HELP FOR BITING DOGS
by Nedda Wittels
and Biting are normal behaviors in the world of the wild dog, coyote, or
When living with humans, however, these behaviors are unacceptable.
How can we help our dogs give up their natural ways of communicating and
interacting with one another?
and biting are a normal part of interaction among pack members in the world
of the wild dog, coyote, or wolf, and are also used by mother dogs with
their young. These are natural ways in which
dominance is established and puppies are trained by their mothers.
In the human world, however, these same behaviors are completely
Dogs who nip
or bite can cause lawsuits, earn you legal fines, and even be taken from
their homes and killed by Animal Control. Also of concern is the pain and suffering of the individual who is injured and possibly
scarred for life . In the human world, the dog owner (a
legal term) is responsible for the behavior of their dog. Therefore, it
is to everyone’s benefit, including the dog’s, to make sure your dog
knows what behaviors are acceptable and considered “good manners” by the
This is why
taking your new dog, whether a puppy or an adopted adult, to basic
obedience class can be an essential part of building a relationship
between the two of you. Even if you think you know how to train a dog,
training techniques continue to evolve. There are always new ways to
handle situations, and some techniques that work well with one
individual personality are a disaster with another. Even if you have
taken your older dogs to school and now have a new puppy, there can be
the added benefit of building a stronger bond between you and your puppy by going to
class together. Each dog has a unique background and will interact with
you as an individual.
understand that I am not a dog trainer and have nothing to personally
gain by recommending dog school for you and your dog. I make this
recommendation because undoing a problem is much harder than never
allowing it to develop in the first place.
That having been said, it is
important to understand the many reasons why dogs bite. Aside from
the fact that this is a natural way of communicating among dogs, there are other reasons
why your dog might be exhibiting this behavior and why you may have a
problem eliminating it.
may be an “alpha” dog and is expressing its dominance over you.
is aggressive because he is fearful.
taught your dog that nipping is OK because you have allowing her to
chew on or play with your hand as a puppy.
wants to dominate you because you or a previous owner have allowed
him/her to do so in the past by not setting clear boundaries.
may be in physical pain and snapping or biting is a reflex reaction
specific tests that can be given to puppies to determine if they are
“alpha” dogs, dogs who want to lead the pack. “Alpha” dogs are alpha
because that’s their personality. They will not easily settle for being
No. 2 and require owners capable of handling this personality type.
Good dog breeders will give this test to their puppies and make
sure that the puppies only go to homes where that personality type can
be managed. However, professional breeders are a small percentage of
the places where puppies are obtained. When you take a dog
home from a pet store or rescue organization, the dog probably has not
been tested in this manner. Therefore, if you suspect your dog might be
an alpha personality, it's wise to have a trainer evaluate him or her.
There are, of
course, many reasons why a dog might bite. In the following case
the issue was chronic pain and the solution was acupuncture and
A client called about her
elderly Golden Retriever who had never bitten anyone in her life, but
suddenly nipped at everyone who tried to pet her. The dog told me
she was in pain in her hips and her back. A trip to the allopathic
veterinarian quickly revealed arthritis in the spine and hips.
That veterinarian prescribed a pain medication, but it didn't seem to
help. The situation was resolved when the dog received acupuncture
and chiropractic treatments. Because she was more comfortable,
the nipping/biting behavior disappeared.
If your dog nips
or bites you or anyone else, it is imperative for both your sakes to
take steps to identify and resolve the biting behavior. It's not the
most loving thing to keep a dog whose behaviors are a danger to
yourself and other people.
Here are some approaches
you can take to solving this problem.
your veterinarian make sure your dog has not developed arthritis or
some other painful, chronic condition.
you think your animal might be in pain, you can also ask an animal
communicator to speak with your dog to gather information in that
animal communicator can also help clear up any confusion about your
dog's role in the family
and inform your dog of legal consequences to continued biting.
Flower Essences can help in some situations and in combination with
training and various healing modalities.
- If it
seems that the issue is behavioral, get
thee to a dog trainer, preferably one who is experienced with
aggressive behavior in dogs. Make sure you check this person
out thoroughly so that you are comfortable with the techniques the
diet change may be in order if your dog is not able to get
sufficient nutrients out of his/her current food or if there are
sensitivities or allergies to anything in the food or to the food
itself. The old adage, "you are what you eat" is true, and
poor diet can affect behavior.
not your dog is an alpha dog personality, telepathic communication can
be helpful in clearing up what is behind aggressive behavior. The
answers to some key questions may help everyone understand what approach
may be most effective in bringing about a change in your dog’s behavior. An animal
communicator can ask your dog about these things.
your dog feeling emotionally when she nips or bites?
dog arrogant about this behavior?
dog afraid? Angry? Depressed?
dog think nipping is OK but biting isn’t because you call them “love
assigned your dog a role in the family that is inappropriate for his
personality, emotional state, or personal life goals?
dog confused because you have been inconsistent in communicating
what behaviors you expect and desire?
been clear (from your dog’s perspective) about his role in the
dog been given the job of protector and doesn’t feel up to it or
doesn’t understand how to be a protector without being aggressive?
dog expressing anger or aggression that actually belongs to you or
to another member of the family who is not in touch with his/her own
Has your dog experienced a
trauma early in life or in a past life that has caused your dog to
be "stuck" in the biting behavior?
Is there a spiritual entity
or being attached to your dog that is causing him to act
While you are
exploring these possibilities, careful management of the situation is
recommended. A dog that bites or nips should not be allowed to be with
visitors or in any situation which can become tense or filled with
excitement, confusion, or a lot of noise. Don’t hesitate to give your
dog “time out” in a quiet place, such as a crate or another room.
Keeping your dog on a leash when there are visitors or using a muzzle on
walks might also be in order.
importantly, don’t wait until you are at the “end of your rope” before
attempting to do something about canine aggression. Ultimatums and
violence on your part won’t work very well, and when you approach the
situation in anger, conflict is more likely to escalate than to defuse.