How to Stop Your Dog from Barking and Biting. A helpful and useful guide.
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If you have a new young dog in the home, it can be a pretty exciting time for the whole family. Of course, it’s not uncommon these days for young dogs to be given away or sold privately. The problem with this is that if dogs are taken away from their mothers too soon, it could lead to behavioral problems. For young dogs especially, biting behavior can be an issue under these circumstances.
Barking can also become a real issue and often has roots in anxiety and antisocial behavior. So, the question is: how to stop your dog from barking and biting?
Why Is Biting a Bad Thing?
Dogs will use their mouths to pick things up and to engage in play with other dogs. They will even do what is called “play biting” with their human family when the mood strikes them. This is non-aggressive, controlled biting that is playful for the dog.
Biting may certainly be a natural dog behavior in this context, but unless the dog has learned bite inhibition from its mother, it can become a problem. The mother dog will teach the young pups to inhibit their bites and to control their aggression within the first three months. If this has not been taught effectively, the dog may engage in uncontrolled biting and aggressive behavior that needs to be curbed.
This kind of biting can be dangerous to children and dog owners in general. In some cases, it can become tragic. The good news is that if you have a puppy and its biting seems to be out of control, you still have time to curb it.
How to Stop Your Dog from Biting
Whether you have a puppy who is going through a rough patch with biting behavior, or you have an older dog that has not learned to curb its biting, here are some tips on how to stop it:
Redirection Is Important
What so often works with children will also work with dogs. If your very enthusiastic and overly playful pup is doing its best to bite you, one way to deal with it is to redirect the dog’s attention to something else. Direct your dog to bite a chew toy or some other more appropriate thing rather than your hand.
If you’re consistent with this redirection technique, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your pup learns that it is supposed to bite other things rather than your hand or your leg when it’s in that mood.
Make Sure You Use Your Voice
When puppies engage in normal play with each other, they learn how to control their biting when the other puppy yelps out loud. This lets the biter know that it has bitten too hard and teaches the dog to curb it the next time it is playing. In this sense, dog play has a surprisingly complex moral code attached to it.
In this context, if your dog is biting you, you need to let it know that it hurts. Just as another puppy would yelp when a bite hurts, you need to let out a sound that lets your dog know it is hurting you. By saying something like “ouch” loudly when your puppy bites, you will alert the puppy to the fact that it has hurt you. After doing this, it’s important to step away from the play so that the dog understands that the behavior is not acceptable.
Stop Play Time
One of the most effective ways of curbing this unwanted biting behavior is to stop playing with your puppy as soon as it starts the biting. Once the dog learns that you’ll just walk away from the play that it wants, your puppy will start to associate this with its uncontrolled biting and curb it.
Stop What You’re Doing
Some breeds have a very strong drive to herd other animals, and this often displays as nipping at the feet of a person who is walking around the house. All dogs are capable of this behavior because they become excited when they see walking feet, and they want to start playing.
If your dog is nipping at your feet every time you get up and walk around the house, you need to stop and stand still. You will quickly find that your pup loses interest in nipping when your feet aren’t doing anything interesting. When your dog calms down and stops the biting, you can get going again.
Use the Time-Out Technique
Naughty kids are sometimes given a time-out if they’re acting out in an undesirable way. You can actually do the same thing with your dog.
When the play with your dog becomes a bit rough and it is biting too hard and too much, you can stop the play time and put your dog somewhere else. Many dog owners place their puppies in a crate with chew toys when they become too rough during play. Doing this not only redirects the biting to something more appropriate, but it also allows your dog to calm down away from you.
Consistency Is Really Important
Dogs need boundaries, and the best way to promote this is for everyone in the family to be consistent. If your young dog is being taught to curb biting behavior, everyone in the family needs to be on the same page. The best way to do this is to choose a few methods from above and have everyone in the family stick to them.
Teaching young kids, in this case, is not always easy, especially if they love to run around and play with their puppy friends. In these cases, setting and supervising times when kids can play with the puppies is important and can be helpful.
What About Barking?
Of course, this is all about how to stop your dog from barking and biting. We’ve learned how to curb erratic and potentially harmful biting behavior, but what about barking? Why do dogs do it, and when does it become a real problem for you and others?
