Dog Behavior Biting
Each year, over 4 million dog bites occur, with half of the bites being on children. Over 1 million of these dog bite cases result in the need for medical attention. Children are most likely to sustain severe injuries from dog bites for two reasons; first because of their smaller size, and second because they have not learned how to behave when near a dog that has the potential to bite. And all dogs have the potential to bite! It is important for you to act now to prevent your dog from adding to these statistics.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
There are several reasons why a dog might feel they need to bite. Understanding what might lead to dog biting incidents will help you remove the stimuli and keep your dog from lashing out with a bite.
1. Fear - Fear is typically directed towards strangers (postal workers, delivery people, etc.) or strange situations. For this reason, you should never approach a strange dog, and you should teach your children to avoid them as well. Early socialization will expose your dog to many different people and many different situations, which should minimize the need to fear a person or thing later on.
2. Pain - Even if your dog is the friendliest dog around, if she feels pain, she might strike back with her only protective ability, by biting. If your dog suffers from hip dysplasia or other painful conditions, be gentle with her, and tell all your visitors to be careful of the painful areas. Your dog will thank you. If you up to now quite calm dog suddenly gets nippy, suspect a pain condition and see your vet.
3. Possessiveness - Protection of her property is a common situation. A dog’s property may be her toys, her food bowl, or even you! Keep your dog from guarding her food or toy by teaching her to sit or lay down while you take the food or toy away. Replace it every once in a while with one of her favorite treats, so she associates your taking away her treasure with a good thing, even better treasure! Teach her the leave it command to drop a toy at your call, and teach her that you supply the food, and have every right to take it from her.
4. Maternal instinct - If your dog just recently had puppies, she will be very protective of her offspring, just as you would. Keep children away from a dog and her puppies, and even you should approach them carefully. Give the mother and puppies a safe place that is free of distractions and comfortable for all of them.
What You Can Do to Keep Your Dog from Biting
Properly socializing your dog before 4 months of age will produce a well adjusted dog that is used to different dogs, people, sounds, and situations. If your dog is not afraid of something, he will not bite it in fear or anger. Run the vacuum cleaner, have people knock on the door, take him for a ride in the car. Expose your dog to all sorts of situations before he is 4 months old so that he will not react out of fear.
Exercising your pet is also a great way to reduce aggression, at any age. Making sure that your dog gets enough exercise each day is an effective way to prevent unruly behavior such as biting. Taking your dog for a walk also introduces ways to effectively manage such things as: distractions, things they might fear, or territory disputes. This is an excellent time to train your dog to listen to your commands instead of acting on instinct.
Good training at a young age, socialization, and continued exercise are great ways to reduce the chance that your dog will exhibit biting behavior.
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