Why Dogs Bite: Understanding the Difference Between Defense and Aggression

Why Dogs Bite: Understanding the Difference Between Defense and Aggression

Despite dogs being domesticated animals, it’s important to remember that they do have teeth and regardless of their size, breed, or general temperament, any dog can bite if they are provoked to do so.  It is important to understand what might cause a dog to bite. This will help you avoid being bitten by understanding the differences between playful, defensive, and aggressive dog behavior. Here’s everything that you need to know on the subject.


Let’s start with what tends to be the least common cause of a dog biting – sheer aggression. Dogs that are aggressive may have been raised in an aggressive manner (for example, a dog that has wrongly been trained to fight for the sake of entertainment). This is unforgivable on the human’s part, but it is behavior that is relatively difficult to reverse later in the dog’s life (although it can be done). If you feel that you have been bitten by a dog through absolutely no fault of your own and want to understand the situation, you might want to read this informative post.


Many dogs will nip or bite as part of play behavior. This is extremely common in puppies, who are still learning and discovering (by trial and error) what is and is not acceptable behavior. However, it is something that should be actively discouraged. A bite or nip from a puppy may be fine, but the jaws and teeth of an adult dog can cause significant damage, and, consequently, you don’t want this behaviour to continue into adult life. If your dog nips during play, discontinue play. They will soon learn that they cannot bite if they want to engage in play.


If someone were to hurt or attack you, chances are that you may lash out as a means of defending yourself. Dogs, like us, are sentient beings and may react in exactly the same way if they feel threatened or hurt. This is understandable if a dog is subjected to dramatically unfair behavior, for example, if they are beaten or cornered. However, you do want to avoid your dog biting when getting defensive over territory, food, or toys. If you find that your dog starts exhibiting defensive or aggressive behavior over things that they shouldn’t be, you may want to consider enrolling them on a training course. This will see professionals use specialist techniques to reduce this negative behavior.

While all dogs have the potential to bite, you should ensure that your dog is well trained in order to minimize instances where your dog might actually bare their teeth or bite. Hopefully, the above information will help you to determine the reasons why a dog might bite or rear up to bite.

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