How to Train Your Dog (or Puppy) Not to Bite


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States. One in five dog bites result in injuries requiring medical attention.  That’s why we have things like National Dog Bite Prevention Week–which happens to be this week. After all, dog bites can be prevented.  Training a dog or puppy not to bite is the first step in preventing bite injuries.  [photo via flickr]

A puppy typically learns how to inhibit biting from their mother and litter mates.  When this is not possible, the owner must take over completing the training.  While most puppies will bite as part of play, the owner must consistently say, “No!” in a strong voice and then walk away and ignore the puppy.  This mimics a litter mate yelping and then stopping play.  Also, never play rough with a puppy that likes to bite.  Gentle strokes away from the mouth encourage interaction and connection with the puppy without tempting a bite.

Socializing your puppy or older dog with people and other dogs can help your pet become comfortable in different situations.  The exposure to other dogs allows them to interact and learn the play biting boundaries that may not have been learned as a puppy in the litter.

An older dog that nips most likely never learned appropriate play as a puppy.  The dog is not being aggressive, but this type of biter still needs to learn boundaries.  The same steps can be followed as for a puppy to teach this type of biter not to nip.  Obedience training is a great way to discourage play biting.  Obedience training teaches the dog a proper respect for humans.  The dog learns the structure of desirable behaviors.  Owners can use techniques such as crating the dog, having the dog sit before being petted or being fed, and no aggressive games in which the dog could become the winner.

An older dog that aggressively bites usually has an alpha dog personality and believes it is the leader of the pack.  If biting has reached the point of being viscous, it is best to have a professional intervene to stop this behavior.  Both dog and owner will need to learn new ways to interact with each other to change the dynamic of the interactions and put the dog as the subordinate, but it is possible to teach new behaviors to stop the biting.

Here are some other tips to help train your dog not to bite:

  • Always ensure your dog is supervised, regardless of how well-behaved or well-trained the dog is presumed to be.
  • Exercise and play with your dog on a daily basis to spend excess energy.
  • Make sure your dog knows basic commands and practice the commands regularly.