How to Train a Lhasa Apso to Not Bite

How to Train a Lhasa Apso to Not Bite
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon3-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Lhasa Apsos have earned quite a reputation for being biters, but this is in most cases simply a misconception. With the right training, you can teach your Lhasa to stop biting at everyone. But, in many cases, biting is simply your dog's reaction to certain situations. The best way to get the pooch to stop biting is to understand why they are doing so in the first place. There are many reasons why the might be biting you, ranging from overexcitement to simply trying to establish his place in the pack. Oh, and let's not forget biting as just a part of playing. 

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Defining Tasks

Biting is a natural behavior with just about any breed of dog, leftovers from their days of running wild in the world. While this type of behavior might be acceptable in the wild, it is not a behavior you can afford to let them display in the domesticated world. It is your job to teach your pup not to bite, something that is going to take a little time out of your day, every day, until they have it all figured out. Remember, the key to successfully training your Lhasa Apso to stop biting is consistency. 

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Getting Started

You can start working on training your Lhasa to stop biting at a very early age. In fact the earlier you get started, the easier it will be for your pup to figure out what you want of him. While you can teach an adult dog to stop biting using the same methods used to train a puppy, it might take a little longer.

Your supply list includes:

  • Treats
  • A quiet place
  • Chew toys

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The Get a Little Closer Method

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1

The quiet start

Go into a nice quiet room in your house and call your pup in or carry him in and place him on the floor.

2

On your knees

Kneel down a short distance from your pup and slowly advance your hand towards him a couple of inches.

3

When he stays

When the dog stays in place, be sure to reward him with a treat and plenty of praise.

4

When he moves

If the dog moves, step back a little farther and try again.

5

Treats for the win

Try placing a treat on the floor on the ground between the two of you and move your hand closer slowly. Each time you stop your hand and he doesn't try to lunge at you and bite, give him the treat. When he doesn't, move back a little and try again. Work with your pup until you can touch him all over while he is eating the treat with no reaction.

The Watch for It Method

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Keep a close eye on your pup

When you are playing with your pup, be sure to keep a close eye on him for signs that he plans to bite. In most cases, it will happen as he starts to get overly excited during playtime.

2

Ouch!

When your Lhasa bites, you need to take immediate action by yelping or saying "ouch!" This lets him know that the bite has hurt you. This is similar to how his litter mates would react in the future.

3

I'm out of here

After reacting like this, turn away from him and let him see you are ignoring him. The idea is for the dog to get the idea that negative behavior nets negative results.

4

I will follow you

If your pup tries to follow you, you should leave the room and place a baby gate in the doorway to keep him in. Leave him with plenty of time to calm down. Once the pooch calms down, go ahead back into the room, give him a treat, and try again.

5

Perfection through practice

The rest is all about practicing the exact same scenario until the dog finally comes to understand that biting is a completely unacceptable form of behavior.

The Startle Method

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Create your own rattle

Use an empty soda can with several marbles inside of it to create a rattle. You will need this during training.

2

Let's play a game

Start playing with your Lhasa, allowing him to get more than just a little bit excited. You need to get him to the point at which he bites you. Tell him "NO!" in no uncertain terms.

3

Walk the line

At this point, you need to simply turn and walk away. Not a word, not a pet on the head, nothing, just the sight of your back as you walk away.

4

If he follows and tries to bite

If he follows you and tries to bite, give him the "NO BITE!" command and shake the rattle. The loud noise should be more than enough to stop any dog in his tracks.

5

Time to calm down

Give your dog plenty of time to calm down, and when this happens, be sure to give lots of praise and a treat. Keep repeating this until he no longer wants the negative attention associated with biting. It will take a few weeks, but the results are well-worth the effort.

By PB Getz

Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Zeus

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Lhasa Apso

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6 Years

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This is Zeus he’s 6 years old. I’ve only had him for 4 days now I got him from an elderly woman going to a nursing home so he’s got a grooming appointment in 3 days but he’s very sweet with us and the kids, he’s potty trained and let’s me know when he needs to go. But he just gets aggressive sometimes with like food or if you want him to get down he’ll growl or try to nip us for doing that. I was picking up dog food he had dropped on the floor , he wasn’t eating it or even paying any mind to it but as soon as I started to pick it up he started eyeing me then he grabbed my hand to bite me ( I knew not to pull away because it would most likely agitate him more so I just said ow as he was doing it and he let go. He didn’t puncture skin but he left 2 hole indentions where he had grabbed my hand. How should I approach this situation and correct it?

