Bite Inhibition

Bite Inhibition is defined as the ability of a dog to control the pressure of the bite in order to cause minimal or no damage.  In my opinion the definition of bite inhibition should include the option of leaving or the dog removing himself from the situation should he feel the need to bite.   

Bite Inhibition with Puppies: 

Bite inhibition is usually taught by the Dam.  Initially, a puppy that feeds to rough or hard soon realizes that the ‘meal’ will walk away. Eventually, the mother will grab a puppy that feeds too hard to get her point across.  The same happens with litter mates, playing too hard and the other puppy no longer wants to play and ends the game.  Eventually, the other puppy will fight back 

Once you adopt or purchase your puppy, it is up to you to continue to train the bite inhibition.  Initially, game over will work but most puppies then have to go to a form or correction.  The type and intensity depends on the dog’s intensity.  A good trainer will be able to tell you which correction will work best. 

Bite Inhibition with Adult Dogs 

Bite Inhibition with Adult Dogs is more difficult to eradicate.  First, the habit has been formed and second, you have to decide if it is rough play or full out aggression.  Full out aggression, even though it may only be a growl or snap must be trained with a professional.  I teach my clients that their dog has a choice to move away instead of using it’s mouth.  Keep in mind, this training will work for anyone the dog has respect for, not children, friends, neighbors, or other dogs.   Dogs without bite inhibition, even though trained must be locked away when people or children are visiting, especially when you can’t have your 100% attention on your dog.  Dogs with only bone aggression may be fine with you, but if he is chewing a bone and someone comes over, there can always be a bite.   You don’t know what circumstance may cause a dog to react to a piece of food or toy or bone that he has never wanted to possess before so it is always best to keep your guests and dog safe from any possible situation.   

How it starts 

It may only start with a growl or snap to another dog or someone stepped on his tail that is why he bit.  It doesn’t matter, you know what you have and now you have to realize you may not know what will cause the next bite.  When it starts, first keep your dog safe, lock him away.  Don’t allow him to be around someone that may cause a bite.  Second, start training immediately.  In my experience, it never happens just one time.  You have to be prepared for another situation and with each situation the bite will get worse.   

You Can’t Change Temperament 

Although effective training can change your dog’s behavior, it cannot change his temperament.   A trainer can advise you on whether your dog’s temperament is contributing to the issues you are experiencing. If that is the case, a trainer should be able to come up with a program to minimize your chances of being bitten by your dog.  This in no way means that you have to wear kid gloves when interacting with your dog; rather,  a trainer will teach you strategies to safely but effectively deal with situations such as when your dog has a bone or is on the couch. 

Now What? 

Your dog will have to be involved in a strict training program most of his life.  That may be classes or private lessons or both.  This problem never goes away completely and the moment you relax your training; the dog will begin to test you.   Structured training sessions with a professional will help you see if the problem is getting worse, better or just plan keep it at bay. 

When in doubt, keep others safe.  I am a bit of a worrier, I take no chances.  But it is better to keep everyone say than to risk a bite.  Not only for the humans, but your dog.  Dogs are animals and unpredictable; you may think you have thought of all the potential problems that could cause a bite but sometimes our dogs surprise us.   

With a dog with no bite inhibition there is no room for mistakes.  A mistake can harm someone and cause your dog to be listed as a dangerous dog and on the hot seat for euthanasia.  Don’t put your dog in a position where he feels he needs to use his bite.  Keep your dog safe from human error. 


Developing a good training program is vital. The consequences of getting the training wrong are significant and sometimes irreparable. Therefore, training should not be attempted without contacting a professional trainer.  A good trainer can help you develop a program that is appropriate for your dog and safe for you and your family.