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Nipping and biting can be aggressive or non-aggressive, and it can be hard to tell the difference. Indeed, nipping and mouthing are natural, usually non-aggressive behaviors that dogs use to communicate during play and normal interaction with other pets and people. Everyone knows what nipping and biting looks like, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between nonaggressive and aggressive nipping and mouthing. However, an aggressive dog often has a stiff body, a wrinkled muzzle, erect ears, tense facial muscles, and possibly exposed teeth.
Dogs can also learn bite inhibition from people: First, play with your dog, letting him or her nip and mouth your hands.
If your dog nips or mouths while being petted or scratched, feed your dog small treats from your free hand to accustom him to being touched without being able to nip or mouth. Besides the obvious guarding, growling and biting, many dogs display a variety of dominant behaviors that commonly go unrecognized by their humans.
Just looking at a dog and the way he carries himself can tell you what frame of mind the dog is in. Since dominant dogs look so proud and, we all have to admit, cute, if you don't know what the dog is really saying, and submissive dogs kind of look sad since they hold their heads low and slink themselves down, it's no wonder so many people have dominant dogs.
This is by far one of the most common problems that dog owners face, and it’s actually one of the most prominent fears that new dog owners have to think of for quite a while until they understand how to prevent it from happening. Truth be told, this is a problem, and if left unaddressed, it will cause some major issues for your dog in the long run.
There is no fool-proof method of dealing with it, and the solution to this problem is not exactly set in stone, because in order to stamp this behavior out, you will have to dig deep and actually fix some things that stem from the dog’s puppy years, and then work onwards from there.
Your dog slowly loses his or her personality as a dog and instead tends to adopt a more human-like one. So at the most basic of levels, dogs are not supposed to fight with each other, and come to the conclusion that they are better off on their own than around other dogs. That being said, even though you, as a human being, view your family as being a family, your dog will view the very same family as being the pack that he or she is a part of, thus identifying himself or herself as a vital and valuable member of that pack. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that it is very easy to mistake general aggressive behavior with defensive aggression, and quite a lot of dog owners, especially the inexperienced ones, tend to mistake the two. There are actually a lot of types of canine aggression, however these are the 2 main ones, and it’s a topic that deserves a closer look. Let’s have a closer look at the types of canine aggression as well as the reasons behind them, and see if your dog fits into one of these categories. This is a strong and unbridled feeling of hatred towards another dog, and the deep desire of ripping said other dog to shreds.
The dog in question immediately tries to run towards the other dog, frantically pulling on the leash, barking and growling, putting all of his muscular power and body weight into escaping your grip and charging the other dog.
Relentless, unwilling to listen to commands, refusing to pull back or give up, literally requiring extreme measures in order to be subdued, not to mention the fact that the dog becomes enraged, willing and able to bite left right and center in order to get to the other dog.
The body language is as follows: the dog exposes all its teeth, sometimes foams at the mouth, raises his shoulders, arches his back forward, leans his head in the direction of the other dog, the hair on the back of his head stands on end, the chest is pushed forward, the tail is up and in a prominent position, ears are pulled back and the movements of the dog are frantic, chaotic, wiggling and pulling on the leash, sometimes trying to bite it and break it, putting a lot of power into trying to escape and charge the dog that he has in his sights.
The dog is scared, he feels backed into a corner, he fails to see an escape, he feels overwhelmed, he resorts to aggression in order to either bluff or fight his way out of it. Simply put, your dog lacks the social skills and practice needed in order to have the confidence to interact with other dogs. Something to note here is the fact that, unlike the previous type of aggression, in this one the dog has no problem with other dogs being in the general area most of the time, the problems start when the other dogs get too close or cross a certain line that your dog considers a safe zone. The body language is as follows: The dog exposes teeth, but not the full set, more or less warning the other dogs that they should back down. The dog barks and growls, however the tail betrays him, instead of being up and ready to charge, the tail is more or less on a horizontal position.
As stated earlier, the family that adopts the dog becomes the dog’s pack, and the dog identifies himself as being a vital and integral part of said pack.
Here is where the problems arise, because dogs are very loyal and as a result of that, very protective of the members in their pack. A strange dog or simply another dog can easily pose a threat to you or your family in your dog’s eyes, and as a result of that the dog goes into defensive more and tries to charge the dog in order to either drive the dog away or wound it in order to scare it off. This is a problem that is common amongst dogs that have been socialized a lot with humans however they received next to no socialization with other dogs. Body language in this case is as follows: The ears are pointing straight up, the head is in a neutral position, some teeth are exposed, the dog will bark and he will growl at the other dog. The shoulders are tense, however the chest is in a neutral position, the back is arched forward slightly, and the tail stands up straight. So the dog adopts a rather defensive stance, letting the other dog know that he is standing his ground however he is willing to attack and tear him to sunders if he dares to make a move. The dog is controllable, and responsive to commands while in this state of mind however he grows more and more unresponsive as the other dog inches towards you.
It’s important to note here that this is a form of aggression as well, it does not always have to involve barking, growling and biting, the dog can generally be mischievous and cause a lot grief and discomfort to other dogs.
