“Stop messing with my paws!”
Stop your dog from biting. We had to learn the hard way from experience with our adopted Cockapoo dog, Sydney.
One day as I trimmed Sydney’s nails, he started a low growl. Then he opened his jaws wide, showing all his teeth. He looked me right in the eye then, he bit me!
If you have read Sydney’s Spot on this blog, you know we found our cockapoo from an animal shelter. At one-year-old, he had lost two homes and was owner surrended to a shelter. Sold as a puppy, Sydney’s owners had fail to house train him. By the time he ended up in the shelter, Sydney bit everyone who tried to put their hands on him.
His biting, a natural self-defense for dogs, showed willingness to self-defend. Sydney had learned to outrun his people. He fled conflict at every chance. So he never attacked people. He responded by fear biting, due to not being taught to inhibit the impulse to bite. Plus he never had learned to trust people.
Being part poodle, Sydney came ‘bloody” smart as the British might say. He also came with a nickname, Sid Vicious. Due to being only 14 pounds, shelter staff and volunteers learned to manage his anxiety biting, and his habit of chewing on fingers. He really meant no harm.
Playful as a puppy, Sydney brightened people’s days with his brash BIG personality. His main problem seemed to stem from his breeder selling him too early. Dogs need to feel emotionally secure.
Puppies need to learn when not to bite from their mothers.
Years later dogs can still revert to bad puppy habits.
So I was ready with a quick, “NO,” and a growl.
Then I put on a muzzle and finished the job. He got the message. Biting means unpleasant experiences for him. I still do not let strangers pet my dog. Too scary for him, he’s so tiny that his legs look like chicken legs when wet.
“What’s in my mouth stays in my mouth!”
Most dogs would say that (if they could talk).
If you have a new dog, a dog that refuses to share his toys or a dog that guards his food dish try these suggestions and follow the seven steps.
If you have more than one dog, be sure to take your dog away from other dogs so that his lessons in trading are not interrupted. Make sure there are no small children around for their safety.
Photo credit: dogs of WOOFSTOCK by Ryan from Toronto, Canada
7 Steps to Teach Your Dog to Trade
- Cut up small bites of your dog’s favorite treat. Chicken, hot dogs (in little odd pieces not round slices that can block his breathing) or dried meat dog treats work well.
- Keep the treats in your left hand.
- Give hand signal cues with your right hand.
- If your dog doesn’t like sharing his toys bring them and set them up high where he can’t get them. If your dog guards his food, do this lesson at mealtime and use his food bowl, but don’t fill it. Put just a few bites in his dish because you want to trade five to ten times in his first lesson.
- Say your dog’s name and ask him to “Sit.”
- Then tell him to “Stay.” Give him one of his tiny, yummy treats and say “Good dog.”
- Give him his toy or food dish then quickly say, “Drop it” or “Trade.”
If your dog stops eating or drops his toy, reward instantly and praise.
- Repeat and use the same cue word each time.
- Keep practicing trading
- Stop after 5 to 10 trades.
Repeat everyday or several times a week until your dog loves trading. He should quickly drop a favorite toy or leave his food dish on your cue word. Soon, he will not need a treat every time; your praise will remind him of the fun of trading.
Dogs understand fairness and trading. But most dogs need to be taught that trading their favorite thing is a good thing.
What methods have you used to teach a dog not to bite? Please share, I love true stories.