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How To Get a Dog To Stop Biting

From the time puppies are born, they use their mouths to communicate. Puppies begin playing with their siblings soon after birth; this involves a lot of mouth activity; consequently, puppies’ mouths play a huge role in development and communication. Biting and nipping are also forms of communication, and pet owners often have difficulty teaching their pets to put an end to this.

To stop dogs from biting or nipping, pet owners must engage with their dogs using body language, not vocal commands. Non-verbal commands are more effective in training. Operant conditioning, a behavior modification technique, is the key to putting an end to biting and nipping.

Teach a puppy to stop nipping and biting is not as simple as wagging your finger and saying no! Pet owners must be completely invested in their pet’s training; training a dog is as much about training the owner as training the animal.

Get Help Training Your Pet To Stop Biting or Nipping

As a pet owner, the success of teaching a dog to stop nipping and biting lies in behavior modification techniques and a strong emphasis on obedience. Punishing your pet or shouting at them is of no value; learning to condition their behavior is the most effective way to change the situation.

This may seem daunting, and without expert assistance may present more of a challenge than a success. Fortunately, there is help at hand. The k9 Training Institute offers a free workshop on training your pet and reveals secret techniques that professional animal trainers use.

Dr. Alexa Diaz is a leading animal behaviorist with 20 years of experience training service dogs. She has a wealth of knowledge and fascinating insights to share with dog owners. She heads up training at the K9 Training Institute.

The free workshop introduces new training techniques and, according to Dr. Diaz, the primary reasons dog owners are not successful at training their pets are:

Using outdated training techniques

Using verbal commands instead of body language

Not making eye contact with their pet

This training focuses on obedience training and conditioning your pet’s behavior. Obedience curbs many undesirable animal responses and is the starting point for addressing inappropriate actions such as biting and nipping.

Learn to Condition Your Dog’s Behavior

The only way to train your pet well is by modifying their behavior. While treats often help, they do not modify behavior but rather entice a reaction. Dogs learn by repetition, and if a doggie treat is the only thing that motivates good behavior, it will not be helpful in the long run.

Your pet’s way of communicating is not through words but by body language. As a pet owner, the fundamentals of training your dog are to engage with body language; communicate with your pet in a way it will understand.

The k9 Training Institute’s techniques are gentle, and nothing harsh is incorporated into their program. The emphasis is on teaching your dog obedience and self-control through highly successful training methods. While this makes things easier for a dog owner, self-control and obedience make a dog’s life that much better and add security and a sense of accomplishment to your pet.

Behavioral conditioning explores how animals learn and respond and provides proven solutions to pet owners’ challenges.

Get to Know Your Dog

The first step in teaching your dogs to stop biting is understanding that dogs have individual personalities like humans. However, because they cannot communicate like humans, they often react unfavorably to situations, and these reactions include biting or nipping.

The triggers for each dog are different, and as a dog owner, you must get to know your dog and understand the response to situations that make your pet uncomfortable.

Often, the thinking is that a pet bites without warning. That, however, is not true. Dogs have reasons for biting and, more often than not, change their behavior before they bite.

There are telltale signs that your dog is in an uncomfortable situation. As a human, it is your responsibility to pick up on these cues and do something positive to reassure your pet and intervene before the situation becomes out of control.

Understand The Reason Your Dog Nips and Bites

Body language plays an important role in the way dogs communicate. To best teach your pet to control the need to use its teeth to communicate, as a pet owner, you must be able to read your pet and use body language to instruct your pet.

There are several reasons for dogs nipping and biting. The best way to stop the toothy behavior is to understand your dog’s triggers and mitigate situations where your pet needs to nip or bite.

Dogs Bite When They Encounter Stressful Situations

As with humans, stress causes a reaction in puppies and dogs. Stressful situations often lead to a dog behaving aggressively. Understanding the cause of stress goes a long way to ensuring that your pet remains calm.

Stressful situations occur because your pet feels :

Dogs Bite When They are Startled

Many dog bites happen because the dog is caught off guard or startled. An animal’s instinct is to react physically. Besides barking, they have no way of saying what they feel, so biting the person who frightens them is their way of responding

Dogs Bite to Defend Their Territories

Animals, in general, are territorial, and dogs are no exception. The need to protect what is theirs is overwhelming, and any threat to their food, toys, sleeping arrangement or environments is considered a grave threat.

Examples of territorial threats are:

Taking a dogs food away while it is eating

Another dog receiving affection from its owner

An animal your pet is unfamiliar with or roaming around its territory

An animal getting too close to its human

Another pet taking its toys

Another dog sleeping on its bed

Any other dog showing dominance in its territory

Stranger danger also evokes a sense of territorialism and dogs become protective towards their owners when a stranger approaches. These situations evoke intense emotion in dogs and often lead to fights between pets or bites and nips to humans.

