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Play-biting In Adult Dogs

Play-biting is normal for puppies, but much less common in adult dogs. However, sometimes a dog has been encouraged to play-bite and use people as toys from an early age, and has never learnt any other way to play. Some dogs may even have been encouraged to play fight and bite hard by irresponsible owners.



This section is for adolescent or adult dogs.  If you have a puppy that is less than 6 months old, the section on 'Puppy Play-biting' will be more appropriate for you.

  • Play biting

Ouch!! Why are you biting me?

When they play-bite, dogs are not trying to hurt you. Instead the biting is a clumsy attempt to invite or goad you into playing. With strong adult jaws and teeth, adult dogs are capable of inflicting considerable damage to skin and muscle as they tug, rag, and bite at our limbs and clothes, especially during times of high excitement.

Are you sure it is just play?

Play-biting in adult dogs usually occurs during periods of excitement, such as when owners arrive home or when people are moving fast around them. The dog may bark in excitement, leap excitedly, or may play bow if behind a barrier, and will make lively attempts to get to you.


If a determined dog becomes frustrated that you will not play (or run or squeak!), they may try to goad you into moving by running at you repeatedly, biting or grabbing at you when they get close.


Although their intention is play, adult dogs play with an intensity that makes it difficult to tell if it is just play-biting or real aggression. If in doubt, seek assistance from a professional pet behaviourist.

How do I stop it?

To achieve a long-term cure for play-biting, you need to successfully teach your dog to play with toys instead. As well as this, you will need strategies for preventing, and keeping safe from, play-bites until he is converted onto toys. Once he is playing well with toys, you will also need a way to let him know that it is unacceptable to bite any part of your body and clothing. Special care needs to be taken if there are elderly, infirm or children in the household. A good diet, plenty of exercise and mental stimulation will also help.  

Need more?

For dogs that biting defensively or for reasons other than play-biting, go toAggression to People' 


If your dog is less than 6 months of age, go to Puppy Play-biting’

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