If your dog has been biting your hands and arms you might want to know why and what you can do to stop it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why it might do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog bite my hands? Possible reasons why your dog bites your hands and arms are that it wants attention, it is teething, you might have inadvertently rewarded the behavior or it could be due to a lack of training.
There are actually multiple reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider which will help in figuring out the exact reason.
Why your dog bites your hands
The different reasons why your dog bites your hands or arms will likely come with some clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
It is teething
If your dog is a puppy it could be the case that it has been doing it because it is teething and biting on things helps to soothe its gums. This would be more likely if it has also started biting other things and it has started doing it suddenly.
In this case, it would help to give it lots of things to chew on but to start giving it training now so that it learns how it is meant to behave.
It wants attention
The reason why your dog bites your hands or arms might be that it does it for the attention. This would be more likely if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
In this case, it would likely help to stop giving it attention when it does it by standing up, hiding your hands and arms and waiting for it to calm down and then to give it attention again.
It wasn’t trained not to as a puppy
If you didn’t train your dog not to do it as a puppy it might have learned that it is ok to bite your hands or arms.
If your dog is not trained to behave in a certain way, it will behave the way that it feels like behaving. The way that it feels like behaving is not likely the way that you want it to. This is why it would help to start giving it training even if it is an adult.
Related: Why does my dog bark at nothing?
You have inadvertently been reinforcing the behavior
It might be the case that it has been doing it because it gets rewards when it bites your hands or arms. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, treats or toys when it does it then it might do it more in order to get those things.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not bite your hands. It would also help to try to recognize when it is about to do it and to prevent it from doing so and to avoid rewarding it when it does it as discussed below.
The cause could be that it is trying to show its excitement. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you come home or when you are about to take it for a walk.
In this case, it would help to withdraw your arms and attention when it starts doing it and to reward it when it stops biting.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when trying to figure out why your dog has been doing it.
When your dog first started biting your hands
It would help to consider what happened at around the same time that your dog started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
Things that might have happened could include:
- Inadvertently rewarding it for doing it one time
- It started chewing on other things as well (it probably started teething)
- You stopped giving it as much attention
How old your dog is
It would also help to consider the age of your dog.
If your dog is an adult then it would make it more likely that it either does it for attention or it does it because it thinks it is ok to do. Either way, it would help to train it not to do it by stopping giving it attention when it does it.
If it is a puppy then it would be a lot more likely that it is teething and that it is overly excitable. In this case, it would still help to start training it not to do it but it would also help to give it other things to chew on.
How aggressively your dog bites your arms and hands
It would also help to consider whether or not it does it aggressively. If your dog bites your hands or arms aggressively then it would help to get the help of a certified dog trainer in your area so that you can see how to train it safely.
When and where your dog bites your arms
It would also help to consider whether or not there is a certain time that it tends to do it more since it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it seems to do it more when you are leaving home then it might be a sign that it has separation anxiety. Whereas, if it always seems to do it then it would be more likely that it does it for the attention.
How to get your dog to stop biting your arms and hands
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop biting your hands and arms. You will likely find that making use of a combination of them will work best.
Train it not to
One option would be to train it not to do it with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your dog when it displays them.
To use it to get your dog to stop biting your hands you would stand up and hide your hands from it when it starts biting, wait for it to calm down and then go back to giving it attention. If it starts biting again then you would repeat the process. Eventually, it should learn that biting your hands will result in it not getting attention from you.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has been doing it due to getting rewards such as extra attention when it bites your hands. It would help to try to avoid rewarding it when it does it and to recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus or to stop giving it attention when it starts.
Give it other things to chew on
In addition to the above, it would also help to give it things to chew on such as toys, chews or bones so that it is less likely to start biting on things you don’t want it to.
When training your dog it is important to be consistent. It is unlikely that you will be able to make large improvements with just one training session but if you stick with it you will be able to get much better results over the course of weeks.
Get help from an animal behaviorist
If you can’t figure out why your dog has been doing it or you can’t get it to stop consider getting the help of a certified dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to see how to get your dog to stop doing it in a secure way.