The most common cause of biting in dogs is a feeling of fear. Dogs who are not socialized while they are young tend to see strangers and other dogs as threatening and quickly try to dominate them with displays of aggression. Biting is an unacceptable behavior in any dog, especially large dogs. A big dog who bites someone is more likely to cause serious physical harm for which you can be held liable. This may not seem like a big problem if you have a small dog but if your pup is escalating every encounter to the point of physical aggression you can’t be sure that the other dog with not return the favor.
An unwanted dog bite can be dangerous for everyone involved. Here are a few steps you can take to stop your dog from biting:
Meeting a stranger
If your dog acts aggressively toward strangers he probably is just nervous around new people and doesn’t understand the difference between a stranger and a threat. To fix this problem find someone your dog has never met (Preferably a dog-lover) and have them help you train your dog. Remember, you are training your dog to be calm and welcoming to strangers so you will have to repeat this process with as many new people as it takes to get the desired result.
- First, put your pup on a leash. Make sure his collar is tight enough that you can assure Fido won’t escape. You should also keep the leash tight enough so your dog cannot lunge at your willing guest.
- Once you have all that set up, have the visitor approach. Make sure she approaches slowly in a non-threatening manner. Have her keep eye contact with you the entire time, completely ignoring your dog. Many dogs get scared when a stranger approaches too quickly which triggers a fight or flight response. You do not want this.
- Before you start training give your assistant some treats to hold in her pocket. While she is standing in front of you have her turn off to the side. You want to give the impression that she is completely ignoring your dog. Most aggression toward strangers comes from attention. If the visitor acts like your dog doesn’t exist then the aggression will likely turn into curiosity.
- Once the visitor has a approached have her drop the treats on the ground around her at a consistent pace. Your dog will then go for the bait. When your dog eats the treats around the stranger he is associating a reward (Treats) with a new experience (Meeting a stranger).
- When your dog has calmed down a reasonable amount walk with your visiting assistant through your home dropping treats on the ground all the while. Have a seat on your sofa and have a chat while still ignoring your dog.
- Once your dog has calmed down enough around the visitor and is comfortable eating the treats around her, have your assistant hold out a treat in her hand. Make sure she is ignoring the dog completely. Once your dog eats the treat (Without biting the hand) praise your dog for his openness.
- When you are done, have your guest leave. After a few days repeat the process with the same person slowly reducing the frequency at which she drops the treats. Each time, have your guest slowly acknowledge your dog’s presence without engaging until your dog is comfortable having them in your home.
Don’t worry if your dog does not immediately pick up on the training. Eventually, with enough patience and practice, your dog will be happy to meet new people. Make sure you repeat this process with multiple people of varying ages and genders so your dog will learn to be comfortable around anybody who walks in the door.
Meeting another dog
Some dogs simply can’t stand being around other dogs. Inter-dog aggression is usually caused by a lack of socialization as a puppy. If your dog hasn’t been properly exposed to other dogs he may grow to fear them, resulting in unwarranted aggression. You can’t go your dog’s entire life without encountering another dog, so what’s the solution? Easy, use the avoidance method.
Avoidance is a training method in which, you simply act like other dogs don’t exist and keep walking. By doing this we can ensure that your dog knows every meeting doesn’t have to be eventful. You can simply walk past another dog and nothing bad happens. This conditions your dog to behave calmly whenever he sees another dog. Nobody wants to see their dog bite another dog. This can cause serious damage to both dogs if they get in a fight. It is best to nip the problem in the bud.
There are a few ways to use the avoidance method. We will be using another owner to help with our training. Don’t worry if you can’t find anyone to assist you. This training can be done at any dog park or anywhere you can find another dog.
- Put your dog on his leash, making sure his collar is tight. Also keep your leash relatively taut, like you would on a normal walk. Don’t worry, we won’t be getting that close to other dogs.
- Make sure you are calm and focused. Dogs have the uncanny ability to sense what their owner is feeling. If you are tense, your dog will pick up on this and tense up also. If you are calm your dog will reflect that emotion back at you. This will make training much easier.
- Go to a neutral location. Dogs are naturally more territorial and protective of their home. To prevent this, move to a location that neither your, nor your assistant’s dog, feels at home. A secluded park is a great place to practice avoidance training.
- Have your assistant walk their dog a few yards from you and your dog. Make sure they are not walking directly toward you, rather pick a destination somewhere behind you and off to the side.
- Without looking at the other dog, or even acknowledging its existence, walk past the other dog. Do not tense up the leash, rather make sure that neither dog is close enough to even sniff the other. If your dog stops or slows down to stare at the other dog get in his way and keep walking. This will teach your pup that other dogs are not threats. Everybody is just trying to go on their way.
- Repeat this method a few times, rewarding your dog when he is calm. If he acts out, pulling, barking, etc. keep walking and ignore him. When he realizes that these types of behavior don’t get a reaction he will stop.
With enough repetition, your dog will become calm and ignore the other dog as you pass by. Try this with a few different dogs and owners, making sure they follow the same steps. Once your dog is calm enough, try taking him to a dog park or anywhere frequented by dogs. Use these same methods there, making sure your dog doesn’t feel cornered by the other dogs. If a stranger wants your dog to meet theirs, politely decline and tell them that you are training him to avoid confrontations with other dogs. If your dog starts to feel threatened by another dog, get on one knee with your hand on his chest. Tell the other owner to please move along. This will prevent your dog from getting cornered and lashing out in fear.
Hopefully, you and your dog learned from and were helped by this article. Have any other training methods you would like to share? Drop a comment below. Want to learn more about how to train your dog? Check out my free Ebook; Dogs 101: The Owner’s Handbook by signing up for ThePawsHub Email list!
Be sure to like and follow on social media! I promise not to bite 😉