How to Stop a Dog from Biting
A biting dog can quickly lead to a strained relationship with its owner. It can also lead to a strained relationship with family, friends, and neighbors (and probably the mailman).
While you may love everything about your dog, there is one behavior most pet owners can’t stand – canines that bite.
When your four-legged friend was a puppy, you didn’t mind it, as it was playful.
However, once it becomes an adult, this can be a serious issue.
Not only does it become painful, but certain bites will require medical attention.
Also, if you have children at home, there is a high chance they will suffer from an injury.
If your question is how to stop a dog from biting, you’ve come to the right place. Given below is everything you can do, to ensure you put an end to this behavior:
Biting – Aggressive or Playful?
Before finding out how you can prevent this from being a behavioral problem in the future, you need to understand the nature of these actions.
For instance, if your dog exhibits mouthing, this is normal.
When your dog puts its mouth and teeth on your hand and bites with zero to little pressure, it is known as mouthing.
However, if your dog bites you because of frustration or fear, then it is no longer playful.
But how do you identify whether your dog was having fun or being aggressive?
One way to identify is to look at your canine’s body language.
If you observe your dog has a relaxed face and body, you know it is out of fun.
Another indicator is the muzzle, which will have wrinkles, but without significant tension.
On the other hand, you know your dog is becoming aggressive when the body looks stiff.
Although the muzzle also has wrinkles, you will see your canine’s teeth.
Also, they will be painful and quick, indicating a change in behavior.
We'll also discuss other methods (sprays and muzzles) that can help train your dog to stop biting a little faster as well.
If this is the case, you should let out a certain loud exclamation, "Ouch!", And pull your hand away.
Do not yell at the dog, but instead just make sure they know it hurt you and that was not playing.
The first and most important aspect of teaching your dog to stop biting is to first understand why they are biting.
Without understanding this, you can not control or fix the problem associated with a barking dog.
But at the same time, dogs may bite someone for a lot of reasons.
How do you stop your dog from biting?
When your four-legged friend is a puppy, you don’t mind mouthing as you find this behavior to be adorable.
Also, during this stage, it is common for canines to explore the world with their mouth.
They are trying to understand the surrounding environment in way they find comfortable.
However, once your puppy becomes an adult, this behavior is problematic.
One of the ways you can overcome this issue is by helping your dog understand that biting hurts you.
Teaching your dog to stop biting through play
In this exercise, you want to let your dog know it is putting too much force while biting, which you find to be painful.
When your canine was a puppy, it didn’t know how to control the force of its bite.
You may have noticed this behavior while playing with your furry four-legged friend.
The ability to control the mouthing force is known as bite inhibition.
Most puppies learn this skill while playing with other dogs.
If you’ve seen a group of young dogs play, you will notice all the canines bite each other.
Even though this is friendly, there is always one dog who will bite too hard.
In this situation, the victim will yelp, alerting the canine that its bite was painful.
Both stop playing for a while before they jump back into the action.
Through these types of interactions, every dog learns about bite inhibition.
You can also simulate this situation and teach your canine how to control its bite.
While playing, allow your dog to mouth your hand.
When it bites, yelp loudly and let your hand go limp, indicating you are hurt from the bite.
Most dogs in this situation will stop mouthing and start licking the area where it bit you.
If this doesn’t work, you can also halt the playing session and move away from your canine.
Your dog might try to restart playing with you, but you shouldn’t interact with your dog for a short duration (less than a minute).
It is similar to a time out, where you leave your canine alone.
After this period, you should resume play and continue the same activity.
Every time you feel the bite is too hard, you should stop interacting with your dog immediately.
Over time, you will notice your canine reducing how much force it uses with every bite. In other words, it picks up bite inhibition.
You can continue training your dog till it learns to be gentle with your skin, by repeating this exercise every day.
Preventing your dog from mouthing skin
The final stage in how to stop a dog from biting is to let it know it should mouth other objects, than your skin. There are several ways you can achieve this.
· Every time your dog tries to mouth your hand, you should distract it with a toy. Allow your canine to bite the toy.
With enough practice, it will learn that it is okay to bite the toy, not your hand.
· Sometimes, your dog will bite you, when you are showing affection.
In this case, you should distract your canine with treats on one hand, while you use the other hand to pet or scratch its coat.
· If nothing else works, you can put deterrents such as lemon juice, peppermint, or vinegar on your skin, while playing with your dog.
As your dog finds these flavors as unpleasant, it won’t bite your skin.
What about puppies?
When your dog is young, you might observe that your puppy doesn’t stop biting. Can you follow the same activities or should you try something else?
If your goal is how to stop a puppy from chewing everything that fits into its mouth, will the same exercise work?
Do keep in mind that you can use the above exercise as a solution to how to stop a puppy from biting.
However, your furry four-legged friend might be exhibiting this behavior as it is tired or undergoing teething.
At the end of the day, the goal of the exercise remains the same – letting your dog know that its bites are painful.
Every time, your puppy bites your skin, you should stop playing for at least five seconds. During this period, avoid interacting with the dog.
Allow your puppy to bite a toy during the timeout so that it picks up this behavior.
As you keep practicing this exercise, you will learn how to stop a puppy from biting.
Other Methods - Sprays
As mentioned earlier, there are also other ways to stop dogs from biting - this is especially so if they like to bite your furniture.
For furniture and other things in your home that your dogs should not bite, there are dog sprays.
All you need to do is to spray the object that your dog likes to bite, and voila - they'll stop!
This is simply because what's inside the spray would be a smell, or taste that they hate - so they won't want to go near it and bit it anymore.
Again, for these sprays, pick any one of them - but you know your dog best, so you'll be able to guess which particular spray will work better for them!
Other Methods - Muzzles
Muzzles are only to be used when you need to bring your dog out into the parks or in otherwise public areas.
Otherwise, I would recommend against your dog wearing any muzzle at all, as they'll then associate it with negative feelings and resent you when you take it out for them to see.
Usually, these muzzles are for highly aggressive dogs, usually for fosters from shelters or formerly living on the streets. (Not all dogs led a good life prior to living in your home, sadly)
As such, I'd advise using muzzles sparingly.