why does my dog bite the air

Do you have a question about your pet? Send us your questions and an expert trainer will answer it! Pet Tales: Snapping at Air Dear Trainer,
Biscuit is a 5 years old Shiba Inu. I adopted her back in Nov 2012. My husband and I are her fourth owner due to her biting behavior. Over the past one year, she had 4 biting incidents. All these incidents were actually different scenarios, three of which were what I believed to be aggression from feeling protective as well as from being provoked. The last biting incident occurred in October of 2013 right before I engaged an animal communicator to relay to Biscuit that we disapproved the silent bitings and that we want her to stop and learn to give warning barks before resorting to biting. Since then she has not had any biting incidents. However, Biscuit has since developed the odd behavior of snapping her jaws at air. I contacted her first owner and found out that Biscuit has had a history if snapping her jaws at air since she was young. I have also observed that she snaps her jaws when she is excited or nervous.


For instance, she does it before going out for a walk, when she is in a new environment, and sometimes when she wants to receive attention. I have tried methods such as slapping her snout when she does it; giving her treats as reward for not doing it; verbal encouragement when she stops; and have even ignored her when she does that. Yet, all of them have failed to stop this behavior. I hope you can shed some light on the best way to help Biscuitвs jaw-snapping behavior! Our Response: Dear Adelyn, Air snapping is a common behaviour seen in excited dogs, particularly when they are playing. In such cases, air snapping is normal and merely a way the dog expresses himself! It may look scary (just as sometimes dogs look like they are fighting but are actually playing) but this is not something to be worried about, and definitely not something you should punish him for. In such cases, simply ignoring the dog or reducing the excitement (by removing the exciting thing or even moving Biscuit away), is most appropriate.


On the other hand, air snapping can also sometimes be a warning. Warnings given by dogs should never be punished. Dogs should be allowed to tell people(through growling, snapping, and other such body language) when they don t feel comfortable. Instead of looking at the warning or air snapping on its own, we should look at the underlying reason and find out why the dog is giving the warning in the first place. Is he doing something he does not like? Is he made to do something he would rather not do? If that is the case, we should either not force the dog to do what makes him uncomfortable or help the dog like to do it so he has no need to give the warning. As an example, if your dog does not want to or like to lie down when told, and air snaps at you, you can try to make lying down something he would want to do, by rewarding him for doing it. Just as people are paid money to do work, dogs should not always be expected to work for free and be happy with it!


Reward your dog for lying down with a yummy treat, and you will find that he will want to lie down when told. He will have no need to air snap at you to warn you as a result. It sounds like Biscuit may have had people ignore his feelings in the past, but he is lucky to now be with a family who is willing to listen and to help understand him better! Michelle Chan is owner and head trainer of, a Singapore-based dog training school that believes in positive reinforcement training methods. Michelle is one of the pioneers of positive reinforcement dog training in Singapore, and is enrolled in the Academy of Dog Trainers, one of the most highly respected and advanced trainer programs in the world, under the tutelage of Jean Donaldson, one of the worldвs top dog trainers. Michelle is also a committee member of the Humane Society (Singapore) and a member of the Dog Sports Committee of the Singapore Kennel Club after stepping down as Chairperson in 2013.


Michelle Chan can be contacted at. Not all dogs snap at the air, but those that do may do so for a variety of reasons ranging from boredom to serious neurological problems. For dogs that snap at the air out of boredom, giving them more opportunities for exercise or stimulating play can help. Longer and/or more frequent walks, puzzles and interactive toys can help provide more stimulating activity for bored animals. Snapping at the air may also be a warning sign. If a dog is feeling anxious or threatened, it may snap at the air to warn a person or animal. If the warning of snapping at air doesn t work, the dog s warning may progress from snapping at air to biting the nearest animal or person. Finally, snapping at air may be an indication of a neurological or behavioral problem. repeated episodes may be a sign of seizure activity or obessive-complusive disorder. If your dog regularly snaps at the air, you should consult your veterinarian. Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at.

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