Dogs are the best, aren’t they? I mean, really. Man’s best friend didn’t get that label for nothing. That is a well-earned title, and their companionship has been most welcome during these trying times.
Have you ever run across a bad-mannered dog, though? It’s not usually the dog’s fault, but everyone else has to pay the price for the pet owner’s lack of responsibility in dealing with the fallout of poor discipline and training. Biting is a big issue for pet owners, so we’re going to revisit that topic in this article. Here are a few things to familiarize yourself with when it comes to K9’s and biting.
Mouthing is a natural occurrence with dogs and is generally done in play, as your loving furry friend has no intention of hurting you or most people. It involves your dog placing his teeth on your hands or body as part of exploration or play, and it also occurs when he’s playing with other dogs. To illustrate the point that most dogs who do this have no intention of causing harm, watch what happens when play between two dogs turns rough, and one of them yelps at a too-hard bite from the other. The offender usually will immediately stop.
Aggression or Play?
Most of the time, biting to the point of pain infliction is not intentional but rather a matter of improper training or rough play. Other times, biting can be a form of fear or aggression. If you have an aggressive dog, you will want to reach out to a qualified trainer to help work with them. “Normal” mouthing and biting are bad habits that can and should be addressed, preferably during the puppy stage, and that’s the type of biting this article covers.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Can you think of a personal habit you know is not good and would love to change but have never done so successfully? Training your adult dog to stop mouthing and biting can sometimes have similar results. After all, why do you think the saying initially came to be? You can train your adult dog, but it will take time. The steps outlined below for you to train your dog not to bite apply to both puppies and mature dogs. 15 minutes of patience and consistency are required for both, but especially for adult dogs.
Training Your Dog To Not Mouth/Bite
The term for training your dog not to bite is called bite inhibition, and it is a process. We won’t cover everything here, but here is a fundamental process for how bite inhibition works:
- Play with your dog with your hands, allowing them to mouth until they apply too much pressure, then let out an intentional yelp, which should make your dog abruptly stop (and, perhaps, lick you). Give him praise for stopping and then begin play again. Continue this cycle up to two-to-three times in 15 minutes. Then, break and try again later. Repeat this until your dog stops applying that amount of pressure.
- Once your dog learns to be more gentle and you don’t have to issue any corrections at the same level of pressure, you can begin the process again when they bite with less intensity. Again, let out a yelp and let your wrist go limp until your dog stops, and then offer him praise.
- Continue this pattern until your dog yields to applying any pressure at all.
Note: If you find your dog doesn’t respond to the yelps or verbal corrections, you may need to try time-outs, especially if the dog is older. This can work in two ways. One, you walk away from playing with your dog. If he follows, you may need to leave the room briefly. The other option is to keep a leash on your dog but allow him to move around freely until you engage in play, and he bites. If your yelps and verbal commands aren’t effective, and your dog pursues you when you try to walk away for a time out, then you could escort your dog to another room and leash him to something stable for a short period instead.
It is not always easy to train bite inhibition, especially with older or more aggressive dogs. If you need help, check out these resources for more specialized training! Most dogs respond well to proper training and it is a great way to ensure you, your pup, and those around you stay safe.
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