Working with dogs that bite (c) 2015-2016 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Let's talk about biting dogs. Biting is natural behavior in a dog, it's part of being a dog. Dogs are oral, they use their mouths to eat, taste, explore their environment, offer affection, to carry objects and to bite. Dogs bite each other in play and in defense with varying degrees of intensity and frequency. Dog biting can extend to people as well. Behaviorists often characterize biting behavior by what possible motivations might exist, using labels such as aggressive, defensive, fear, etc. Basically, all biting is a reaction by an aroused dog to a stimulus that is a stressful one for the dog or more simply put, a dog bites because he believes there is a very good reason to bite under the immediate circumstances.
A more holistic approach to the how and why of bite categorization is a system that looks at who is the object of the bite, what type of bite is delivered and under what circumstances. Dog expert extraordinaire, Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist outlines such a categorization and rating system for understanding dog biting, a system that is way more accessible contextually to how domesticated dogs live with people.
"Bite inhibition is learned in development, as a puppy from the mother and from littermates. When a puppy bites too hard, the mother may offer a maternal correction and littermates offer feedback vocally or by withdrawing from interactions. When interacting with puppies humans can help to develop bite inhibition by allowing puppy mouthing to a point".
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"Dogs never just bite. There are any number of "distance reducing behaviors" used by a dog before resorting to biting aggressively. Dogs avoid biting if possible through a series of deference behaviors which are also stress indicators".
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