The ones that resort to this type of behavior are big puppies, generally immature and spoiled dogs. The good thing about dogs is the fact that they resemble us in so many ways, and just like us, with the right help, the right training and the right therapy, they can get past anything. So there is no such thing as “my dog is too old” or “it’s too late now” or “this is something that should have been addressed while the dog was a puppy”. On one hand, I agree with the last one, however that does not mean that problems cannot be addressed now, on the contrary, believing that is more or less an insult brought to your dog. Your dog will need to be more or less taught how to socialize with other dogs, and your dog will have to be introduced in groups of dogs in order for him to build up his confidence, calm his nerves and adapt accordingly. Another great thing about this is the fact that the trainer will not plop you into a random setting with a dog that is likely to start rampaging, but rather put you in a group alongside other dog trainers and their dogs, as well as more experienced dog owners and dogs that have been perfectly trained for these situations.


This will allow the trainer to focus on s well as more experienced dog owners and dogs that have been perfectly trained for these situations. This will allow the trainer to focus on our dog and guide him, while giving you the opportunity to relax and help your dog get through this. Always carry on the training, always push for more and more discipline, and never stop practicing or training all together.
Make sure that you specify to the trainer that you want your dog to be trained to socialize as well as being introduced in socializing environments.
Aggression in dogs, in regards to other dogs, is a very common problem, and the main culprit for this is usually improper training or lack of training to begin with. It is never too late to change this problem, and even though you might end up having to sacrifice a certain amount of time and resources, the end result will be worth it, and not having to deal with your dog’s aggression issues every time a dog passes him by, will be a great relief and a welcome breath of fresh air. John Brown lives in Somerville, MA, with her two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. The information contained on this website meant to be a substitute for advice from your own veterinarian or dog trainer. Aggressive: Your dog's ears and tail will be erect (while the tail might slowly wag from side to side). Afraid: Your dog will cower with his ears back, his body tense, and his tail tucked between his legs. If there's no medical explanation for the biting, ask your veterinarian to determine if the dog may be acting out of fear or because he's defending his belongings.
For example, if your dog is scared of men in hats, let him look through a window or a glass door at man with a hat in your yard (you may have to enlist the help of a friend). For example, if your dog is scared of men in hats, but hasn't run away when watching a man in a hat, have the man gently toss a few treats towards your dog. If you can't take your dog for walks during the day, consider hiring a dog walker or putting your dog into doggy daycare. If you can't tell if your dog is biting out of aggression or playfulness, consult a professional dog trainer or behavior expert. You can reward your dog with small tasty treats like small pieces of cheese or cooked chicken. This version of How to Stop Your Dog from Biting Other People was reviewed by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS on October 2, 2015. Some dogs use their mouths out of fear or frustration, which can indicate a problem with aggression.
Time-outs are often effective for reducing nipping and mouthing in adolescent and adult dogs. Before you interact with your dog, spray the deterrent on areas of your body and clothing that your dog likes to mouth. Owners of dogs who might be nipping, mouthing, or biting as an aggressive behavior would do well to consult a qualified professional, such as a veterinarian, a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (DACVB).
Keep in mind that a dog does not have to display all of these behaviors to be in a dominant frame of mind. For example, a dominant dog will walk high and proud, puffing himself out as much as he can. The dog at one point trapped the lady in the corner of the garage until the owners were able to come and call her off.
Teaching a dog to heel on a lead is the single most effective way to communicate who is the leader of your pack.
They tend to not fair so well in complete isolation, and just by looking at the dog’s ancestor, the wolf, we can see that they, at a primordial level, are meant to work together and coexist with each other in packs, just like we are meant to coexist with each other in society. Dogs have that pack mentality, which is characteristic to them, however they don’t really discriminate in regards to the pack that they are in. This is not a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination, however it tends to lead to a few issues without the proper training. This is something commonly found in dogs that are trained for dog fighting and pit fighting, and it manifests itself as a burst of uncontrollable manic aggression as soon as the dog spots another dog.
This is something more or less specific to dogs that have been cuddled and protected too much, and now are lacking the defensive skills as well as the confidence to take on other dogs and face the scenarios and situations that appear in day to day dog life or canine interaction.
This results in your dog seeing other dogs as a potential danger to himself, resulting in a very intimidated but at the same time alert dog, and whenever a dog tries to approach him, he flips out and turns aggressive. The dog does not respond to commands particularly well however it will respond in the end and can be controlled with a firm grip and strong will displayed by the master. Yes, the dog will bark and yes he will growl however the dog’s main objective is to protect you, and he will not directly charge or try to charge another dog except if said dog displays clear signs of aggression or makes any sudden moves towards you and your dog. The dog is basically a bully, going above and beyond dominance of the pack and simply focusing on making life a living hell for other dogs.
There is no actual body language to watch for, the actions will speak for themselves, and if you did not catch on to them, you will definitely get some complaints from the other dog owners or see other dogs starting to pick fights and act aggressively towards your dog.
