Your new puppy may be cute and cuddly, but their teeth can pack a serious punch when they decide to nip you.
Instead, put your puppy down and quietly walk away. Tuck your hands into your armpits to make yourself seem physically smaller, sending a signal to your puppy that they no longer have your attention.
If your puppy nips you, immediately offer a chew toy as an alternative. When your puppy is in the thick of biting behaviors, it’s best to carry a toy with you as often as possible so you always have it at the ready.
This teaches your puppy that it’s not OK to bite people or furniture, but it is OK to bite these toys.
Nipping is a completely normal, natural behavior for puppies who are teething and learning to use their teeth, but it’s a behavior that must be stopped to protect you and your family as your dog grows.
Work on Obedience Training
An obedient dog is easier to control. By working on obedience training, you can use basic commands to keep your dog focused on you in situations in which it is uncomfortable. If you are able to control your dogs behavior, it is less likely to bite. In addition, training provides structure for your dog and boosts its confidence.
Be Aware of Body Language
Dogs use body language to communicate. Pay attention to what your dogs body language is telling you. A dog who is afraid or unhappy about having its territory invaded has the potential to bite. Behaviors such as bared teeth, raised hackles, a lowered head, or ears lying flat against the head are signs that a dog is uncomfortable and may bite. If you notice a dog displaying this type of body language, give it some space and advise others to do so as well. Remove your dog from the situation as soon as you feel safe to do so.
How to Train your Puppy to Stop Biting
Experiencing problems with your dog lashing out or biting new people that come into your home? As scary as this seems for whoever experiences your dogs bad habits, dog biting is not uncommon among most dogs. However, an aggressive dog is most likely reacting out of fear or territorial dominance. Of course, we don’t want our furry friends to act this way, but most of the time the biting is instinctual. In order to train dogs not to bite, owners must understand several things about their dog and their aggression.
To know how to train your dog not to bite and begin bite training, you need to first understand the root cause of your dogs biting behavior.
For some dogs, aggressive behavior begins as a part of rough play during puppyhood. According to animal behaviorists, bad behavior in adult dogs can originate in nibbling, nipping, and teething habits among littermates. Puppy biting can be taken care of by providing chew toys and enforcing time-outs outside or in a kennel when your puppy bites. This will help reinforce good behavior. Some pet owners even found that teaching your dog bite inhibition (mouthing instead of biting into human skin) is an effective method of impulse control and gentle play for dogs.
However, bad dog behavior may have more serious origins. It is important to rule out any outside factors, such as medical conditions or illnesses. If your dog was not a biter before but suddenly becomes aggressive when touched, it may be possible that there is an underlying injury or sensitivity that is causing the aggressive behavior. Lashing out due to pain is not uncommon, so make sure to take your dog to the vet for a checkup to rule out any possible medical issues that could be causing the aggressive activity. If your dog’s body language is characterized by a submissive stance, tucking the tail, crouching, and lashing out to bite from an angle, then your dog is acting out due to fear. A dog that bites out of territorial aggression will most often hold a dominant stance, bark, and make eye contact.
For both cases of biting, this usually stems from a lack of socialization as a puppy. Puppies need to be exposed to a lot of different people at a young age in order to be adult dogs who trust in humans. This is especially important for breeds that are bred to be protective by nature. Giving puppies copious interactions with humans is the best preventative measure for biting out of fear and/or aggression. Lack of socialization can also occur in dogs who have been in shelters for long periods of time with limited human interaction, as well as in dogs who have been mistreated by previous owners.
There are three different methods that you can practice in order to begin training a dog not to nip at strangers. Acclimate your dog to new people in your home. If your dog is older and is exhibiting aggression, it is best to consult a professional dog trainer, as this will ensure that the behavior is managed in the timeliest manner possible.
Making sure that your dog knows that you are in charge is the first step to take. This way, your dog views you as the dominant “pack leader”, in which case you are in charge of situations where strangers are present at your home. This is best to practice in outdoor settings, especially when walking your dog. To establish authority, teach your dog to “heel” and follow you on a leash. Once this is mastered, arrange to have a friend that your dog isn’t familiar with to approach you on a walk. Stay calm and exert positive energy as you practice the “heel” technique, rewarding your dog for good behavior. If you are worried that your dog may get too aggressive, using a muzzle or head halter can be used to ensure the safety of your friend. When your dog reacts aggressively toward your friend, pull the leash quickly to the side or in an upward motion. Tap them on the side with your leg as you are redirecting their movement, ensuring that they are aware that you are making the decisions about the stranger. Have your friend proceed by and continue on your way, using the “heel” command as you do so.
Practice this over a few weeks until your dog understands that you are in control. Make sure to exhibit positive reinforcement; negative punishment will not reinforce good behavior and will only exacerbate behavior problems.
Ask a friend who is not familiar with your dog to come to your home, as your dog will feel less anxious in this environment. Put a leash on your dog in order to ensure that you can help prevent any biting. Use a head halter if necessary. Have your friend approach slowly, and instruct them to stop and wait when your dog starts to get aggressive or show signs of fear.
Once your dog has relaxed a little, reward their calm behavior with affection and treats. Repeat this again, instructing your assistant to move closer each time, but at a side angle so that your dog does not think it is a threatening stance. Once your dog has calmed down again, allow your friend to toss treats in order to inform your dog that the stranger does not mean any harm. Repeat this over a few days/weeks with different friends until your dog does not show aggressive or fearful behavior.