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A Short List of Reasons Why Dogs Bite

Jun 20, 2008
Every dog comes equipped with a set of shiny, pointy, sharp teeth. And his or her teeth can be used as a tool or a weapon.

They're a tool when your pooch uses them to pick up something, scratch an itchy spot, or rip his food apart (dog's don't actually chew you know). But they're also a weapon when they're used to protect Fido by inflicting pain on someone or something that means him harm.

So the question is, what makes a dog use his teeth as a weapon (especially when you can't think of a reason why he should)?...here's the short list.

Your Dog is Afraid of Something...

Every dog has a different nature. Some are more easily frightened than others...and some (especially rescue dogs) are afraid because they've been abused.

If your dog is biting because he's afraid, you'll need to remove whatever is causing that fear. You also may need to apply a lot of TLC and patience.

Your Dog is Too Excited...

Believe it or not, even the laziest mutt can get over-excited if they're played with too roughly or for too long. This is especially true of younger dogs.

If you get "nipped" during a little rough-housing, you'll need to learn to tone it down and not rile Rover up too much the next time.

Your Dog is Challenging You...

It's in a dog's nature to try to get ahead. By that I mean they naturally vie for "leader of the pack" status from time to time. His biting could mean he's looking for a promotion (because he sees you as his competition).

You'll need to put him in his place. Face him down with some very firm "No's." Ignoring him on purpose and feeding him after you've eaten are good techniques too.

Your Dog is in Pain...

He could be ill; he could have an injury...they can't exactly tell us so we don't know. But an obvious "tell" would be if you try to pet him on a certain part of his body and he growls and nips his disapproval.

Obviously, this situation calls for some veterinary attention. Even if you're not sure, it wouldn't hurt to err on the side of caution and have a vet check him out.

Your Dog was Surprised...

Sneaking up on your buddy and yelling "Boo" in his ear when he's napping is a good way to get twenty teeth marks in your face. Shoot, if you did it to me, I might do the same.

This one's really a no-brainer, so as my daughter used to say when she was in diapers, "No Do Dat."

There you have it, the short list of why your dog bites. If this is more than just a situational problem (like in the case of an abused rescue dog that exhibits the behavior all the time), you'll need at least a lot of patience and kindness...but you might need some expert assistance as well. Play it safe.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading...
About the Author
Michael Royce is an amateur dog trainer who has lived with, trained, (and been trained by) more than a dozen dogs in the last 25 years. He is a regular contributor to several websites and is co-founder of The-Dog-Zone.net .
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