Adult dogs are sometimes aggressive and may act out by barking at or even biting humans. Little nips that may have been seen as playful behavior when your dog was just a puppy can quickly become a dangerous problem once your dog has reached adulthood. If you have young children around the house, the problem suddenly becomes that much more serious. Understanding the reasons for your dog's actions is the first step to solving the issue.
Determine the cause of your dog's anger and why he has been acting out through biting. Some common causes are many and include territorial disputes, competition for food and the protective instinct. Once you understand why the dog bites, its time to understand what the precise triggers to that aggression may be. Only once these two factors are clear to you can you begin the process of correcting his behavior.
Assert yourself as the dominant figure within the home and the dog-human relationship. Show that you are in control of your "pack" through a display of quiet but firm authority. What you are doing in essence is taking control away from your dog and reducing his status in the hierarchy of the home. Biting is usually just one element of an overall misbehaved and out of control dog and your approach should be to change all of that behavior for the better.
Eliminate cuddling and hugging sessions and replace them with constructive activities that reinforce your role as leader. For example, take your dog on orderly walks during which he heels and follows your lead at all times. Dogs enjoy the walk and remember who is in control throughout. Ignore his attempts at initiating cuddle sessions and only engage your dog when you want to. Never let him decide when interaction will occur.
Create zones inside the home where your dog can and cannot go. Instead of allowing him free reign and enforcing his sense of power, help him to realize there are places he is not allowed. When he sees that you can go wherever you please and he is limited, the reality of who is in control is evident. Apply a similar tactic to toys and bones. Take them away and only give them to your dog for short periods. This also demonstrates your authority and makes it clear that the toys and playtime are all under your control.
Continue your efforts to teach your dog that you are the lead animal in the house. Once he understands his place, he will be less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior like biting and will instead defer to your alpha status. Perhaps the most important factor in your new approach to the offending animal is to embrace the mindset that he is not just a furry human who should be treated like a member of the family. He is a dog and your family are humans so keep that separation clear at all times.
- Some dogs never learn that even their play bites hurt. Puppy's typically learn this fact when playing with their siblings and transfer it to humans over time. If your dog bites too hard in jest and not in anger, the solution may be to demonstrate the fact that it hurts you. To do so, allow him to bite you then scream in pain. Make your hand limp as if he has killed it and allow him to put two and two together. If this still does not get the message across, use a blast of mint flavored spray along with your scream to create a memorable and unwelcome sensation.
- Biting dogs can be especially dangerous and harmful for young children. Always watch any dog when it is left in the presence of children who may not be able to defend themselves from biting behavior the way you can.
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