How to Train Your Dog to Not Bite

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’re strolling down the road when you notice your dog's tail suddenly drops and he stands perfectly still. You follow his gaze and see another dog approaching. You hold onto his leash firmly, but as soon as he gets within a few feet he lunges for the other dog, teeth exposed. You firmly pull him away and, fortunately, the other owner is quick to react. It’s another close shave, thankfully nobody was hurt this time.

You’ve also seen your kids playing with him, which is usually all plain sailing until he gets fed up and snaps at their arm or leg. It’s just a warning bite, but it doesn’t half worry you that something more sinister could take place one day. Training him not to bite could save a loved one from serious injury, and you from a hefty vet bill if he injures another dog.

Defining Tasks

Unfortunately, training your dog not to bite isn’t always a smooth ride. The behavior will have gradually developed and become habit, and breaking the habit isn’t always easy. Training will consist of obedience commands to regain control. You will also need to manage his environment to prevent biting triggers and reduce the chances of biting taking place. If he’s young, he should learn quickly and the behavior won’t have been ingrained for too long. Then you may need just a few weeks to fully stamp out any biting. If he’s older and been aggressive for years, it may take a few months to fully break the habit.

Getting this training right is essential for the health of yourself, as well as other individuals and pets. Worst case scenario, he could bite a child and be court ordered to be destroyed, and nobody wants that.

Getting Started

Before you commence training you will need to get your hands on a few bits and bobs. A muzzle and a body harness will help prevent any biting during training. For one of the methods, you will also need a citronella or electronic collar, plus a water spraying bottle. 

You will need time to dedicate to training each day, as consistency is key. Plus, you will need patience and resilience to see this through, despite the occasional slip-up.

Once you’ve got all of that together it’s time to get to work!

The Always React Method

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Step
1
Use words
When he does bite, it’s important you give him a quick verbal sign to tell him he’s behaved badly. Saying ‘NO’ or ‘STOP’ in a clear, firm voice will help reinforce this. You don’t want to terrify him, but he needs to know you’re not playing around.
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2
Taste deterrents
Apply a taste deterrent to your hands or anywhere else he usually bites. They can be bought from a range of online retailers and stores. He will quickly associate biting with a horrible taste and want to stop doing it.
Step
3
Never rough house with him
If he’s biting when you play, it’s important you play gently and don’t get him too excited. It is often a heightened state of excitement that triggers biting and dogs mirror their owners behavior, so keep it relatively calm.
Step
4
Consistent praise
When you are playing, reward him consistently for good behavior. While he’s playing gently and not trying to bite, reinforce the behavior with rewards. The combination of positive and negative reinforcement will quickly get the message across about what behavior is, and isn’t, acceptable.
Step
5
Daily practice
Practice all of these steps every day for several weeks. Breaking a biting habit will take time, so you must be consistent with each measure, otherwise he may get confused and return to biting. After many weeks of no biting you can cut down the frequency of treats during play until they are no longer needed.
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The Redirect Attention Method

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Play tug of war
Many dogs bite because they have too much energy and because they don’t understand what they can and can’t bite. By playing tug of war for a few minutes each day, he will get the biting temptation out of him there.
Step
2
Act fast
If you are approaching a dog and you think he will get aggressive, firmly pull him away and cross the road. By removing him from a situation that is likely to trigger biting, over time he will break the habit through lack of choice.
Step
3
React to signs of aggression
As soon as he starts to display aggressive behavior during playing, get the tug of war toy out. If you do this each time, he will start to associate biting only with the toy and game. When you are playing with tug of war toy, be sure to keep it upbeat and playful, dogs respond best when they think they are playing a game.
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4
If he does bite, don’t punish him
If you scare him, next time he may bite out of fear. Dogs that are terrified are often unpredictable so it’s important you react calmly. Simply remove him from the situation and give him some time to calm down.
Step
5
Give him more exercise each day
If he bites because he’s full of energy and excited, then tiring him out may help stem his desire to bite. If you can’t give him more walks, then play fetch during walks to keep him sprinting, and encourage him to swim in ponds you pass. Both will knacker him out and leave him napping in the afternoon rather than terrorizing everyone in the house.
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The Manage Environment Method

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The power of H20
Take a water spray bottle with you when you go for walks and even around the home. As soon as he bites, give a spray close to his face. You don’t want to spray it right in his eyes, just close enough to his face that he won’t like it. He will soon associate biting with that unpleasant consequence.
Step
2
Utilize a collar
Invest in a remote controlled shock or citronella collar. They can be bought from pet stores and online and can be very effective in cutting out bad behavior. Each time he bites, hit the button on the remote and an unpleasant spray or shock will make him think twice about biting again.
Step
3
A muzzle
If he is big and persistently biting ,use a muzzle until the behavior is under control. They take just a couple of minutes to fit before walks and will save any serious incidents taking place. They will also help him learn aggressive behavior comes with significant drawbacks.
Step
4
Reward him when he plays calmly
It is important you don’t just show him how not to react, but that you also hammer home how you do want him to behave. So when he plays gently, give him the odd treat and praise.
Step
5
Be consistent
Biting will have become an ingrained behavior, so it is vital you are persistent with the above measures if you want to cut it out. As soon as you stop reacting to any signs of aggression it may seep back in. So keep up the behavior for a few weeks even after the biting seems to have stopped. Only then can you lose the muzzle and the deterrent collars.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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