7. Keep children away
As much fun as your puppy might be having when nipping and biting, you should not allow him to keep doing so. This is because it is a gateway behavior to other vices like aggression and attacking people. You should be keen to know where this habit is coming from. Below are some of the measures you should take in order to curb biting in dogs;
Teach biting inhibition to your puppy
As indicated earlier on, puppies are fond of biting and nipping. It should not be something to be concerned about. However, you should not let him think that he is allowed to do so. This is because it will be a lot harder to stop him later when he is older and stronger. Biting inhibition is the best and most effective way to stop a dog from biting.
However, this is not as easy as it might sound, especially when it is an adult dog. They are harder to train than puppies are. I mean, once you teach your puppy, it is unlikely to see him repeating it as an adult. The first step you should take when your puppy starts biting is to make him understand that it is unacceptable. In order to do so, you may opt to use one of the many ways there is.
For instance, you can introduce him to other puppies, probably in a dog daycare. Not only will this help speed up the process of socialization but also biting inhibition. When puppies are playing together, they will also bite and nip at each other. However, each of them is required to be gentle, else the other puppies will stay away completely.
This way, when your puppy starts biting violently at others, they will keep away. In return, your puppy will realize that he is hurting the other puppy and stop. However, this will not be enough to stop nipping and mouthing completely.
When he bites you, it is important to let him know that it hurts. You can be able to do this by exclaiming a simple ‘ouch’ whenever he bites hard on you. However, you should not yell or shout your yelp. Instead, look at him and say ‘ouch’ without pulling away from your hand. This is because, once again, pulling your hand will arouse his hunting instincts.
Walk away from your puppy
When your puppy bites you when playing, you should stop play right away. In fact, pretend to walk away from him. This way, he will understand that you are not happy with his biting. However, do not ignore him completely, give it a minute or two before you resume play.
Your puppy might bite on you during play because of the excitement. He is too happy and probably unable to contain it. In other instances, he might be trying to initiate play or even take a snack out of your hand. This is both embarrassing and quite undesirable amongst dog owners.
If your puppy bites on your ankles, stop moving. He will release your feet and only then can you move. If he bites upon movement, top moving and distracts him. You can be able to provide a tug toy or even treat to get him to stop biting on you.
Train your puppy to be gentle in order to stop biting
Well, we all know that dogs are not exactly gentle with play, or with intruders. Therefore, you will have to teach your dog to be nice to people and even other things. For instance, some dogs will rush to grab a snack or food from your hand. This is usually in a quick and systematic way, which is resulted from his hunting instincts.
If your puppy is all jumpy and trying to grab food, especially during feeding time, you will have to create some time for each gentleness. You can be able to do this by using several training methods such as teaching him the phrase ‘be gentle’. Like any other training, it is going to take you some time before you can get him to understand what you mean.
In order to use this method, all ensure that you have already fed your dog prior to training. This is because you are going to use his favorite snack to reinforce the training of your dog. Once you are sure he is full, take him with you, and probably someone else. Hold the snack in your hands and watch his reaction. Of course, he is going to jump and try to struggle his way to you.
Put the snack away until he is calm again. Bring the snack to his face once again and say the phrase ‘be gentle’. In the case, your dog still jumps up to get to the snack, calmly withdraw your hand from him. You will have to do this a couple of time a day in order for him to understand what you require. Every time he is calm and waits for your command offers him the treat.
Provide a distraction
This is another method you can use to stop your dog from biting. Once the mouths you, make sure that you have something else to distract him. For instance, during play time, puppies that have not been taught gentle play will mouth, nip and in some cases bite. Instead of pulling away, stay still and throw a ball for him to fetch. Believe me, this will be a better thing to do than a mouth.
In the case, you have an adult dog that has an issue with biting, so not let him get to you. This is because your dog can hurt you unintentionally with his teeth. Therefore, once he opens his mouth with the intention of mouthing, initiate the distraction. You can also teach your dog the command sit. This means that when your dog comes at you jumping up and all happy, say the words ‘sit’. Once again, you should never yell at your dog during training.
