How to Stop a Dog From Lunging or Biting People Who Move

By: David Codr

Published Date: September 12, 2022

stop a dog from lunging or biting people

For this Beverly Hills dog behavior training session we worked with Teddy the Poodle, sharing tips to stop a dog from lunging or biting people who move.

Sadly, Teddy was abused as a young dog by the housekeeper of his original guardians. Even more disturbing, his guardians did not fire the housekeeper after they found out what she was doing, allowing him to abuse him for an extended period of time.

Making matters worse, the guardians hired a force and punishment-based (balanced) trainer to help with Teddy‘s behavior problems that came from being abused. Obviously that only made matters worse.

Fortunately Teddy is now with a new guardian who is doing everything she can to try to rehabilitate and help him. Getting him out of that abusive environment was a huge improvement in his quality of life, but because of all of the abuse and punishment that he was exposed to, for such a long time, Teddy has developed a lunging and biting problem when he is spooked or scared.

Teddy will lunge and bite when his guardian’s partner stands up or moves around which was the primary dog behavior problem his guardian wanted me to help them with.

I met Teddy and his guardians in a nearby park for our first visit. Teddy is less reactive outside which is usually a good thing. But in Teddy‘s case, I believe that he is not reactive when he is outside because he is so fearful, which is not ideal.

We kept the first visit short, I shared some dog behavior tips like the find it away game, but it was mostly so that I could meet and evaluate him in a neutral environment. He took treats from me and walked with me a bit, but was stressed being apart from his primary guardian. We ended things on a successful note which is important anytime you are rehabilitating a fearful or anxoous dog.

Our second appointment was almost a week later and we started outside to try to carryover the positive momentum. While Teddy was more comfortable outside, once we get inside you could tell that his anxiety went up a few notches.

How to stop a dog from lunging and biting people who move

Stopping dogs from biting when they are exposed to movement is something I have done many times before, but in Teddy‘s case it was pretty extreme. Its important to note that when Teddy lunges at people, he is doing so because he is fearful, not aggressive.

It always breaks my heart to see a dog who has a been abused to such an extent that their coping mechanisms are to lash out. Teddy isn’t doing this to be mean, he just was pushed far past his limit and becomes primal when things happen that set him off. Since the housekeeper was most likely moving when she abused Teddy, standing up or sudden movements that catch him off guard or things that are very triggering.

I had the guardian place Teddy on a leash and we tethered it to a chair. If you have a dog that is a bite risk, incorporating safeguards such as tethers, barricades or muzzles are important tools to utilize. I positioned myself just outside of Teddy‘s reach so that we could film a tutorial video on how to stop dogs from lunging when people move.

If you have a dog that bites people who move, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

Now it’s super important to recognize that we have to go slow when using this technique to stop a dog from biting people. If you move too fast or add in move that Teddy is not prepared for, that can cause him to become reactive and lunge.

The whole point of this exercise to stop a dog from lunging and biting people is to have Teddy practice being exposed to movement that is so small, slow or far away that he does not feel threatened and does not react by lunging or biting. Then after you practice that a few times, you increase the move or intensity slightly and practice there a few times, working up to the full move. Once you get to the full move, then the more you practice, the more the dog gets comfortable with that move. The end goal for this is to stop a dog from lunging when people move.

I was a bit of a distraction for this session, causing the guardian to use some larger than normal movements to capture Teddy‘s attention. But my hope is that when it’s just the two guardians at home, Teddy will be dialed into those smaller movements so we donthave to use over exaggerated movements. That is something you almost always want to avoid, but this was a unique situation.

The timing of the click and treat delivery are pretty important but the most important thing is Teddy is not reactive. I would recommend the guardians practice this in short 1 to 2 minute practice sessions multiple times a day, every day.

If the dog lunges or bites, the guardians moved too fast (asking too much from the dog) and will need to pause and reset; wait for Teddy to return to a calmer state of mind before they attempt to practice again.

This is a very successful technique to stop dog lunging but it does take a lot of practice and repetition. I strongly suggested that the guardians do some positive muzzle training since they have their first baby on the way early next year.

A muzzle is not the tool to incorporate during the training video on stopping dogs from lunging or biting, but it will be a tool that they can utilize at other times, such as when guests come over or if they need to take his leash on or off.

I was disappointed that we weren’t able to make more progress in these sessions but when you’re rehabilitating an abused dog, you have to go at their pace. Short successful practice sessions stacked on top of each other is how to fix a dog biting problem. Pushing too far or too long where the dog reacts, basically practices the behavior you want to avoid.

At the end of this in home Beverly Hills dog training session, Teddy was overly tired so I had his guardian take him into the next room. This is a good reminder that short, successful practice sessions are key when helping rehabilitate a fearful rescue dog.

I shared my personal cell phone number with the guardians and asked them to please reach out with any questions they had moving forward. Prior to posting this write up, they had taken advantage of that which made me very happy. I want to be there for them as they help Teddy hopefully get over his extreme fear and anxiety to stop his biting behavior

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This post was written by: David Codr