When we talk about Boxer puppies biting children, both younger and older kids, toys or even biting at your feet, what most are actually talking about is nipping. There is a huge difference between the 2 words.
A nip is a quick snap of the jaws, it can be done in the air close to a person or it can make skin contact yet it is a pinch type bite that often does not break the skin.
Boxer puppies and even older dogs nip, not to attack someone, but to send a warning. The warning is not necessarily that of an impending attack… Boxer puppy nipping is done for one of several reasons:
As play –
Young pups are used to nipping at their littermates as a form of play and this may carry over as they transition into their new home.
If a Boxer puppy
is biting a lot, it may be an issue of the dog needing to learn the rules of the home and needing to learn that was used to be acceptable with other pups is no longer acceptable with his humans.
A Method of Sending a Message –
Boxer dogs of any age
may nip for many reasons. Unable to vocalize, the nip is a message. It may mean, “I’m tired, leave me alone” , “I’m scared of you apparently lunging at me!’ or even “I’m in pain, feeling vulnerable and your approach is freaking me out!”
This type of nip biting may be accompanied with growling as well. Often it is a low growl, lasting just seconds, with teeth bared. In some cases, there will only be a growl as the dog lowers his back, hunches over and bares his teeth
yet does not actually physically bite.
On the other hand, an actual bite (not a nip) is a full force, aggressive action in which the jaws lock down and teeth puncture the skin. The dog intends to inflict injury and the person on the other end often receives it (unless thick clothing gets in the way, etc.)
In the following section we will discuss how to stop a Boxer dog from biting in the sense that the dog is actually nipping and it is not a full force, aggression bite meant to do serious harm.
Training to Stop Boxer Dog Biting
Many owners feel, and rightfully so, that a bite is a serious issue and a behavior
that needs to be addressed immediately. For this reason, they feel that taking serious action is the only way to stop the behavior… and this is where things can go wrong.
In regard to puppies that nip the following methods of “training” will not work: Yelling, trying to scare the dog into stopping, smacking him and/or isolating him in another room. And we’ll tell you why…
The above reactions by an owner may work temporarily, but they will not work long term. And this is because it does not teach the dog what he needs to learn.
Yelling, hitting or otherwise intimidating a puppy or dog will only serve to make the dog afraid of his owner. Alternatively, some dogs will see this as a challenge.
A dog may metaphorically think, “Oh, okay, it’s on, if you want to intimidate me, I’ll do it back and let’s see who wins”.
So, owners must choose: Fear or respect. For a happy, healthy environment in which humans and canines live in peace, the Boxer (or any other dog) should be taught to respect his humans, not fear them.
In addition, for a dog that bites, physically isolating him will stop the problem short term…while the dog is taken away of course he is not biting anyone….yet this offers zero opportunity for owners to show the dog what is acceptable and what is not. It is a huge mistake to miss out on a chance to train a dog to stop biting.
Of course, in the rare chance that a dog is full out biting, causing injury and is clearly dangerously aggressive, the dog should be removed…
And measures must be taken to keep the family safe from any potential attacks…but again, this does not relate to puppy nipping, play biting or nipping due to teething, etc.
Training a Boxer puppy
to stop biting takes a bit of mental will power. You may have heard this before: Ignore the puppy. Some wonder, “If I ignore the problem, how the heck is it going to stop?” and others think “Well, that doesn't seem like a strong enough reaction to a bite”…
Yet, it must be understood that being ignored – in the right way- sends a VERY strong signal to a puppy.
To a dog, his humans are his “pack”. There is no other way for a dog to interpret this, as it is canine mentality. His humans and any other animals in the home are his pack.
Every single pack that exists has a leader. Having a leader is a defining element of a pack. Problems can arise when a dog does not have a clear understanding of who that leader is. Owners can establish this by always following these rules:
- Humans enter the home first, the dog enters last
- Humans exit the home first, the dog exits right afterward
- Humans eat first – Any time that both the Boxer is ready for a meal and an owner is also eating, the Boxer’s meal should be prepared and set on a counter. Humans begin eating. Two to three minutes pass. The dog is then commanded to “Sit”. Once the dog obeys, a delicious and healthy meal is set down for him.
- Obeying the “Sit’ command is a mandatory requirement before eating any meal or snack.
So, once a dog knows that his human is in charge, how does this training stop the Boxer from biting….?
- When a Boxer understands that his human(s) are his leader(s), being ignored is akin to being rejected by pack.
- A dog will suddenly be very humbled.
- He will worry that his pack has turned their backs on him… he will question his behavior and, when done correctly, he will make the connection that his action of biting caused a major problem with his standing in his family….
Here’s What to Do
Any time that your Boxer puppy bites at you, immediately change your physical position from him. If you were both on the floor, stand up. If you were holding him, place him down. If you were both sitting on the sofa, rise up.
Then, 100% ignore him. This means zero talking, absolutely no looking in his direction…nothing. As a Boxer puppy works very hard to gain attention of any one in the house, everyone (even those who were not bitten) should be completely indifferent to the dog.
Allow 10 minutes to pass. Now, when you are doing this, 2 minutes may feel like 20, so take a look at the clock and then choose an activity (flip through the TV, check your email, get a drink…do whatever you want, but do remain in the house so that your Boxer can see that you are ignoring him) and wait it out.
After those 10 minutes, it is time to speak to your Boxer, but not engage him in any activity yet. Many times, the puppy will test things out. Simply mull around near your dog, speaking a bit and acting matter-of-fact. Do not give praise. Wait things out for about 5 minutes.
If your Boxer does not nip or bite at you, it will be time to go back to the position that you were in when the bite occurred. It is at this time that if your Boxer does not nip at you that praise and attention can be given.
If the dog does bite again, the complete ignoring method of training must be done – this means that the dog is testing things to see if it was indeed his nip that caused his temporary outcast from the pack.
Biting and Chewing at Paws
Completely different from nipping yet a part of biting problems, a Boxer puppy or dog may bite at his paws or other accessible areas of his body. This can cause damage to the coat and skin
. If it is habitual, it can cause open sores and, if not treated, infection in those areas.
The #1 reason that dogs bite at themselves is in reaction to an intense itch. And itching is usually caused by an allergy. Dogs react differently to allergens than humans do. While we sneeze and have itchy eyes canines often develop itchy skin of varying intensity as the main symptom. If your Boxer dog is doing this, you may want to read: Boxer Allergies