Many dog owners have to deal with their dog nipping and biting at some point, most often when the dog is young or if their older pooch wasn’t adequately trained as a puppy. It can sometimes be a challenge to control this behavior, especially in older dogs, but it is vital that you do so. A puppy that nips and bites is considered a nuisance but an adult dog with a tendency to bite is dangerous to others and may have to be put down. Be proactive in your efforts to prevent trouble of this kind.
Nip the Problem in the Bud with your Puppy
Training your puppy not to bite should be a standard and important part of the training process. In these formative months you are giving the dog an understanding of its world that will benefit you both for the dog’s entire life. Knowing it must not bite or show aggressive behavior is part of that understanding.
Never assume that your puppy is biting just to be playful. This play fighting is how young dogs learn within a wild pack which animals are dominant. A young pup is instinctually challenging for position and allowing the behavior to persist will give it reason to think it is in charge. All good puppy training begins with the owner’s assertion of authority over the dog. Putting a stop to aggressive behavior is the best way to do that.
When your puppy nips or bites it is best to simulate what would happen in a litter or pack. Give a short yelp to let the dog know the bite hurt and also respond with a light pinch on the dog’s flank. Also give a stern, but not harsh, warning to stop it. While some recommend giving the dog a chew toy it is best to wait until the dog understands that biting is not acceptable first. A chew toy helps the dog burn off anxiety or steam but doesn’t teach it that aggressive behavior won’t be tolerated. If you are having trouble changing your dog’s behavior consult a professional trainer or sign up you and your dog for an obedience class. You will both benefit immensely.
How to Stop an Older Dog from Biting
If your older pup or mature dog is still biting take immediate action to stop it. Do not play aggressively with your dog – no wrestling or tug of war with a towel, for example. It is vitally important that you assert your role as the “alpha-dog” or leader of the pack in your household. Sometimes older dog’s bite because they are anxious about their wellbeing. If your dog knows without question that you are in charge it will actually relax and bite less because its feelings of security have been enhanced.
Set rules about boundaries, how your dog should behave on walks, and even simple standards like making the dog sit patiently without whining while you fill its dish. If you teach a dog to start eating only when you’ve given your okay, then you are on your way to having a well-trained dog that won’t bite unless it is seriously threatened.
How to Stop Older Dogs from Biting
A dog that is never trained to avoid biting may become dangerous once fully mature. It may attack other pets or turn on its owner in some cases. It views itself as the pack leader and will do as it sees fit.
If you have a dog over 12-14 months that is a biter consider consulting a professional trainer. That may be your best and last chance to change the dog’s core understanding of its place in your household and to change its behavior. Otherwise you’ll have a very tough decision to make about your dog’s future.
So, begin the “no biting” training as early as possible for the dog’s wellbeing and everyone else’s. Be firm and assertive while remembering to praise and reward good behavior. Biting problems in adult dog’s can almost always be traced back to poor training when they were puppies, so don’t neglect this vital part of their development.