Playful dog biting by young puppies is a common phenomenon. But when the same situation occurs in adult dogs, it can result in serious consequences. Biting is a part of basic aggressive dog behavior. It arises from an inherent attribute of dogs to dominate a pack.
Wild dogs use biting as a tool to assert their dominance over other dogs within the pack. Even within a litter of puppies around the mother, it is common to see some pups trying to assert dominance and biting each other. Dogs tend to bite without provocation only when they start assuming the family as the pack and see a situation where they feel that can dominate and become the ‘alpha’ dog.
While any type of aggressive dog behavior is difficult to tolerate, dog biting assumes more significance in the light of the problems that are associated with it. In many cases, dog biting arises out of fear or when a dog finds him in an inescapable situation. If this behavior is not corrected in its early stages, dog aggression may assume unmanageable proportions.
Young puppies that are less than six weeks old seldom bite hard and are not able to break skin. However, these are the initial signs of an aggressive dog and should not be ignored as playful behavior. In fact, having moved to a new environment, the puppy is trying to assess his status in the new ‘pack’ to understand to what extent he can dominate the family.
Under no circumstances should puppies be allowed to bite playfully at human skin. Puppies that are young may also feel compelled to bite due to teething. Their mouths need stimulation, which is provided by biting. In such cases, provide chew sticks and bones for the puppy to chew on.
If your puppy has not spent enough time with the litter, he probably has not learned not to bite playfully. The natural way to check this habit is to yelp just as another puppy would in case he is bitten and withdraw from play. If this does not work try the following after every time he bites:
* Isolate in a crate for a couple of minutes.
* Hit gently on the nose.
* Spray some water lightly.
The puppy should also be trained to socialize. The more he gets used to strangers, in the house as well as outside, the better it is. Initially, put the puppy on leash when some one comes to deliver something or meet you. Let him sniff and get acquainted with the stranger. Also let your puppy interact with children as much as possible. Puppies brought up among only adults tend to snap and bite children.
Healthy and matured dogs do not normally bite humans but the potential exists. If your dog is prone to biting humans or neighboring animals, the best course of action is to first get him checked for any underlying disease. Consulting a veterinarian is the right way to rule that out medicals conditions that are causing discomfort.
If medical conditions have been ruled out, then dog biting may require some re-training. Dog aggression usually arises from dominance and territorial related aggression or out of fear. Try telling all strangers coming to your house to keep away from the dog house and his bed.
If you observe that it is fear that makes your dog bite, try to identify the fear factors and take corrective measures by insulating him from them.