How to prevent redirected or respondent biting in dogs

Biting directed toward people, other dogs or objects

One form of aggression is called redirected biting. This is one of the most volatile types of aggression and takes dedication to cure. If a dog becomes over-excited or over-stimulated and cannot get to the cause, the dog will redirect a bite to whatever is in its way. For instance, if a dog sees a squirrel, becomes out-of-control over-excited and is on leash, it could redirect a bite to your leg. Dogs having this challenge often do not have impulse control. To change this behavior do the following.


Step 1

Define exactly what is causing the behavior

Changing behavior is dependent on finding the exact cause. What precedes the behavior of redirected aggression each time it occurs? Is it the same cause?

Is it a prey animal?

Is it the mailman?

Is it when the dog is in a certain location?

Is it when something appears out of nowhere, such as a bicycle, skateboarder, or even a car, or airplane.

When does the dog build up so much excitement there is no impulse control or self-control?

Is fence chasing allowed? or door bolting?

Define it to change it.

Step 2

Restructure the dog’s environment

If the redirected biting occurs at home, the first place to start is taking a serious look at where the behavior is occurring. Dogs should never be left unsupervised to repeat unwanted behavior.

If the dog is fence chasing as people walk by or sparring with a neighbor dog, create an inner fence several feet away from the problematic fence and/or put up a solid barriar to reduce visuals.

Put a sign on the door discouraging people from knocking or ringing the doorbell. Encourage people to call ahead to let them know when they are coming over.

If the mailman is a problem, re-locate the mailbox, or get an off-site mailbox or call the post office and ask to pick up your mail from a mailbox located at the post office.

Put up blinds, doors, curtains or dark paper wherever over-excitement is occurring or prey is sighted.

The less the dog continues to do the behavior, the less they will need to do it. The more they do it, the more they will.

Step 3

Redirect the dogs behavior to another, safer object

Teach the dog to grab a ball, squeaky toy, tug toy as a way to redirect behavior to a safer spot. Often dogs taught to do this will simply run to get their ball as they are looking at the stimuli. It satisfies their impulse to grab whatever is in the way of their excitement, it teaches approrpriate redirection behavior and keeps the dog busy eventually redirecting behavior to other activities. This technique works well with dogs who are toy motivated.

Step 4

Prevent and manage behavior

If dog is over-excited by other dogs rushing fences as you take a walk, take different routes to prevent exposure to triggers. Drive to other places if needed, but avoid these triggers consistently. The purpose is to stop repetition of bad behavior.

If there is one spot or area where the dog always becomes over-excited and over-stimulated, such as a spot where bunnies or squirrels or birds might be sighted, either start a desensitization program to teach the dog impulse control around prey or stay away from these spots on walks and around the house.

Always supervise the dog outdoors. Let the dog drag a training line, or have xpens to keep roaming area to a minimum. An xpen is an open top pen easily found at most pet stores. It can be moved and expanded in size. It is a very helpful tool to teach a dog to respect boundaries outdoors or indoors.

In summary, know what is causing the redirected biting to change the behavior. Understand the behavior will always be there and the goal is to make sure the dog is not over-excited or over-stimulated. Redirected aggression is a dangerous behavior and a behavioral professional should be consulted. Prevention and management is key to changing behavior.

Things Needed
• Observation skills
• Patience
• An xpen
• A clicker
• A drag line
• Toys

Tips & Warnings
• Redirected aggression is volatile behavior
• If dog is redirecting to people a muzzle will be a handy tool while training impulse control
• Reward for the right behavior, which is calm
• Change the environment, to change the behavior


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