Keep Your Paws Off: How to Stop a Dog from Biting
During these difficult times, nothing is more refreshing than asking your dog, “Do you want to go for a walk?” and taking a spin around the neighborhood. Your dog is delighted to spend work time playing with their favorite person and you’re soothed by the opportunity to get fresh air.
There’s just one problem: your dog isn’t the best at getting along with others and has bitten someone previously.
While some breeds have bad reputations and are blacklisted by insurance companies, the reality is that any dog can become aggressive under the right circumstances. Here’s how to stop a dog from biting.
Why Dog Bites Happen
The first step to stopping a dog from biting is understanding why your dog might bite in the first place.
Dogs can become aggressive for a number of reasons. Understanding the type of aggression at play will help you modify your plan to account for that aggression. Common types of dog aggression include:
- Protective aggression (protecting their humans)
- Possessive aggression (protecting what’s theirs)
- Fear aggression (attacking out of fear or anxiety)
- Territorial aggression (protecting their territory)
- Defensive aggression (attacking in defense of something)
- Social aggression (an aggressive reaction to other dogs in social settings)
- Frustration aggression (when restricted and unable to act on stimulation)
- Pain-elicited aggression (aggression to protect themselves when injured)
- Predatory aggression (aggression related to a dog’s prey instinct)
- Redirected aggression (aggression when the target of the dog’s hostility is blocked)
- Sex-related aggression (fighting over a mate)
Predatory aggression, for example, may come out when a dog starts playing chase with a child or wildlife. Redirected aggression can happen if a dog is blocked from chasing something, or when someone breaks up a dog fight.
How to Stop a Dog from Biting
The important thing to understand is that dogs rarely bite out of nowhere. Most of the time, they send several signals to let you know that they may bite. Even the calmest, sweetest dog can bite, and they will usually send clear signals that they’re about to do so.
If you know your dog has a tendency to nip or bite in the wrong circumstances, it’s unreasonable to expect your dog to behave well in situations that you know provoke stress or aggression. It’s safer for everyone (and less stressful for your dog) to keep them out of those situations in the first place.
Know Your Dog
This starts with knowing your dog. Know their quirks and habits. Even non-aggressive dogs will bite, but they will typically only do so in certain situations.
For example, if you know that your dog has a tendency to lash out and bite the vet when the vet tries to corral them for a shot, they’re likely biting because they feel threatened. In this case, your dog is a fear biter.
If your dog wasn’t socialized with other dogs at a young age, socializing with other dogs can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Here, you could have a socially aggressive dog, brought on by feeling threatened by overwhelming social situations with other dogs.
If you know your dog, you can identify circumstances that would lead them to aggression and avoid those situations for the safety of your dog and all others involved. If you notice aggressive behavior in your dog but don’t know what’s causing it, work with a trainer to identify why your dog is becoming aggressive.
Train Your Dog
This leads to the next point: training your dog.
You cannot train a dog to ignore its instincts. Any dog will bite under the right conditions, and it’s unreasonable to expect them not to behave like a dog.
However, you can train your dog to respond to you in these circumstances. This gives you a much better chance of soothing your dog and mitigating the situation before it gets out of hand. For example, if you notice your dog starting to become aggressive, give them a strong command like, “Stop,” or, “Heel,” and get them to pay attention to you.
Work with a professional trainer to figure out how to approach these situations when they arise. Keep in mind that your dog’s training is not localized—how a dog behaves in one context reflects on their behavior elsewhere. An all-around well-trained dog is much safer for the whole neighborhood than a dog who responds to one command.
Take Preventative Measures
Finally, if you know your dog gets aggressive in certain situations, take pains to avoid those situations.
For example, if you know your dog doesn’t get along with another dog, it’s better to change your walking route to avoid that dog altogether. That way, both dogs will stay happy and safe.
If you know your dog is highly protective of you and gets anxious around a lot of people, taking them on a highly populated route is an invitation for disaster. Be kind to your dog and others and take a quieter route. If you have to, get in your car and drive to a calmer route.
Steer Clear of a Dog Bite Lawsuit
If you take care of your dog and yourself, you can enjoy your daytime walks in peace. You may even be able to sneak in a rousing game of Frisbee.
Unfortunately, not all owners are considerate, and not everyone thinks twice before approaching a strange dog. This means that sometimes, despite your best efforts, things go wrong.
If you’re facing a dog bite lawsuit (either against you or a lawsuit you’re filing because of another dog’s aggression) the attorneys at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys are here to help. We’ve protected clients all across Michigan since 1984, and we know that in trying times, you need a great team in your corner.
If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, get in touch today to schedule your free consultation.