Getting a puppy is an exciting time for both you and your new pet. While their energy is often great fun, you might have noticed unfavorable behaviors that come along with this, too, such as when they keep lunging at your face. But why do they do this? Is it normal for puppies to do this, and how can you appropriately stop them? Well, here is all you need to know about this particular behavior.
So, why does your puppy lunge at your face? Puppies lunge at people’s faces out of excitement and to get attention – they may want you to play or simply may want something from you. However, they might also lunge out of frustration or aggression; other accompanying behaviors such as growling can help you identify if this is the case.
Your puppy lunging at your face may seem cute and harmless in the beginning, but it’s vital to curb this behavior early.
Letting it develop into adulthood can become dangerous to you and others.
Before we look at how you can do so, let us explore the reasons behind it further.
Keep reading; it will be worth it!
Why Is My Puppy Lunging At My Face?
Your puppy lunges at your face usually because it’s trying to get your attention. They’re most likely doing it out of excitement and a desire to play with you. But, depending on accompanying behavior, it might be out of aggression or frustration.
Puppies learn about their environment and the world around them. They are also growing bones and building muscles. All this turns into curiosity and excitement to explore.
But it also means that they can crash for long periods of time. This is why puppies can sleep up to 20 hours a day.
When puppies are bursting full of energy, they are testing boundaries. And seeing how far they can push them like young children pushing back on their parents’ rules.
When puppies play with each other, they tend to focus on their friend’s heads.
So, when your puppy is excitable and wants to play with you, they’re going to do the same.
Unfortunately, puppies can be clumsy and not know their own strength, so it can lead to bumps and bruises. And even accidental nips.
Out Of Excitement
If your puppy is lunging out of excitement, they’ll usually wag their tail, causing their body to shake with it. They’ll pull back and lunge again to get you to respond to them.
They may even go as far as barking or whining at you if they’re not getting the response they want.
As long as your puppy is wiggling with their wagging tail, you can be confident they’re doing so out of excitement.
Out Of Aggression
If your puppy is lunging out of aggression, their behavior is subtly different. An aggressive dog will likely lunge and nip at you.
It’s not unusual to see a wagging tail with an aggressive or frustrated lunge. But it will be a very stiff wag that doesn’t engage their lower body.
And they’ll usually growl, remain stiff, and very still before they lunge at your face.
It’s important to watch for these subtle changes.
Excitement can easily grow into frustration if you’re not responding to them.
Is It Normal For Puppies To Lunge And Bite?
It is normal for your puppy to lunge and nip at you as they test out the boundaries with you. Dogs learn through biting and chewing on things. But, if their biting is very hard (and not mouthing), then it’s a sign that they’re not happy.
Puppies love to play with their owners. And with other dogs and pets in the household. Certain puppy breeds favor their playmate’s face when they’re playing rather than paws and chest.
It’s not uncommon for them to lick, paw, and bite at each other’s heads to keep the playtime going.
And this is what they’re doing with you. But it’s important to know the difference between mouthing and biting.
Puppies experiment with different tastes and textures with their teeth. And this carries onto your fingers and face.
Mouthing is what it sounds like. Puppies place their mouths around something without actually biting down on it. They usually mouth at hands and feet, anything they can get a grip on.
And this can include your chin or ears.
If your puppy is biting you when they lunge, they either are unaware of their own strength or overly excited.
Or they’re acting out of frustration and aggression.
Saying this, aggression in puppies isn’t normal. From a wild dog’s point of view, a puppy acting aggressively towards an adult dog would result in an attack.
It simply isn’t part of a puppy’s normal brain development. If your puppy is acting aggressively, it’s important to consult a specialist to learn the root cause.
They will work with you to observe your puppy’s behavior and body language. And then form a personalized training plan for you and your puppy.
How Do I Stop My Puppy from Lunging At My Face?
You can stop your puppy from lunging at your face by teaching them that it’s bad behavior. The most effective ways to do this are through positive reinforcement and distraction.
Puppies learn what works based on your reaction.
Young puppies are cute, and it’s not uncommon to accidentally teach them that lunging at our faces is okay. It’s usually followed by petting and even cooing at the puppy.
So long as they get a reaction, your puppy will keep lunging. So, remaining unreactive is key to stopping this behavior.
Once they start lunging, stop what you’re doing with them, cross your arms, and ignore them until they stop.
If they start acting up again, repeat these steps until they learn that this type of behavior is bad. And don’t forget to reward them and flood them with praise when they behave well.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive reinforcement training is the best way of teaching your puppy good habits.
Punishment methods, like banishing them outside, don’t work. Studies show they worsen aggressive behavior.
Teaching your puppy the ‘Place’ command is an extremely good method to curb your puppy lunging.
Your puppy will learn to retreat to their place of choice to recharge. Thus, stopping any lunging habits from developing further.
Optimize Their Environment
It’s easy for a puppy to become overstimulated by their surroundings.
This can manifest into lunging behavior which you can fix by placing the puppy in their comfy kennel for a nap. Or even just into a safe space by themselves to rest and calm down.
Reward At the Right Time
The most effective method is to reward your puppy with a treat. But choose whatever your puppy enjoys more such as praise and pets.
They’ll want to get more of these rewards, so they’ll learn to repeat the behavior that rewards them.
When your puppy starts to lunge at your face because of teething, train them to chew on a toy instead. Teething is an uncomfortable time for puppies (just like it is for babies).
Training your puppy to relieve that discomfort on a toy instead of you will keep you both happy. And make sure to give reward them when they follow your instruction.
Now you can play with them as they chew on the toy.
Or they might want to play with the toy itself. And get you involved. Playing fetch or snaking the toy along the ground will teach your puppy what is okay to bite.
Do Not Engage In Rough Play
It’s important to understand that rough play with your puppy can cause them to lunge and bite at you.
This isn’t abnormal to see when two puppies are playing together. They get overexcited and forget their own strength.
This is why introducing a toy into your playtime will redirect their lunging onto the toy.
Puppies tend to get overly excited when you’re on their level, such as being on the ground.
They’re excited to be closer to you and will want to play with you, so they’ll lunge at your face. Luckily, curbing this behavior is simple.
Puppies are great fun, and it’s great to spend a lot of time around them when you first bring them home.
However, they’re also bundles of energy and get easily overstimulated. This can result in your puppy lunging for your face, among other undesirable behaviors.
While, for the most part, your pup’s intentions are likely positive, that doesn’t mean it is something you can or should expect.
Luckily, with some training and distraction, you’ll be able to stop this lunging behavior quickly.
And you will want to do so.
Nobody wants a face-lunging dog!
It’s worth enough with a pup!
Have other questions about puppy biting or other related behavior? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Bite His Tail?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite His Paws?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite Me When I Pet Him?
- Why Does My Puppy Growl When I Pick Him Up?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite My Ears?
- Why Does My Puppy Have Hiccups?
- Why Does My Puppy Pee In Her Sleep?
- Why Does My Puppy Lick My Feet?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.