How To Train A Dog Not To Bite
Learning how to train a dog not to bite is an essential part of responsible dog ownership. Mouthing, or putting teeth on other dogs or people, is a normal part of play in puppyhood, but your dog needs to be taught that he shouldn’t be rough. He’ll also need to learn that his teeth do not belong on human skin.
- Teach your dog bite inhibition. This helps your dog learn to use gentle force when mouthing. Allow your dog to mouth your hands during play. When he bites hard, yell “Ow!” or something similar in a high-pitched tone. Doing so should startle your dog enough so that he lets go of your hand. Praise him as soon as he stops mouthing. Start playing with him again and practice this technique a few times during each play session.
- Give your dog a time-out. This technique teaches him that when he gets rough, play time is over. If your dog continues to bite hard, yelp loudly and move your hands out of his reach while ignoring him for ten to twenty seconds. If he tries to continue playing, leave the room. After the timeout period is up, give your dog attention again and begin playing with him. Repeat this sequence until he applies little to no pressure when he mouths you.
- Teach your dog to keep his teeth off your skin. When your dog has mastered bite inhibition, stop letting him mouth you. Give him more appropriate objects to put his teeth on, such as toys or chew sticks. Games like fetch allow you to play with him without any physical contact between his mouth and your body. Start giving him 30 to 60 second timeouts any time he mouths you.
- Make your skin taste bad. If your dog still isn’t getting the message that dog bites are unacceptable, spray a taste deterrent on your skin and clothes before playing with him. Use one of these bitter-tasting sprays, which are sold in pet stores, for about two weeks. Praise your dog the moment he lets go of you.
- Seek professional help. If your dog’s biting goes beyond play and becomes aggressive, contact a certified applied animal behaviorist or professional dog trainer for help. Signs of aggression include growling, snarling, lunging and snapping.
Tips and Warnings:
Don’t encourage your dog to bite or mouth by wiggling fingers or toes in front of him or playing rough with him.
Never physically punish your dog for mouthing or biting. Hitting your dog can lead to more aggressive behavior.
Don’t pull your hands away abruptly when your dog bites. He might think it’s a game and continue going after you. Let your hands go limp instead so that your dog gets bored and lets go.