Does your dog bite while playing? Sometimes he just snaps at you too? Snapping or playful biting can happen. The main reason your puppy bites while playing is because it’s their nature.
It’s important to train your puppy to stop snapping as your dog will eventually grow larger and stronger. Even if he doesn’t mean it badly – in the worst case, serious bite injuries could occur later.
In this article, you’ll learn why your dog bites you while you’re playing and what you can do about it.
In a nutshell: Dog snaps while playing – what should I do?
As a small puppy, your dog explores a lot of its environment with its mouth, just like babies do. He gets to know his jaw and tries out what makes another person uncomfortable and what doesn’t…
… in short: your dog bites while playing because he doesn’t know any better yet.
Therefore, you should train your dog to break the habit of snapping very naturally: whenever your dog snaps at you playfully or overdoes it, give a high-pitched yell and stop playing.
Adult dog bites while playing – that’s the reason
Many dogs have not been raised appropriately enough to have natural experiences with their siblings. Adult dogs that bite when they play usually didn’t get enough playtime as puppies.
To prevent your dog from building up too much energy while playing, you should allow him the missed experience afterwards. This will also prevent another dog from accidentally getting hurt while playing.
Bite inhibition? Can you eat this?
Unfortunately, we dog owners sometimes forget that our dogs don’t grow up the way we do. In the natural course of a dog’s life, a puppy will develop “bite inhibition”.
This means that by interacting with respectful dogs, your dog will learn: “When playing, I’m not really allowed to bite, otherwise nobody will want to play with you anymore. If I’m just pretending, everything’s okay.”
However, if this is not experienced or if the puppy does not understand this behavior, it will later bite harder than it should.
If your dog grows up as a little button among dogs that haven’t learned bite inhibition, he’ll probably adopt this behavior. A loud squeak doesn’t stop the big ones – why should it stop the little ones?
Squeakies are great…but not for puppies! The toy’s squeak encourages non-bite resistant dogs to keep biting. Since the toy only squeaks, but does not stop play, there is no connection between the noise and the consequence for the dog.
Too much energy
Does your dog overreact while playing and then bite every now and then? A silly habit, but it’s easy to explain.
Your dog will of course be incredibly happy when playing. With so much energy, it’s easy to forget that you still have to be careful. In these cases, you should make sure that your dog does not overreact in the first place.
If you want to find out more about the topic “Dogs won’t calm down”, I recommend my guide: Puppy won’t calm down.
You can do that
Is your dog biting your hand playfully, snapping every now and then or overexcited when playing? Do not panic. With a little time and practice, you’ll be rid of this problem in no time.
Proper puppy training
It is best to start right at the beginning. Make sure that your puppy is allowed to play with dogs of the same age and can discover each other in peace. Well-behaved older pets are also a good option here.
Play properly with the dog
If your dog has a problem biting while playing, you should avoid squeaky toys. Better play with him yourself and react like a puppy.
If you’ve ever watched puppies play, you may have noticed that if their playmate snaps too hard, they bark and walk away. You can use the same procedure with your puppy.
As soon as your dog snaps at you, you squeak loudly and stop playing with him. Wait a few minutes without paying attention to your dog and start again.
This will teach your puppy naturally not to bite or it will hurt you.
If you consistently follow this chain of behavior, your dog will eventually learn that it won’t play again until it stops biting you.
Good to know:
If your dog continues to bite, pause the game for a few hours and then try again.
The right amount of energy
Stop playing with your dog as soon as you feel him getting too energetic. Pull back a bit or relax on the couch for a bit. If your dog asks you to play, you ignore him.
Or maybe you’re the one who gets a little over-excited when playing with the dog? Be aware that your dog will orientate towards you and act excited when you do too.
Of course, you have to stop playing when your dog doesn’t want to play anymore. The bite inhibition applies to you too! If your dog squeaks or walks away from you, give it a rest.
Playful biting is just a misunderstanding that can be quickly rectified. By adopting the right behavior during play, you can explain to your dog why snapping and pinching are not part of play.