How to train your dog to stop biting

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You know the scenario. You’re holding Gucci under your arm and someone comes up to pet the little darling only to be met by sharp little teeth and a high-pitched growl!  The armpit pirhana strikes again! You just can’t seem to understand why Gucci does that when he is usually such a doll.

Well, here’s your answer. He’s just protecting his “property,” which is you!  This is an all-too-common problem but it is easily fixed.  Start by putting the dog down on the ground.  This will quickly take the wind out of his sails when he doesn’t have to defend anything.  Even though they act like they do, most dogs really don’t like to have to be in charge.  It makes them anxious, hence the snarling and snapping.  Next, have people start approaching you and dropping treats on the ground.  Soon your pirhana will associate people approaching with fantastic things happening.  After a while, when things are going smoothly and your pup is happy to see people approach, you can practice picking him up. Give him a treat only if he behaves nicely toward the approaching visitor.  You don’t want to reward bad behaviors like growling, snapping or showing teeth.  Eventually, allow the approaching person to give the pup the treats.

The main way to prevent turning your little dog from becoming an armpit pirhana is to keep his feet on the ground and save the cuddling for when you’re at home.  Treating your little friend like a dog and not like a child will instill the confidence he needs to be a social butterfly!

Maureen Henderson is a a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a registered nurse who trains in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.  She volunteers at the SPCA TampaBay and Florida Boxer Rescue.  Maureen owns five dogs: an 11-year-old lab/chow mix, a one-year-old boxer, a four-year-old and a five-year-old old chihuahua and a four-year-old xoloitzcuintle (who just finished shooting a commercial for Kahlua!) She is the owner of Sit, Down,Stay Dog training where she does private, in-home training and behavior modification.

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