Teaching a Venice Beach Dog to Stop Biting Ankles

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 15, 2022

stop biting ankles

For this Venice Beach dog training session with worked with 3 year-old Pitbull mix Millie, showing her guardians how teach a dog to stop biting ankles.

Because Millie is sometimes protective and reactive when new people visit her home, we met outside. Anytime you’re meeting a dog who is territorial, nervous or reactive when people enter your home, it’s always a good idea to meet outside in the daylight.

Being outside makes many dogs feel more relaxed as they have an infinite number of escape routes. Additionally, the sights and sounds of being outside offer a nice distraction.  As Venice Beach’s Dog Behavior expert, I take things one step further, leaving a treat trail that leads to the new person who is waiting outside. You can watch how well this worked with Millie in the video below.

After making friends with Millie, we all headed inside so that I could share a number of Dog Behavior tips with her awesome guardians. We went over marker words, hand, targeting, dog consent, some creative forms of exercise and scent games like cookie in the corner.

Making sure that your dog understands what you’re saying, understands what you want and is rewarded for offering desired behaviors are the fundamentals many of my clients lack before our session. These may seem unrelated to dog behavior problems, but in fact, having these fundamentals in place goes a long ways towards fixing dog behavior problems.

How to train a dog to stop biting ankles

If you have a dog that nips or bites peoples ankles, you need to determine why the dog is doing so in the first place. Millie  lightly biting my ankle and leg three times. The first time was likely triggered by movement as I was walking towards her home. This may have been a combination of approaching her territory and the excitement of meeting somebody knew who has a lot of really good treats.

The bite was more of a mouthing, and only lasted a fraction of a second. The second and third occurred as I was walking into the living room, and were also more of a toothy / mouthing behavior than a bite.

While we certainly don’t want our dog to bite anyone, how the dog goes about it matters. I don’t think Millie is an aggressive dog, I think she sometimes gets over excited and or frustrated. And a lack of early socialization has given her some social hiccups. A common dog behavior issue post covid.

Anytime you want to stop a dog behavior, a great way to accomplish that is to change the dog’s emotional response. I like to use counter conditioning and desensitization to stop a dog from biting to disagree.

I handed my camera to the guardians so that I could demonstrate an easy way to stop dog bites by making it into a positive experience for the dog. If you have a dog who bites people who move, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

If the guardians can enlist the help of a friend, that will listen, and they can re-create this exercise, Millie will learn that people moving isn’t anything she needs to worry about. The key is to stage the situation so that Millie is far enough away that she doesn’t feel threatened or lunge. After the person passes by a few times, she can move a foot or two closer, and then practice again.

If the guardians watch for her body changing into a stiff, staring or other intense indicator, then immediately increase distance or stop things, they should be able to avoid dog ankle bites. Over time, this will help create positive feelings for Millie when visitors walk in her home

This is likely going to be a process. The guardians will need to practice having Millie meet new people outside of her home, and then coming in for a short visits only after she is calm and relaxed with them outside. After Billie has gotten to know them, each additional visit can be a little bit longer, but they should all start outside; at least initially.

Combining a positive greeting with short, successful visits may result in the dog no longer biting peoples ankles when they come to visit. But if she does, the secret to stopping dog bites that I outlined in the video above, should help her guardians.

We covered a number of other dog behavior tips in this in-home Venice Beach dog training session. To help the guardian to remember them all, we recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr