Stop A Dog From Biting

So, how do you stop a dog from biting? It’s a big question and in the worst case scenario it may mean that you will need to make the ultimate life and death decision. As a dog owner you are ultimately responsible for your dog’s behavior.

So lets explore a common scenario. Imagine you are taking your dog for a walk down the street or on the beach and you pass by a group of young children. They are noisy, skipping and hopping around each other, laughing and having a good time. Their movements are fast and your dog sees that as a threat.

You notice your dog flinching and within a split second, your dog lunges forward and nips at one of the children. You love your dog, however, any aggressive behavior is simply not acceptable in our society. 

To stop a dog from biting, first we need to understand why dogs bite. There are three main reasons that cause dogs to lash out, nip and bite.

  1. Play nipping and biting.
  2. Fear Biting.
  3. Aggressive Biting.

Next we discover what to do to manage this and how to train your dog to stop biting with the following solutions;

  1. Tap method.
  2. Tongue suppression method.

Play Biting and Nipping.

Nipping – the playful biting and mouthing of your hands and clothes by your dog – is particularly common among puppies, but can also occur in older dogs that haven’t been taught proper bite inhibition.

It’s natural for dogs to mouth and nip. They explore the world using their mouths – to a dog, his mouth is as important as eyes and hands are to us.

Nipping is very different from true aggression: it’s a form of communication, interaction, exploration, and play.

Fear Biting.

Fear biting is when a dog bites when they are feeling totally out of control and are in a state of sheer panic. It’s not to be confused with dominance-aggression, which is a sign of deep-set personality problems; a fear-biter isn’t necessarily a ‘fierce’ dog. He’s just scared.

Why does fear-biting happen? A fear-biter bites because it’s his only way of expressing his extreme fear or panic, and his only way of telling his owner that he can’t handle the situation.

Aggressive Biting.

Aggressive behavior in dogs is instinctual. It is hard wired in a dogs brain and is strongly linked to their survival instincts. There are two types of dog aggression that result in biting. The first stranger aggression and the other is “pack aggression” or family member aggression.

Stranger aggression is the dog showing the stranger or stranger dog that he is the dominant one and is protecting his “pack” or family.

Pack aggression or family member aggression is displayed when your dog is confused about their position in the family and may see the children in the family as less important or a threat. They try to be a more dominant member in the pack by keeping the children in line by acting aggressively, growling and occasionally nipping and even sometimes biting.


There are a few easy things you can do to stop a dog from biting, but it does take a consistent effort. The earlier you begin, the easier it will be.

Tap Method.

When your dog begins to mouth or tries to play bite while you are petting them or playing with them, stop the activity, make your dog sit and then get their attention by holding their head or lower jaw with one hand. Use one or two fingers to very gently tap your dogs snout, it is vitally important that you only lightly tap and do not add any force as your dogs snout is very sensitive and a light tap is enough for them to feel.

You should never try to hurt your dog, the tap is merely to get their attention and to understand that the activity of biting is not acceptable. I would suggest a one finger tap for small dogs and puppies and a two finger tap for larger dogs. If you make the mistake of hitting too hard you may cause permanent damage to your dog and may compromise their ability to smell.

As you initiate the tap add a command like “No”, “No biting” or “Stop that”. Speak the command in a low and serious voice and never yell at your dog. Yelling is totally unnecessary. You are just letting your dog know that biting is not OK and they will respond well if you consistently do this over a few days every time they try to mouth or play bite.

Tongue Suppression Method.

This method is a bit more messy because you will need to touch your dogs tongue. You will also need to have the complete trust of your dog before trying this.

How it is done is when your dog is play biting, you place your thumb on your dogs tongue and press gently down and back. This creates a reaction of the tongue and it will roll back in your dogs throat and will partially block your dogs airway.

It doesn’t hurt your dog, it’s just a bit uncomfortable and your dog will soon learn that biting means an uncomfortable feeling. As with the tapping method add a command to let your dog know you mean business.

If your dog gags or coughs immediately after, you have pushed their tongue back to far and you will need reduce the amount of pressure you place on their tongue next time. A small push is all that is needed and it should last no more than a second.

If you successfully use these methods during play when your dog is play biting, it will in turn teach your dog that any biting is inappropriate and is not acceptable.

Dog’s that bite sometimes do so out of fear which could be a symptom of dog separation anxiety. To discover if your dog suffers from anxiety get your free copy of our Dog Anxiety Checklist by visiting our Free Gift page.

We at Dog Anxiety hope that this article was helpful so you can know what to do to Stop A Dog From Biting.

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