How to Brush a Dog That Bites

Medium
10 - 30 Minutes
1 Weeks

Introduction

Brushing a dog that bites can be quite scary. If you have a dog who bites you may not have a groomer who is willing to touch your dog. This might mean you're stuck brushing your dog all the time and you could potentially be bitten. 

Outside of the obvious muzzle you can put on your dog to keep him from biting, one thing you can do is retrain your dog to not bite. If he's biting when he's being brushed, then it's likely because he doesn't enjoy brushing, he's fearful of the brush, or he's been abused before. Though there could be other reasons your dog is upset and bites during brushing, you can retrain him to be tolerant and well-mannered during brushing.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog bites, he probably bites for a reason. Typically this is for protection or out of fear. Either way, he's your little guy and spending some extra time showing him he is safe with nothing to worry about will go a long way. Also, rewards for good behavior, even if they are short bouts of good behavior, will go a long way in retraining your dog.

The Short and Rewarding Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Step
1
Prepare
Pick one brush that will work through your dog’s fur quickly. A pin brush or a slicker brush will be good for longer fur and undercoat. A rake or slicker brush will pull undercoat fur without causing pain. A slicker brush is good for fur that easily tangles. A bristle brush or rubber brush is good for short fur. Gather lots of treats and a toy as well to prepare for brushing. Plan a soft bed for comfort as well.
Step
2
Sit
Sit with your dog and begin by talking with him and give him a treat or two. This will set the tone and mood for your dog.
Step
3
Brush
Let your dog sniff the brush you’ve chosen. Remember, only bring one tool to these first few sessions. Your goal will be to train your biting dog to tolerate a brushing without biting. Avoid overwhelming him with too many tools.
Step
4
Small areas
Focus your brushing on small areas, one area at a time. Use one hand to brush and the other hand to treat your dog while brushing. For instance, brush down your dog’s neck with one hand while giving him a treat with the other hand. Watch both hands so your dog does not bite.
Step
5
Redirect
If your dog growls or snaps at you, pull both hands away and start again with a treat. Plan to spend a lot of time redirecting and treating your dog. You want him to associate the brush and the act of brushing with the value of treats and rewards.
Step
6
Try again
Let your dog sniff the brush and offer a treat again. Begin brushing with one hand and treating with the other. Keep doing this for each section you are brushing, offering more treats as you move along.
Step
7
Reposition
You may need to reposition your dog to get to other areas, or you may need to give your dog a break. For the first few sessions, don’t worry about brushing your entire dog. Focus more on rewarding him for what he allows you to brush without biting.
Step
8
Patience
Be patient with your dog and show him empathy and love with a soft, gentle voice and treats to redirect his anxiety. Avoid using a harsh tone or getting angry with your dog. If he bites, correct with a firm “No!” but otherwise, keep your tone quiet and calm.
Recommend grooming method?

The Treat Toys Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Step
1
Plan
Set up a comfortable place for your dog to lie while brushing him. You will want to be as close to him as possible while still maintaining a safe distance in the event he bites.
Step
2
Prepare
Fill a Kong or a puzzle toy with treats for your dog to chew on, instead of you, while you are brushing him. Giving your dog a distraction won’t work for very long, so plan small sections to brush while offering him different treats as you move along.
Step
3
Toy
Offer your dog the puzzle toy or Kong filled with treats or peanut butter. Watch as he plays and give him verbal praise. Pet your pup while he’s playing but avoid touching his toy. This will help build trust with him. If he’s territorial, touching his treat toy will cause anxiety.
Step
4
Brush
As your dog is preoccupied with the puzzle toy, begin brushing him in one small area. Use slow strokes with a light pressure so the dog is not feeling rushed or anxious with your force or speed. Set the tone with verbal praise for staying focused on the toy.
Step
5
Redirect
If your dog growls or bites at your hand, show him the brush and let him sniff it. He shouldn’t be as interested in the brush because it does not have a treat on it as the toy does. If he takes his attention away from the treat toy, show it to him again. Do not hesitate to refill it to keep his attention longer.
Step
6
Move
If your dog has allowed you to brush small sections without biting and you need to move him to reach other sections, take an opportunity to take a break. When you come back to re-position him, get him to sit or lie on the opposite side and repeat the steps above.
Step
7
Patience
Try not to be surprised if your biting dog will not allow a full brushing the first few times you brush him. Focus at first on getting some brushing done without any biting before worrying about brushing him in full.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If your dog needs a break, give it to him. He's more likely to get frustrated if you are not offering breaks every so often.
  • Try to remember a treat goes a long way. Even your large dog will work hard for a small treat.
  • Pay attention to when your dog becomes aggressive while you're brushing him.
  • At first, only brush areas your dog will let you brush, such as his neck or just his back.
  • Build trust with your dog by brushing areas he's comfortable with and then slowly moving to other areas with lots of rewards and empathy.
  • Pay attention to how your dog reacts to certain motions. For instance, if you have a rescue dog there is always a chance he will flinch when you raise your hand or a brush over his head.
  • Bring the brush to your dog's fur from a different direction if your dog flinches every time you bring it to his fur from the same direction. This is especially true which dogs who have a past you are unaware of.
  • Get your dog involved in the brushing process and have him sniff the brush before you brush his fur.
  • Even if you are frustrated because your dog has bitten you or attempted to bite you, try to remain calm and keep your voice calm. Any anxiety you have will project onto your dog, making him all the more anxious.

Conclusion

Just because you have a Brutus doesn't mean your pup needs to be brutal. Biting while brushing is not acceptable behavior. But don't avoid pampering your pup just because he doesn't understand the expectations. Train him to be accepting of a brush and a good grooming and make him beautiful from paw to tail.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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