March 27, 2022

Zeus's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Angelica, First, I would have pup on a back tie leash in your feeding area before you ever bring food out, so pup can't reach you while feeding and training to stop the bites through proper safety measures. I would also hire a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression to come to your home to work in person to address the aggression. Pup likely needs their overall trust and respect for you build through generally having pup earn everything they want in life by obeying a command like Sit before you give them something - such as a pet, toy toss, treat, walk, ect...As well as some commands to help manage and build respect and trust taught - like Sit, Down, Leave It, Out (leave the area), kennel (go to crate), Drop It, Wait, ect... I would desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle gradually using food rewards before starting the obedience training and having pup work for what they want, since pup may bite any time you ask them to do something new or something they don't feel like doing, like get down. I would also address the specific feeding behavior, building trust around food while pup is on a back tie leash and can't get to you to bite them. You will need a trainer's help to do this safely in my opinion. I would have pup's bowl on a leash so you can pull it away without getting too close while pup is tethered. I would feed pup their meals in portions, so you are giving small amounts several times. It would look something like, give 1/5 the meal to pup once they are not behaving aggressively, without getting too close just in case. While pup is eating sit far enough away pup isn't acting tense around you. Toss treats that are lot better than pup's current food at pup's food bowl when pup is relaxed with your presence in the room. After pup finishes the first portion, once the bowl is empty, toss a treat away from the bowl where pup can reach it, to get pup to move away from the bowl. Say Out while you do this, then reel the bowl on the rope back to you. Place the next food portion in it and return to pup carefully using something other than your arm to push it toward pup once pup is not behaving aggressively. Repeat the treat tosses during the meal. Do this until you have fed the entire meal that way in portions. As pup improves, gradually sit closer to pup while they eat and you toss treats. Only toss treats for good responses. Resource guarding is often related to both a lack of trust and a lack of respect. Sometimes the dog has a strong food drive that's part of the reason they guard. Sometimes a dog has experienced with neglect or interactions with people pestering them while eating that caused food aggression, and sometimes there is a lack of respect for the owner and so pup simply doesn't want the person near something they view as their own. For the furniture/lap guarding, I would have pup wear the basket muzzle while home to supervise for a few weeks. Teach pup the Off command, keep a drag leash on pup while home to supervise. When you want pup to get down, command "Off" confidently, then if pup doesn't get off immediately, use the drag leash to quickly move them off the furniture or yourself. With the muzzle on, pup shouldn't be able to bite in protest. If pup gets off on command willingly, then have small treats you keep in a baggie in your pocket, to give to pup as a reward for obedience. You are essentially teaching pup that your rules aren't optional and pup can't use aggression to protest them, but if pup will obey willingly you will make it worth their while - convincing pup that they ought to listen instead. An example of another aggression case with some safety measures like a back tie leash you can see. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 28, 2022

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Milton

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Lhasa Apso

Dog age icon

10+

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Question

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Milton is very "touchy". He won't let me pet him or brush him. Strangely, I can touch him when I need to leash him to go outside. Also, when I come home he greets me with my other dogs and allows himself to be petted. He takes food very gently from my hand, and has learned to 'shake'. But if I just reach down and try to stroke his fur, he'll nip me. If I walk past he'll sometimes lunge at my feet. Milton is a foster dog that I've had for 4 months, and sadly I cannot get him to relax. A seemingly contradictory behavior is that he follows me around all day and likes to sleep at my feet. But I need to be so careful not to disturb him in any way.

Feb. 28, 2022

Milton's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Susan, I would start by desensitizing him to wearing a basket muzzle. Muzzle training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Another muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s With a basket muzzle on (which has holes and allows pup to open their mouth still), as often as you can, feed pup their meals one piece at a time. Gently touch pup in an area while feeding a piece of food. Touch their shoulder - feed a piece. Touch their back - feed a piece. Touch an ear - feed a piece. Touch their collar - feed a piece. Touch their paw - feed a piece. Touch their belly - feed a piece. ect... Do it gently and start with areas pup is most comfortable and work up to the other areas as pup improves. When pup enjoys your touches everywhere overtime, add in other people pup knows touching, like family members, practicing with one new person at a time to build trust with other people to. When pup can handle that, add in gentle strangers once pup has completed the other training and is more comfortable with strangers. Don't rush these things but do practice very often and with lots of different people. Watch pup's reaction and go at a pace where pup can stay relaxed - the goal isn't just for pup to act good but actually feel better about people - so pup staying relaxed and happy around people is what you want to reward, which will mean going at the pace or distance pup an handle. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 28, 2022


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