HELP FOR BITING DOGS
by Nedda Wittels
Nipping and Biting are normal behaviors in the world of the wild dog, coyote, or wolf. When living with humans, however, these behaviors are unacceptable. How can we help our dogs give up their natural ways of communicating and interacting with one another?
Nipping and biting are a normal part of interaction among pack members in the world of the wild dog, coyote, or wolf, and are also used by mother dogs with their young. These are natural ways in which dominance is established and puppies are disciplined by their mothers. In the human world, however, these same behaviors are completely unacceptable.
Dogs who nip or bite can cause lawsuits, earn you legal fines, and even be taken from their homes and killed by Animal Control. Also of concern is the pain and suffering of the individual who is injured and possibly scarred for life . In the human world, the dog owner (a legal term) is responsible for the behavior of their dog. Therefore, it is to everyone’s benefit, including the dog’s, to make sure your dog knows what behaviors are acceptable and considered “good manners” by the human standard.
This is why taking your new dog, whether a puppy or an adopted adult, to basic obedience class can be an essential part of building a relationship between the two of you. Even if you think you know how to train a dog, training techniques continue to evolve. There are always new ways to handle situations, and some techniques that work well with one individual personality are a disaster with another. Even if you have taken your older dogs to school and now have a new puppy, there can be the added benefit of building a stronger bond between you and your puppy by going to class together. Each dog has a unique background and will interact with you as an individual.
Please understand that I am not a dog trainer and have nothing to personally gain by recommending dog school for you and your dog. I make this recommendation because undoing a problem is much harder than never allowing it to develop in the first place. That having been said, it is important to understand the many reasons why dogs bite. Aside from the fact that this is a natural way of communicating among dogs, there are other reasons why your dog might be exhibiting this behavior and why you may have a problem eliminating it.
- Your dog may be an “alpha” dog and is expressing its dominance over you.
- Your dog is aggressive because he is fearful.
- You have taught your dog that nipping is OK because you have allowing her to chew on or play with your hand as a puppy.
- Your dog wants to dominate you because you or a previous owner have allowed him/her to do so in the past by not setting clear boundaries.
- Your dog may be in physical pain and snapping or biting is a reflex reaction to pain.
There are specific tests that can be given to puppies to determine if they are “alpha” dogs, dogs who want to lead the pack. “Alpha” dogs are alpha because that’s their personality. They will not easily settle for being No. 2 and require owners capable of handling this personality type. Good dog breeders will give this test to their puppies and make sure that the puppies only go to homes where that personality type can be managed. However, professional breeders are a small percentage of the places where puppies are obtained. When you take a dog home from a pet store or rescue organization the dog probably has not been tested in this manner. Therefore, if you suspect your dog might be an alpha personality, it is wise to have a trainer evaluate him or her.
There are, of course, many reasons why a dog might bite. In the following case the issue was chronic pain and the solution was acupuncture and chiropractic.
A client called about her elderly Golden Retriever who had never bitten anyone in her life, but suddenly nipped at everyone who tried to pet her. The dog told me she was in pain in her hips and her back. A trip to the allopathic veterinarian quickly revealed arthritis in the spine and hips. That veterinarian prescribed a pain medication, but it didn’t seem to help. The situation was resolved when the dog received acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. Because she was more comfortable, the nipping/biting behavior disappeared.
If your dog nips or bites you or anyone else, it is imperative for both your sakes to take steps to identify and resolve the biting behavior. It is not the most loving thing to keep a dog whose behaviors are a problem to yourself and other people. Here are some approaches you can take to solving this problem.
- Have your veterinarian make sure your dog has not developed arthritis or some other painful, chronic condition.
- If you think your animal might be in pain, you can also ask an animal communicator to speak with your dog to gather information in that area.
- An animal communicator can also help clear up any confusion about your dog’s role in the family and inform your dog of legal consequences to continued biting.
- Flower Essences can help in some situations and in combination with training and various healing modalities.
- If it seems that the issue is behavioral, get thee to a dog trainer, preferably one who is experienced with aggressive behavior in dogs. Make sure you check this person out thoroughly so that you are comfortable with the techniques the trainer uses.
- A diet change may be in order if your dog is not able to get sufficient nutrients out of his/her current food or if there are sensitivities or allergies to anything in the food or to the food itself. The old adage, “you are what you eat” is true, and poor diet can affect behavior.
Whether or not your dog is an alpha dog personality, telepathic communication can be helpful in clearing up what is behind aggressive behavior. The answers to some key questions may help everyone understand what approach may be most effective in bringing about a change in your dog’s behavior. An animal communicator can ask your dog about these things.
- What is your dog feeling emotionally when she nips or bites?
- Is your dog arrogant about this behavior?
- Is your dog afraid? Angry? Depressed?
- Does your dog think nipping is OK but biting isn’t because you call them “love nips”?
- Have you assigned your dog a role in the family that is inappropriate for his personality, emotional state, or personal life goals?
- Is your dog confused because you have been inconsistent in communicating what behaviors you expect and desire?
- Have you been clear (from your dog’s perspective) about his role in the family?
- Has your dog been given the job of protector and doesn’t feel up to it or doesn’t understand how to be a protector without being aggressive?
- Is your dog expressing anger or aggression that actually belongs to you or to another member of the family who is not in touch with his/her own feelings?
- Has your dog experienced a trauma early in life or in a past life that has caused your dog to be “stuck” in the biting behavior?
- Is there a spiritual entity or being attached to your dog that is causing him to act aggressively?
While you are exploring these possibilities, careful management of the situation is recommended. A dog that bites or nips should not be allowed to be with visitors or in any situation which can become tense or filled with excitement, confusion, or a lot of noise. Don’t hesitate to give your dog “time out” in a quiet place, such as a crate or another room. Keeping your dog on a leash when there are visitors or using a muzzle on walks might also be in order.
Most importantly, don’t wait until you are at the “end of your rope” before attempting to do something about canine aggression. Ultimatums and violence on your part won’t work very well, and when you approach the situation in anger, conflict is more likely to escalate than to defuse.
Nedda Wittels, M.S., M.A., is an internationally known Animal Communicator, Shamballa Master, Light Worker, and Teacher. On her website, http://www.RaysOfHealingLight.com, you can read about her services, which include Animal Communication sessions for people and their animals; Distance healings for humans and animals; Spiritual Empowerment sessions for humans; TWA (Telepathy With Animals – Animal Communication Coaching Program); TWA_OPG (TWA Online Practice Group); Heart Centered Living (HCL) personal expansion program. Nedda is also the founder and moderator of the Animal Communicator Forum, http://www.AnimalCommunicatorForum.com, a website dedicated to promoting her fellow Animal Communicators and to expanding human consciousness about telepathy with animals.