Have you ever been wondering why your dog has grown accustomed to biting or nipping at you in the morning? If yes, then this post is for you, as I shall explain to you reasons why your dog has taken on this new habit and tips and tricks on how to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog bite me in the morning? Reasons for this behavior include your dog wanting to defend itself, your dog is afraid, wrong handling or you startled your dog, injury or sickness, or your dog is simply playing with you.
There are certain precautions to take if you’ve noticed that your dog is a frequent biter, these measures are to prevent your dog from doing so in the future. However, let's first take an informative dive to the root of such behavior in your dog.
1. Injury or pain:
Your dog biting you in the morning might be a sign that it has been injured or ill or suffering from severe pains. Dogs that are hurting are usually the most irritable and would need tender handling as their injured part might be sore and painful.
For example, diseases like severe otitis external, hip dysplasia, or any other long-term conditions can cause your dog to have sore spots and to be in extreme pain and discomfort.
If you notice that your dog bites you for no apparent reason, especially after you tried cuddling it or patting it then you might want to consider that it is in pain. Check its body parts for any apparent signs of an injury, however, ensure you do so carefully and gently.
Contacting your veterinarian if you believe your dog has been injured is highly recommended to provide your dog with the proper care and attention it needs.
2. It is a sign of possessiveness:
It is in the natural instincts of dogs to protect and guide. They feel the need to protect their things, which could be their food, sleeping space, toys, and even humans.
This behavior is normal, however, some dogs are extremely possessive and might get aggressive in their bid to protect. Hence, your dog might be biting you in the morning as a form of defense.
Notice, when your dog snaps at you, did you try to reach for its favorite toy? Did you perhaps try to move its bed to a different spot in the house? Did you try to cuddle it while it was eating or playing with a toy? If so, then your dog might have thought you were trying to take what is his and was only rising to protect it.
3. Mothering instinct:
Oxytocin is the hormone that female dogs produce after giving birth, this hormone is responsible for causing the mother dog to not only see her puppies as her own but also cause her to want to protect them.
Your dog might be snapping at you because she is feeling protective of her puppies?
This would most likely be the case if your dog is a bitch and if she recently gave birth. You must take precautions when handling a dam, by acknowledging the maternal protective instincts and approaching her and her puppies with caution and extreme care.
4. Your dog is afraid:
Dogs that are frightened or scared usually bite back in response, hence your dog biting you might be as a result of fear. Although, dogs do not naturally bite at their owners, as they have come to be fond of them and recognize their scent.
However, a dog might bite its master if it feels startled or alarmed. Notice, when your dog bites at you, did you try to sneak up on it or scare it while it was sleeping? Did you corner your dog or roughly handle it?
Important points to consider
It is important to note that dogs don't just bite out of the blue, there is usually a reason for it and understand that your dog would always show its displeasure before it strikes.
The signs are always there, you're just not looking well enough or you just don't know what to look out for. A dog that's about to bite would usually give off certain body reactions such as their body going stiff and rigid, baring their teeth, growling, approaching you with their tail raised, and even barking.
It is important to remain calm in such a situation to show your dog that you don't mean any harm. Ensure you do not run around in an attempt to retreat from the situation. Also, do not make any shocking sound or scream as this might startle your dog and cause it to attack in fear.
Another reason your dog might be biting you might be because it's been over-stimulated, this might be from playing too hard or rough with it. Remember that although dogs have been domesticated for decades now, their primal impulses still rears its head sometimes and shows up in their daily activities.
Hence, a rough play that causes your dog to get overwhelmed with excitement might cause your dog to instinctively snap or bite at you. Always know when a game has gone too far, and stop when you believe your dog has gotten too riled up.
How to get your dog to stop biting you
You might want to consider that your dog biting at you might not be a show of aggression but simply your dog playing with you and having fun, in which case it is important to teach your dog bite inhibition.
Bite inhibition is the ability of a dog to control and manage the force of its bites. This sort of training is better taught while your dog is still a pup, as this would allow it to understand the sensitivity of your skin and how it shouldn't bite too hard when it is playing or even when it is afraid.
When training a dog to let go of negative behavior, patience and consistency are required.
A good way to train your dog to curb its mouthy habits is by positive reinforcement, you can do this by only offering your dog gifts and treats when it doesn't bite too hard.
For example, if you're playing with your dog and it bites at you, stop the play for a while, this would help teach your dog that biting equals the end of the fun. Doing this continuously should help teach your dog that its bites hurt you and you don't want it to continue doing so.
You should also consider giving your dog something it could chew on, this would help give your dog other options other than your skin, a fun toy would do well in such a situation.
Also, you shouldn't try to provoke or infuriate your dog, learn how to read its body reactions, so you back down when you feel it's about to go in the attack. An aggressive dog or an irritated dog should be approached and handled with care.
You should contact a dog behaviorist, if you do not know why your dog is biting you or if you believe your dog is being aggressive with no apparent reason, to help educate you on how to safely handle such a situation.