Aptly named man's best friend, dogs bring their owners unconditional love, loyalty and companionship. However, dogs who bite can be a headache. Canine biting habits not only are dangerous for dog owners, but such tendencies can also expose owners to lawsuit liability. Fortunately, with proper training and rehabilitation, biting habits in dogs can usually be cured.
Protection of property and territory is a common reason that dogs bite. Often, dogs snap when they feel their food, toys or other property is at risk of being taken. Early training can minimize this behavior. Teach your dog to wait while you place his food before him. Instruct him to sit or lie down, and then remove the food and put it back. Approach the food bowl occasionally while the dog is eating and put treats inside so that he understands that people approaching his food is not negative.
Dogs who are scared or uncertain of their surroundings commonly project that fear by biting. Such fear is generally directed at strangers, workers or neighbors. After adopting a dog, make sure he is exposed early to different people, animals and situations. For instance, make a trip to the veterinarian with your dog just to meet the vet and allow the dog to get a feel for the clinic. Leave some treats in the mailbox with a note asking the mail carrier to give the treats to your pooch. This way, the dog learns that strangers are not the enemy.
Behavioral training should begin as soon as your dog is adopted. Join a dog training class or research the best training practices at home. Set limits on the dog's behavior. Do not teach your dog to chase people or attack others, even if playing. Canines often can't understand the difference between playing and real-life situations. Seek professional help if your dog's biting habits do not improve. Experts who can help include veterinarians, animal behaviorists or qualified dog trainers. Community animal care and control agencies or your local humane society may also offer helpful services.
Spaying And Neutering
Spaying or neutering a dog reduces aggression toward humans. A spayed or neutered dog is much less likely to bite. The routine procedure will also reduce a dog's desire to roam and fight with other canines. Puppies as young as 8 weeks of age can be spayed or neutered, but most experts say any time before 6 months of age is best. Consult your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your pet.
Alicia Gallegos is a journalist in northwestern Indiana. She previously wrote for the "American Medical News, "a Chicago-based health newspaper published by the American Medical Association. She began her career at the South Bend Tribune, where she covered public safety, courts, food safety, education and health care.