So here is the scenario, you have your dog or young pup, showing them all the love you can. They get playtime with you and even escort you on your runs or walks whichever you are doing. You believe you have structured their life well, this includes feeding, exercise and all the normal things which you should do for them. In all, you believe he or she is a good dog, but now and then, they bite you. Now, this may be overlooked by some as a dog in training, but the problem here from your observation is that you seem to be the only one they bite. This makes you wonder!
Why does my dog bite only me?
So it seems your puppy or your dog is singling you out for biting or is maybe not! The truth is if your puppy or dog bites you, when given the same opportunity with other people, they may do the same. For those who are currently experiencing being bitten by their dog, the reasons are one or a combination of these:
- Teething Pains in puppies.
- Testing their Bite Inhibition.
- You make them Anxious (consciously or unconsciously).
- Your Dogs Breed.
- Your dog was not properly trained.
Let’s analyze each reason and see how they fit into your dog’s current behavior.
1.Teething Pains in puppies
Puppy teeth development is somewhat similar to human babies. When they are born, they do not have any teeth and end up undergoing the teething process to develop their teeth. This process starts at two weeks of age till they are about six months. Needless to say, it is a painful process especially at the beginning and your puppy would naturally chew on anything he or she can. Unfortunately, you are the closest human to interact with them at this stage, and biting you to alleviate the pain is somewhat unavoidable.
Needless to say, this is not a good experience for us dog parents but is unavoidable. Training our puppies that biting no matter how small is unacceptable at this stage is very important. You should also look into chew toys for your puppy to help them alleviate the pain before they turn their attention to your furniture, shoes, clothing, etc.
2.Testing their Bite Inhibition
Your puppy as they grow does not know how far to bite on things. This is more true for puppies who have been taken away from their mothers at an early stage. Since you are the one closest to them at this stage, they will automatically assume you will play the role of their mother and bite you to see how far they can go.
To understand this, you need to look at the natural way of things if your puppy stayed with their mum. When with their mum, they would naturally nip and bite not just their mum but other puppies in their pack. Now their mum as the more experienced and powerful caretaker gets to reprimand them if they bite too hard. The reprimand can be quite harsh and sometimes painful to watch as it looks like the mother is abusing the puppy, but this is not so. The puppies are learning a very important lesson at this stage. This includes what to bite as allowed by their mum, how hard to bite, and when to keep their teeth to themselves.
Now you have taken your puppy from their mother at such an early stage, and automatically the puppy has come to take you as the mother/dog parent. Nipping and biting at you would be their only way of testing their Bite Inhibition for them to understand how far they can go. Needless to say, training them not to bite is the best thing for your dog at this stage.
3.You make them Anxious (consciously or unconsciously)
Now, this is the main reason why your dog or puppy would choose to bite you and only you. The way you act around him or her, your behavior is personalized to the interaction between you two and anything you do that leaves them nervous or in a state of anxiety around you. So if you are saying “my puppy won’t stop biting me I’ve tried everything” or “my dog is aggressive towards me but not my husband” or you are asking yourself “why does my dog bite me when excited”. You may be doing some of the things we are going to mention below:
i.)Starring at you Dog or Puppy for a long period.
Looking directly in your dog’s eye for a long time in the doggy world is perceived as a challenge. Now you have a situation where your dog is always in the same environment as you. They have come to accept that you are part of the family pack if not the alpha. But you have put him or her in a position whereby you are always challenging him or her by starring for a long time. Now the natural instinct of our dogs in this position is to avoid conflict and flee, but if you have a situation where they can’t flee, maybe they are on a leash or they feel cornered, what do you think they would do next, well your guess should be as good as mine. Your dog biting you in this scenario is a high probability.
If you want to share a moment with your dog, here is a better way than starring, bring down your body by squatting or kneeling whichever suits you, strike a quick glance that your dog will notice, and look away as if observing something your dog was watching before. This will send a sort of calming signal to your dog that everything is ok and that you two are just enjoying the moment.
ii.) Petting your dog on the head.
Surprisingly, this is one of those things that many people including dog parents do which are not appreciated by our dogs, but one way or the other has become a standard way of interacting with our dog. Well, let me sound it here. Dogs don’t like petting on the head. It usually leaves them anxious. Many strangers are usually taken aback when they try to pet a dog on the head and he or she starts showing signs of aggression. If you as a dog parent gets bitten petting your dog on the head then it is likely that you are overdoing it as it should tolerate such on a normal day.
So how best can we pet our dogs. Well, you can try petting along the side of their body, maybe give their chest a scratch, Your dog would certainly light up with appreciation if you pet him or her this way.
iii.)Excess Hugging, Snuggling or holding your dog.
Dogs don’t express affection the way we do. They don’t have hands so hugging and holding onto them seems strange from their perspective. Most dogs are uncomfortable when put in these positions and some might even feel that they are in danger which might lead them to bite you.
As a rule of thumb, always allow your dog to initiate the expression of affection, the position they take is usually the most comfortable for them. If you must hug and snuggle on them, then it is something you should take your time to teach your dog as an expected practice. This will not come naturally.
iv.) Erratic or Unpredictable movement from you.