Once he sits down, offer him a snack and praises in order to reinforce training.
Get chew toys for your dog
In some instances, young puppies will mouth and chew on anything, including your hands and limbs. However, as much as this is painless, you should not condone the vice. It might be that he is teething and thus the need to chew on something. Therefore, it could be of great help if you got him to chew toys. These toys are usually harmless and will not peel even when your puppy chews hard on them. Not only will this help your puppy satisfy his need to chew but also strengthen his jaws.
Understand that the need to chew can also be just natural. He is learning the world and wants to strengthen his jaws as he grows older. Ensure that the chew toys are completely safe for your dog before purchasing them. The one advantage about this is that you will not have to purchase the latter anymore as your puppy is growing older.
Plenty of exercising
This should be a must thing to do for each and every puppy. Exercising your dog on a daily basis exposes him to the outside world, and helps burn the extra energy in your dog. Well, because we now domesticate dogs, they no longer have the freedom to go into the wild to explore and hunt. This means that you leave him at home, resting and with less to do.
Exercise your dog at least twice each and every day. In fact, ensure that you walk him in the morning prior to leaving the house. This way, you will expose him to the outside environment as well as make sure that he is exhausted. This leaves him all calm and resting when you go about your business.
The aim here is not to exactly stop biting but it is to eliminate excessive energy. This will reduce the jumping and excessive joy that may come from seeing you or another person. When your dog cannot contain joy, he will wag his tail, jump at the person and in some cases he might bite and mouth the object causing him that sort of excitement.
Teach him non-touch play
Once your dog fails to understand that you do not appreciate it when he bites, focuses on the non-touch type of play. This means that your puppy does not get the chance to come so near to bite or mouth you. The goal is to make sure that he does not come into contact with your skin.
Therefore, encourage non-touch plays. For instance, you can introduce your dog to a tug-of-war whereby you have him pulling the tug with our mouth. This will keep him from his need to bite, and also minimizes the chances at which he can bite or mouth you.
Teach your puppy other forms of greetings
This is especially effective for dogs that jump and bite at you or other people in efforts to greet. Understand that he is only doing so because he has no other skills, not that he wants to hurt you. Therefore, it is up to you to teach your dog that he can greet without actually having to mouth. This will help you stop your dog from biting in efforts to greet and say hello to you and your guests.
For instance, you can decide to train him how to shake hands with his paws. This is not only cute but also helps contain your dog’s excitement upon seeing you. In order to be able to do this, you must first of all train your dog how to remain calm. You can be able to conduct this training by yourself.
When you come home and your dog is excited to see you do not open the door until he is cal. Open the door after every 30 seconds, if he is still jumping, do not get into the house. Alternatively, you can teach your dog to sit down. This way, every time you come home or have guests, you can instruct him to sit in order to avoid him mouthing to greet you and other people. Remember that you should use your dog’s favorite snack in order to reinforce this kind of rain.
Keep children away from a dog that bites
If you do have children, then you will have more trouble when trying to curb biting in dogs. This is because children will often trigger your pup to chase and even bite. It can be in the form of play but it could also lead to biting in adult dogs.
If you have a child, make sure that you do not leave him with the dog unsupervised. Encourage non-touch to play between them by providing toys.
All in all, you should not encourage biting, mouthing or nipping in puppies, especially as they grow bigger. This way, your dog will grow up knowing that biting is wrong. It could result in aggressiveness in the future.
Aggressive dogs bite in efforts to attack and hurt the victim. He will have his teeth exposed and tension will take over his usually happy face. Therefore, make sure you are not dealing with aggression before you can embark on the correction process. However, this does not mean that you should keep him from chewing especially when he is teething. Instead, buy him chew toys that are safe for him. The above tips should help you stop your dog from biting.
No matter what behavioral problem your dog has or will start in the future these can be easily curbed by using our Dog Training Bible.