If your dog bites, or attempts to bite you, it's of utmost important to figure out what his motivation was so you can address the problem straight away. Ignoring the issue, or assuming it was an isolated incident, can create far bigger problems down the road.
Guarding and Protection
If your dog bites when you lean over to pick up his toy or food dish, he is probably feeling protective. Biting because he wants to protect his possessions is a dangerous habit. If your dog is prone to resource guarding to the point of aggression, you can put a quick stop to the problem by keeping toys picked up unless you are actively playing with him and giving him just enough food for him to finish and then picking his dish up when he stops eating. In other words, don't leave him with anything to guard.
Old and Grouchy
As dogs age, it is normal for them to get a little grouchy. Like humans, their hearing and eyesight are not as good as they once were, and they may have various aches and pains making them a bit more irritable, and understandably so! Take your dog in for a checkup. If your vet thinks he may be in chronic pain, he may be able to provide some medication to make him more comfortable. Otherwise, try to accommodate your dog's health conditions. For example, make a bit of noise when you walk into the room so you don't startle him if he's hard of hearing, and make sure he has somewhere quiet and comfy where he can rest.
Sick or Injured
If growling, grouchy behavior is out of character for your dog and he bites suddenly, he may not feel well. Notice if there have been other symptoms that he may be ill, such as a change in appetite. A visit to the vet can rule out injury or sickness.
Some dogs have a more nervous nature than others. If your dog bites at you when you reach down to reassure him during a thunderstorm or while the neighbors are setting off fireworks, it is probably in response to fear. In the future, try to avoid these scenarios by putting him in his crate before the scary activity begins.
Rowdy play, either with you or another dog, can get your pup cranked up and result in an accidental bite. Of course, the fact that it was an accident doesn't make it any less frightening or painful. If your dog gets overly excited during play, cut the play periods short before he loses control, and take him for a long walk first to work off some excess energy.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.