Mouthing, biting and nipping are very commonly seen in dogs, especially if they are puppies or in rescue or adopted dogs that have not been very well trained when they are younger. Without fingers, dogs can only use their mouths to engage in many different activities such as playing, exploring objects or they may even bite as a form of coping mechanism or to display aggression.
First things first, it is important to identify the reason for the biting behaviour in your dog, only when you know the cause of the problem can you tackle it at its root.
Learning how to control the force of your dog’s bite is very important, especially when they are at the puppy stage when they are still learning and have no idea what is wrong or right. However, if your furby is no longer a puppy but a rescue or adopted dog and does not have a good training foundation, all is not lost.
It is good to enrol your pet into a training programme or even engage professional dog trainers to aid you in training your dog to not bite, whether it is a dog or a puppy. However at the end of the day, it is your responsibility as the owner to continue to reinforce the training and to continue this training for the rest of your pets’ life.
Another way to control mouthing is to let your dog play with other dogs. When a dog bites its playmate too hard while playing, the victim will usually let out a yelp and stop playing. This serves as a signal to your dog that the bite was too painful. When you are playing with your dog, you can also imitate this behaviour by letting out a loud yelp if your dog accidentally bites you too hard or even imposing a ‘time-out’ whereby you both stop playing.
These signals help your dog to learn and understand how to control the intensity of their bites and helps them to be able to socialise well with other dogs and humans.
Anxiety and Aggression
Dogs also bite out of anxiety and aggression and these two are similar because they usually stem from fear. This is one of the biggest motivators of dog bites. One way to reduce your pets’ anxiety and aggression is to socialise your dog as much as possible, especially when they are young. Allow them to meet different people and animals. It is also good to expose them to different situations such as a busy place or bringing them to the beach and it is important to keep these experiences positive.
Positive reinforcement is also a very powerful tool in your arsenal to help control your dog from biting. When they behave well or remain calm, reward them with a treat or even with a word of praise. Consistently rewarding them for their good behaviour goes a very long way.
If your dog has a history of aggression, especially biting you or biting other humans or dogs, it is vital to always keep it on leash when you take your pet for walks. Do muzzle your pet if you have to, but to use the muzzle wisely and not as a blanket method. And if you feel that your dog’s aggression is not improving despite your efforts, do seek out a professional trainer that is experienced in aggression to help intervene.
Last but not least, do not use methods of punishment. Never discipline them using violence, physical or aggressive methods as such methods induce fear in your pet, creating even more anxiety and aggression. Our furbies are much more responsive to love and affection through positive reinforcement and will definitely return you with even more love.