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Does your dog get easily overstimulated? Does he tend to bite when this happens?
If this is something you’re struggling with, there are ways to prevent your dog from biting when overstimulated.
Here’s everything you need to know on the topic.
Why do dogs bite when overstimulated?
Overstimulation is a problem for many dogs. Unfortunately, dogs tend to lose control of themselves when they get too stimulated. This can result in unwanted and even dangerous behavior.
If your dog starts biting when he gets overstimulated, this can be frustrating to deal with. It might also make you nervous to take your dog to places, or even just to be around him!
If you are dealing with a dog that bites when overstimulated, there are ways to help him. First, though, it’s important to understand what overstimulation is in the first place.
What is overstimulation?
Knowing what exactly overstimulation is can help you make sure that your dog does not reach this point.
Basically, being overstimulated means that so much going on around your dog that his senses overload. Dogs then tend to lose control and start doing things that they know they’re not supposed to. Biting is one example. To stop it, you need to keep your dogs’ arousal under a threshold.
Overstimulation tends to be very common in puppies, but it can happen in adult dogs too. If you would like to learn more about overstimulation in dogs in general, then take a look at these related articles:
- How to Calm an Overstimulated Dog
- My Puppy Is Going Crazy All of a Sudden, What Can I Do?
- Why Does My Dog Have the Zoomies When Tired?
How do you know if your dog is overstimulated?
When dogs get overstimulated, they tend to show certain signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these signs are the same they’ll show for other issues.
Boredom, for instance, can also result in bad behavior like biting. Your dog might get mouthy because he’s trying to tell you that he wants attention and something to do.
Dogs may also show the same signs if they are getting overtired. It’s important to make sure that your dog is getting enough sleep during the day. Most adult dogs sleep around 10 to 14 hours a day. Puppies sleep even more!
So how can you tell if the problem with your dog is overstimulation or something else? The best way is to look at the context.
Is there a lot going on around your dog? Or have you been more active with him than usual? Then the issue is probably overstimulation or being overtired.
If you’ve been doing less with your dog than normal, then your dog is probably just bored!
There are lots of things that can trigger overstimulation in dogs.
Some dogs generally tend towards higher arousal than others. That means that it’s easier for their brains to become overwhelmed with everything going on around them.
This can lead to overstimulation—which then leads to your dog biting even when he knows he shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, this is a very common issue with rescue dogs.
Adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue is a great way to make a difference in a dog’s life. But many of these dogs come from difficult backgrounds.
They may have more trouble with some aspects of life than a dog that came from a reputable breeder. Some of these dogs might be more prone to overstimulation.
With rescue dogs, you might just need to practice a little more patience and understanding. They might require a little extra work, but saving a rescue dog is incredibly rewarding!
Do dogs bite when overstimulated?
Not all dogs will bite when they get overstimulated. But this is a common issue for many dogs and owners who struggle with overstimulation.
Dogs who are in a state of overstimulation don’t know how to control themselves anymore. It’s not that they’re refusing to listen to commands on purpose. The problem is that there’s so much going on that they lose the ability to make their own choices.
That means that some dogs will start biting even though they know they’re not supposed to.
Your dog will likely show other symptoms too. He might start running around or barking or crying incessantly.
If you’re worried about biting, take a look at these related articles:
- Why Does My Dog Bite My Sleeves?
- How to Stop Puppy Witching Hour Biting
- How to Stop a Puppy from Biting When Excited
Is my dog overly excited or aggressive?
It’s never fun dealing with a dog that won’t stop trying to bite you.
But it can be stressful if you think your dog might have some aggression problems.
Biting is a normal part of being a dog, and many dogs bite gently as part of playtime. As your dog’s human, you need to teach him that humans don’t have fur to protect skin like dogs do. You need to show him better ways to play with people!
But if your dog shows other signs like growling, baring his teeth, or lunging at you to attack, those are signs of aggression.
You can learn more about aggression and what to do about it by reading these articles:
How to stop overstimulated dog biting
We’ve covered the basics of why your dog is biting when he gets overstimulated. But what can you do to get him to stop?
Check out these pointers!
1. Stop the fun immediately
Playing with your dog is a great way to spend time with him. Unfortunately, his playtime could be exactly what’s overstimulating him.
So what can you do? The first thing that needs to happen is that the fun needs to stop.
If you keep playing, you’re only going to get your dog even more excited. You may also end up unintentionally rewarding the behavior since you’re still giving your dog what he wants.
As soon as your dog gets so overstimulated he starts biting, it’s time to stop playing. Hold completely still until he’s calmed down. You might even have to leave the room if he’s still trying to get you to play with him.
Only start having fun again once your dog has settled down.
