Your furry best friend is usually a joy to be around, but at times can turn into a nipping and biting little wolf. The pooch may nip out of fear, possessiveness, frustration, illness or pain, when he's simply playing or he may believe he's protecting his territory. Learn the procedure for leaving the room after he nips, which will teach him that the consequences of sinking his teeth into your flesh just aren't worth it.
Most puppies learn to consciously inhibit their bites through socialization while they're nursing, playing and fighting with other dogs. If a dog fails to learn bite inhibition, he could cause serious injury or even kill by not controlling the sheer power of his bite. If a puppy bites while nursing, his mother will teach him it's wrong by walking away. During play, if a puppy bites another, the injured pup will growl and yelp and stop playing while he tends to the wound. Eventually, the pup learns the consequences of nipping and bite inhibition becomes instinctual to him.
The next time your pooch bites you, show him that it hurt, even if it didn't. Let out an exclamation of pain, such as "ouch," and immediately stop interacting with him. If his teeth are clenching a body part, such as your hand, remove it slowly from his mouth without jerking it away. Never use physical punishment because it could harm your pooch and possibly cause him to bite again in self-defense. Instead, immediately walk away and leave the room. Return to the room after 30 to 60 seconds and calmly return to the activity you were previously engaged in with your pup, such as playing, recommends the ASPCA.
It may take a few repetitions of leaving the room after your pooch nips before he successfully learns bite inhibition, so be patient. It's important to be consistent with your training -- each time you're with him and he nips or even if his teeth lightly graze your flesh during mouth play, repeat the word "ouch" and leave again. By repeatedly leaving the room after he nips, he'll eventually get the message that gentle play will always be allowed, but biting comes with a high cost -- the loss of his play companion and best friend, and all fun will stop. Bite inhibition will soon become second nature to him.
Dog bites can be serious. Seek immediate medical treatment if the bite is deep enough to tear or puncture the skin and there's excessive bleeding. To further stop your pup from biting, don't train him to chase or attack others, even if it's just in fun. Avoid playing games with your pooch that encourage biting, such as tug- of-war. If he causes a serious bite to you or somebody else, take him to a vet to rule out an underlying medical condition, such as rabies, that may be contributing to his aggressive behavior. If the nipping continues, consult with a certified professional dog trainer or certified animal behaviorist.
- Petfinder: Why Dogs Bite
- ASPCA: Mouthing, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs
- Dogskool: Want To Prevent Aggression in Your Dog? Here's How to Understand the Biting Behavior and Prevent Dog Bites Now!
- The Humane Society of the United States: Prevent Your Dog From Biting
- WebMD: Aggression in Dogs
- David the Dogman: Control Puppy Chewing and Nipping
- Vetstreet: Nipping and Mouthing by Dogs
- Mayo Clinic: Animal Bites: First Aid
- Paw-Rescue: Bite Inhibition -- an Essential Part of Socialization
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