Why Do Dogs Bite Their Owners in Play?

Why Do Dogs Bite Their Owners in Play?
Why Do Dogs Bite Their Owners in Play?


You and your new puppy are getting along well. You’re playing a game of tug-of-war with a toy rope, and he’s running after it and having a blast. Then, without warning, his attention shifts from the rope you’re holding aloft to your free hand, where he begins to softly bite. You shriek in shock before realizing that the pressure is all that’s bothering you. You quit playing immediately out of shock, hoping that by doing so you won’t be encouraging the undesirable habit. Astoundingly, why is your dog attacking you? The old adage goes, “Don’t spit in the face of those who feed you.”

The Cause of Behavior

In canine parlance, “mouthing” describes when a dog plays by giving you a few little bites. Canines often play by keeping their jaws open and trying to bite one other, which is something you may have noticed if you’ve ever observed dogs interact. Dogs may engage in mock combat by mouthing each other without the risk of physical injury. Even though they aren’t really biting anything, the pressure from their mouthing habit might be painful, particularly to a person. To show you how much he enjoys playing with you, Killer has taken the initiative to do so now. The capacity to learn how to fight is where the habit of mouthing first emerged in dogs. Dogs learn how to fight with their pals as pups, and they do it without hurting one another.

This prepares them to live independently in the wild. Dogs of all sizes practice their biting control by mouthing with one another. Some dog breeds are naturally more powerful and hostile than others. Your response to a Miniature Yorkie play-biting your hands will likely vary much from that of a Saint Bernard play-biting your hand. Puppies, being smaller than adult dogs, won’t be able to play bite as hard, but their biting power will develop with time. To play with you, Killer may utilize play biting. He sees you as one of the group, thus he expects you to play like them. Being a member of a group might be fun, but there’s a difference between play-biting and violence. Play-biting is a show of love between you and your dog; it’s mild, he seems content, and he may even be lying down. A dog that is hostile, on the other hand, will display signs of aggression such as a tight body and a bared jaw. The difference between an aggressive bite and a play bite is that you will feel the latter. In order to protect yourself and maintain your hand, you must be able to distinguish between aggressiveness and play. However, not everyone is willing to risk losing their favorite digit and may instead choose to refrain from play-biting.

Promoting the Behavior

Contrary to the beliefs of some owners, play biting is not always discouraged. Dogs naturally like the act of play biting, so don’t discourage this behavior. The fact that he now recognizes you as a friend rather than a foe will undoubtedly improve your bond with one another. If you feel uneasy about it, however, you should seek out solutions to lessen or eliminate it. If you want your dog to have plenty of social interactions with humans and other dogs, you may wish to discourage or eliminate the tendency. If Killer play-bites one of your buddies, he could give them the creeps. If your buddy doesn’t feel comfortable coming, you may need to cage or fence Killer whenever you have guests home. Many people, both new and old, won’t be able to tell the difference between your dog’s playful behavior and actual hostility. Dog bites, even in play, may create concern, and you may be approached with comments about the dangers of sharing your home with a biting canine. Play-biting from dogs and people may be minimized or eliminated with proper training. When your dog begins play biting, it’s time to stop. Set a timer for a certain period of time before you may start biting again. Biting may be stopped with a command word or redirected with a toy.

Other Considerations and Solutions

Calling in the pros is recommended when attempting to prevent a dog from biting during play. Your dog’s trainer should be able to assist you to tell the difference between playful and aggressive behavior. In addition, he can show you how to train your dog to cease play biting. A strong bond between you and your dog, as well as your dog’s ability to interact well with people and other dogs, is crucial. Make sure Killer is up to date on his immunizations before he has the chance to play bite your hands. You need to know that he is healthy and that you will get proper medical attention if he ever causes you to suffer a skin wound. If you want to get the best possible treatment, it’s crucial that your veterinarian knows what vaccinations your dog has gotten.


You may not be a fan of play biting, but your dog is. Find a happy medium and a way to keep your pup playing. Even though he bites your hand, make sure you still feed him. And if he plays too ruff, take him to a trainer to find ways to calm him down.