Dog training is equal parts challenge and reward. Unfortunately, some skills are more challenging than others to teach your pet. The hardest feat of all is teaching your pet not to do something – nipping or mouthing, for example.
If your dog is prone to playful biting, you may be tempted to look the other way. After all, he’s just having fun and getting caught up in his excitement – right? Unfortunately, this is not an acceptable behavior even under the most benign of circumstances. And that includes nipping, mouthing and play biting.
Why Biting is Never Acceptable for Dogs
One of the first rules of dog training is that your pet’s teeth never, ever belong on humans. This rule is non-negotiable.
Unfortunately, your dog uses his mouth to explore many aspects of his world. His teeth are also his primary means of defense and attack. Unless you use evidence-based dog training techniques to establish acceptable behavior, your dog can develop behavioral patterns that pose a bite risk.
Dogs bite primarily out of aggression, frustration, possessiveness or the drive for prey. When you ensure that your canine companion receives proper training, you can help eliminate this risk in all but the most extreme circumstances.
Start Dog Training Early to Prevent Biting
Puppy nips may be cute and harmless but, as your dog grows, his jaws will strengthen and his teeth will grow. Biting and chewing can easily extend to clothing, furniture and a myriad of other possessions that you don’t want to be destroyed.
Although dog training professionals may have their own techniques to address unwanted mouthing or biting, the ASPCA recommends teaching your pet that his biting causes you pain.
Puppies usually learn to control the use of their mouths from their mother and their siblings. You can mimic that process by letting out a sharp, high-pitched yelp of your own when he bites, followed by letting your hand go limp. This should stop him in his tracks and, if so, praise him for his response. If it doesn’t, withdraw your attention as well. Repeating this process a few times should be enough to teach him to keep his teeth off your skin.
When you catch him chewing on something he shouldn’t, simply provide an acceptable substitute – typically one of his toys – followed by lots of praise. This process will require patience and diligence on your part but the rewards will be well worth the challenges.
Dealing with Elevated or Problem Biting Behavior
Although mouthing is typically a normal dog behavior, it may manifest in some dogs as a result of aggression or fear. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect the difference.
Some common signs of problem biting include the showing of teeth and rapid biting followed by an equally rapid retreat, like a snake. Watch your dog’s posture and facial expressions. If his body is rigid or his face appears tense, this may indicate a serious problem.
In this case, it’s necessary to contact a dog training professional who is equipped to deal with aggression. Attempting to deal with this behavioral issue yourself can result in injury to you, your family members, friends or strangers. You can also cause serious behavioral damage to your dog if your reactions incite elevated aggression.
The certified dog training professionals of Innovative K9 Academy understand the challenges associated with biting behavior, as well as how to address them successfully. We are based in Salt Lake City but we provide professional pet training and doggy boot camps to clients throughout Northern Utah. Contact us today to learn more about our expert dog training programs.