Maybe you’ve been playing frisbee with your dog in the backyard, or you’ve just come home from work and Fido greets you with an excited, whole body wiggle, ready to play. You get down on all fours to wrestle and roughhouse, and then it happens - your fingers or hand end up in his mouth and he just can’t stop nibbling. Dogs learn to bite their owners’ hands in a variety of ways. Puppies curiously explore the world with their mouths, young dogs might give a quick nip to get attention from their owners, and sometimes your dog might be interested in your salty skin or the remnants of the pizza you just ate.
It doesn’t matter how biting hands has become a habit, it’s important to put a stop to it before it becomes an issue and especially before your puppy moves on to the practice of biting your face, or begins to get too rough with the kids. Breaking the hand-biting habit takes some commitment, especially if your dog is a bit older, but with dedication, your dog will soon understand that people are not for biting.
Teaching your dog not to bite your hands is important to ensure your friends and family feel comfortable around your best friend, and to ensure the habit doesn’t develop into anything more serious. Before you start, you should make sure you know why your dog is biting your hands. If it truly is for play or attention, his mouth and body will be relaxed. His tail will be wagging and he may even stick it in the air as a sign of play.
However, some dogs will bite or nip out of fear or aggression. If your dog looks nervous or curls his lip in an unfriendly way before he bites, you should seek help from a trainer or behaviorist immediately to curb this bad behavior. Dogs might also nip if they are in pain, so make sure your dog doesn’t have any tender lumps, bumps, or joint pain. If you suspect your dog might be biting because he is in pain, make an appointment with your vet to assess any treatment needs.
To learn how to stop a dog from biting, you first need to determine why the pattern of your dog nipping is forming. Once you’ve determined that the hand biting is a playful bad habit and not a more serious issue, you can begin teaching your dog to stop biting your hands. Most dogs learn through play and experience, so playtime with your dog is the perfect time to start. You will need:
There are several methods you can try to stop the naughty but frisky behavior of puppy play biting. Methods like giving verbal cues work best for puppies and young dogs, while providing a chewy alternative is sometimes more effective for older dogs. Whichever method you choose, start early, and your best buddy will learn an important lesson that will help him interact with people and dogs the rest of his life.
My dog nips me or scratches every time
I go to pick her up. I usually don’t pick her up except in certain circumstances I have to. How can I get her to stop?
Hello Jenna, It sounds like she needs trust and respect for you built. I suggest desensitizing her to being touched and handled and generally adding more structure and certain obedience commands to increase her respect for you. To desensitize her to being touched practice the following as often as you can with her meal kibble. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. For example, touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold her collar and give a treat. Touch her tail gently and give a treat. Touch her belly, her other paws, her chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Touch while she is eating the treat and stop touching as soon as the food is gone. You can start this exercise while wearing thick leather gloves until she is more comfortable if she may bite when you touch even while eating food. The following methods and commands are good ways to build respect: Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you 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 If things get worse, you feel overwhelmed, things are dangerous, or you want the help, hire a professional trainer to help you with the above exercises, especially the touch with treats. Ask lots of questions and find a private trainer who specializes in aggression and behavior issues and comes well recommended by previous clients who have struggled with similar issues with their pups. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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