Woman Giving Golden Lab a Kiss

Every year there are as many as 4.5 million reports of dogs biting humans. The reasons behind why dogs may bite include natural reactions to stress or illness. To ensure your pup doesn’t add to this statistic, here are five tips to help stop your dog from biting:

Start Early

For a lot of puppies, biting everything from their toys to the uncovered arms of their owner is a natural instinct. While a puppy biting your arm with their baby teeth may seem cute, if you do nothing about it during this stage, you are teaching your pup a bad habit.

Dogs, no matter what their age, use their mouths a lot during play.  You can see it when they are roughhousing with their furry friends. The key is teaching them that human skin is quite sensitive and that gentle care is needed. If your puppy bites you during play, even if it is accidental, be sure to let them know. You can either speak loudly to get their attention or stop the game and give them a “time out” by turning your back to them. After 30 seconds, go back to playing with them and repeat if it happens again. If they play safely without biting, be sure to use positive reinforcement.

Spay or Neuter

Aside from a population control standpoint, getting your dog spayed or neutered can assist in reducing their desire to bite. For male dogs who have had this procedure, it reduces their testosterone levels which makes them less aggressive. The procedure will also help dogs of either sex reduce their desire to fight other dogs or go wandering.

Male dogs can be neutered after they turn eight weeks old, though some veterinarians recommend waiting until they are at least six months old. For female dogs, it is recommended that the procedure be done before they reach their first heat cycle.

Avoid Stressors

Every dog has a distinct personality and certain kinds of stresses may cause them to want to bite people to protect themselves. When off-leash, some dog’s predatory instincts might kick in, causing them to want to bite perceived invaders in their territory. Others may lash out when they are surrounded by a lot of humans or other animals.

Being stressed is one of the leading causes for dogs to bite. Identify what stresses your dog out and avoid having them in those situations by either keeping them on a leash at all times when out of the house or providing them a space where they feel comfortable and protected.

Read Body Language

When a dog is afraid, they may want to bite people in order to protect themselves. Learn to read your dog’s body language to tell when they are fearful. They may tuck their tails between their hind legs, shake, lower their head below the shoulders or attempt to flee.

Once you see your dog showing these body movements, the best option is to remove your pup from that situation until they are able to relax again.

Keep Yourself Safe

If your dog or any other dog is acting aggressively towards you, you have some ways to avoid being bitten. Do not look the dog in the eye as they may perceive that as a threat. If they are standing still, slowly back away from them and be sure to give them easy access to an escape route so they don’t feel trapped.

For the protection of yourself and others, learn what makes your dog aggressive and help them learn to either deal with it or avoid those situations entirely. It will make your dog a happy, tail-wagging, well-adjusted pup.