Poodles have a reputation for biting that is well deserved. But much of the blame lies with owners who don’t adequately train their poodles to behave. The aggressive behavior is allowed to develop when the poodle is a puppy and it never learns that biting is unacceptable. If you own a poodle, don’t let the cute face and curly hair adorned with ribbons fool you. A poodle that bites as a puppy will bite as an adult, becoming a danger to others and to itself.
Why Poodles Bite
Biting is in the poodles genes. All dogs seek their place in the pack and biting is part of that. If the biting is tolerated the dog becomes that alpha-leader. If biting is stopped then the dog submits and responds. In addition, Poodles are intelligent dogs but have typically been bred only as pets, rather than hunters or trackers, for example. Smart dogs with nothing to do can get bored, stubborn and even aggressive. Both toy and standard poodles are susceptible to this condition, but when well-trained they have a biting rate that is similar to most other purebred dogs.
Training your Poodle not to Bite
Since Poodles are smart they’ll learn quickly not to bite if your training is clear, firm and encouraging. This starts as early as possible for best results. Give the curly friend good socialization that begins by leaving it with mom and its litter mates until it is at least 8 weeks old. In the litter it will begin learning that biting is not acceptable – Mom and its siblings will bite back! The puppy’s instinct to seek dominance will be curbed in this manner.
The education continues in your home, with your family and other pets. Provide the dog attention and companionship while also letting it know by your behavior that you are in charge. This will give your poodle pooch the security it needs to feel comfortable. An anxious, mistreated or neglected dog is far more likely to bite. Consider signing up for a behavior class where you will learn how to be a better leader and your dog will learn how to follow.
When the Poodle does bite mimic what happens in the heard or dog pack. Give a sharp yelp to help the dog understand that biting hurts. Tell the dog firmly “no.” Some suggest giving the dog a non-violent pinch on the neck or flank to replicate the bite it would get from its mother or other dog. When the dog begins to show improvement offer it a biting toy to help it work off energy or anxiety that can otherwise precede into biting.
Handling an Older Poodle that Bites
The longer a Poodle is allowed to bite and otherwise show aggression the tougher it becomes to overcome. But it isn’t impossible. Remedial training starts with asserting your position as the leader. Make the dog obey your commands and schedule. Win this battle and you may save the dog! Walk the Poodle and feed it on a strict schedule. Make it walk at your pace when on the leash. Don’t give in to whining or begging. It will also be helpful not to engage in aggressive play that will teach your Poodle that aggression is rewarded with positive attention.
If your dog shows ongoing aggression you should consider obedience classes where healthy socialization can occur in a controlled environment. You’ll pick up tips for good training too. If your Poodle continues to bite and be aggressive hiring a professional dog trainer might be required. A thorough exam by a vet can also rule out health-related causes.
A biting Poodle is a menace. Be proactive in your attempts to stop this behavior. Reassert your authority with a firm, gentle hand. Never yell or use violence in responding to bad behavior. Give praise for good behavior. This is the best way for you to help your canine friend change its behavior.