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How to train your dog not to bite

With pet ownership comes responsibility. Unfortunately, many dog owners are still irresponsible with training their pets properly. In fact, an annual barrage of law suits, medical bills, and instances of dog euthanasia result from dog bites each year — almost 5 million according to the Center for Disease Control. This often avoidable behavior can be taught to dogs from a young age, which is a good thing for both dogs and their owners.

There are common techniques that have been proven to be effective in suppressing biting behavior of dogs. However, the degree of difficulty of dog training varies with the breed of dog, age and individual temperament.

The younger the dog, the easier the training will be. Because mouthing, nibbling, and nipping come naturally to a puppy, an owner must be firm to stop this behavior when it starts. Even though it may begin as a cute nuisance, it can turn into a bad habit if not contained from the get-go.

You can start giving verbal commands to your dog when he is four weeks and older. When the puppy tries to bite, a gentle but firm “No!' followed by a slight squeeze of the muzzle will train him not to bite anymore.

It is important not to squeeze the muzzle too hard or too high up. Doing so can cause the puppy to bite its tongue or damage the delicate odor receptors that are high up in the snout. A dog's ability to smell is one of its most important assets!

Squeezing your dogs muzzle will help him associate the verbal command with the discomfort of the squeeze. Since most dogs are uncomfortable with having their muzzles squeezed, this will help him think twice about biting.

What can you do to train your dog besides discouraging bad behavior verbally and physically? Allow him to develop appropriate social behaviors as early as possible. This will develop his confidence and self-assurance, which in turn will make him less frightened of strangers, and less likely to attack.

It's a good idea to let your dog get to know other dogs, as long as they're not aggressive themselves. This allows your pet to become aware of a variety of smells and appearances that might otherwise arouse his suspicions, and tends to negate his normal territorial reactions.

Although dogs have the tendency to mouth and nip, they naturally inhibit this behavior when they are playing with their mates. Train them to develop this behavior by expanding his playmates to include your family members, guests and other pets.

When introducing your pet to an animal from outside the home, be sure to keep both animals at a distance from each other. Allow the animals to approach one other at a slow pace while they take in their smells and act out other normal behavior.

Keep an eye out for uncomfortable body language, growling, ears that stand up straight or other signs of possible anger. Have the dog sit down, rub it's back area, and extend your hand to the second animal, and then convey the second animal's scent to your pet. Allow them to get to know each other slowly.

Young dogs may be trained not to bite by as early as four and a half months. It can take longer than that, so try not to get frustrated. Each breed of dog is different and training will differ with individuals as well. Be advised that elder dogs, especially those not trained as pups or socialized throughout their life, will be more difficult to train.

While most dogs can be trained not to bite, there are some that still bite despite being trained. Pet owners should also be trained how to handle their dogs properly. If your dog still bites, make sure it cannot interact with other people or be expose to other animals.

While it may take some time and patience to train your dog not to bite, your efforts will eventually pay off with a more calm and playful pet which in the long run is much better than having to pay off a lawsuit!

Lee Dobbins

Lee Dobbins writes for where you can learn more about dog breeds and dog care.

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