When Your Dog Bites

Practically everything we do is with our hands. We have long multi-joint fingers, flexible wrists, opposable thumbs, and sensitive touch. Dogs are stuck with claws at the end of their legs. Instead they rely on their mouths to do what we do with our hands.

Dogs pick up and carry things with their mouths. They “manipulate” things with their teeth. And, while humans use their hands and voice to signal intentions and emotions to others, dogs bark and bite.

Biting is natural for dogs. As puppies they bite in play with their brother and sisters to develop their hunting skills. They chew things during teething, as they learn how to rip apart prey. Their developed biting skills, from their inner wolf, help them kill prey and protect themselves when attacked.

As they develop these biting skills, they also learn degrees of biting. When they get too aggressive in nursing, mom will let them know. Their siblings will impose similar limits during play. When they encounter humans they need to be even more sensitive. A playful bite with a human might actually draw blood. When this happens don’t cower and run away. That sends the wrong signal. It’s important to respond like mom or a sibling would. It won’t take long for your puppy to understand how to gently apply pressure with its teeth.

You can wear gloves when engaged in aggressive play with your dog, as long as you can teach your dog to distinguish between glove and skin and adjust their play accordingly.

Once your dog has mastered the difference and you’ve reached your dog’s heart, you may find your dog snip at you occasionally when it doesn’t like something you’re doing. Don’t think your dog is being mean. Don’t panic and overreact. Probably your dog is simply telling you something like – “Ouch!”, “Stop it!”, or “Go away!” – things we would say out loud without showing our teeth.