How to Stop Dog From Biting and Understanding Biting Behavior

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Most dog owners will tell you a tale or two about a time they were sitting in front of a screen typing away for an answer for how to stop dog from biting.  While we don’t always understand the reason, biting happens. Luckily, there are some successful techniques that can help tame your dog’s teeth while they are learning to correct their behavior.

However, there isn’t just one answer to correcting the behavior of a biting dog. Finding the best training method to stop dog from biting depends on a few factors. How old is the dog? Is the biting aggressive or playful? Is the biting a reaction from stress or too much energy? When it comes to adult dogs, those teeth can be painful. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, sometimes the answer is simple – they never learned not to bite when they were a puppy.

We’ve sorted through several methods and guides about how to help stop dog from biting. It may take a combination of methods to be successful. Here’s a breakdown of some options you can try with your dog.  

#1 Bite inhibition
#2 Time outs
#3 Chew toys and bones
#4 Taste deterrent
#5 Avoid biting behavior triggers
#6 Ask for help

#1 Bite inhibition

Puppies explore the world with their mouth – but a sharp sound will let them know when to stop.

If your dog is still a puppy, you may want to evaluate if the biting is normal puppy behavior or if it is excessive. Keep in mind, many young dogs can bite a lot! Puppies often use their mouth and teeth to explore the world around them. One common method to help teach your puppy not to bite is called, bite inhibition.

Since puppies don’t realize how painful teeth can be on human skin, this method will help the young dog learn to control the force they use when they play and bite. Many puppies learn a degree of bite inhibition from playing and biting with other dogs. When a dog is bitten too hard during playtime, usually they will let out a yelp and the playtime will temporarily stop. This interaction helps young dogs understand gentle play. 

Much like a dog yelping, owners can also let out a high-pitched noise and stop playing to let the pup know that their biting is too rough. 

#2 Time outs

Keep time outs short – between 10 and 20 seconds.

One method you might want to try for your adult dog is a good old-fashioned time-out. Time outs can be more effective if the owner also lets out a high-pitched yelp (similar to bite inhibition) before ignoring the dog for 10-20 seconds. The owner may simply turn around or they could walk away.  

After the brief time-out, go ahead and play more with your furry companion. If your dog wants the play to continue, this method will show them how to keep the play continuous. Repeat the time-out method a few times if biting begins again. If aggressive biting behavior continues, take a break from playing. Time-outs shouldn’t become a game or part of every playtime. 

#3 Chew toys and bones

If your dog needs to gnaw, find a toy or bone made for their teeth.

Take a trip to the pet store and look for the best chew bone or toy for the size of your dog. The next time your little biter starts to bite aggressively, reach for a chew toy instead. Over time, this will help reinforce the idea that human skin is not for biting, but chew toys are acceptable to be gnawed on.

It’s important to pick an appropriate toy for the size of your dog. Toys that are too small can easily be ripped apart or swallowed. While it’s nice to have a variety of toys for your dog to pick from, just a few will do the trick. Your dog may end up having a favorite and making that decision for you! 

#4 Taste Deterrent

Bitter spray may work at a taste deterrent for some dogs.

While we haven’t personally tried this method for biting, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggests trying a taste deterrent on places your dog likes to bite before playtime begins. After about two weeks of using a bitter-tasting spray, your dog’s biting behavior may change for the better. While there are several sprays in pet stores to pick from, make sure to follow the directions and choose one that is safe for your pet.

#5 Avoid biting behavior triggers

Be aware of your dog’s biting triggers – games with tugging and biting might make it more difficult for dogs to understand when biting is okay and when it’s not.

While we don’t always know what causes a dog to bite aggressively, there are certain things owners can do to help keep a biting response at bay. When gesturing at your dog, avoid waving your fingers in their face or playing with their face. Waving or jerky movements can seem like a game to your dog and actually encourage biting behavior. This method can help stop dog from biting if you understand what actions typically create a biting response.

As your dog is learning to correct biting behavior, you may want to look into a good pair of dog training gloves. We’ve created a guide to help you choose training gloves that keep your hands and arms safe from bites and scratches. Specialized gloves not only help with training sessions, but can also protect your skin during physical tasks like grooming, bathing, or transporting your dog.

#6 Ask for help

The best method to stop biting may involve asking for guidance.

Since telling the difference between aggressive biting and stress reaction biting can be challenging, you might want to make contact with your vet and ask about contacting a Certified Applied Animal Behavioralist. They will have the education to help guide you on the path to finding the best method to help stop dog from biting. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a list of the kinds of help that you can discuss with your vet.

Play and training are some of the most important activities you and your dog can do together to help build a strong bond and develop a trusting relationship. Teaching your dog to play gently will bring years of happiness for you and your furry friend. If you think your dog might be biting because they have too much energy, you might try to add some enrichment activities or check out our guide to making your own obstacle course at home to provide extra stimulation for your active dog. 

As always, the most important thing to keep in mind for any dog training method is safety. Contact a vet if you are concerned with your dog’s behavior or aggression.

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AUTHOR

As a parent, dog owner, dog foster caregiver, and writer, I strive to create a loving home environment for all two and four-legged creatures. My background also includes research analysis and journalism. I work closely with animal behavior experts, trainers, and staff at Dog Training Boss to provide clear information that helps dog owners make the best decisions for their canine.