All dogs bark, but some bark more than others. It’s normal behavior for dogs to vocalize, but there are a lot of reasons that they might do it, including but not limited to:
- Signaling that there’s an intruder on their territory,
- Scaring off an animal or other humans,
- Being excited during play and vocalizing their pleasure,
- Experiencing fear,
- Because they are bored and are trying to soothe their boredom,
- Feelings of separation anxiety,
- Getting attention.
When Barking Becomes a Real Problem
Many breeds of dog bark more than others and some dog personalities are prone to more barking. It becomes a real issue when the barking is ongoing. This can wake up neighbors and cause stress in the family. This is also the kind of barking that really needs to be curbed.
Advice for Stopping Your Dog from Barking
Obviously, every dog is going to bark at some point or another, but if it seems to happen a lot, and even unnecessarily, you need to address it. Here’s some sage advice for dealing with an issue that could be very annoying:
Why Is Your Dog Barking?
Given that there are so many reasons that your dog might be barking, it’s important to get to the bottom of it. Is your dog looking for attention from you? Are they barking all day because it is regularly left on its own while you go to work? Is your dog barking because it is not going for regular walks? Does your dog seem anxious and stressed?
Working out exactly why your dog is barking is the first step toward addressing the issue and stopping it. The important thing to remember is that dogs always do something for a very specific reason. Getting to that reason is what you really need to do to work out how to stop your dog from barking and biting.
This may lead to an easy solution. For example, if you’ve worked out that your precious pooch is barking because the neighbor’s cat is often in your front yard, the easy solution would be to draw the blinds or curtains so that your dog can’t see the cat.
You Could Try Ignoring It
In cases where your dog seems to be barking to get your attention, ignoring it is a good option. Just like people, dogs will thrive on attention, whether it’s positive or negative. If your dog barks and you come running every time, it will continue to bark because barking gets your attention.
The best way to stop this behavior is to ignore it. If your dog is barking incessantly to get your attention, just ignore it as best you can. This will teach your pup that you won’t come running every time it chooses to vocalize.
Furthermore, you don’t want to look at your dog or even touch it. Just don’t acknowledge the dog at all. Make sure that you strictly adhere to this procedure, and don’t give your dog any attention at all until it has stopped barking. Your dog will quickly get the message that this is not welcome behavior.
Put Your Dog in the Mood for Rest and Sleep
Different dog breeds have different levels of energy, but even the laziest of dogs will need to be exercised every once in a while. It’s actually not uncommon for particularly high energy dogs to bark more often when they are bored. This may mean that you’re not providing enough stimulation for your dog.
In this context, the easiest way to get your dog to stop barking is to tire it out physically and mentally. Take your pooch for a good long walk as often as you can. You’ll not only get fit yourself, but your dog will have a great time smelling and experiencing the world and will be less likely to bark because it is tired out.
If you don’t always have the time for walks, even playing a game with your dog at home can stimulate it and tire it out. Why not throw your dog’s favorite ball or play a bit of tug of war with your pooch?
Give Your Dog a Job
Most of us need to work for a living, but this can provoke excessive barking in a dog that gets bored or anxious. While you might not be able to spend as much time as you’d like to at home because of work, you can help your dog by giving it a job to do while you’re out of the home.
One way to do this is to invest in some toys that give dogs physical and mental stimulation. There are special toys that can be purchased that can be filled with dog treats. Your pooch will have to work out a clever way of dispensing the dog treats, and this could take hours. These toys provide a good way to break the boredom and keep your dog busy while you are away.
Make Your Dog Happier
Dogs are not just here for our amusement. They are amazing animals that can understand our human body language and respond to us. As if this were not amazing enough, they also have a strong moral code of behavior when they play with each other.
Sadly, sometimes a dog will engage in behaviors that humans don’t much like, and biting and barking are right at the top of this list as two of the most annoying. While some owners might not worry too much about these behaviors, for many, they can be anything from annoying to harmful.
If you’re wondering about how to stop your dog from barking and biting, the answers often revolve around a common sense approach. That is, every dog barks or bites for good reasons, and it’s up to you to understand why.
Just remember that by addressing the issue, you will make your life and your dog’s life happier and healthier. Dogs will sometimes engage in these behaviors when they’re feeling stressed out, so addressing the sources of the stress can be a huge weight lifted. This is the real key to how to stop your dog from barking and biting.