Some of the meanest and most ferocious pit fighting dogs have been reformed, dogs that would seriously injure, maim and even kill others, dogs that have served in war zones for their entire lives, dogs that have been through hell and back then back again, they have all managed to be reformed and are now living out the rest of their years with a family that loves them, while they are reciprocating that love back to their family.
It is a plausible solution, however it will require you to do a lot of research, contact a lot of people and set up some complicated and often times dangerous scenarios and settings in order to get your dog to adapt and get the confidence that he needs. The dog trainer already knows how to handle these situations, and most likely will have the necessary arrangements made in order for your dog to overcome these hurdles. While the dog is in its infancy, in the early puppy months, start training him alongside a dog trainer, and never stop practicing. If you own a dog that bites, you can be held financially responsible for any injuries your dog may cause.
Chances are, you'll already have a good idea as to whether your dog is unhappy and acting out, or if he's simply playing. You can figure out your dog's mood by paying attention to his body language.[4] Knowing how your dog is feeling will help you respond appropriately and prevent future biting.


If your dog is aggressive or even if he bites for no apparent reason, you must get immediate control of him. In fact, your dog shouldn't be around children outside the immediate household until his biting is stopped.
Once you've gotten control of your dog, you need to take him to the vet for an exam and behavioral consultation. As much as you may want to help your dog work through his fear, you need to let him work through it on his own.
If your puppy or dog starts mouthing, nipping, or biting while you're playing, give a high pitched yelp.
If a puppy bites another puppy too hard, the bitten pup will yelp loudly startling the biting puppy.
You can curb your dog's biting behavior by teaching basic commands like "sit", "down", "stay", and "come". Never punish or hit your dog, which will just reinforce negative behavior and make him fear you. Though most nippy, mouthy dogs are engaging in a non-aggressive form of the behavior, some take a decidedly aggressive approach to nipping and mouthing. Playful dogs have a pliant, relaxed body posture, and their tails may be held low and wagging. Some behaviorists and trainers believe that dogs who have learned bite inhibition are less likely to bite hard and break the skin if they bite someone due to fear or pain. Occasionally, a dog nips his or her playmate too hard, causing the victim to yelp and, usually, stop playing. When your dog nips or mouths too hard, yelp loudly and ignore your dog for 10 to 20 seconds; if he starts nipping or mouthing during this period, walk away for 10 to 20 seconds. If your dog mouths you, stop moving and wait for him to react to the bad taste of the deterrent. Many trainers are also equipped to handle these cases, but owners should ideally receive a recommendation from their veterinarians before proceeding.
There are usually signs leading up to it over the years and dominant alpha dogs do not always growl and bite. Sometimes an alpha dog will only display a few of the behaviors at random times, depending on what the dog decides it feels like doing at any given moment. Most people would mistake this behavior as dominant-aggressive, but if you look at the dog's body language you will notice it is different than the Chihuahua shown above.
If this is the case, your playful dog will have a relaxed body that isn't tense or aggressive. Use a harness, muzzle, or head halter to prevent him from further biting.[5] Don't let your dog go outside the house without being on a leash and unless he's accompanied by a responsible adult holding the handle.
Your vet may find that the dog is suffering from a medical condition (like brain dysfunction from stroke or old age) or is in pain (from arthritis or an injury). Eventually, your dog should grow to accept the man and he may even enter the same room as your dog. When you notice your dog starting to mouth or bite, redirect his attention towards something more desirable like a toy, treat, or activity.
She enjoys starting articles about real problems she has in life, as well as ones about quirky topics like How to Use Life Hacks. If the owners are giving the dog what it wants, sometimes there is no reason for the dog to growl or bite unless it is challenged. Smarter dogs tend to challenge the pack order more than dogs of average or below-average intelligence.
Not so, the posture of these submissive dogs is telling all around them that they do not wish to challenge anyone. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to teach your dog to stop biting and become a good canine citizen. When he nips or bites, the puppy or dog won't show teeth or bite down hard.[2] However, if your dog is aggressively biting, his body will be stiff, he'll show his teeth, and he'll bite quickly and hard. Working with a professional trainer is especially important if there was a human injury involved, since you most likely will not be able to correct the biting behavior on your own. Break up the sessions into two 10 minute training periods and only work with your dog when he's relaxed.
When dogs are allowed to walk in front of the humans while on a lead, it is communicating to them that they are above the human in the order.
Training will take patience and time, but your well trained dog will be a joy to be around and a great member of your family. It's important to determine this since you'll need to deal with your dog differently depending on whether he's biting from playfulness or aggression.
Your dog will spend time biting the toy to get to the treats which also helps release his energy. As you continue to play, require your dog to become gentler: Yelp and stop play in response to increasingly softer nipping and mouthing until your dog uses little or no pressure with his or her mouth.
This dog may still bite a human out of fear, but the reasons for her behavior are not the same as a dog who is acting aggressive out of dominance. Since many canine alpha behaviors are not acceptable in human society, for example, biting, it is important for humans to retain their leadership over their dogs.



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