Every dog has the potential to bite. It starts almost from the moment they are born as they are learning to fend for themselves while nursing. Especially if there are more then 6 pups in a litter. They are immediately using their mouths to survive.
Moving forward in time, these pups are romping together and learning how to defend and show strength to one another. It is instinctive for them to produce the hierarchy, by simply playing, which shows them the path to being a successful, participating dog. They love to work together, as a pack, so stay together as a family.
When a puppy comes home, it is always important to supervise it. If you add children into the picture, you’ve got to observe an often overlooked ingredient to making a good bond with the family. And that is to educate both puppy and children separately. No matter how cute this may look, you’ve got to give your puppy a chance to acclimate without the interference of your child.
If you don’t, you will be creating a situation all to familiar where the puppy sees the child as a playmate and will proceed to nip, bite and carry on biting in an effort to show it’s strength in the family.
Care should be taken to give the puppy a safe place where it can be on its own within the home. A pet playpen, a crate within, puppy potty training pads, a bowl for food/ water and chew toys are the basic things you will need to give your puppy a chance to properly integrate into your home.
Let your children know that your pup needs to get used to being there and that the time they will be able to help is when it goes on walks. Then, schedule two or three walks a day and begin your bonding time.
When you have an adult dog that tends to nip at your hands or arms, bites at your heals as your guests move about, mouthing or biting the air - all of these behaviors are a red flag that probably had warning signs that were overlooked. Most people don’t identify behaviors that are red flags and potential problems for the future.
The only way to fix this is to identify WHY the pup or dog is showing this behavior. As a puppy teethes, it needs chew toys that help to massage it’s gums. You can also freeze plain yogurt, water or chicken broth using your dog toys. Your dog will LOVE these! Plush toys are cute but they aren’t helpful chew toys for teething puppies.
Dogs that nip at the heels - this could be a combination of an instinctive herding behavior that the dog is born with or it could be a habit that escalated and the dog was never taught to stop or divert attention to something else. In my experience, a little clicker training can go a long way in changing the behaviors in this kind of situation.
Maybe you’ve got a situation where your dog has actually bitten you or someone it came into contact with. It is a known fact that 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites each year. Most bites occur with a person standing right next to a dog, not to mention a child or adult running by. All dogs have the potential to bite!
If you and your dog are now in this extreme example, it is time to call a dog trainer who specializes in dogs that bite. There are many so make sure you find one who has shown a good success rate. And, ask them for a few references so you can feel confident about who you are to hire to help change your dog into a manageable, trusting dog.
Now, you should ask yourself, as a dog owner: What are the rules I want my dog to learn? Define the good behaviors and the bad.
Create a Goals List for you, your family and your new dog. Compare your list to the questions you’ve asked yourself.
And, finally, find a good dog trainer that can help you put together a custom dog training program to address this.