2009-08-27 / Features

Reducing The Chance A Dog Will Bite

By The Associated Press

Experts say early, positive and thorough obedience training, starting with puppy kindergarten, is one way that dog owners can make their dog less likely to bite. Other tips:

Expose the dog to as many different types of children and adults as possible in the early months of its life in controlled situations, using food and other good things, so the dog will make positive associations between them and people.

Don't let puppies jump or nip, behaviors that can lead to bites later on. Redirect a nip with an alternative behavior such as a sit. When a puppy puts its mouth on the owner's hand, the owner should put an acceptable object in its mouth such as a rawhide bone or toy or sock. It can take months but eventually the dog should get the message.

Make sure the dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Follow animal-control laws and keep dogs leashed and under control in public.

Never leave a dog with children unsupervised.

Teach children not to run up to dogs or harass them.

If a dog challenges its owner, it's time for remedial work. First train obedience, such as the sit and stay commands, then consistently make the dog sit before it gets anything it wants, such as food or a walk, or make it stay rather than letting it get up to follow when a family member moves.

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