Owning a dog that bites can be a serious issue. You need to be honest about how far your dog’s particular behavior problem has progressed before you can deal with it properly. There are lots of reasons why a dog will bite and there are several levels of biting, from a puppy that nips at your hands to an adult dog that snaps under stress and actually breaks the skin. Your own solution to stop dog biting will depend on your dog’s age, why he bites, and how extreme the biting is.
Know why your dog bites
Biting generally occurs when your dog is put in situations he finds stressful. The more stressors he’s exposed to at one time, the more likely he is to bite. Some common sources of stress include:
Little or no obedience training
Obedience training instills discipline in a dog and builds respect for you as the pack leader. Without proper training a dog can become unpredictable and uncontrollable, which could cause a biting problem.
Improper or no socialization
If a puppy isn’t introduced to a variety of objects and situations, he can develop abnormal fears. Seeing an umbrella open or a stranger wearing glasses can be frightening for an adult dog that hasn’t been exposed to them. Also, if a puppy gets scared the first time he sees or hears something, he could bite out of fear when he has a similar experience as an adult.
A dog that’s in pain may not want to be bothered. He could bite if you get too close or touch a tender area. Also, a dog that has difficulty seeing or hearing may bite if you accidentally surprise him.
Abused dogs bite frequently out of fear and with little warning. If you think your dog is biting because he was abused, get help from a professional animal behaviorist.
Prevention and management
It’s vital that you stop dog biting as quickly as possible. Your approach will depend on your dog’s age and the severity of his behavior problem.
For young puppies that nip or bite
If you have a puppy that nips or mouths, teach him puppy bite inhibition. By the time he reaches adolescence he should be able to control his bite pressure and know to stop biting on command.
For older puppies and young dogs that bite
Obedience training is a necessity. It will teach your dog his place in the pack, and give you the tools you need to train alternative behaviors in situations where it’s likely your dog will bite. Practice the bite inhibition exercises as you would with a younger puppy, including the Off and Take It commands. Also, keep track of your dog’s stressors, or those objects and circumstances that make him uncomfortable. This will allow you to avoid situations that might lead to your dog biting.
For adult dogs that bite
If your dog is biting as an adult, it’s imperative that you know his stressors and why he’s biting. Be honest about the situation and seek the help of a professional trainer or animal behaviorist. The solution they offer may be as simple as changing how you interact with your dog and learning to set boundaries. But it’s best not to go any further on your own for the sake of your loved ones, yourself, and your dog.