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Biting Issues with a Pomeranian

Is Your Pom Out of Control?

It is rare for this breed to bite due to an aggression problem. The foundation for biting often has its roots in a combination of play nipping (typical puppy behavior) and teething issues. Without interference it can develop into a habit. Additionally, if an owner does not take proper steps to stop the biting, the puppy will never truly learn that it is an unacceptable action.

It is common for owners to become quickly frustrated when their Pom bites. After all, the is breed is just about one of the cutest in the can such a cute ball of fluff have such razor sharp teeth? 
And not to sound cliche', but how can this adorable tiny dog bite the hand that feeds him? In this section we will discuss the reasons why a Pomeranian puppy bites and steps that you can take to teach your Pom that it is not going to be tolerated.

Why Poms Bite

There are many reasons why a Pomeranian will bite, and to be technical, what is often done is a nip and not an actual bite, as it is not done in an overly aggressive way. If you happen to have a Pom that is overly aggressive, this is a separate issue that is covered in our Aggression section. It is important to know if your Pomeranian is acting aggressive and biting due to a medial issue or if the answer lies somewhere else.
Illness or Injury

An otherwise calm and even-tempered Pomeranian may nip at those who go near him or her if the dog is in pain or feeling ill. When dogs are ill or in discomfort, they can feel threatened (yes, even by family members) and will often protect their resting area and themselves if people get too close. 

A dog that does not feel well will often retreat. This will be to his sleeping area or an out-of-the way spot. If humans encroach upon this space, this is when the dog may nip. It is completely a self-protection reaction.

Other times, such as with luxating patella, hip dysplasia or collapsed trachea, a Pom may behave just fine, however when an owner reaches down to pick up the dog, it is then that the Pom will nip (and often let out a growl). This is because the action of picking up the Pom puts pressure on the sensitive, injured area. 
Innocent looking Pomeranian
These types of injuries often only hurt just at the moment that the knee cap or hip joint slips out of place. 

Sometimes. it is not for 2 or 3 days later, once swelling has set in, that certain movements can cause pain. This includes: putting on collar or harness, picking the dog up, re-positioning the dog. For this issue, often the biting is a quick nip into the air, it does not often make skin contact as it is a warning as if to say, "Please don't touch me!"  

If your Pomeranian is in good health, there are other reasons why he may bite. The main reason for a puppy to bite is teething, this can be a difficult and frustrating time for you. This is a form of nipping, as it is not done in an aggressive way.

However, the same advice given for babies works for puppies. Babies need something to chew on when teething. Your Pomeranian needs something to chew on also, and not your shoes or your hands!

The fix for this is 2-fold. 1 - You will want to address the biting by showing your Pomeranian that it is not acceptable. This is done by:
  • Pulling your hand (or other body part that was nipped) away
  • Offering a quality chew toy or an ice treat that will sooth itchiness and sore gums that caused the nipping to occur
  • Moving away several feet to create distance
  • Ignoring the Pom (completely, no talking, no eye contact) for 5 minutes
  • Giving praise (after those 5 minutes) if the pup is chewing on his or her toys or crunching on the ice
2- If a chew toy doesn't offer: interest and oral benefits, a Pom will not bother to chew on it. If the chews that you have now are not working well or if you are not sure which toys are best for this breed, you can find some great recommendations in the "Toys-Chewing/Teething" section of the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe

You'll want to give your Pom several options to choose from. This is because one day his gums may be sore and a soft chew is what is desired, other days there may be a strong urge to crunch on something and that desire must be addressed as well. When a dog has healthy options, he will be less prone to gnaw on furniture or nip at hands. Putting toys into the freezer to make them cold works well. Teething puppies also find ice cubes to offer relief.
Perceived Protection

The instinct to protect may be one of the causes of why Pomeranians bite. Even though a Pomeranian is a very small dog, he still has the same instincts to protect. A dam may bite to protect her puppies, this is completely normal behavior. A mother Pomeranian will bite your hand in a second if she feels you are a threat to her pup.

A Pomeranian will also bite if he is protecting his territory, another canine instinct, but one that must be addressed. Often dogs that are misguided regarding who it is that is in charge will take it upon themselves to fight for the position of leader...and this can cause a host of behavioral problems, biting included. 
White Pomeranian looks like fox
Mr. Darby, 1 and 1/2 years old
Photo courtesy of owners Geo and Estee Poleson
Fear/ Anxiety/ Nervousness

Your Pomeranian may also bite because of fear, again this is something that can be fixed with the proper training. Of course, training to stop a Pomeranian from biting will be different than the training of many other types of dogs.

Overly sensitive or fearful dogs will greatly benefit from socialization training. After all, a dog is not living a full life if much of that time is spent feeling anxious. 

Some Tips

A Pomeranian will usually continue any behavior in which they receive some type of satisfaction (attention is given, etc.) unless they are trained that negative outcomes to an action exceed any possible benefit.

This sort of training should be performed in a calm and controlled manner. Never scold or yell at your dog, as all you will accomplish to to teach your Pom to be afraid of you. Adding fear or stress to the equation on exasperates the problem.

When a Pom learns to fear his owner, nothing is gained and much is lost, including that wonderful bond and relationship between human and canine. 
No matter what you have heard, it is not true that small toys dogs such as the Pomeranian are "snappy". This is a stereotype and for this reason, owners should not accept the biting or nipping behavior is a 'breed trait'. The Pom breed's ancestors originated in cold climates as they were sled-pulling dogs whose average size was 30 pounds. Over time, they have become smaller dogs, but this did not make them biters.

A small dog does not need to live up to its infamous reputation of being a snappy dog. A Pomeranian can be cute and friendly and just as wonderfully trained as any other type of breed. The key is the word train.

Just as a child needs to be shown how to do things and a toddler needs to be shown what is correct behavior and what is not, your Pomeranian needs to be shown what is correct behavior and what is not acceptable.

Not matter how long a dog breed has been domesticated, canine instinct prevails. To a Pomeranian, his pack is his human family (and any other pets in the household). His humans are his pack leaders - though some dogs do see children as peers.

One of the fastest methods to teach a dog to stop biting is to quickly show him that biting will equal a temporary banishment from the pack.  

The order of training is:

1. Immediately distance yourself from your dog

2. Immediately ignore your Pom - This means 100% ignore. Zero talking, zero eye contact. No interaction at all.

3. Continue this until your dog has noticed. You will see that he becomes a bit whiny and may pace. It is at this time that his mind is metaphorically thinking, "Did I do something wrong to be ignored by my pack leader? Oh, no, I'm being ignored... am I being banished?"

4. After a few minutes, all casual contact (no praising or patting yet), however an owner may speak out loud, etc.

5. If a Pom nips again, immediately go to Step 1.

6. If a Pom behaves, offer great praise and a treat

It can take days to weeks for a dog to learn to stop biting; however once it is learned, treats will not need to be given for good behavior; though occasionally vocal praise will encourage a dog to continue behaving nicely.
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