Dealing with a Dog Who Bites

It can be quite a shock when your own dog bites you, and even more horrifying if she bites other people! Still, millions of Americans are bitten by dogs every year, many needing medical attention after the fact. All dogs are capable of biting, so it is important to understand the common triggers so that you can prevent these instances of dog aggression.

Anxiety

Aggression in dogs is typically caused by some type of stress. Some dogs have a higher stress threshold than others, meaning it takes a lot for them to resort to biting. With other dogs, it may take only minor anxiety for them to resort to biting to protect themselves. You must learn to recognize when your dog is anxious and take steps to calm her before things get out of hand.
Fear

A very common reason a dog will bite is because she is afraid of something or someone. Strangers bare the brunt of dog fear, especially if the dog is not accustomed to being around unfamiliar people. You should train your puppy to feel comfortable around many different people, so that this fear of strangers does not develop well into adulthood.

Dogs may also bite if they are startled, so please do not purposefully try to frighten your dog. Teach your children that they should not sneak up on dogs, approach unfamiliar dogs, or bother dogs when they are sleeping.

Possessive Aggression

Dogs will bite if they feel like there is a threat to their possessions. This typically happens with food or toys, where if a dog feels that the human may take it away, she will bite, if necessary, to protect it. Dogs may even feel possessive of their owners and will bite any perceived threat to them warranted or not.

Again, this is where training is key. Teach your puppy the “stay” and “leave it” commands so that he is trained to react to objects and people in a non-aggressive or possessive manner.

Pain

Even the most docile dogs may bite if they’re in pain. Even if you are trying to help, the dog doesn’t yet realize this and may perceive you as a threat to his already vulnerable state. Or perhaps you had not even realized your dog was injured until he nipped at you suddenly when you touched him. In either case, it is best to handle your dog with care and caution so that he is assured you are not a danger.

Educating yourself and your family on these common triggers of dog aggression will not only help prevent future instances of biting but also help you to understand your furry companion on a deeper level. Dogs do not bite for no reason, and now that you know the common triggers, you can better understand the reason for your dog’s past aggression and find ways to keep her stress as minimized as possible.