My puppy bites and growls - why and what to do?

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Raising a puppy is not an easy task, as it requires a lot of dedication, patience and understanding. However, many times there are situations of misunderstanding, such as when a puppy bites or growls, a fact that can lead to misunderstandings.

For this reason, in this AnimalWised article we want to help you in case you are wondering why does your puppy bite and growl and what to do to avoid it. Knowing how to act at all times is important, since educating a puppy is a most rewarding task, necessary for it to live happily and harmoniously with you and for which you need to understand your furry friend.

You may also be interested in: Why does my dog ​​growl at me when he eats? Index
  1. Why does my puppy growl when I play with him?
  2. Top reasons a puppy bites and growls
  3. Why not scold a puppy if he growls?
  4. What to do if my puppy growls and bites me?

Why does my puppy growl when I play with him?

Usually, we usually associate the growl with a sound that indicates threat and aggression, since dogs do it in order to warn that they are upset and, therefore, the growl is the prelude to the bite. For this reason, it is not surprising that some guardians who are not familiar with the fact that puppies growl when playing, get scared thinking that they are developing an aggressive character, even going so far as to scold them, something totally counterproductive. Nevertheless, the growl not only indicates threat.

It is very important in order to understand your dog that you pay attention not only to the sounds it makes, but also to the entire set of body signals that reflect its mood and attitude. So if his body language is a play posture, your puppy is, indeed, playing. And is that, it is natural for your puppy to growl while playing, Either to provoke you and for you to play with him or because he is pretending to fight or hunt, since, if you look at how your puppy normally plays, he instinctively interprets situations that involve training for when he is an adult.

Finally, it should be noted that your puppy biting you while playing is also normal. However, as we will explain later, it is important to know how to offer the appropriate guide to your puppy so that he learns to measure his bite and control himself, since he is not yet aware that he is hurting you.

Top reasons a puppy bites and growls

There are other reasons why your puppy could growl or bite you outside of the game, to which you have to pay special attention, as it is necessary that you know how to manage them properly so that they do not evolve into a behavior problem in the future. Thus, the most common causes are the following:


One of the reasons why your puppy growls at you if you get close, and may even bite you, is because he feels insecure. It is not usual to find this problem, since normally the puppies are adequately familiar with human contact. Now, the experience of traumatic experiences and / or a bad socialization during the first months of life, as well as a possible trend genetics that may aggravate this behavior, may be the explanation for this problem, which will require a lot of patience and empathy. Aggression is not, therefore, because the little one wants to attack you, but because your puppy is afraid of you and tries to defend himself.

Resource protection

There is a myth that says that if a dog growls because you approach something valuable to him, such as his food, his bed, his toy…, It is because he is "dominant " or wants "to show you his leadership ". With this erroneous belief, many people tend to scold their dogs, a fact that has very detrimental effects on their behavior. The truth is that resource protection occurs when a puppy feels insecurity that something valuable may be taken away from you for him because he has lived situations at a very early age that have led him to that learning. For example, when your puppy had to share food with his siblings, it is normal for him to see them as competitors for this resource, especially if it was scarce, and had to prevail for survival. Even so, we must not forget that it is the caretaker who is responsible for making sure that there is food left over for the entire litter and they do not have to fight over it..

This insecurity can arise from many causes depending on the elements that it protects, but the main origin is that it is associated with the fact of approaching that element so important to him that you want to remove it. Another very common example is that your puppy growls at you when you approach his toy, many times this is because he associates that every time he plays with something, someone is going to take it away and the fun is over (for example, a shoe ). It is normal, then, that he growls to avoid it, because in his eyes you are a party pooper.

Pain and / or illness

It should never be ruled out that if your puppy growls at you when you touch him or hold him, it is because he is in pain or is not feeling well. It could be that your puppy has an injury, for example, and that when you pet him he suffers a lot and for this reason he expresses his annoyance. It can also occur that he is sick and feel like isolating yourself.

When a puppy is not feeling well, you can clearly see that it has a sudden change in behavior, going from being an animal full of energy and happiness to being rather dull and listless. In addition, you should look for other signs, such as excessive licking, lack of appetite, movements or strange gait, etc. In any case, what you should do is take him to the vet as soon as possible before it is too late. See Symptoms of a Sick Dog for more information..

Why not scold a puppy if he growls?

As we have mentioned, the growl is a sound that indicates that something is bothering you or that you are not feeling well. This sign is usually a warning to ask us to stop doing whatever it is we are doing that is making you feel bad. But, ¿What happens if you scold your dog when he growls? As much as it bothers you that your dog growls, you should not feel it as a threat, but as a form of communication required what does the animal use for ask you to stop.

