Dogs are naturally friendly and loyal to their caretakers.
However, there are instances when they feel upset and hurt, making them aggressive.
You probably have a bulldog, German Shepherd, spitz, or Shih Tzu, and after long months or years of caring, your dog pet suddenly bites you.
This scenario can shock and worry pet owners. But dogs, like any other animal, can either be tame or wild at times.
As a responsible pet owner, it’s a must to know the possible reasons why your dog may bite you or someone else. In this way, you’ll prevent triggering this harmful behavior and find ways to calm an aggressive dog.
Here are some reasons why dogs may:
1. Medical Conditions
People become irritable when they experience pain, such as toothache and migraine. This is also the same for dogs, which is why they may resort to biting and other aggressive behaviors. Hence, dog owners must bring their pets immediately to the vet if they notice something is wrong.
Dogs experience discomfort or pain due to the following medical reasons:
- Periodontal Disease: This chronic gum condition destroys the substance and ligaments holding teeth in place. Gingivitis causes bone decay. It also causes very painful tooth loosening and constant mouth irritation.
- Rabies: Some dogs acquire rabies, in which a virus is passed on to dogs via an infected animal’s bite, scratch, or contact with the infected saliva through an open wound. More often than not, stray dogs are at a high risk of contracting rabies.
Dog bite injuries can be serious, and if a stray dog has bitten you or a loved one, you can file damages by hiring a lawyer.
- Pancreatitis: Dogs experience sharp abdominal pain when their pancreas inflamed. The cause of pancreatitis in dogs is generally unknown, but it’s thought to be implicated by ingestion of fatty foods, such as salmon skin and bacon.
- Intervertebral Disc Disease: This medical condition refers to the acute rupture of the spine’s intervertebral disc. It’s a painful condition that may cause partial or complete paralysis. This problem is usually noticed after the dog runs, jump, or after they experience serious physical trauma.
- Arthritis: Young, middle-aged, and older dogs may suffer from arthritis or wearing and tearing of the smooth cartilage that’s covering and protecting the bones which form the joints. Dogs with arthritis feel constant joint pains, making it difficult for them to move.
- Bone Cancer: Cancer also strikes dogs, and bone cancer, specifically, is excruciating for dogs. Chemotherapy unlikely cures most dogs with bone cancer or osteosarcoma. However, it can promote a good quality of life.
2. Stress And Anxiety
Dogs don’t bite without any reason unless they’re rabid. Like any other animals, dogs bite because it’s their natural reaction when they find themselves in a stressful situation. Biting is a defense mechanism of dogs to protect themselves and their territory.
Here are some tips to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs to prevent biting:
- Exercise: Make your dog your exercise buddy to expose them to new places and people. Doing so will release happy hormones or endorphins.
- Physical Contact: Your touch is calming to your dog. If your dog shows initial signs of stress and anxiety, you can pick your dog up, cuddle on the couch, or give them a good petting session.
- Massage: Dogs also feel relaxed when they’re massaged. Massage your dog starting from the neck and then downwards using long strokes.
- Music Therapy: Music is relaxing and calming for dogs, too, as it’ll alleviate their sensitivity to noise.
3. Fear And Phobia
Like humans, dogs also experience fear and develop a phobia, and biting may be a result of fear. But why are some dogs more fearful than others?
Here are some reasons why dogs become frightened, which could result in biting:
- Lack of Socialization: Some dog owners have only one dog at home, which leaves dogs growing without socializing with other dogs or animals. Puppies (eight to 16 weeks) must socialize with other dogs because this stage is the critical period of their development. It’s crucial to expose your dogs to other animals so they won’t be afraid of ordinary events and activities, such as meeting strangers, walking in the park, riding a vehicle, and climbing the stairs.
You can get rid of your dog’s fear or phobia by gradually exposing them to unfamiliar objects, places, and people.
- Negative Experiences: Leaving your dog at home may cause anxiety, especially if your dog hears loud noises, experiences unpleasant events, and lacks food and water. For instance, a dog may fear loud noises after being left alone at home and hearing continuous banging the whole day because of ongoing construction right next door.
As a pack animal, your furry friend has an inherent sense of loyalty–with a need for love, security, friendship, and companionship. Loving and sweet as they are, dogs can also be possessive.
Your dog can be possessive of a toy, food, or territory. Taking away what your dog considers as their possession may result in aggression, which includes biting.
If your dog shows possessiveness, your dog training approach should be positive. For example, add a treat to your dog’s bowl if they’re possessive over food or trade a toy for a treat to overcome possession.
5. Genetic Factors
Dogs inherit traits from their ancestors–from physical attributes to personality traits. For instance, Labrador Retrievers are popular dog breeds because of their happy temperament, intelligence, boundless energy, loyalty, gentleness, and ease of playing with children, making them great family pets and companions.
There are shy and timid dogs that also bear offspring with the same qualities. While it’s hard to know whether a dog’s fear is caused by genetics, one clue is that the dog may appear more fearful of and afraid of more things than others. Mishandling fearful dogs may cause biting.
As you can see, dogs may bite because they feel frightened, stressed, or in pain. That’s why it’s essential to observe your dog’s behavior to understand their needs and feelings.
Enforce a positive dog training approach and gradually introduce your dog to new things to avoid stress and anxiety. Regular vet checkup is also a must to ensure your dog’s health and well-being.