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How To Stop Your Dog From Biting

Pet Care Tips 4 min read
How to stop your dog from bitting

Biting puppies may be cute, but once that pup has turned into an adult, a bite from them can inadvertently cause serious damage. It’s important to train your dog at an early age to be gentle in their play with humans. We give you the step by step on how to stop your dog from biting.

Dog bitting his owner

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Adult dogs who bite may not have been trained in puppyhood to be gentle during play. Most mouthing is normal behavior, however, some dogs bite because they are afraid or frustrated, which may be a sign of aggression issues. It’s sometimes hard to differentiate between normal behavior and aggression. If their body and face seem relaxed then odds are they are just playing. If they bite hard and quickly with exposed teeth then this may be aggressive behavior.

If your dog appears to be exhibiting aggressive behavior, you should seek professional help, such as a veterinary or animal behaviorist, or a dog trainer. Be sure to do your research and make sure they are certified and have experience dealing with dogs with aggression.

How To Stop Your Dog From Biting

Dogs chew and bite everything from your couch to toys, to your hands. This is how they investigate objects, so it’s not so much a matter of getting them to stop chewing or biting, but to teach them what is okay to bite and chew – humans not being one of them.

Bite Inhibition

When puppies are young, they learn about bite inhibition when they play with other dogs.

Bite inhibition is a term that refers to their ability to control the pressure of their biting. When puppies are young, they learn about bite inhibition when they play with other dogs. Especially when they’re puppies, you’ll notice that when one of them bites too hard, the other one will yelp and the playing will stop. When this happens, the biter will recognize that their hard bite caused the play to stop, so they may be more careful next time so that the play can continue uninterrupted.

This interaction can be done between humans and dogs as well. When playing with your dog, let him nibble or mouth on your hands until they bite too hard. Once that happens, yelp loudly and pretend that you’re hurt, and allow your hand to go limp. Your dog will most likely be startled and stop, at which point you can praise them for stopping. You can then begin playing again and if they bite too hard again you repeat the same process until they learn to be more gentle. If the yelping doesn’t work, you can try leaving the room for a short time. Whatever the method, your goal is to teach them that play stops when they bite too hard, but gentle play is acceptable. 

Continue this method, making the bites more and more gentle to the point where you barely feel the bites.

Dog bitting his owner's foot

Next Steps

Now that your dog has mastered being gentle, it’s time to teach them to stop biting people altogether. Here are some next step tips:

  • Other training can help with their instincts. Teach them the basics like sit and leave it.
  • When your dog starts to bite you, give them a toy or bone to chew on instead. This is to show them that when they want to bite they should bite a toy or bone, not your hand.
  • Especially when they’re puppies, dogs tend to start mouthing when they’re being pet or scratched. If this happens, feed them a treat with one hand while still petting them with the other. This distraction will allow them to get used to being patted without biting or gnawing on you.
  • Try different types of play like fetch or tug-of-war.
  • If your dog doesn’t have any other toys or ways to exert energy they’ll go for the next best thing. You! So give them plenty of fun and exciting toys for them to occupy themselves with.
  • Since dog’s energy knows no bounds, make sure they get plenty of exercise and time to play with other dogs.
  • Avoid triggering your dog by flashing your hands or feet in their face or roughhousing by grabbing or slapping the sides of their face.
  • Don’t ever hit your dog as punishment. This could not only harm them but may make them even more aggressive or afraid of you.

Lesstress, if taken regularly, can also help with some symptoms of aggression, such as calming agitated dogs; reducing anxiety, destructive behavior, and hyperactivity; and can help improve a dog’s disposition.

If all this fails, seeking help from a professional is your best bet. The right kind of play with your dog is an incredible bonding experience and should never be discouraged. All you have to do is teach them how to do it correctly, and you and your pup will be able to play together and with others without worry in the world.

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NHV Pet Experts

NHV Pet Experts

We have a dedicated group of pet expert professionals, including veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals to guide you through any questions. We’re committed to your pet’s wellness and can offer additional tips, resources, nutritional advice, and more.

Published: October 25, 2020

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