In any given year, almost one million people are bitten by a dog badly enough that it needs treatment. Children, in particular, are a target, but there are many reasons why dogs bite humans. Sometimes, dogs feel very territorial about their surroundings, and even their toys, afraid that children will remove them from their space. Loud noises and sudden movements, which likely come from children, can cause tension in dogs and then lead to a bite.
Dogs can also bite when playing and must be taught not to do so. Puppies will often use their mouth as a means of exploring and will also bite each other during play. To prevent your dog from using their mouth when playing, try the following:
- If your dog uses its mouth on you, it’s fine but when it uses its teeth to give you a nip, make a howling sound to signify that something is wrong. Keep making these noises until it stops. If the dog bites your hand, hold it as if it is hurt. Then praise your dog once it stops biting. Repeat this about three times over a quarter of an hour.
- Increase the sensitivity of your reactions. When playing with your dog, notice even small nips and go through the same ritual of howling noises, followed by either disapproval or a reward.
- Offer your dog a toy every time it tries to make contact with a person using its mouth. Always discourage it from making contact with its mouth.
Here are some suggestions to prevent situations where your dog might bite.
- Do not poke your dog’s face with fingers or other objects.
- Do not touch the sides of your dog’s face.
- Do not move your hands rapidly if your dog mouths you.
- Do not physically punish your dog if it mouths you, this may lead to an aggressive reaction.