When a dog bites, it is not always due to pathology or a behavior problem. Instead, we explain the reasons for this behavior, how to help your dog control the bite, and which cases to turn to a professional.

Dog Bite

The mouth is to the dog what the hands could be to us. With it, they discover, learn, play, feed, and defend themselves, so there is the need to bite in their nature. However, even though nibbling is usually quite insistent in the puppy stage and until puberty, it is not so insistent in adulthood. Behind this behavior, we could find stress or specific physical pathologies.

We spoke with two experts in dog education and animal behavior to explain why a dog bites and what we can do to help you control the taste.

Is it normal for our dog to bite?

A dog uses its mouth for many actions throughout its life; its mouth is to them what our hands are to us. Thus, and according to Noel Espinosa, master in clinical etiology and trainer at Eurekan, some of these actions could be summarized as: “picking up objects to transport them, tearing or chewing when eating, chewing on toys or breaking objects to release stress or to explore, bite the skin of other individuals (dogs or people, for example) to defend themselves or to play,” among others. Therefore, for a dog to “bite” is a function that is part of its nature.

Now, the trainer specifies that although they use their mouths throughout their lives, “there is an excellent predisposition from birth to eight months of age (the giant races later, because they mature more slowly), and it occurs mainly to explore and so on.

A dog can bite you and not really have an aggressiveness problem, and he is simply playing or perhaps the opposite. He has grabbed your hand so that you stop doing something that scares or annoys him. Stress is usually behind chewing excessively in frequency or intensity towards people and destructive behaviors towards objects. Biting can be a valve for that excess stress”.

One of the best Vet Experts also has the same opinion, who also adds that there may be other situations that may lead the dog to bite people, such as, for example, specific organic causes (discomfort due to a disease, a brain tumor, etc. ). Therefore, according to the founder of Eurekan, “it would be necessary to assess in each case after an interview of at least one hour, and sometimes with medical tests, what are the factors that can generate this type of behavior.” 

Games and techniques to control your dog’s bite

Dog Bite

That a dog stops biting objects and does not bite people happens on many occasions by prevention. For the trainer and ethologist Noel Espinosa, any game that involves the dog “biting” us can be good for our companion to learn to use his mouth correctly. For this, he recommends that we choose games that do not involve high levels of excitement and that are brief (5-10 minutes), such as “let them bite us and stop the interaction, calmly, if they hurt us. Each one can assess what pressure they are going to consider as excessive”.

Contrary to what one might think, if the nibbling behavior is caused by stress, it is likely that gambling increases stress levels, despite the subsequent feeling of tranquility after exercise, due to fatigue. When it rests, the nibbling behavior will continue to be intense, so we must limit ourselves to non-explosive or physical games, such as searching in an area where we have scattered a large number of small prizes since sniffing helps a lot to relax.

Thinking games and problem-solving can also help the dog control the bite, as long as the difficulty is not too great. And finally, ensure that the dog always has beautiful and edible things to chew on, such as bones, carrots, stale bread. We never know when he may need to chew to relax, so if he always has it at his disposal, we reduce the possibility that he will chew furniture, clothes, or objects, or direct his nibble towards us”.