When you scold your dog, you may be able to inhibit the growl, meaning that your dog stop communicating, But this does not mean that you are going to solve the main problem: what is making your dog feel bad. Therefore, unfortunately, in this way you will only achieve that when your dog feels upset or upset he does not tell you and, if there comes a point where he feels really upset in a situation, go to bite you directly to ask you to stop, without prior warning of its status. To give an example of how we would understand it from a human perspective, it would be the equivalent of that instead of solving an unpleasant situation by asking with a "please, stop ", we would directly resort to physical aggression, since verbal communication would not work you're welcome because the other person is not listening to you.

Finally, the use of violence in the education of your furry is completely counterproductive to establish a relationship of trust with your puppy, since as you have seen, the reasons why your puppy growls and bites is due to fear or insecurity that generate certain situations. Obviously, you can't try to resolve this behavior with more fear..

What to do if my puppy growls and bites me?

As you have seen, there are several reasons why your puppy growls and bites, and it does not have to be harmful, but rather the opposite, since it is natural for the puppy to growl when he plays. However, if your puppy growls in other situations such as when you approach him or something valuable to him, you will need to identify where this insecurity comes from in order to locate the focus of the problem. Here is what to do in each case:

Recommendations for puppies with fear

In case your puppy has recently arrived in your family and has a rather scary character, if he has not had contact with people since childhood or, in case he has had negative experiences such as abuse, it is understandable that he expresses fear or distrust if you approach him, you caress him, you take him in your arms…

Given the circumstances, you should be patient and give it time so that it adapts to its new environment and family. This implies that you should avoid forcing situations in which he may feel uncomfortable (such as going directly to him if he walks away or directly picking him up) and inviting him to be the one who approaches you by means of rewards, sweet words and avoiding sudden movements. In this way, you will gradually get him to associate you as someone positive and trustworthy..

Find out in this other article how long it takes a puppy to get used to his new home.

Treatment for the protection of resources in puppies

If your puppy growls at you to prevent you from taking something valuable to him, you should work on this behavior problem as soon as possible in a positive way, as this long-term problem has quite negative consequences and if it is not worked, they could be easily aggravated.

For redirect this behavior, It will be important that your puppy does not see you as a threat that wants to "steal " something, but will have to associate your presence with something positive. For example, if your puppy growls and bites at you when you approach his food bowl, stand at a distance where he feels calm and then reward him with a very succulent treat (more than his usual food) for being calm. Progressively, get closer and help him associate your presence with a trustworthy and protective figure, so that he will no longer feel that you are a threat when approaching his food, but rather the opposite..

For more security, little by little you will have to carry out the same procedure with other members of the family. Well, even if he no longer feels insecure with you, he could continue to growl at other people or animals. Always, very important, maintaining a safe distance in which your puppy is safe and avoiding at all costs punishments that will only generate more distrust in your furry.

If you think that this problem has become unmanageable because it has been established for too long, it is best to go to a professional as soon as possible so that I can advise you in a personalized way.

¿What to do if you feel unwell?

Never rule out that your puppy has started to growl and bite at you because he is not feeling well, is in pain from an injury or is ill and is upset when you touch him, for example. In these cases, the most common is to observe significant changes in the normal behavior of your puppy, such as that he is more listless, he has lost his appetite, he has strange behaviors such as licking too much, etc. Therefore, you will have to take him to the vet so that you can make the relevant diagnosis.

Tips for puppies that bite too hard

Unlike us, dogs play with their mouths, as they do not have hands. This implies that, in moments in which you interact with your puppy and he is very excited, you can take a more or less painful bite, without there being a bad intention on the part of your friend. For this reason, during the education process of your puppy, it is very important that you know tell him when he hurts you so that he can measure himself and interact with you consciously, inhibiting the bite.

For this purpose, what you should do is stop the game every time I bite you hard and make a sound like a "¡ay! ”, so that your puppy will associate this situation with the end of the fun and, little by little, he will learn to control himself. In the same way, if your puppy wants to play with you when you don't want to and asks you to do so by biting or growling, he must learn to respect your limits and, therefore, you will have to Ignore It and show yourself indifferent to their demand. On the contrary, your little one could learn to bite you so that you will listen to him, which is obviously harmful when he is an adult.

Finally, you should not forget that your puppy needs to bite, because his teeth are growing and they hurt, and through the bite he is able to calm this pain. In addition, they have the urge to explore their surroundings through their mouths. For these reasons, you should give your puppy toys that he can chew at at ease, that is,, teether toys, so that you can perform this behavior calmly.

Do not miss these articles to learn more about how to train a puppy and how to prevent it from chewing everything:

  • ¿How to train a puppy?
  • ¿How to teach a puppy not to bite?

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