Learning how to stop or prevent your dog from biting is an essential skill for every responsible dog owner. We have all seen the various news reports about a family member, or a member of the public being mauled by a dog. Responsible dog owners know they have an obligation as part of their dog training to stop or prevent biting.
The earlier you start this process then the easier it will be to succeed. In the ideal world you would do this when your dog is a puppy and there are many great books, training methods and DVD instructional videos available to help you achieve that outcome.
When dogs are puppies or in the first year they are playful and also like humans start to have teething problems. One of the big mistakes many dog owners make is to let them bite down on their hands, or grab hold of the end of an old jumper or clothing.
This is a huge mistake as the dog then believes that this type of behavior is acceptable and will continue on with it believing that it is ok to do this. It isn’t the dog’s fault at all as he associates this biting activity with play. When they are puppies their small teeth don’t hurt that much, so we don’t mind too much either and so this poor pattern of dog behavior continues on without being reprimanded to stop doing it.
Instead of doing this, allow them to do the same thing but with a plastic toy. Avoid any semblance of holding the toy and letting the dog bite and pull at it as a “tug-of-war” game. This happens a lot and all it does is increase the aggressive side of a dog’s nature.
Play time should of course be fun, but go for throw and fetch type activity rather than holding on to something and allowing your dog to try and pull it from you with their teeth. Make sure the dog drops the toy rather than try to pull it out of its mouth.
You shouldn’t wrestle with your dog either, as again they will associate this type of behavior as being acceptable and we don’t do that.
Never ever chastise your dog by physically hitting them as this only induces basic dog aggression. Instead make a loud noise and the dog will associate a bite with the noise. When dogs play with each other they let out a high pitched whimper if they are hurt. Teach your dog the same behavioral tones and they will quickly understand when play and biting have gone too far.
If you or a member of your family do get bitten which is a genuine safety concern, immediately stop any form of play and ignore the dog totally for a few minutes. Dogs crave attention and affection, so they will quickly associate being ignored and rejected with biting, and stop doing it. The important thing here is consistency, so all of the people in contact with the dog must understand and behave in the same way.
With older dogs you may have to use muzzles to begin with. If you see signs of aggression or tendency to bite, you need to stand tall and growl over them, indicating you are the dominant one and making them submissive.
Loud noises get attention, so without any eye contact make yourself heard loud and clear. The dog will get the message if this reprimand behaviour is consistently repeated. Don’t let your dog get over excited as they tend to bite from that getting carried away, so keep them calm and relaxed and just show them that you are in control.
I would recommend getting a good book or DVD and there are many available online to help with dog training on how to stop or prevent biting.