In the United States, on an annual basis, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimated that nearly 800,000 of the 4.5 million bites occurring in 1994 were serious enough to require medical attention, and that approximately one half of them involved children. The highest rates were among boys between the ages of 5 and 9.
The best way to stop your dog from biting is to train
her to stop biting as a puppy. Playing is a healthy
and natural activity and for puppies, that includes
mouthing, chewing and biting. However, when your
puppy exhibits this behavior with the people in the
house, it can quickly become a problem. Here are
some effective methods for you to teach your dog to stop biting.
- When your puppy begins to chew and mouth on your hand, teach her how much pressure is acceptable. When she bites sharply, say “ouch” in a loud voice and walk away, thereby removing your attention. She will realize after a few times that the fun stops when she exhibits biting behavior.
- Replace your hand with a chew toy.
- If your puppy is 3 to 6 months old, teething may be the problem. Try giving your puppy an ice cube to chew on, as it will numb the pain as well as distract your puppy from what it was doing.
- Socializing your puppy is critical in order to develop trust and comfort with people, so that biting will not become a future behavior. Expose your puppy to lots of different kinds of people, including children and older adults. Take him on trips around the neighborhood, to the park and play ground, giving him different social experiences. This will reduce your puppy’s fear level in new situations with strange people, children, animals and objects.
Of course it is much easier to stop dog biting with puppies than with grown dogs. What if you have adopted an older dog, such as a rescue dog who is no longer in the puppy phase? Here are some guidelines that will reduce the possibility that your dog will bite.
- Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. It will reduce aggressive behavior and your dog will be less likely to roam.
- Never leave your dog alone with children. Supervise them at all times.
- Don’t play games with your dog that encourage aggressive behavior, such as tug of war, pouncing or chasing.
- Teach children in your home to understand what will increase aggressiveness in your dog and how to play calmly and safely with him. Teach them NOT to tease, run away from, yell at, hug, or stare at your dog.
- Involve your children in the dog’s training and care.
- Work regularly with your dog to train him to obey. If he gets the message that you are in charge with the small things, he will be more likely to understand with dangerous behavior such as biting.
- Make sure that you require your dog to consistently follow the rules of the house (like not getting on furniture), as it makes you the pack leader, thereby reducing dominant behavior.
This article has given a number of excellent suggestions to help you stop dog biting, whether you are training a puppy or a newly adopted, adult dog. Please be sure to teach everyone in your home to consistently enforce the rules for how your new dog is handled and you should see a great improvement. If you consistently apply the above suggestions, and your dog continues to demonstrate aggressive behavior and biting, you are going to need professional help and advice.