Watching a dog bite his owner or one of his family members is undoubtedly a traumatising experience. However, this act of aggression was not done out of the blue and not without any underlying reasons. Several reasons may have fuelled the dog’s defence mechanism, urging it to bite. Before finding out how to stop a dog from biting, let us look at the most common reasons that could trigger a dog to bite:
‘Whoopsie! I got too excited.’
Your furry buddy’s playful mouthing may sometimes lead to real biting when he gets too excited with the loud noises and frantic movements that you make as both of you play. Since canines tend to roughhouse with their kind when playing, your pooch might do it on you too.
Your dog is also using his teeth like how humans use their hands. Therefore, when your furry playmate lunges at you to grab your hand, he might use his teeth to do so. Hence, it can lead to nips and bites, which can be dangerous for you.
- Play mildly and calmly to lower the chances of your dog becoming too excited.
- Refrain from playing rough games such as tug of war or wrestling, since it will prompt the dog to use his teeth.
- If you notice that your pooch is getting too excited whilst playing, you must stop your activity. Both of you need to take a break and calm down.
‘Hey, watch it! That hurts.’
Do dogs bite when they are in pain? Yes, they do. The pain that your dog feels due to sickness or injury can cause him to chomp on you. Sometimes, dealing with the agony caused by a fracture or a disease can be tough and confusing for the dog.
Since he does not understand where the pain comes from or what causes it, if you touch him, he might end up thinking that you are the reason for it.
- If your dog is exhibiting signs of being hurt or sick, avoid touching him.
- Instruct children to stay away or leave the room. Children may want to soothe the dog’s pain by petting it, and the dog might unintentionally react aggressively.
‘You scared me. Now, look at what happened.’
Your dog might be shocked or scared when it sees abrupt movements and hears unexpected and loud noises. He might assume that you are a stranger who is out to hurt him. The fear that he might not escape from you will force him to revert to his defence mechanism, which is to attack you by biting.
- Avoid suddenly shouting or touching your pooch when he does not notice that you are there.
- If you are in a home with someone else’s dog, it is important to ask the dog owner’s permission before you start to pet him.
‘That is mine!’
Dogs are territorial animals, and protection of the property is a prevalent issue. A dog’s property may be food, territory, toy, or even a person. If the dog notices that you have invaded his territory, he will defend it by biting you to drive you away.
The usual culprits that have bitten people out of possessiveness are herding breeds and guard dogs. However, this kind of behaviour may emerge from any canine.
- You can teach your pet the ‘leave it’ command to prevent aggression.
- Do not reach into a fence or a car’s window to pet someone else’s dog.
‘Stay away from my pups.’
Respect and understand the maternal instinct of a dog. Being protective comes naturally to a mother, especially when she realises that her offspring might be taken away from her. Never try to pet or take away puppies from a dog that has recently whelped, especially if the dog is not yours.
- Place the mother and her pups in a secure place that has less foot traffic to prevent them from getting disturbed.
- Remind children never to touch or hold the puppies if the mother is around.
‘My bad, it was done out of instinct.’
Dog aggression biting caused by prey drive is an inherent subconscious behaviour in all dogs. It gives them the motivation to chase. It is usually characterised by attacking silently with at least one bite and a ferocious shaking.
This canine instinct is sometimes triggered by running or cycling past a dog. It can lead to a dangerous chase for both the pooch and the human.
- Do not attempt to challenge a roaming dog.
- If a dog does give you a chase, you must stop moving and face the dog whilst standing tall with confidence. Do not make eye contact with the dog since he will see it as a sign of a challenge. The pooch might sniff you, but he will lose interest in you eventually.
‘Human, I bit a furry friend.’
There are many reasons why a dog bites another dog or pet. It may be due to rough playing, a high prey drive, a physical illness, or redirected aggression, which occurs when a dog cannot directly interact with the problem, so they become aggressive towards other dogs instead.
However, the most common cause is when the dog feels scared and threatened. His bite is a defence mechanism that allows him to flee from the other pooch. This usually happens when there is poor communication between the two dogs or communication cues are ignored.
- Always supervise dogs when they interact with each other. Separate your pooch from other canines if he nips or bites excessively during playtime. Then, bring him back once he has calmed down.
- Early and frequent socialisation greatly helps in enabling your pooch to learn how to properly interact with other dogs.
Warning Signs Preceding a Dog Bite
Be a keen observant and note these behaviours that may occur before a dog bites to prevent or avoid biting:
- The fur along the canine’s back may stand up.
- The dog’s ears will usually be pinned up.
- The canine will yawn to show off its sharp teeth.
- The whites of the dog’s eye tend to appear.
- The pooch will freeze as you touch him, followed by intense eye contact.
- One of the most obvious signs, but the most overlooked one, is when the dog licks his lips with nervousness. In this situation, do not pet him until he is calm.
Prevention is better than cure. It is important to put the necessary time and effort into your dog’s training so that their bad behaviour can be addressed.
Start Them Young
Prevention is better than cure. Puppies play bite anything, including any part of your body that they can reach, even your furniture. Puppy teeth are very sharp, and their bite is definitely painful. To divert their attention, you can offer them chew toys, or you can use a taste deterrent like bitter apple to prevent them from biting.
It is important to teach your puppy about impulse control before he becomes an adult dog. Train your dog early in their life, and make the necessary time and effort in correcting their bad behaviour.