What Provokes a Dog into Biting His Master?

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson
    A biting problem requires professional help.

    A biting problem requires professional help.

    Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    There are several reasons why a dog may bite his master. If your dog does bite, or attempt to bite you, it is important to figure out what his motivation was so you can come up with a fix. Ignoring the issue, or assuming it was an isolated incident, can create bigger problems down the road.

    Guarding and Protection

    If your dog bites when you lean over to pick up his toy or food dish, he is probably feeling protective. Biting because he wants to protect his possessions is a dangerous habit. If you notice your dog starts acting protective, you can put a quick stop to the problem by keeping toys picked up unless you are actively playing with him and giving him just enough food for him to finish and then picking his dish up. In other words, don't give him anything to guard.

    Old and Grouchy

    As dogs age, it is normal for them to get a little grouchy. Their hearing and eyesight are not as good as they once were, and they may have various aches and pains. Take your dog in for a checkup. If your vet thinks he may be in chronic pain, he may be able to provide some medication to make him more comfortable. Otherwise, try to work around your dog's weaknesses, walk into the room talking so you don't startle him, and make sure he has somewhere quiet where he can rest.

    Sick or Injured

    If growling, grouchy behavior is out of character for your dog and he bites suddenly, he may not feel well. Notice if there have been other symptoms that he may be ill, such as a change in appetite. A visit to the vet can rule out injury or sickness.


    Some dogs have a more nervous nature than others. If your dog bites at you when you reach down to reassure him during a thunderstorm or while the neighbors are setting off fireworks, it is probably in response to fear. In the future, try to avoid these scenarios by putting him in his crate before the scary activity begins.

    Rowdy Play

    Rowdy play, either with you or another dog, can get your pup cranked up and result in an accidental bite. Of course, the fact that it was an accident doesn't make it any less frightening or painful. If your dog gets overly excited during play, cut the play periods short before he loses control, and take him for a long walk first to work off some excess energy.

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    About the Author

    With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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