Training

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2 min read

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How to Train Your Big Dog to Not Bite

Training

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2 min read

|

1

Comments

How to Train Your Big Dog to Not Bite
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon4-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Big dogs can be quite intimidating to people in your family as well as people your dog meets outside on walks or at neighborhood parks. Teaching your big dog not to bite from an early age is imperative for the safety of you and your family as well as those around you, but also for the safety of your dog. 

The size of a large breed dog can be enough to intimidate people, especially those who are fearful of dogs. If your dog is allowed to bite and nibble as a puppy, when he turns into an adult and is more powerful, those little puppy bites with the sharp teeth can become something serious.

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Defining Tasks

Any dog who has bitten more than once runs the risk of being in trouble with the law. So this is an important training for your dog, especially because he's a large breed. You can teach your dog some simple commands such as ‘no bite’ or ‘gentle’ once he is in training. It is much easier to train a puppy not to bite to than it is an adult a dog who's already aggressive. But with a little extra work, you can turn an aggressive dog around as well. 

Training your dog not to bite when you have food or when he takes food from your hand is a great place to start with this particular task. Also, teaching your dog not to bite during playtime will remind him not to bite when others play with him or when other animals play with him. This kind of training is important for large breeds because of their size and their strength.

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Getting Started

Training your dog not to bite people or even objects can start with giving him treats from your fingers. These treats should be small so he has to work hard to not bite your hand since that's what he will see when you offer the treat. You can also use toys, teaching your dog when it's okay to playfully be aggressive and when it's not okay to be so aggressive or to keep fighting while playing. Keep your training sessions short but take advantage of every opportunity to remind your dog not to bite even if it's not a scheduled training session.

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The Rough Play Method

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1

Good behavior

Do not encourage any rough play or poor behavior from your dog. Do encourage good behavior. When your dog is playing nicely with you, not nipping and not biting, offer him treats every so often during play time.

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Toys

Always use toys when you're playing with your big dog so he doesn't confuse hands or arms for something he is allowed to chew on such as a toy. Especially when your big dog is a puppy, he needs to chew and bite on something while teething. However, don't encourage biting on anything except a toy so as he grows older and stronger he knows what is acceptable to bite.

3

Excited play

When your dog, whether a puppy or an adult large breed, gets overly excited at play, immediately stop the play session. Be sure to tell others who are playing with your dog to stop as well when the dog is too excited to control himself.

4

Direct contact

Do not play with your dog without using a toy. Owners who have trouble with large dogs biting will often use their hands around the dog's mouth during play. Do not allow direct contact between your body and your dog's body during playtime. Always use a toy for your dog to play and mouth.

5

A time out

Give your dog a time out of sorts, once his behavior becomes excited and rough. Have him lay down on his bed with a chew toy away from people so he can calm down, still chew, and play quietly.

6

Other dogs

While you are teaching your dog not to bite, keep his time with other dogs limited to short play sessions and to only one or two dogs rather than a large group of dogs.

The Gentle Command Method

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1

Tempt

Stand in front of your dog and try to tempt him with a treat in your hand.

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Eager

When your dog goes for the treat, say the command "gentle", and give him the treat.

3

Nip

If your dog nips at your fingers or bites your hands trying to get the treat out of your hand, go back and say ‘ah ah.’ Repeat your command keyword 'gentle' and try to give him the treat again.

4

Treat

You don't want to tease your dog by not giving him the treat, so the second time, give him the treat even if he nips your hand. However, try to drop it before he gets his mouth on your hand.

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Repeat

Repeat the steps above until you can hand your dog a treat very gently without him nibbling at your fingers.

6

In play

Once your dog understands the command 'gentle' by learning it through earning treat from your hand without biting, begin to use the commands during playtime. Play with your dog and anytime he puts his mouth on your skin or your clothing, use the command word 'gentle' to slow him down and remind him not to bite.

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Practice

Continue to practice the 'gentle' command anytime your dog needs to be reminded that biting is not okay. This could be in situations where food is involved, where play is involved, where children or other people near your dog are involved, or with other animals. Anytime your dog hears the word "gentle", he should know to back up and not use his mouth for biting.

The Dog's Empathy Method

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1

Rough play

Create a situation with your dog so that you are playing rough together. Do not include any toys in your rough playing just use your hands.

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Yelp

When your dog mouths your hands, continue to play with him, allowing him to gently have his mouth on your hands. If he bites, yell out a high-pitched yelp. This sound should mimic a hurt animal.

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Limp limb

After you have yelped loudly, let your hand or arm hang limp for your dog to observe.

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Dog's attention

This yelp should get your dog's attention. He should stop biting and potentially even stop mouthing your limp hand or arm and stop and look at you.

5

Ignore

After you have gotten your dog's attention or he has stepped away from you or at least pulled his mouth back away from your hand or arm that he bit, ignore him for a moment. He may not chew and may even begin to lick your arm.

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Praise

If he stays away from you or only offers you sweet loving licks to help you with your pain, offer him some verbal praise.

7

Repeat

Repeat this method several times until your dog understands that you can play rough together if he can not bite. This works well for large dogs who are around children, which will be around the dog's face quite often. Do not practice this with children or with anyone who may think this is how your dog plays, such as your children.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 12/15/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Violet

Dog breed icon

Redbone Coonhound

Dog age icon

8 Months

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Question

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We've had her since she was born, and she's always had a problem with biting. There's small children in the house, so It's definitely a big problem. She also is VERY hyper, and everything we've tried to calm her down has failed. She's a very loving dog, and we've taught her several tricks in the past, but she just doesn't know how to calm down and not bite. She's a mix of Redbone Coonhound and Husky.

March 18, 2019

Violet's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maggie, I suggest hiring a professional trainer who uses both positive reinforcement, fair corrections, and a lot of structure and boundaries to help you. She needs to be taught leave it. Check out the "Leave It" method from the article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite She also needs a lot of structure and boundaries. Learning a Place command, crate manners, a structured heel, and other things that build self-control. You cannot change personality but you can stimulate her mentally and teach better self-control to help her focus her energy on the correct things. When she tries to bite one of the kids you can also enforce the leave it command for your kids - if she continues biting after being told Leave It (which you must teach first), you can get between her and the kids, tell her "Out", and firmly walking toward her until she backs all the way out of the room. Block her from getting back to them, then when she calms down or leaves, go back to what you were doing before. If she goes back over to them again without being told "Okay!" first, then repeat walking toward her until she is out of the area, while saying "Out" in a calm and firm tone of voice. Repeat this until she gets realizes you mean business and leaves them alone. At first, expect to have to repeat this a lot. The more consistent you are, the sooner she should realize you mean what you say. If her aggression doesn't seem to be playful puppy biting (even though that can really hurt!) And instead seems like a more dangerous form of aggression, I suggest hiring a professional trainer to help with this and not doing it on your own. Here are some commands to practice to increase her respect for you and self-control: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 18, 2019


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