Biting/Mouthing Behaviors in Dogs
Learn about causes and corrective actions for biting behavior in dogs.
Signs of Biting/Mouthing Behaviors in Dogs
- Mouthing people's hands or arms
- Excited nips to people during play
- Nips at children or possibly adults in attempt to move or "herd" them
- Grabbing people's clothing playfully or aggressively
- Inadvertent but frequent nips on people's hands during interactive play
- Aggressive, hard bite that leaves a wound
Causes and Corrective Actions for Biting Behavior in Dogs
Lack of socialization, genetic tendencies, dominance or rank issues within the household and many other root causes can lead to aggression-based biting in dogs.
AGGRESSION Corrective Actions: Work with a trainer who can determine the cause of your dog's aggression problem and guide you through the proper corrective action, which may include a slow, careful socialization schedule, obedience training, an "everything must be earned" approach toward your dog's everyday lifestyle and/or other training tactics.
Puppies and excitable dogs frequently "leak" drive through high pitched barking, whining, leaping into the air and sometimes nipping at their owner's clothing or skin.
EXCITABLE NATURE Corrective Actions: Help the excitable dog gain self-control through positive yet firm obedience training methods that reward calm, controlled responses. Maintain a happy but composed demeanor when greeting, playing with or training the excitable dog to avoid getting him excited. Intermix exercises like Sits and Downs with occasional brief Stays while playing fetch or other games. Ensure dog enjoys ample daily exercise. If dog nips during a game, firmly say "no" and stop all interaction for a short timeout to reinforce your displeasure.
Herding dogs, herding dog mixes and some other breeds possess an inherent drive to move, or herd, other animals through intimidating actions such as circling, eyeing and nipping to push stock the desired direction. When this drive carries over to the human family it can result in torn clothes and painful nips.
HERDING Corrective Actions: Discourage nipping behavior in your puppy right away by gently yet firmly saying "no" coupled with redirecting the puppy's attention toward a suitable toy or game. Chasing can lead to nipping or biting so train your herding dog not to chase children, joggers, bicyclists or any person through ongoing obedience training that includes a good "Leave it" command. Direct your dog's instinctive drive to chase and grab into an appropriate and fun daily pastime such as fetch or canine disc.
Dogs naturally hide displays of pain to prevent showing weakness to other pack members, but pain can evoke an impulsive aggressive reaction from even a normally sweet dog when you touch areas that may be sore due to an untreated medical condition or injury.
MEDICAL Corrective Actions: Any dog that snaps or bites suddenly without obvious provocation should be scheduled for a veterinary examination to check for an existing medical condition that would account for such unusual behavior.
Puppies mouth and bite people because they naturally explore every texture with their mouth. The chewing action feels good to gums sore from teething and canine play involves a great deal of play biting that puppies transfer to humans.
TEETHING PUPPY Corrective Actions: The best solution for inappropriate mouthing, chewing or biting from a puppy involves redirecting the puppy's attention toward an acceptable outlet such as a safe chew bone, toy or interactive games.
Many dogs instinctively guard their home, yard or other perceived territory and will potentially bite anyone entering those areas.
TERRITORIAL Corrective Actions: Work on proper socialization that allows your dog to accept visitors and positive obedience training that establishes you as a respected leader who makes the decisions on who can enter the property. Install suitable fencing to contain the guardian type dog with locks on gates to prevent people entering without your permission.
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