My dog jumps and bites when playing – what can I do?

my dog jumps and bites when playing

Does your dog like to jump and bite you when you’re playing with him?

That’s certainly one of the more frustrating behaviors. Not to mention weird.

Your dog loves playing. So, why would he want to hurt you when you’re doing him a favor?

Well, let’s look at that question in more detail.

Why does my dog jump and bite me when playing?

Dogs are so cute, especially when they play! Playing with your dog is a great way to help tire him out and ensure he gets the exercise he needs.

It’s also a great way to help build the bond between the two of you. Along with all of that, playing is a super fun activity for both you and your dog.

But sometimes playing with your dog can present some challenges. A very common issue during playtime is that dogs tend to jump up and start biting.

Don’t worry, if this sounds like your situation, there are ways to train a dog not to jump on you or others.

But before we get into that, we need to talk about why your dog is jumping and biting while playing in the first place!

Why does my dog bite when he gets excited?

Generally, biting is not considered a desirable behavior for dogs. But biting is also a very natural behavior.

This is because your dog’s mouth is the way he experiences the world. A dog’s mouth is sort of like the equivalent of our hands. It’s how he picks things up, checks them out, and understands the way the world works.

When he gets excited, your dog or pup may start getting mouthier. This is because he’s feeling a little more engaged with the world around him, and wants to interact with it more.

And, since you’re the closest thing to him, you might be the first thing he aims for!

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Why does my dog bite when playing?

If you’ve ever watched two dogs play together, then you already know that it involves a lot of mouthing. Playing is super exciting, so it makes sense that they would get mouthier.

When dogs play with each other, it primarily involves their mouths. This is okay for them, because they have a layer of fur protecting them from each other’s chompers.

But you don’t!

Your skin is much more vulnerable than a dog’s. Unfortunately, that’s not something that your dog necessarily understands.

He may have also learned that biting you makes you even more excited. The way you react to the biting could be encouraging the behavior. Sometimes a dog bites simply because it wants that attention. And if you give your dog that attention, even if it’s negative attention, that’s still rewarding him with what he’s looking for.

The same goes for a lot of other attention-seeking behavior, like when your dog won’t stop pawing at you! It’s really best not to reward that behavior.

my dog jumps and bites when playing

Why does my dog get aggressive when playing?

Biting and jumping are not usually aggressive behaviors, especially if they’re showing up during playtime. But sometimes they can be a sign of aggression in your dog.

It’s normal for dogs to jump, bite, growl, and paw at you during playtime. But if the biting is very fast and painful, his body language is stiff, or he’s showing other signs, he might be getting aggressive.  

If you think your dog is becoming aggressive during playtime, it’s important to stop right away. Your dog might be seeing your actions as aggressive themselves, and he’s becoming defensive because it’s stressing him out.

An aggressive dog can be dangerous to both himself and others. Stop engaging in the behavior that’s causing him to become aggressive, and work with him to try and curb the behavior.

How to stop a dog from jumping and biting when playing?

Jumping and mouthing is normal behavior for dogs, especially when playing. But that doesn’t mean it’s something you like, or want to continue to have happen!

If you’re looking for ways to stop this behavior, here are a few tips that will help.

Immediately stop the fun when your dog jumps and bites

When dogs get super excited, they’ll probably look for ways to keep that excitement going. Playing with you is super fun and engaging, and your dog wants it to keep going more than anything.

That means that the best way to stop behavior like biting and jumping is to make the game less fun. As soon as your dog starts jumping up on you and biting, then stop playing.

If you do this consistently, then it shouldn’t take long for your dog to learn that jumping and mouthing means no more fun. He’ll learn that if he wants to keep having a good time, he needs to play more respectfully!

For puppies: yelp and walk away

This trick may not work on older dogs, but for young puppies it can be effective.

If you’ve ever watched puppies play together, then you may have seen something interesting happen. When one puppy bites another a little too hard during playtime, the bitten puppy will yelp and stop playing.

This is how puppies learn to play gently with each other. You can use the same trick for your own puppy.

If he bites you, give a little yelp and then get up and walk away. Your puppy will soon understand that if he bites, he doesn’t get to keep playing.

Be aware that this may not work with older dogs, since he might associate the yelp with a squeaky toy and get even more excited.

Give him a time out

Sometimes it’s easy to get a dog to stop mouthing and jumping. But sometimes your dog might just be a little too worked up. In these cases, a time out may be necessary.

If your dog just can’t seem to be able to control himself, then sending him to his crate for a few minutes can help. This will give him a chance to calm down and hopefully remember his manners again!

If you’re interested in crate training but you’re not sure where to start, check out how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.

Don’t hype him up

Your dog is super intuitive. He can pick up on your emotions, and will use that as a way to decide how he should be reacting.

If you’re acting super excited and loud, then your dog will do the same.

This means that you need to model the right behavior for your dog. It also means that your own behavior is the best way to prevent his mouthing and jumping in the first place.

You can and certainly should play with your dog. But make sure you do your best not to hype him up too much if you want to prevent unwanted behavior.

Play calmer games

If your dog just struggles to keep himself calm and in control during playtime, then you may want to look at the types of games you’re playing.

Are they super high-energy and encourage him to run around?

If they are, then choosing some calmer games will help. You can still play high-energy games, but consider shortening the length of time you’re playing them.

Looking for some more relaxed games to play with your dog but not sure what to do? Take a look at these 10 brain games for dogs to play at home for a little inspiration.

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How do you tell if a dog is playing or being aggressive?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a dog’s behavior is out of excitement or aggression. Most dogs will jump, bark, bite, and growl when they’re playing. This is completely normal, and not usually anything to be worried about.

But if they’re accompanied by other signs of aggression, then you may have an aggressive dog on your hands. If he’s becoming aggressive, your dog will likely stiffen, bare his teeth at you, or start guarding food and toys.

For more information on dog aggression, make sure you check out these related articles:

Why does my dog jump and bite when excited?

Dogs tend to jump up and bite when they get a little overstimulated. When dogs get too excited, they tend to lose control of themselves.

This means that your dog might start jumping up and biting if he’s getting too amped up. He might also be just trying to get your attention, or he’s trying to get you to play with him.

This behavior might also pop up when your dog gets too excited about visitors in your home, even if he’s normally pretty chill!

If this is an issue you and your dog have been struggling with, make sure to check out these articles:

my dog jumps and bites when playing

My dog jumps and bites while walking, what can I do?

Walking your dog is supposed to be enjoyable for both you and your dog. But if he’s jumping around and biting you or his leash, that makes it a lot less fun!

But don’t worry, there are ways you can help your dog learn to walk more politely. Take a look at How to Stop a Dog from Biting the Leash for more information. And also check out why does my dog jump and bite while walking to understand him better.


Playing with your dog is supposed to be fun, but it gets a lot less fun when that playing hurts you! If your dog has issues with jumping and biting during playtime, then don’t worry. There are ways you can help him.

Just make sure to be patient while training, remain consistent, and you’ll teach your dog that playing needs to be fun for both of you—not just for him!

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