Pain Causes A Dog to Nip or Bite

A common cause of biting or nipping is pain, particularly sudden pain. Accidentally stepping on a dog’s tail will ensure a reaction. Other than yelping, there is a strong chance that your pet will react physically and bite whoever has hurt it. Understandably the response is provoked. Pets cannot differentiate between intention and accident.

Suppose your pet has a painful condition. Arthritis, lumps and bumps, broken nails, splinters and thorns, cuts and nicks, and infections cause pain. Any added irritation to the painful area could elicit an undesired response, such as biting or nipping. This may cause your dog to behave out of character.

Bad Health Could Cause A Dog to Bite

Just like humans feel crotchety when ill, dogs experience the same feelings. Your dog may bite or nip if a stressor is added.

Health issues are common causes of nips and bites. An animal feeling under the weather will not react as it usually does to any perceived threat or disturbance. Its behavior could be unexpected.

Dogs Bite to Protect Their Owners

As the saying goes, a dog is man’s best friend. The saying pertains to loyalty; dogs certainly display this trait. Dogs will defend their owners when they feel their human is in danger. The challenge is that what your pet perceives as danger may not be dangerous.

Herding Dogs Tend to Nip

Herding dogs such as Border Collies, German, Australian, and English Shepherds, and Welsh Sheep Dogs are bred to herd cattle and sheep. This job requires them to nip at animals who do not toe the line. Nipping is inherent to these breeds. In a domestic environment, herding behavior is unacceptable, and these dogs need behavior training to break the habit.

Puppies Nip and Bite to Show Affection

In contradiction to dogs that bite or nip when in stressful situations, puppies bite and nip as a sign of love and playfulness. This behavior is innocuous in puppies, but small nips and bites become uncomfortable as they grow. It is advisable to teach your pet to control this behavior before the playfulness and love become painful and annoying.

Read The Signals That Your Dog Sends You

That dogs tend to nip and bite is indisputable. However, knowing the signs that your pet is heading toward aggressive behavior gives you time to intervene and diffuse the situation.

It is a fact that not all dogs respond in the same way, but there are some common signals your dog may give you that they are not happy with the situation they find themselves in:

Ears pressed back against the head

Growling and showing its teeth

Suddenly stopping and freezing

Stiff body

A definite stare

Tail between its legs

Growling and walking away

Hair standing on end

Tips To Stop Your Dog Nipping And Biting

The earlier you train your dog and introduce good social behavior, the easier it will be to manage nipping and biting behavior.

Obedience training plays a crucial role in managing your dog’s behavior. An obedient dog is way more likely to respond to your body language and instruction than a disobedient animal.

If your pet comes to live with you from the puppy stage, there are many ways to train and socialize your dog, which helps minimize the challenge of nipping and biting:

Teach your dog right from wrong from an early age. Dogs do not instinctively know right from wrong, so acceptable and unacceptable behaviors are learned and not inherent. As the pet owner, it is up to you to train your dog to know the difference.

Show your dog what to do by using repetition. Reiteration reinforces the behavior. The key to training your dog is practicing the same behavior repeatedly.

Consistency is key – it takes discipline as a dog owner to stick to the structures you have put in place. However, if these are not reinforced continuously, it leads to confusion and altered boundaries.

Socialize your puppy as soon as you can. This allows your puppy to get to know the world around it and check out different scenarios that could potentially feel threatening. Socialization should be directed at both pets and humans.

Reward good behavior. Rewards need not always be treats; rewards include tickles, games, outdoor play, walks, and any other activity your pet enjoys.

Use eye contact when teaching or engaging with your dog. Dogs love when their owners look at them. You will most likely get your pet’s full attention and the best training results by making eye contact.

Practice self-control and obedience. It isn’t reasonable to expect your pet to respond in a certain way when they have never encountered a specific situation.

Impulse control plays a huge role in curbing biting and nipping. A great way to teach your pet impulse control is to practice obedience in situations where your pet would normally be distracted. Learning to focus and not lose concentration goes a long way toward teaching your pet not to respond at will.

Train an Older or Rescue Dog Not to Bite

Most animal behaviorists agree that there are surefire ways to alter behavior to stop your pet from mouthy interactions. Socializing and training your puppy is the ideal way to stop biting and nipping. Still, you may face additional challenges if you have a grown animal or a rescue dog.

First and foremost is to ignore inappropriate behavior. Disengaging is the best way to show you are unhappy with your pet. The key to successfully disengaging is ignoring your pet for at least 20 seconds.

Responding to unacceptable behavior sends mixed signals, which your dog may read as an opportunity to play and get your attention. Instead of participating in the situation, walk away and pay no attention to what your pet is up to.

