How to stop a stressed pet dog from biting


My former foster pet dog Cosmo was a pet dog who would bite in certain scenarios.

It was my job as Cosmo’s foster owner to enjoy his anxiety levels and either remove him from certain situations or physically block people from touching him.

People simply don’t know any better. They see a cute pet dog with a “sad” story, and they want to pet him.

If someone is dumb enough to put her face ideal up to a odd dog’s face, she is asking for trouble. It is her own fault if the pet dog bites. However, it is also the pet dog owner’s responsibility to stop these situations in the first place.

*Scroll down to the end of the post to see my list of signs a pet dog is potentially stressed.*

If a pet dog bite occurs, the dog’s owner is normally somewhat at fault.

Every time Cosmo snapped at someone, it was because I failed to intervene.

I prevented Cosmo from biting several people. However, I didn’t stop every single incident. normally it was because I trusted complete strangers to read Cosmo’s body language.

Большая ошибка.

You must never assume someone can read a dog’s body language, even if you know the person.

I learned very swiftly to place my body between Cosmo and others. I don’t know how lots of people I saved from getting bitten.

You know the scenario:

“Oh what a beautful dog!”

“Please don’t pet him. He’s scared.”

Person reaches for the dog’s face anyway. 

I got very good at physically blocking people from Cosmo.

If someone tried to pet him, I would put my hand out to block her hand. If someone reached for him while walking by, I would physically step between Cosmo and the person.

Most of all, I learned people do not listen even if you say “This pet dog bites!”

It nearly becomes an open invitation to win the pet dog over or to see if I’m right. It’s like the person is thinking “Oh, but I’m a pet dog person. He won’t bite me.” I lost count how lots of grown adults tried to reach for Cosmo’s face even after I said something like “Don’t pet this dog.”

Physically blocking people with my own body became automatic, and it’s something a lot more pet dog owners need to think about.

Any pet dog – not just crabby, old-man dogs – will potentially growl, snap or bite while under stress.

When I’m taking care of a pet dog like Cosmo, I have to be on my toes all the time.

But even with a pet dog like Ace, who would “never” hurt a fly, it’s easy to forget he’s still a dog. any pet dog has the potential to bite, especially if he’s scared, stressed, cornered or in pain.

Luckily for us, a lot of dogs won’t bite even if they are highly stressed and we keep bothering them.


But any pet dog could bite.

The people who regularly read this blog have a solid understanding of canine anxiety signals, but people in general seem to lack the ability to read a dog’s basic body language.

The majority of people who read this post will find it by googling phrases like “how to tell if a pet dog is stressed” or “why did my pet dog bite me?” So let’s help them out.

I’ve provided some of the most common canine anxiety signals below. Please let me know if I’m missing some.

How to tell if a pet dog is stressed and could potentially bite:

The pet dog is panting heavily even when it’s not hot
He regularly licks or smacks his lips
He holds one paw up to his body
Excessive yawning
The pet dog scratches himself around the collar
The dog’s ears are back
The pet dog avoids eye contact
He physically turns his body away from people
The pet dog leans on his owner
Excessive shedding
Foaming at the mouth
Submissive urination
Tense posture

When a pet dog is showing any of the above signals, it’s up to the owner or handler of the pet dog to keep everyone safe. often that indicates removing the pet dog from the situation completely, taking a quick break, distracting the pet dog or asking people not to touch the dog. and yes, it often indicates physically blocking someone from reaching for the dog.

And let’s face it, often we all get caught up in the moment and stupidly reach for a cute, little pet dog without asking the owner if it’s OK. remember to always ask first!

What recommendations do you have for stopping a stressed pet dog from biting?

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