Can you help me stop my dog biting, and bossing me around?

asked 2018-09-23 13:34:48 -0500

Hi all

I'm at my wits' end, and am looking for advice about stopping my dog from biting my feet. He is a cross-breed of Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen x JRT. He was brought over from Spain, aged 1 (approx), as his first owner wasn't able to look after him, and so kept him chained up in the house, apparently. We've had him for nearly a year, and he's just turned 2. He came to us toilet trained, and knew 'sit' and 'down' commands.

On the first few days, no biting. First couple of weeks, he was biting quite a lot. After 2 months, my partner and I couldn't walk around the house without him biting at every opportunity. We sought advice from the rescue charity, and walked around the house in wellies all day, every day for a month! This did not stop the biting, he just started biting around the knees and hands instead.

Over the next several months, he almost entirely stopped biting my partner, but it is as bad as ever for me. We've been working with a dog behaviourist, who has helped with some of the regular training (leave, stay commands, etc), but the biting just won't subside. He also does the same to my mother, and mother-in-law. The only time when he is truly calm around me is when i'm on the sofa, or laying in bed!!

Some examples of when he bites me are when:

  • I'm in the kitchen
  • We see a dog on our walk, then its owner and the dog walk away
  • We're playing ball and he returns it to me
  • I'm walking around the house
  • When I put on my shoes before a dog walk

It's not aggression with bared teeth, it's more bossiness. I feel as though the best solution is to ignore it, but it's SO painful, I can't. I fear this is making the problem worse, but don't know how I can react any differently. I tried putting chew-stopper spray all over my shoes and legs, but it barely affected him, and was more a mere inconvenience, and soldiered on regardless!

HELP ME! I love him, but the thought of living like these for the next 10+ years is making me feel very sad. Does anyone have experience of this situation?

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This may sound mean but its how i got my dog to stop doin that...lay him on his side on the floor against ur knees, place 1 hand on his shoulder firmly holding him to floor, use other hand to cover his eyes & mouth heading head to floor and lean down and bite the tip of his ear

Bizshka D.'s profile image Bizshka D.  ( 2018-09-24 20:18:11 -0500 ) edit

he might whine or whimper, but ive found that by doing this u establish dominance, and with most pups or dogs that do what urs is doing, they are looking for guidance/leadership in what do/how to act. Thats what the lead dog in dog packs does to say behavior is unacceptable, they nip them....

Bizshka D.'s profile image Bizshka D.  ( 2018-09-24 20:21:44 -0500 ) edit

Me personally I would get a muzzle. Every time the dog tries to bite u put the muzzle on then take it off and keep repeating it over and over every time he tries to bite. The dog will learn hey if I bite or try to bite I get that thing put on my face as punishment.

Ellen L.'s profile image Ellen L.  ( 2018-10-14 12:05:50 -0500 ) edit

I have never had an experience like that, but I'm cringing at the thought of my German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever doing that. I know that HAS to hurt, especially on a repeated basis. I can think of maybe one time total that that has happened with either dog. My stern "No!" made them stop.

Shamontiel V.'s profile image Shamontiel V.  ( 2019-04-22 14:35:30 -0500 ) edit

I would strongly suggest getting a lead. Dogs' noses are so sensitive, and I've yet to meet a dog who just loves to have it on. If you put it on whenever he bites you, he'll (hopefully) associate biting you with being forced to have a lead put on and knock it off. I haaate using them but they work.

Shamontiel V.'s profile image Shamontiel V.  ( 2019-04-22 14:36:53 -0500 ) edit

Personally any dog that has bitten me (mine or not) I have bitten back and bitten hard. Sometimes it takes a while for them to understand. Or you can rub oragel on his gums if he does it.

janai n.'s profile image janai n.  ( 2019-07-04 20:07:46 -0500 ) edit

Just hit the dog. SHow dominance

John E.'s profile image John E.  ( 2020-01-06 01:47:15 -0500 ) edit

9 Answers

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answered 2018-09-25 01:32:08 -0500

That must be incredibly maddening! Fortunately, there are many techniques you can use to help. First and foremost, it sounds like you need a more specialized trainer, someone who knows how to manage chasing and nipping behaviors specifically, not just obedience.
I am not a trainer, but there are some things I would try. The 3 causes I can think of are 1) overexcitement, 2) frustration (look up leash reactivity and barrier frustration), and 3) breed instinct.

First, as much as you can, do not let him bite you. I know this sounds obvious, but right now he is getting rewarded for chasing and biting you by being able to satisfy his desire to bite. Every bite is a step in the wrong direction. Personally, I would put my dog on a leash whenever I was around to make sure he didn't get tangled. If you feel he's going to chase you and bite you, loop it under a couch leg or make sure your husband has hold of it (or a foot stepping on it). Obviously take it off when you're not there. Find a way to prevent him from biting you during play time, find other activities that don't elicit the biting, play slower or calmer to reduce overexcitement, or avoid the activity if you truly can't prevent him from biting. Many people will use a muzzle with this technique to prevent their dog from getting the satisfaction (reward) of biting them.

