Most Staffordshire Bull Terrier parents don’t enjoy having a dog with a biting problem which is quite understandable. Now, solving this can seem like a daunting task but in this article, I will clearly explain what you can do as a responsible Staffordshire Bull Terrier owner to remedy this issue.
It is important for you to understand that the sooner you put an end to your Staffordshire’s biting, the better. The reason for this is because adult Staffordshire Bull Terriers possess a much stronger bite as well as being much more difficult to control physical due to their larger size.
How to Distinguish Aggressive Behaviour from Playful Biting
For most Staffordshire Bull Terriers, mouthing is completely normal behaviour with no reason to worry. However, when your dog bites out of fear or anger, then this is an indication of a much greater aggression problem. You may be wondering, how exactly do I tell the difference between play mounting and aggressive mouthing? Pay attention to your Staffy’s body language. An aggressive Staffordshire Bull Terrier will look stiff and may even expose its teeth. You can also pay attention to the intensity of the bite. Playful biting is less painful while aggressive mouthing is usually faster and more powerful.
If you believe that your dog’s biting is due to aggressive behaviour, then please contact a board-certified veterinary behaviourist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist. These experts have advanced degrees in the science of animal behaviour and will work with you to modify your Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s behaviour if it has become a concern for you. It is important that you consult a professional as soon as you can before someone gets seriously injured.
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s Mouthing
It’s no secret that dog’s spend a lot of their time playing, chewing on things, and exploring. As you’re probably aware of dogs also love to investigate people as well and sometimes they use their teeth whether they mean too or not. While it may seem sweet, it can quickly become a problem if that biting behaviour morphs into a larger issue. That’s why it’s very important for you to help stop your dog’s mouthy behaviour. There are a few different ways that you can go about teaching your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to stop biting. However, the first thing that you should teach them is that humans have sensitive skin, therefore they must be gentle with their mouth during playtime.
Bite Inhibition: How to Teach Your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to Be Gentle
Bite inhibition refers to your dog’s ability to control the strength of its bite. A Staffy who has not learned bite inhibition will not recognize the sensitivity of human skin leading them to bite much harder than they intend, even if they are in a playful environment. A dog that has learned to use their mouth in a gentle way when interacting with people will be much less likely to bite hard enough to break the skin.
Most young Staffordshire Bull Terriers learn bite inhibition while playing with other dogs. If you ever observe a group of dogs playing, you’ll notice how they chase, wrestle, and even bite each other. Every once in a while, a dog may bite another dog too hard which will lead to a yelp and usually an end to their playing for a short time. Through this type of interaction, dogs learn to control the intensity of their bite so as not to hurt anyone. If dogs can learn from each other how to be gentle with their mouthing, then humans can also teach them the same idea.
While you play with your Staffordshire Bull Terrier, let him playfully bite your hands and continue this up until they bite very hard. The second they do this, let out a high pitched yelp to show that you are hurt. You are trying to mimic how another dog would act after getting painfully bitten. Your dog should be surprised which will stop them from mouthing for a short time. (If your yelp has no impact on them, then you should say in a deep stern voice, “You blew it!, or “Too Bad!”.) It is very important that you praise your dog for stopping which reinforces this good behaviour. Repeat these steps again and yelp each time your dog bites too hard.
If yelping doesn’t seem to work, you can try giving your dog time-outs. Time-outs are great at stoping mouthy behaviour in both young and adult dogs. Right after your Staffordshire Bull Terrier bites you too hard, yelp, and remove your hand immediately and ignore him for 20 – 30 seconds. If it is necessary, then you may leave the room. Once the short time-out is over, come back to your dog and continue playing with him. This will soon teach them that gentle play continues while painful biting immediately stops play. Keep in mind that you can determine at what bite intensity you want your dog to stop at, even if it is not physically causing any pain. Keep on doing this training with your dog until they can play with your hands in a gentle manner controlling the intensity of their mouthing so that you feel comfortable and there is no pain induced.
How to Teach Your Staffordshire Bull Terrier That Teeth Cannot Touch Human Skin
Once you feel like your dog is able to be gentle with their mouth, then you can move onto the next step: teaching them to stop biting people completely. Listed below are a few important tips to know:
- When your Staffordshire attempts to bite your fingers, substitute a tow or chew bone
- Use treats to distract your dog when they get excited and begin to bite. With your other hand, feed them small treats which will teach them to be touched without mouthing.
- Try out other noncontact types of play such as fetch or frisbee instead of physical play like wrestling. This may even teach your dog to look for a toy whenever they feel like mouthing.
- Give your Staffordshire Bull Terrier plenty of opportunities to play with other friendly dogs. This can give them time to use up their energy so they don’t feel such a strong need to be rough while playing with you.
- Hitting or slapping your dog for playful mouthing can actually lead them to bite even harder. Physical punishment may also make your dog afraid of you which is not what you want.
- Don’t discourage your Staffordshire Bull Terrier from playing with you if they bite, instead of solving the mouthing problem so you too can build a strong bond and loving relationship.
- Try not to jerk your hands away from your dog when they bite. They may interpret these actions as a game which will lead to them continuing this bad behaviour.