If your English Springer Spaniel is biting while she’s a puppy, it can be annoying, but the biting will subside with time and proper training. However, if the dog is biting as an adolescent or adult, there may be other issues—medical or otherwise. Either way, biting is unacceptable behavior, and you must train it out of the dog or address the underlying problem.
Here are 5 reasons why your English Springer Spaniel might be biting you:
- Your dog is exploring.
- Your puppy may be teething.
- Your dog may be playing.
- Health issues.
- Springer rage.
Some causes have straightforward explanations and relatively simple solutions, while others may require professional help from your veterinarian.
1. Your Dog Is Exploring
Think about how human babies explore the new world they’ve found themselves in. They put a lot of things in their mouths as they learn about their environments. Puppies do the same thing!
Puppies don’t have the hands and fingers that babies do, so the bulk of their investigation of the world comes through their noses and mouths. It’s not surprising that this behavior—biting and chewing everything from your shoes to your hands—is called “mouthing.”
Add to the puppy’s natural curiosity the fact that English Springer Spaniels were bred as retrievers and hunting dogs. That means they use their mouths as their primary tool for their work (or at least the job for which they were bred).
So, you’ll probably never get to the point where your dog never puts his mouth on anything but food. Then again, that’s not the point. We’re just looking at why your dog might be biting you. Again, if it’s puppy behavior, he’ll probably grow out of it.
To cut down on biting from your playful pup, offer an alternative thing to chew on like the Arm & Hammer Chew Toy (available on Amazon.com). The dog will have something to chew on other than you, and this particular chew toy will help keep his teeth clean.
Some experts also advise that when you’re playing with a puppy, you should disengage from them completely when they bite you. If they get zero response from you when they bite you, they’ll be less encouraged to do so in the future.
2. Your Puppy May Be Teething
Those cute (and sometimes ridiculously sharp) puppy teeth don’t stay forever. When it’s time for them to go, puppies deal with teething discomfort just like you did when you were a baby.
Your dog’s baby teeth start to fall out at about two months of age, depending on his particular genetics. By the time your puppy reaches six months, all his mature teeth should have come in. However, that leaves four months during which his gums will hurt, and he’ll bite, chew, and gnaw on things to alleviate the discomfort.
Getting your puppy a chew toy will help discourage him from biting you. While there are all sorts of products geared toward this need, look into the Nylabone Puppy Freezer Dog Toy (available on Amazon.com). Coming out of the freezer, the cold temperature gives your dog’s gums some relief, and you’ve got the choice of flavors—lamb and apple or peanut butter.
Remember that the teeth have to push through the gums, rupturing them. Any pain relief you can provide for your pup will be a humane effort.
3. Your Dog May Be Playing
Puppies nip at each other when they play, and since English Springer Spaniels were bred for hunting and retrieving, they often bite as puppies to practice for their job of using their mouths to pick up items.
Since they’re high-energy dogs, they also need to get exercise and burn energy regularly. If they’re not getting enough exercise, they may start biting at you the way they used to bite at their littermates—starting a game with you so they can burn some energy.
If your English Springer Spaniel bites you, that may be his way of saying, “Hey, let’s go outside and have some fun.” Try Nerf’s Dog Vortex Chain Dog Toy (available on Amazon.com) if you don’t want to go outside. It’s got a squeaker with a small football on one end. There’s a good grip for you on the other end of it, and your dog can tug at it all he wants.
He’ll get to bite something and burn off some energy, and if you’re so inclined, you can hold the toy while you get other work done.
4. Health Issues
So far, the biting explanations have been related to puppy behavior. However, we mentioned earlier that if your dog starts biting out of nowhere (especially as an adult dog), there may be a deeper issue. It could be indicative of a medical issue.
Hip dysplasia occurs in many dog breeds and causes pain. Dogs are just like us in that when they’re uncomfortable, they’re not the most pleasant creatures to be around. A dog suffering physical pain may bite whoever or whatever is in reach out of stress or frustration.
Sudden biting could also indicate neurological problems or even thyroid disorders. None of the medical issues that might make your English Springer Spaniel start biting can be diagnosed or fixed at home, so you should seek medical attention for your pooch if you’re concerned about a medical problem.
5. Springer Rage
If biting has suddenly become a problem, it could be a result of Springer Rage.
Springers are somewhat aggressive animals, but scientists have begun to identify Springer Rage as possibly a form of epilepsy. This means that while your English Springer Spaniel is likely to bite you from time to time, that innate aggression can be magnified by the condition.
In the throes of Springer Rage, these dogs exhibit extreme aggression and will bite their owners without reason or provocation.
If Springer Rage is the root cause of your dog’s biting, you’ll be relieved to know that vets have had some success treating it with epilepsy medications. If it’s not Springer Rage and the bites and aggression have manifested suddenly and severely, you still need to take your dog to the vet.