Second, start (or continue) doing training in other areas at home, adding in a verbal correction if your pup does not do the behavior. For example, tell your dog "sit". If he sits, give a treat. If not, say "whoops" or "ah ah". This will slowly train your dog how to tell if he's doing something INcorrectly as well as correctly. This will be slow and depend on how smart he is, but eventually you will be able to pair his nipping behavior with your verbal correction (i.e. "ah ah") and use this correction to teach him the behavior you do and do not want.

Third, it will help significantly to notice the precursory behaviors - the ones that occur immediately before he nips at your heels. For example, staring at your feet, standing up from his position, etc, so you can correct or redirect him before he is biting you.

Fourth, see if you can redirect his behavior to his meal or his favorite toy. For example, put his dinner on the floor in the kitchen and walk by on the other side of the room. Does he leave his food to nip you or keep eating? If he keeps eating, then keep walking closer and closer to him. Practice this behavior in each room or area he chases your feet. Alternatively, find a toy that he loves and only give it to him when you are about to walk around the kitchen or do something you know will ... (more)

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answered 2018-09-23 20:40:20 -0500

I agree with Walt. This poor pup was abused when he was a baby, was not socialized, and he doesn't know how to act and I would not say he's bossy, rather he is scared and insecure. Find a trainer who specializes in fearful dogs.

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Yes, I think you’re right. Our current trainer is lovely, and doggo adores her, but it might be worth bringing in someone in addition, with very closely aligned experience. Thank you for your advice. 🐶

Caroline O.'s profile image Caroline O.  ( 2018-09-23 20:56:53 -0500 ) edit
answered 2018-09-23 19:28:08 -0500

I highly recommend you find a local trainer to help with the dog's issue and to train you how to manage and control your dog. Best of luck

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Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it.

Caroline O.'s profile image Caroline O.  ( 2018-09-23 20:49:38 -0500 ) edit
answered 2018-09-25 14:28:31 -0500

Sounds to me that he was not socialized and that he's using his mouth (biting) to communicate with you. Get a good trainer and this behavior will not last long!

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answered 2018-10-24 11:30:49 -0500

The best way to stop your dog biting you is to build a strong bond between a human and dogs by regularly playing with them and exercising with them. However, try to avoid fighting games such as war types games.

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answered 2020-01-19 09:10:22 -0500

You need to stop the behavior the second it starts. Actually, you need to stop it before it starts. Read everybody's body language and the environment. See what is consistent. If feasible change it. If not, the second you see the body language of biting, distract. I also use clicker training. That way if I see the dog doing things I do like, I click and reward right away. I use it to catch the dog in positive behaviors and they learn what those positive behaviors are really quickly.

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answered 2022-09-06 17:33:45 -0500

three simple things you could start with is, doorways, feeding and being on high suffices. during feeding time have your dog set and wait until you have placed the bowl on the floor until you give him the command to eat.
Doorways you go first. Especially outside doors. He isn't allowed out or in the door until you give him the command. Last for a least two weeks he is not allowed on any furniture at all. after that two weeks is up, he can come up only when invited.
Doing these three simple things will show your dog that you are alpha. It would also help to have the dog walk by your side when on leash. proper leash etiquette.
If that does not help you need to find a trainer that will teach you about how to communicate with your dog in his language. Dog language is like trying to communicate with someone of another culture and you can't understand what they are trying to tell you.

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answered 2019-10-07 15:13:07 -0500

Teach your dog sympathy, show your dog that biting hurts you. I play this game with my dog where when she gets too aggressive with me I'll immediately cry out, "owww!" I continued to do this until she realized that maybe her rough play was too rough. Some dogs don't realize how rough their being so Don't yell or get upset when your dog bites you, cry out loud so your dog knows it hurts, show sadness so your dog feels bad about biting......

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answered 2018-09-28 05:48:18 -0500

Please don’t ignore this behaviour. He is getting what he wants by biting you, and you have to let him know that it is unwanted behaviour. He does not know that he is misbehaving. To him, it is great fun, but dogs want to please us, so if you let him know that he should not bite and that it hurts you, he should eventually stop. It will take a lot of patience and time, as he has developed a liking for this behaviour, and he will keep forgetting that it is wrong.

Try to yelp, as your dog would if he was hurt. By doing this, you are speaking his language and telling him that it hurts. Then tell him a firm NO, and turn away from him, or stop playing with him. By doing this, you are removing a reward, like playing or simply being with you. You can also try putting him in a time out (holding him in the corner or putting him in his crate for a few seconds to a minute)

Good luck, and let me know of your progress. Katie

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answered 2018-09-24 20:16:32 -0500

Have you ever used clicker training before... When he dose something good you, praise and click. Dose Something bad, yell and say bad dog, and redirect him, give him something he can bit on and not your feet.

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