Dog Biting - Why and What to Do About It
There are over 4.5 million annual dog bite incidents reported in the
Socialization is very important from the earliest stages of life.
If a dog is fearful or wishes to avoid what it isn't sure of, it may become aggressive in an attempt to make the problem or situation go away. This is the most common cause of children being bitten. Dogs that are not socialized with children can possibly react to situations by biting them. You do not want your dog to be afraid or become aggressive; therefore, socialization is very important from the earliest stages of life.
You must learn to be a pack leader who is trusted.
It is up to the dog’s guardians to establish appropriate boundaries and behaviors in all aspects of living as a family pack unit through an education process without physical abuse by the guardian. Physical punishment is the quickest way to erode the dog's trust in you. A dog can love you almost unconditionally because of its characteristic to be loyal, but that doesn't mean it trusts and respects you. If trust is not there, the dog may eventually become aggressive for self-preservation, out of fear or lack of confidence.
Aggressive tendencies, inappropriate reactions to strangers or rough play should not be ignored and immediate steps should be taken to correct such behavior, including the guarding of toys and food.
Dogs prefer the guardian to be the pack leader.
When these behaviors are present the dog is assuming the leadership role which has not been appropriately assumed by its guardian. When a dog assumes the leadership role, its guardians are uncomfortable in their relationship with the dog, while the dog is assuming a role it would prefer not to have. The dog would naturally prefer to be a member of the family pack with a human pack leader in control.
Biting is often associated with rough play that is to be enjoyed with your dog, but there is a distinct difference between biting in play and biting that turns into an act of domination and disrespect for the guardian. Your dog’s happiness and ability to be in a balanced state of mind depends on rules and boundaries.
A dog is perfectly capable of being trained to grab enthusiastically and gently without crossing the line to aggressive biting behavior. This lesson is naturally taught by its mother, littermates and other pack members, but because we take the dog away from this environment before this learning process is completed, it is necessary for the guardians to take over and complete the training. If at all possible, it is helpful for a puppy to socialize with other puppies and socialized dogs where it learns the lessons of interaction with and from other dogs.
Puppies learn socialization skills by playing with each other.
Young dogs bite each other everywhere and anywhere when they play. This is when they learn limits to their biting and learn control and boundaries to their play. If they are too rough with their playmates, they will find out by how the other dogs and puppies react to them. This is something that canines can accomplish and teach each other through trial and error, learning from their own experiences in the early stages far more effectively and efficiently than we can teach them.
Under no circumstances do you hit.
If the dog happens to bite too hard during a play activity you can mimic their yelp or give a stern OUCH and a NO BITING command with a pause from the activity to let the dog know that it hurt. If you allow the dog to bite a bit too aggressively some of the time you will be sending an inconsistent message and biting will never be completely eliminated.
If your dog grabs or jerks a toy from your hand during this play activity, it is time to suspend play, remove the toy from the dog’s possession and issue another verbal correction of NO BITING. The dog must understand that the biting is too aggressive and you don't like it. You do not want to give the dog the impression that you suddenly do not like it by becoming abusive. Make up afterwards after a short time period, on your terms, not the dog's.
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