If walking past your pet is not an option, stand still with your arms folded and keep your dog’s gaze. This gives your pet a message that you disapprove of their actions.

If your pet starts nipping and biting while you are playing, stop playing to show that its behavior is unacceptable.

Although the most effective way of communicating with your dog is through physical actions, verbal responses do assist in emphasizing your body language. If your dog nips or bites you, aside from taking your physical stance, let out a high yelp, this will stress to your pet that you disapprove.

Time-out is another helpful tip from animal behavior experts. Train your pet to sit in a dog crate, and if the need arises, put your dog in the crate until it calms down and exhibits better behavior.

Of utmost importance is that you never force or attempt to intimidate your pet. This only exacerbates your dog’s distress and worsens a bad situation.

Redirection effectively takes your dog’s attention away from the current situation. It shows your pet an alternative way to deal with a challenge. Chew toys are also a great way to deal with mouthy situations.

Getting rid of pent-up energy also works wonders. Allow your pet to use up some of this energy by walking it, playing a game of tug, or playing catch. Dogs get bored and may play rougher than usual because they aren’t stimulated.

Teaching an Aggressive Dog Not to Bite

While dogs are great companions and add a whole new dimension of fun and affection to a home, there are times when dog owners are faced with very stressful situations. When dogs become aggressive and bite with the intent to hurt or harm, this becomes a far more serious challenge and one that needs professional intervention.

Some dog breeds show more aggression than others; German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, Siberian Huskies, Chow-Chows, Chihuahuas, American Staffordshire Terriers, and American Bull terriers are known to be aggressive.

There are often horror stories of animals attacking each other or biting humans. Even though this behavior is often blamed on the dog in question, the onus is on the owner to manage the dog’s behavior and provide the necessary training to mitigate injuries.

Even before training an aggressive breed, owners need to ensure that they have ample space and facilities for these dogs to exercise, not feel trapped and have plenty of stimulation. Frustration is a precursor to aggression and needs to be nipped in the bud before the pet becomes angry and aggressive.

Once a dog has bitten without inhibition and control, the signs are there that this is the pet’s way of dealing with unwanted situations. As a pet owner of an aggressive dog, there are limited options to deal with this type of behavior:

First and foremost, engage the assistance of a specialist behavior trainer or vet to assess the animal’s aggression.

Allow a vet to examine your pet for possible health concerns that could lead to pain and aggression.

Pet owners need to determine the situations that spark aggression and avoid these. Dogs who show aggression are likely reacting to a particular stimulus, such as fear, need for dominance, frustration, and conflict.

Use leads and has safe spaces for pets to retreat when the need for aggression arises.

Practice consistency; in aggressive dogs, inconsistency leads to confusion, and mixed messages trigger dangerous behavior.

For owners of aggressive dogs, the best advice is to never attempt to confront your animal in a dangerous situation. Refrain from trying to assert dominance when your pet is aggressive.

Another important rule is to never intentionally enter a situation where there is a chance that you may lose control of your pet. Safety is paramount and mitigating aggression is most important.

Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly can pets learn new behavior?

Several factors impact the speed at which a dog learns. There is no time frame in which a dog adopts a new behavior. Still, consistency, reinforcement, and reward do help speed training up.

Why is it important to socialize with my puppy?

Firstly socializing a puppy removes a great deal of anxiety for your pet as it grows accustomed to its environment, different shapes and sizes of people, and other dogs. Reduced anxiety makes it easier to train your pet.

How do dogs learn?

Dogs learn by consequence and prediction. Consequence arises from a dog’s actions, and either positive or negative consequences impact a dog’s behavior. Dogs also learn to predict certain actions; in other words, they learn that one thing leads to another.

Is it okay to punish bad behavior?

Punishment may not necessarily have the desired effect as pets will often not know what they are being punished for. The better option is to teach your pet the consequences of behavior called operant conditioning.

Do dogs understand verbal commands?

Dogs learn best from body language, but if this is followed up with verbal commands, your pet will begin to understand them and associate them with certain requirements. Dogs are attentive listeners, so not only do they hear what you say, but they also respond to your tone of voice.

How do I remove my dog from stressful situations to prevent nipping and biting?

The bests way is to use a diversion tactic. Focus your dog’s attention away from the trigger situation and onto a new activity. By consistently doing this, your dog will learn to respond the same way each time the stressor is triggered.

Why is obedience training so important?

An obedient dog learns self-control and can regulate its behavior. This is not only a help to dog owners but also, through conditioning, teaches a dog to take care of itself in stressful situations.

Closing Thoughts

Obedience training is key to behavior modification for dogs. To stop dogs from biting and nipping, dog owners must use body language to train their pets. The K9 Training Institute runs a free workshop on operant conditioning. This workshop brings to light secret training techniques that professional animal trainers use to modify dog behavior.

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