Need some Help With Your Dog
Nipping & Biting?
Dear fellow dog lover,
Probably the most challenging aspect of working with aggression in the dog is that it often starts when the dog is a puppy.
The behavior, when the puppy is small, is often considered rather cute.
A tiny dog puppy growling ferociously or chasing and nipping may appear to be almost comical but once the dog is full grown, the nipping is no longer funny and the cute growling has turned taking the dog out in public into an embarrassing and stressful event.
Controlling a dog’s aggressive behavior is challenging for most people. It is further complicated by the fact that some dogs are more dominant than their owners, or a least more dominant than some family members.
Thankfully even young children can be taught to properly respond to aggressive behaviors with the family pet and the dog will quickly learn to change their negative behavior into something more positive and acceptable.
Why Do Dog's Nip and Bite Then?
Well, that a great question.
Dogs nip and bite for a variety of reasons.
In interactions between dogs nipping and biting is a way to for one dog or puppy to indicate they don’t like what is going on.
It is a way for puppies and dogs to say “Stop” to each other.
As dogs mature they may nip for other reasons including demanding attention, avoiding something they don’t want to do, or becoming excited or frightened.
Each type of nipping and biting will require a different type of correction and understanding why your dog is nipping is a starting point.
Think about the times that your dog has nipped, then answer the following questions:
- What was your dog doing at the time ?
- What was I doing (or the person that was nipped)?
- Was the dog in a new environment or with new people?
- How did I respond to the nipping?
- How did the dog respond?
- What happened after the dog nipped?
Biting for Attention or in Play
Dogs and puppies may have learned that biting or nipping gets them attention or that is all part of the game.
Some owners may try to pay additional attention to a dog that nips to keep it from nipping or biting them again. In this situation the dog has trained the human, not the other way around.
Depending on how long the dog or puppy has engaged in biting or nipping, the corrective training may be very short or it may take longer.
Usually attention and play type biting is more prevalent with puppies that are learning how to interact with humans.
How Should You Go About Stopping The Nipping Then??
To play nipping & biting follow these guidelines:
- Give a sharp, high pitched “Ouch”, “Stop” or “Ow” then “No Bite” in a lower tone, without yelling or verbally intimidating the dog or puppy
- Immediately leave the puppy or dog alone, don’t speak to them or touch them at all.
- If your dog continues to try to bite after you give the verbal “No Bite” try putting a few pennies or marbles in a clean tin can. Shake the can at your dog immediately after the “No Bite” command. This will usually startle the dog or puppy and will reinforce the verbal instruction.
- If the bite or nip occurred during a game immediately stop the game and do not continue until the dog is calm and in control.
- When they are calm, immediately provide attention and praise.
Most dogs will respond to this training when they realize that they get attention and fun when they are not biting or are practicing what dog trainers call “bite inhibition”.
Biting For Fear or Anxiety
If your dog bites when in new places or when new people are present it is likely a nervous or fearful dog.
How to stop your dog from biting that is behaving aggressively out of fear is very different from the technique used for the attention seeking or nipping dog.
Dogs that are nervous or fearful need additional socialization, not isolation or being ignored.
Ideally socialization should occur in the first few months of a puppy’s life and continue throughout the dog’s life.
Dogs that are kept isolated from other dogs, animals, people and new environments are naturally more fearful and self-protective when they are exposed to new things.
A dog’s natural defense is to bite or run so when you are out with your dog on a leash the only option the dog has to protect itself is to bite.
One of the best ways to work with a dog that bites from fear or anxiety is to take him or her to an obedience class.
It is very important that you speak to the trainer ahead of time and follow the instructions that the trainer provides for bringing your dog into the class.
Try taking your dog to as many new places as possible, but watch for signs that he or she is becoming agitated or fearful. Nervous behaviors such as the following should be monitored:
- Tail low or tucked between the hind legs
- Whining or growling
- Excessive panting
When your dog starts exhibiting these symptoms immediately remove him or her from the environment and place him/her somewhere comfortable such as the vehicle or their crate.
Praise them and pay special attention to them as they gradually become more comfortable in new situations. You may also wish to consider one of the halter type leads that attach over the muzzle area to prevent any possibility of biting during the socialization period.
The key is to work with the dog’s level of trust and comfort and gradually extend your time out as the dog becomes more confident and socialized.
For a related issue, that of excessive chewing, please see this article.
Need Some More Help ?
I hope this short outline introduction to Managing Nipping has been helpful to you.
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Bye for now.
Dedicated To Making Dog Ownership More Fun.