Dog Bite Understanding, Correction & Prevention

If your dog is prone to biting other dogs and even people, then you have a serious problem. Having a dog who bites is big trouble that needs your full attention but first you have to understand the problem before you start dealing with it. Read below more about it.

Understanding The Six Levels Of A Dog Bite

A popular veterinarian, behaviorist, and dog trainer,  Dr. lan Dunbar has developed a six-level system of classifying bites. These are the levels and a brief description of each:

1. Level 1 bite – Harassment with no skin contact. This level is also referred to as a snap. A snap is a bite from a dog with high bite-inhibition. It is a warning signal, telling us that we need to identify what causes the dog to become stressed and manage his behavior to avoid exposing him to the things that cause him excessive stress.

2. Level 2 bite – Tooth contact on skin but no puncture. Once again, this is a bite from a dog with high bite-inhibition and a warning that the dog is serious. You have to remove the dog’s stressor at this point, before he takes it to the next level.

3. Level 3 bite – Skin punctures, one to four holes from a single bite. These punctures are less shallow than the length of the dog’s teeth.

4. Level 4 bite – One to four holes, deep black bruising with punctures that are deeper than the length of the dog’s teeth. In level 4 bite, the dog bit and clamped down, or slashes in both directions from the puncture (the dog bit and shook his head).

5. Level 5 bite – Multiple-bite attack with deep punctures.

6. Level 6 bite -  The dog kills the victim and/or consumes the flesh.

Most dogs who inflict Level 6 bites are euthanized. Level 5 biters are also a huge risk to human safety and should probably be euthanized unless there are reasonable circumstances (for instance, the dog was being tortured or the victim was attacking the dog’s family).

Level 3 and 4 biters need serious behavior modification along with immediate and significant changes in management and environment to remove any present risk. Level 1 and 2 biters can and should also be modified with relative ease and the guidance of a behavior consultant.

dog bite

All dogs have the potential to bite. When he does, it’s usually due to the failure of his owner to be observant and recognize his sign of stress, to properly manage behavior to shorten a dog’s stressor list, and to control the environment to protect a dog from his stressors. Putting  the dog to sleep is not the most effective solution to a biting dog challenge.

Compassion for the victims (both human and nonhuman), knowledge and understanding of human and animal behavior, and having an open mind to explore and pursue realistic and safe alternatives can map the path to a positive and appropriate resolution.

How To Teach Your Adult Dog Not To Bite

Once a grown dog is biting, many honest efforts at rehabilitation will end in failure. In addition, many efforts to save a biter will only get you bitten. You may hire a good dog trainer to help you straighten out your dog, or, if you know it’s too late for all that, put the dog to sleep.

Below is an outline of ways to reform an adult biting dog:

1. Tighten all obedience work so that the dog does what he is told, where he is told, when he is told and for as long as he is told, no excuses! All this must hold true in the face of distractions such as strangers, children playing, normal household routine, other animals moving around, visitors, and noise other than his own.

2. Give him more exercise. Besides obedience work, make a strong effort to use up as much as possible of the dog’s energy in constructive exercise. This may include jogging, swimming, and playing his favorite game.

3. Reward the dog with attention only when he has just behaved well. Giving him too much affection gives the message that he is a top dog. If your dog is biting, he knows he’s a top dog. You must refrain from giving him too much attention. In fact, when he solicits attention, simply ignore him. Do not allow him to bully you into petting or play sessions.

4. Correct all signs of aggression. Discontinue making any excuses for growling, nipping, bullying, biting, territorial marking in inappropriate places, object guarding, or bratty behavior.

5. Keep correctional aids handy so that you will be able to correct your dog without getting bitten. These include lemon juice to squirt in his face, collar and leash, crate, hose or pot of water to dump on his head if necessary. If one of your problems of aggression is dog fighting, have a leash for prevention and a hose ready to hose down the dogs and stop a fight in progress. If there are loose aggressive dogs where you walk your dog, carry the lemon juice along on his walks.

6. Be clear in your corrections. Shake him by the collar, using the leash as added protection if the dog is really aggressive. Then confine the dog for one hour. If the dog tries to bite you, use a squirt of lemon juice in his mouth to make him back off. If you are afraid of the dog, hire a professional help to correct the dog and to help you build back your confidence with him.

7. Set a time limit. If you are working on your own, set a limit of, say, about three weeks. If, at the end of that time, there is no visible improvement, either hire a trainer or put the dog to sleep. It is neither wise nor safe to go on and on with a biter if he is not improving.

restricted dog biting

Some trainers make promises about stopping aggression. But in this tough area, even written guarantees do not make for cured dogs. Once an adult dog has bitten several times, he must be guarded. Though hard work may bring him around, he will never be as reliable as the dog who has never bitten anyone. There must always be some caution in dealing with a biter, even a reformed one.

Preventing Dog Bites

If you dont know the dog then, just to be safe, don’t touch it s and don’t look it in the eyes . This may sound harsh for some, but better safe then sorry. Here’s what  Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Kelly Voigt, a dog bite victim herself and expert, have to say about it.


Last year, nearly 5 million people were bitten by dogs in the United States, and nearly a million people, more than half of them children, require medical attention for dog bites every year. In this video Kelly Voigt explains how to educate children to avoid dog bites.


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