By now you should know that your dog or dogs like to have events in their life that are predictable. From their feeding to their training, exercise routine, and more. Anything that seems out of place from the predicted patterns would get your dog barking or calling your attention to it.
So in this scenario, if you are to start acting in a manner that is not usual of you. Jumping out suddenly from your sit, or acting out under the influence of alcohol, you might end up being bitten by your dog as you look like a source of a threat that needs to be handled at the moment.
What your dog needs from you in every possible situation is to see you in control of whatever is happening around you. This way your dog will keep the confidence that everything happening around you and them can be interpreted and better still managed by you.
v.) Yelling or shouting, especially in an uncontrollable form.
Our dogs are very sensitive to the tone of our voice and so when we shout at them, they tend to become worried and anxious about what your next form of action would be. This is even more pronounced if your dog is naturally timid. Dog emotions are fragile and should be handled the way we handle babies. Two things happen when you yell or shout, either your dog gets anxious and takes a defensive stance or they misinterpret the tone and start acting excited or become hyperactive. Either way, the adrenaline flow in this situation can lead to you being bitten by your dog.
If you want to show anger when your dog does something wrong. It is better to do so in a “calm and firm” tone. Dogs understand this display of authority, especially when it is done at the moment in which they misbehaved or did something wrong.
vi.)Playing with them too much.
Most dog parents are surprised by this and others seem not to accept it, but our dogs don’t always want to play with us every single moment. Our dogs see most of our interaction with them as an invitation to play. This is not true most of the time, but if you keep on trying to interact or play with your dog, this might lead to some sort of irritation from their side, and biting you would be their way of saying he or she wants to be alone for some time.
The best way to interact with your dog is to develop a timeline/structure for all activities, this includes playtime, feeding, exercising, sleeping, etc. This will help your dog to know what is expected of him or her at each instance and help you to have better control over them.
4.Your Dogs Breed.
Some dog breeds are more likely to bite their dog parents than other dog breeds. Truth be told this doesn’t really change things much because, in the end, all dogs can bite, but it helps to understand the tendencies of your dog so that their behaviors or actions would not come as a big surprise to you.
Dogs that have the tendency to bite are usually in this group: working dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, and retrieving dogs.
5.Your dog was not properly trained.
This reason for your dog biting you is an obvious one, especially for older dogs. A dog that has not been trained to stop biting will carry on with it as he or she gets older, and the terrible thing about this is that as they get older, their bite becomes more dangerous.
Training a dog not to bite as early as possible is key here, so if you have a dog that seems to be predisposed to bite, you will need to start immediately to curtail it. Some people would go to extreme lengths like putting a muzzle on the dog. We would advise that you first contact a Dog trainer or an Animal behaviorist for advice before carrying out any major action.
How to stop your dog from biting.
Now we have dealt with all the reasons for the question “why does my dog only bite me”. The next step is what do you do to make sure your dog stops biting you and possibly other people they may come in contact with. Here is a summary of the basic things you need to do to stop your dog from biting.
a.) Dogs with biting issues should always be kept on a leash or in a well-fenced compound. Be sure to have them in a place where they can be monitored and controlled at all times.
b.) Make sure that your dog is up to date on their vaccination shots, especially rabies.
c.) Put your dog on a training program to teach him or her to stop biting.
d.) Begin the socialization process for your dog if have not done so already, expand their horizon, apart from meeting different people both able and disabled, old and young, also include exposure to various situations like different noises and workplaces.
e.) While socializing your dog, be mindful of possible aggression and excitement triggers, if the situation looks like it’s going to get out of hand, remove your dog from there.
f.) Avoid using physical punishment to reprimand your dog. Opt for positive reinforcement techniques, using praises and treats. Only opt for extreme measures like muzzles and shock collars when it is obvious that you might not be able to control the situation.
The next, thing is you can’t vouch for other people’s dogs. They may have biting issues with their dogs and you need to approach them cautiously so as not to become a victim of dog biting. Here are some summarized tips on approaching other people’s dogs.
a.) Never approach a dog without the owner being present and even at that make sure to take permission before doing so.
b.) If you are unfortunate to be around an injured dog, do not approach it, instead, call for animal control or a vet doctor.
c.) Leave dogs that are eating, sleeping, or mothering puppies alone. They can easily be startled and get aggressive in an instance.
d.) Never ever put your face close to an unknown dog.
e.) Never ever leave a child or baby alone with a dog.
f.) When first meeting an unknown dog, if you want to create a connection squat and look away, the dog will try to sniff you out especially your hands, if their attitude looks receptive, you can then proceed to pat their back.
g.) If you are cornered by a dog, don’t run or scream, it will only get them agitated and make them come for you, instead, stand still and avoid eye contact, doing this will create a higher possibility that the dog would lose interest in you and focus on something else.
h.) If you are ever knocked down by a dog, immediately put yourself in a fetal position, like a human baby in the mother’s womb. Use your hand to protect your head and stay still and calm.
So we have covered all the possible scenarios to protect one from dog biting, but if you have a situation where a dog bites someone, it is important to act quickly and get the person help. You should quickly endeavor to get the dog away from the person especially if it’s your own dog, next thing if possible is to wash the wounds with clean water and soap and then contact a vet doctor immediately for professional help if you can transport the person immediately to a hospital.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.