Your dog isn’t just your pet; they are a member of your family. It becomes particularly heartbreaking, then, when your dog becomes aggressive and, in some cases, bites a friend or family member. In most cases, dogs that show aggression in this way are sold, sent to a shelter, or euthanized. However, not every dog that shows this kind of aggression is aggressive by nature, and there are varying factors that can contribute to this type of behavior. Whether their biting is a lasting problem or a temporary issue, some steps can be taken to resolve it for good without having to say goodbye to your dog.
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Anxiety and Emotional Issues
If you’ve had a dog for long enough, you may have noticed that a dog’s mind is more complicated than a lot of people give them credit for. In fact, just like humans, dogs are capable of very complex emotions and even mental disorders such as chronic anxiety and hyperactivity. When a dog is anxious, however, they don’t have the coping mechanisms that humans do, and often become aggressive and defensive as a result. This can cause them to bite as a result of their fight or flight response being stimulated. If your dog is new to the household or faced with other stressors, anxiety may make your dog lash out. Evaluate the totality of circumstances surrounding the incident, including stressors taking place both in the moment and throughout the week.
Take measures to ensure that your dog knows they are safe, and be consistent in what is and isn’t allowed to prevent unnecessary uncertainty in your dog’s life. Watch for signs of anxiety like barking, growling, baring teeth, wide eyes, stamping of paws. Even rapid tail wagging can indicate anxiety (or more specifically, it indicates a lot of energy.) If your dog is chronically stressed without any identifiable stressors, or else is easily made anxious, consider taking your dog to your local veterinarian for an evaluation. They may have developed or been born with an anxiety disorder, or if they’re a rescue, they may have PTSD. Certain types of sedative medication can be used to treat anxiety disorders and PTSD in dogs, just like in humans, and will allow your dog to live a more normal and less stressful life.
Undiagnosed Medical Issues
Dogs bark and make noises that allow us to narrow down what they’re attempting to communicate, but it isn’t an exact line of communication. This type of inability to precisely communicate can often cause tension and frustration in a dog, and lead to misunderstandings. Believe it or not, biting isn’t always a sign that your dog is trying to be aggressive or even hurt you. If your dog doesn’t usually bite people but it starts to, this could be a sign that they’re experiencing some type of illness or injury that is being aggravated. If a dog’s paw is injured, for example, they may nip at you if you try to shake or touch it as a method of protecting the injury. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately for an examination if they are being unusually defensive or withdrawn.
Taking Proactive Measures
Regardless of why your dog starts biting people, it’s important that you take proactive measures to ensure the safety of visitors in your home. If your dog has shown nervous, defensive, or aggressive behavior, then they absolutely should not be allowed near strangers or visitors. You are legally responsible for the actions of your dog, and if they bite someone, then you may be faced with the need for dog bite attorney services to prevent fines, community service, and even jail time. Keep in mind, the victim may hire a dog bite attorney and press charges, but if you have taken all reasonable measures to prevent incidents and the bite was caused by reckless behavior on the part of the victim, then you can have the charges dropped. Keeping your dog in another room or in their kennel when visitors are there, and ensuring that they are supervised or else are unable to escape the yard when left outside are important methods of preventing dog bite incidents.
Professional Dog Training
If your dog is particularly energetic, playful biting may simply be part of their natural behavior. The only way to prevent this is to learn how to effectively communicate with them so that you can teach the dog that biting is not acceptable behavior. Professional dog training is an involved process that trains you as much as it trains the dog, creating effective methods of communication between you and your dog. Dogs by nature don’t want to hurt or upset their human companions, and most issues result from misunderstandings and miscommunication, often on the part of the human as well as the dog. Getting professional training will not only teach your dog good behaviors, but it will teach you what cues your dog looks for and how to avoid giving them the wrong message.
Owning a dog that bites is a serious financial and legal liability. As the owner, you are responsible entirely for any damages they cause to property or to other people. Ignoring aggressive behaviors in your dog may also turn out to be ignoring an underlying health problem, greatly decreasing your dog’s quality of life as well as your own. Pay attention to the cues your dog gives and learn how to communicate effectively with your pet. Get medical attention for them when necessary, and you and your dog will be happier for it.