2. Keep calm
Dogs are highly intuitive animals, which means that they can pick up on others’ emotions—and yours!
You might not even realize it, but your dog probably mirrors a lot of your feelings! That means that when you start acting too excited, that’s going to hype your dog up too.
On the other hand, acting calmly will also help your dog stay calm.
That’s why it’s so important to model calm behavior for your dog. Your dog will see the way you are acting, and he’ll start to understand that he should act the same way.
By acting calm, you’ll also avoid accidentally stimulating your dog even more.
Paying attention to what exactly gets your dog overstimulated is one of the best ways to help him.
If you don’t know what specifically is getting your dog so excited, it’s going to be hard to prevent it from happening.
Make sure that you are paying attention to what is triggering these feelings in your dog. Once you know, you’ll be able to avoid them if you can. You can then reintroduce the stimuli to your dog in a more controlled way to help desensitize him.
4. Tire him out
Some dogs get overstimulated more easily because they have too much pent-up energy.
You should make sure that your dog is getting a healthy amount of exercise every day. Just remember that too much activity could also trigger overstimulated dog biting.
Pay close attention to your dog and the exercise you’re giving him to make sure that it’s not too much or too little.
Are you looking for some fun things to do with your dog? Check out these related articles:
- 12 Ways to Tire Out Your Dog Indoors
- 11 Ways to Tire Out a Dog (Quickly)
- 10 Brain Games for Dogs to Play at Home
5. Reward good behavior
When you’re working on behavioral issues like this, using positive reinforcement dog training is the most effective thing to do.
This means that you’ll ignore behavior that you don’t want to continue. It also means that you’ll reward behavior that you do like, and so reinforce it.
When your dog makes good choices like not biting during playtime, reward him. You can give him a treat, or simply continue playing.
Rewarding generally calm behavior will also help. When your dog is relaxing, give him a reward to get him to keep that behavior up.
Related topic: For dog training in general I highly recommend you get a program that walks you through step by step, such as Braintrainingfordogs. Certified dog trainer Adrienne Farricelli teaches you to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation! Check out Dogpackr’s review to see if this is a fit for you!
6. Teach him “focus”
If your dog doesn’t know the focus command, this is the perfect reason to teach it to him. If you can get your dog to focus on you, then you can interrupt and redirect bad behavior like biting.
Teach your dog “focus” by holding your finger by his face, then bringing your finger up to yours. When he meets your eyes after following your finger, say “focus” and reward him.
Keep doing this until your dog is able to meet your eyes whenever you give the command.
7. Give him a time-out
If your dog is so overstimulated he simply can’t listen to you and won’t stop biting, then it might be time to give him a time out.
This is where crate training is going to come in handy. If you haven’t started crate training, now’s the time to start.
Here’s how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps if you need some help.
8. Get help
If you are still struggling with your dog’s biting and you’ve tried all the above tips, it might be time to get help.
Take a look at local dog trainers in your area. Make sure you do your research and focus on finding someone who specializes in positive reinforcement.
There’s never anything wrong with asking for help when you need it. That’s especially true when it comes to something like biting!
FAQs around overstimulated dog biting
Still have some questions about your dog’s biting? Here are some answers.
How do you train a high arousal dog?
Dogs that are high arousal can be challenging to train. It’s just so easy for them to get overstimulated, and then they just stop listening!
If this is something that you are struggling with, then focus on taking smaller steps. Do your best not to overwhelm your dog and keep him below this threshold.
You should also consider shorter training sessions to help keep him calm.
Why does my dog bite the air when he’s excited?
Seeing your dog snapping at the air when he gets excited can be pretty confusing. But it’s also very normal behavior for dogs.
While it can look a little worrisome, it’s usually nothing to be concerned about! Your dog is just having so much fun, and this is how he’s expressing that.
It is only really concerning if your dog is snapping at other people or dogs.
My dog gets overstimulated on walks, what can I do?
Walking your dog is a great way to give him some exercise. But walks can be really overstimulating for some dogs. This can make it hard to get your dog this much-needed exercise.
Luckily, there are some ways to help him stay calm. These related articles should help you out:
- 7 Tips for Dog Tantrums on Walks
- Why Does My Dog Jump and Bite While Walking?
- 11 Tips to Walk a Reactive Dog
My rescue dog gets aggressive when excited, how can I help him?
If your rescue dog gets aggressive when he’s overstimulated, this can be a scary thing.
In cases like this where you don’t necessarily know what’s causing the overexcitement and aggression, it’s best to call a dog trainer.
Remember to look for someone who uses positive reinforcement dog training to help your dog.
Overstimulation is a common problem with many dogs. Luckily, there are ways to work with your dog to prevent problems like biting.
Try out the above tips and help your dog stay happy and calm!