Pet parents don’t enjoy dogs that bite, chew and mouth their hands, limbs or clothing during play and interaction. The jaws of an adult dog can cause significantly more pain than puppy teeth, and adult dogs can inadvertently cause injury while mouthing. Mouthing is often more difficult to suppress in adult dogs because adults aren’t as sensitive to our reactions as puppies are, and they’re usually more difficult to control physically because of their size.
Socializing puppies as early as possible helps with many behaviors – aggression and rude behavior in particular. If you have a puppy or young dog, try to find opportunities to expose your pet to different experiences as soon as possible. Puppy classes are one way to help in the socialization process. Exposure to other people, environments, sights and sounds will make for a calmer adult dog. Teaching a puppy to act calmly in these situations increases the chances of having a happy, confident adult dog. Puppy classes also teach some basic obedience skills, so on top of the socialization component, you’ll learn how to ask your pup to comply with your requests and behave according to your expectations.
Once a dog becomes an adult with these and other bad habits, it is a bit more complicated to redirect that energy towards other things – such as a toy or other distraction. Corrective action becomes necessary at times, though with most dogs consistent gentle guidance is enough. An obedience class is another opportunity to expose your dogs to new environments, and will also help to build a stronger relationship between human and dog.
When the behavior becomes more aggressive and frequent, you can learn to at least manage the aggression or possibility of a bite. Unfortunately, dogs that get to that point are often taken to shelters, and often put down. These types of dogs respond well with consistent commands, relationship building, training and exercise.
If ever your normally calm dog becomes easily agitated, or starts snapping for no apparent reason, check in with your veterinarian. Often pain (bad tooth, embedded sticker) will cause a dog to show uncharacteristic aggression.
Remember, your dog will love you for free. Respect is something you have to work for!