Your dog has bitten a friend, stranger or even your own child and everyone is telling you to “euthanize your dog”. First, take a breath and let’s assess the situation and understand why
In this Blog I will teach you how to prevent your dog from biting a person by helping you understand when your dog is feeling stressed and needs more space from an unfamiliar person. Dogs will offer requests for distance, called distance cues until they learn that their requests go ignored by the human. If they are still afraid, they will simply bite as their fear overrides their ability to think.
As a Professional Dog Trainer, it is my job to teach you how to teach your puppy or rescue dog to have a soft mouth. This goes for your puppy mouthing a human, child or another dog.
If you have adopted a rescue dog, can you be assured this dog knows not to bite?
I discuss a soft mouth in all my classes because it is so important and many of you have rescued a dog. If I approach your tethered dog holding a scarf, glove or toy, will your dog lunge and grab the item along with my hand? Have you tried yelling, “no!” Did yelling teach your dog an appropriate behavior? Instead of yelling, you can simply walk away the second the feet come off the floor. Approach the dog again, if his behavior is not appropriate, walk away, repeat until he sits or does not jump, then reward with play! Rewarding your dog for the appropriate behavior is much faster than telling the dog “no”.
Socializing puppies can be confusing. However, science tells us that puppies who are exposed to many different environments in a positive way, grow up to be social, relaxed adult dogs. Puppies who grow up in an outside pen, and do not experience indoor environments until 8 or 9 weeks of age, will be more fearful and skittish as they mature in a home. While these puppies can often overcome their fears, it takes time and patience.
If humans better understood dogs body language then we would have less dogs resorting to a bite when they feel stressed or threatened. We see several cues that this scared boy does not want to be touched. Signals that are asking for distance are often very subtle.
Level 1 distance Cues:
1. Dogs body is leaning away from the approaching hand.
2. Dogs paw is raised in a submissive manner.
3. Head is moving away asking for increased distance.
4. Eyes are avoiding the stranger
5. Mouth is closed, rather than open and relaxed.