Every dog owner loves spending time with their dog, so when your best friend nips at you it can be very disconcerting. Truth be told dog bites are very common in the United States, with over 700,000 severe bites occurring annually. All dogs are capable of biting, so it’s no wonder that it’s such a common trait. So what makes your dog want to lash out and bite? Are there external factors that are provoking your canine? It’s important to know what exactly is motivating your dog to engage in this particular behavior, as it can sometimes grow into a real problem.
The Root of the Behavior
A really common reason for your canine companion to be engaging in biting or other sorts of aggression is as a way of establishing dominance. This is most commonly seen in the home, oddly enough. Your dog has a limited amount of expression he can engage in. If you’re pushing them towards a specific behavior like getting down from the couch or learning a new command, they can sometimes growl or bite to tell you that they aren’t pleased by what you’re doing. Your dog most likely views himself as the “pack leader” in your home. When you tell him what to do, he’s genuinely confused as this goes against what he perceives to be the household hierarchy. This sort of dominant behavior is most prevalent in unneutered male canines, as well as breeds with a particular dominant streak. Engage in training early in your dog’s life to ensure that this doesn’t become the normal in your home.
Your canine may also be trying to protect something of value. This can be quite literally anything, but most often tends to be consumables, treats, or even another member of your house. Sometimes your dog can even be protecting one household member from another, perhaps against an act of perceived aggression. This motivation again is most often seen in unneutered dogs and can be circumvented with early training.
Your dog will also move towards biting if they feel threatened or afraid for themselves. Dogs most notably engage in fear biting when confronted by new humans or animals. If you’ve been raising your dog alone in a quiet apartment or home, they may simply not be acclimated to the kinds of stressors new people provide. Unfortunately, there are no hints as to which types of dogs will exhibit especially fearful behaviors, although anecdotal evidence suggests that smaller dogs have tended towards this behavior historically.
Encouraging the Behavior
Pain can push your dog to lash out as well. Biting behaviors are almost always indicative of stressors affecting your canine, which means that this behavior shouldn’t ever be encouraged. Pain-based biting is incredibly common across all breeds. If your dog has been injured and you’re tending to his wounds, it is quite common for them to bite. Again, your dog has a limited amount of ways to express himself and will use everything he has available to get his point across. Remember this when disciplining your dog, as some owners can get a little too energetic and cause unwanted behaviors to grow rather than diminish.
If your dog has gotten into a fight with another animal, biting is almost sure to follow. Your dog will defend himself when necessary, and biting is a natural component of that. If you see your beloved canine get into some sort of altercation, please take care that you stay clear of danger while attempting to help your dog. There’s never a way to judge what a wild or unknown animal will do when it feels attacked, and it could always come after you. If possible, contact your local animal authority to help in breaking up any unwanted animal entanglements.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dogs will also sometimes just bite out of frustration. Just like their human counterparts, dogs can lose patience in situations and lash out. This tends to happen most frequently when your dog is being constantly approached by a small child or children. Young kids haven’t learned how to properly approach and deal with domesticated animals, and may cross physical boundaries that make your dog less than comfortable.
The simplest way to help your dog learn to avoid biting is with proper training. This is crucial to helping your dog develop wanted behaviors without having to resort to often traumatic methods like shock collars and muzzles. Your canine is primed to be a wonderful companion, but he needs the proper tools to comprehend what you’re trying to communicate with him, and this is where training becomes so important.
No one wants their canine to snap or bite. That’s why it’s crucial to start training your dog from the moment they arrive inside of your home. Encourage biting on toys or bones, and drain excess aggression with exercise. With dedication and a little effort, you may just see your dog’s chewing habits bite the dust!