While the biting game that puppies play can be fun when your dog is small, it is not so fun when baby teeth disappear and adult teeth come in. Mouthing is a natural behaviour of puppies but adult teeth are far more damaging than puppy teeth. Adult dogs that nip or bite were not taught to not bite as puppies and this is a behaviour that is not welcome.
Once your dog’s behaviour goes beyond mouthing it can lead to serious issues. Some dogs bite in an aggressive manner while others are doing it out of fear. Both situations can be dangerous because biting can lead to injury to other dogs and to people. This can lead to legal issues and in the worst scenario it can mean that your dog needs to be put down. Puppies must be taught not to put their mouth on a human. You need to work with your dog to stop this type of behaviour right away when it occurs.
What Causes a Dog to Bite?
Puppies start to bite when they are teething. The pain from new teeth coming in can cause a puppy to try to get rid of it by biting down on something. The puppy will bite down on anything to get rid of teething pain including hands, arms, toys, etc. Most often this behaviour will stop once the teeth come in.
Some dogs bite out of fear. If a dog is afraid it tends to react by biting to show that it is scared. Some dogs will bite as a warning that it doesn’t like to be in the situation that it is in. Other dogs bite for attention. The bite offers a signal to anyone that the dog has a certain territory and that the person should leave its area or pay attention to the dog. Certain breeds of dog nip because they are aggressive and this lets people or other animals know that they need their space and that they do not want to be touched.
When your puppy starts to teeth and tries to nip or bite you they are trying to reduce their pain. You can offer assistance to your puppy by giving it items to chew on such as a chew toy or a bone. Sometimes older dogs bite as well and this can be simply because they weren’t taught to not bite when they were young.
- When your dog starts to bite or mouth, give a firm, clear “No” in a “tough” voice and immediately ignore your dog – follow the no talk, no touch, no eye contact rule. Ignore them completely!
- Wait 10 seconds and then begin patting your dog. Make sure you are using long calming strokes rather than vigorous patting so you don’t encourage biting/mouthing. As soon as your dog begins to mouth you again, repeat Steps 1 and 2. Dogs aren’t fond of being ignored and this is a humane way to teach your dog that biting/mouthing is not the way to go. Most dogs usually stop mouthing quite quickly with this method so long as you make it clear that you don’t like biting. Remember you need to make it clear to your dog and you can do this by ensuring your voice is authoritative when you say “NO” – make it deeper, louder and more commanding than usual. In addition, make sure when you ignore your dog you REALLY IGNORE it.