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Being able to differentiate between play and aggression is essential to keeping your hands safe around a dog's mouth. Once you are sure that your dog's health is good and her behavior is play related, you can begin taking steps to decrease the mouthing. 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. Keep your dog's vaccinations current.[17] With proper training, your dog will hopefully never bite you or a stranger.
You will have less liability in the event of a bite if your dog's vaccinations are up to date. No matter the dog's age, teach them that it is never appropriate to put their teeth on a person.
This version of How to Make a Dog Stop Biting was reviewed by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS on June 12, 2015. If her body and face look rigid and tense, she's growling or showing her teeth, the hair on her back is standing up or if the biting is fast and intense, her behavior may be motivated by aggression rather than play. You are looking for an alternative behavior that your dog can be rewarded for performing in place of the mouthing. 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). However, just because it's normal, it doesn't mean that it's okay for a pet-owner to not address this behavior. Making sure that your dog is safely contained in his own yard is part of being a responsible pet owner.
If you know your dog may bite, or suspect they may, avoid any unnecessarily stressful situations. Going to obedience training classes with your pet is one of the best ways to prevent dog bites.
If your puppy or older dog doesn't respond to simple yipping and short refusal to play, try adopting a time-out procedure. If your female dog is preparing to have a litter or has just whelped, then be on the alert for possible biting. If you have ruled out the possibility that your puppy or older dog is mouthing or nipping playfully, you may be faced with dealing with more aggressive behavior. There are a few standard techniques that can help keep you from being bitten by a dog displaying signs of aggression.
I know she's just playing, but it can hurt, and the more I try and get her to stop the more she does it because she thinks it's a game. As an added bonus, this training may also decrease the amount of pressure your dog would use should she ever feel threatened enough to bite in a different context. For instance, if your canine mouths when greeting, find another activity she can engage in, such as playing with a toy like the Chase-It, a stuffed animal on the end of a fishing pole-like handle, which can help direct her energy toward a more appropriate outlet. 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.
For both your dog's protection and your own, it's important that you learn why your dog is biting and that you take steps to prevent and stop biting.
Always be sure to praise your pet for stopping to nip and bite, either with pets or small treats.
It's very important that you keep your dog's vaccinations and paperwork up-to-date in case someone is bitten. In general, we can distinguish between mouthing, nipping, playful biting and more serious aggressive biting. If your dog is acting fearful, try to think of anything that may be causing it, such as new people or new locations.
The maternal instinct is strong in even the most loyal and calm dog, and so you'll want to be careful to not prompt any biting behavior on him part.
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When choosing a game to use as a replacement activity, choose one with less contact to the skin, such as fetch or the Chase-It, rather than wrestling with your hands. Spaying and neutering will change hormonal levels in your dog, resulting in more docile behavior. If your dog feels that his possessions are being threatened, he may very well respond by biting. Isolating the time and place your pooch is most likely to mouth will help focus your training energies to times when your pet is most likely to exhibit this behavior and will allow you to find an alternative behavior to substitute for the biting. 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.



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