My Puppy Bites and Growls - Why and What Do I Do?


 Teaching a puppy is not an easy task, as it requires a lot of dedication, patience, and understanding. However, very often there are misunderstandings, such as when a puppy bites or grows, a fact that can lead to misunderstandings.

That is why, in this dog57 article, we want to help you in case you are wondering why your puppy is biting and growing and what to do to avoid it. Knowing how he behaves at all times is important, since educating a puppy is a very rewarding task, it is essential for him to live happily and harmoniously with you and you need to understand your furry friend. 

Why does the puppy grow when I play with it?

Usually, we tend to associate a growl with a sound that indicates threat and aggression, because dogs make it to warn them that they are being disturbed, and so the growl is a precursor to a bite. For this reason, it is not surprising that some guardians who are not familiar with puppies growing while playing, get scared at the thought that they are developing an aggressive personality, and even scold

them, which is completely counterproductive. However, a growl does not only indicate a threat.

It is so important to be able to understand the dog that you are paying attention not only to the sounds he makes but to the whole range of body signals that reflect his mood and attitude. So if his body language is playful, your pup is already playing. And it is normal for your puppy to grow while playing, either to provoke you and play with him or because he is simulating that he is fighting or hunting because if you look at how your puppy naturally plays, instinct interpreters the situations he is trained in 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 provide proper guidance to your puppy so that he learns to measure his bite and control himself because he does not yet realize that he is hurting you.

The main reasons why a puppy bites and growls

There are other reasons why your puppy growls or bites you outside of play, which you should pay special attention to because you need to know how to manage them properly so that they don't develop into a behavioral problem in the future. Thus, the most common causes are the following:


One of the reasons why a puppy may growl at you if you approach him and may bite him is because he is feeling insecure. It is not common to encounter this problem, as puppies are usually familiar enough with human contact. However, experiencing traumatic experiences and/or poor socialization during the first months of life, as well as a possible genetic tendency to exacerbate this behavior, may be an explanation for this problem, which will require a lot of patience and empathy. Therefore, the aggression is not because the kitten wants to attack you, but because your puppy is afraid of you and is trying to defend himself.

Resource protection

There is a myth that if a dog growls because you are approaching something valuable to him, such as his food, his bed, or his toy... it is because he is "dominant" or wants to "show you his leadership." With this misconception, 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 insecure about something of value being taken away from him because he encountered situations at a very young age that led him to this learning. For example, when your puppy has to share food with his siblings, it is natural for him to see them as competitors for that resource, especially if it is scarce and he has to prevail to survive. However, we must not forget that the caretaker is responsible for making sure that there is plenty of food for the entire litter and that they do not have to fight over it.

This insecurity can arise for many reasons depending on the items he is protecting, but the main one is that he has associated the fact of being close to that item that is so important to him that you want to remove him from it. Another very common example is your puppy growling at you when you approach his toy, often because he associates that every time he plays with something, someone will take it and the fun is over (eg, a slipper). Naturally, then, he snarls to avoid it, because in his eyes you are full of joy.

Pain and/or illness

It should never be ruled out that if your puppy growls at you when you touch him or hold him in your arms, it is because he is in pain or is not feeling well. The puppy may be suffering from an injury, for example, and when you pet him he suffers a lot and that is why he expresses his annoyance. It may also happen that you are sick and feel that you are isolating yourself.

When a puppy is not feeling well, you can see that he has a sudden behavior change, going from being an energetic, happy animal to being dull and apathetic. In addition, you should look for other signs, such as excessive licking, lack of appetite, strange movements or gait, and so on. Anyway, what you should do is take him to the vet as soon as possible before it's too late.

Why not scold the puppy if it growls?

As mentioned, a growl is a sound that indicates that something is bothering him or that he is not right. This signal is usually a warning to ask us to stop whatever we are doing that is making us 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 necessary form of communication that the animal uses to tell you to stop.

When you scold your dog, you may succeed in preventing growling, i.e. the dog stops communicating, but this will not solve the main problem: what makes your dog feel bad. So, unfortunately, this way you will only achieve that when your dog is upset or upset, he won't tell you, and if it gets to a point where he's really upset in a situation, he will bite you directly. For asking you to stop, without warning you of his situation. To give an example of how we understand it from a human perspective, would be rewarding. Instead of resolving an annoying situation by asking “please, stop”, we will resort directly to physical aggression, because verbal communication will be useless because the other person is not listening to us.

Finally, using violence to mark your fur is completely counterproductive to creating a trusting relationship with your puppy, since as you've seen, the reasons your puppy growls and bites are due to fear or insecurity. . Obviously, you can't try to solve this behavior with more fear.

What do I do if a puppy growls and bites me?

As you have seen, there are many reasons why your puppy growls and bites, and it does not have to be harmful, but rather the opposite, because it is normal for a puppy to growl while playing. However, if your pup growls in other situations such as when you approach him or something valuable to him, you must identify the source of that insecurity to determine the source of the problem. Next, we show you what to do in each case:

Recommendations for fearful dogs

If your puppy has recently arrived in your family and has a somewhat fearful personality if he has not been in contact with people since he was young, or if he has had negative experiences such as abuse, it is understandable that he will express fear or mistrust if you approach him, pet him, and take him between your arms...

Given the circumstances, you will have to be patient and give him time to adjust to his new environment and family. This means that you should avoid forcing him into situations where he might feel uncomfortable (such as talking to him directly if he goes away or holding him directly) and inviting him to get closer to you through treats and sweet words and avoiding sudden movements. In this way, you will gradually make him associate you with a positive and reliable person.

Resource protection treatment in puppies

If your pup is growling at you to prevent you from taking something of value to him, you must work to resolve this behavior problem as soon as possible in a positive way, because this long-term problem has very negative consequences and if not resolved could easily worsen.

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

For greater safety, you should carry out the same procedure little by little with other family members. Well, even if he no longer feels insecure with you, he can continue to growl at other people or animals. It is always important to maintain a safe distance at which your puppy is safe and to avoid punishment at all costs which will only increase the mistrust of your furry.

If you think this problem has become unmanageable because it was built up for too long, it is best to go to a professional as soon as possible so that they can advise you on a customized method.

What do you do if you are not feeling well?

It should never be ruled out that your pup has started growling and biting at you because he's not feeling well, is in pain from an injury, or is sick and upset when you touch him, for example. In these cases, the most common thing is to notice significant changes in the puppy's normal behavior, such as becoming more apathetic, losing its appetite, and strange behaviors such as licking itself a lot, and so on. Therefore, you must take him to the vet so that he can make a proper diagnosis.

Tips for puppies that bite hard

Unlike us, dogs play with their mouths, because they don't have hands. This means that sometimes when you are interacting with your puppy and he is very excited, you can take a more or less painful bite, without any ill intent on your friend's part. This is why, in the process of educating your puppy, you must know how to tell him when he is hurting you so that he can gauge himself and interact with you consciously, preventing a bite.

For this purpose, what you should do is stop the toy every time it bites you hard and makes a sound like "Ouch!", until your puppy associates this situation with the end of fun, and little by little, you will. Learn to control yourself. In the same way, if your puppy wants to play with you when you don't want him to and asks for it by biting or growling, he must learn to respect your boundaries, and, therefore, you must ignore him and be indifferent to his demands. Conversely, your child can learn to bite you to get you to listen, which as an adult is harmful.

Finally, you must not forget that your puppy needs to bite, because his teeth are growing and hurting, and by biting he manages to soothe said pain. In addition, they need to explore their environment through their mouths. For these reasons, you should give your puppy toys that he can chew easily, that is, chew toys so that he can perform this behavior calmly.

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