Can You Train Your Dog Not to Bite?
Right now, we are in the midst of National Train Your Dog Month. This month aims to promote teaching dogs the key everyday manners. In addition to commands like sit, stay, down, and wait, this is the perfect time to train your dog not to bite.
Dog bites have been a far too frequent issue (in the United States alone, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year), but there are preventative measures you can take to help ensure that your dog isn’t part of the problem. All dogs are capable of biting, but with some smart training as well as pet liability insurance, you can reduce the risk that you and your dog will get into a sticky situation. Training to prevent dog bites involves a few different components. Let’s get into them.
For a puppy, introduce it to as many new places, people, and situations as possible. This early exposure is referred to as socialization. A well-socialized puppy is far less likely to be fearful in new situations, and this lack of fear decreases the likelihood of aggression. If your dog is no longer a puppy, you can still work on adult socialization.
Given specific circumstances, any dog has the potential to bite. Too often people are bitten by dogs because they assume their dog won’t bite. Don’t assume that because a dog is a certain breed or size, or have never shown aggression in the past, that a dog won’t bite.
Positive reinforcement is a training method that rewards good behavior rather than punishing inappropriate behavior. Positive reinforcement can include treats, verbal encouragement, petting, or any activity your dog enjoys. Punishment can be anything a dog finds unpleasant, such as leash corrections. Dogs who are trained using punishment are more likely to respond with aggression than other dogs. Use positive dog training methods to reduce the likelihood of biting.
Take advantage of obedience training to keep your dog focused on you in uncomfortable situations, provide structure, and boost their confidence.
Dogs use body language to communicate, so pay attention! A frightened or unhappy dog having its territory invaded can become aggressive. Behaviors such as bared teeth, raised hackles, a lowered head, or ears lying flat against the head are signs that a dog is uncomfortable and may bite. If you notice any of these, allow your dog some space and advise others to do so as well. Remove your dog from the situation as soon as you feel safe to.
Growling lets us know a dog is uncomfortable with a person or situation. Often, we teach dogs not to growl. However the dog may learn this lesson so well and stop growling in any situation. By preventing them from growling, we don’t allow dogs to communicate their discomfort.
Pay attention when your dog growls and what it’s regarding, to teach your dog to become more comfortable in those situations. This allows you to correct the problem that causes potential aggression.
If your dog has bitten someone already, call a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. A professional can help you create a plan to manage your dog’s aggression, ensuring the safety of both you and your dog.
There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (407) 865-7477, ext. 101.