If you have ever owned a puppy, no matter what breed they are, you have probably noticed that they are full of energy!
Puppies are very independent and fun; but, for some owners, it is hard for them to manage their puppy’s behavior when they get overly excited and energetic.
Excitement is the number one reason puppies will lunge at their owners’ faces. They usually aren’t trying to hurt them, they are only playing; however, it is best to stop this behavior early on so that problems don’t occur later on.
If you are curious to know why your puppy lunges at you or other people/animals, and the different steps you can take to stop this from happening, then keep reading to learn more!
Why does My Puppy Lunge at Me?
If you have a puppy who frequently lunges at your face, you have probably wondered why this is happening.
There are several reasons why puppies will lunge at their owner or other people’s faces. Some of the most common reasons they will do this are because they are playing, restless, or they are showing aggression.
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While these are the main reasons that puppies will begin lunging, there are underlying reasons why puppies will behave this way, let’s break down each of these:
There are several ways to determine if your puppy is lunging out of pure playfulness, or if they are irritated and showing aggression, body language is one of the most important to take notice of when trying to determine the difference.
If your puppy is wagging its tail, running around excitedly, rolling over, and then lunging — it is likely that they are only playing. You may notice different physical behaviors/indicators if your puppy is lunging out of aggression.
You may also notice that the puppy showing multiple different behaviors than just trying to lunge (like the ones listed previously), these actions are all good indicators that your puppy is just playing.
If your puppy is a more energetic breed that requires a lot of exercise and attention (such as Labs, Retrievers, Shepherds, Huskies, etc.), you may notice that they begin to lunge at your face, and sometimes bite, because they are restless or bored; the quickest way to prevent this behavior for restless dog is to get them active!
TIP: You could try giving them a bone or toy to play with, a simple distraction will typically get them occupied enough to not try lunging again.
Sometimes puppies will also lunge at their owner’s face solely for attention, it may be that your dog is restless and bored and wants attention, so they resort to this behavior.
Restlessness also goes hand-in-hand with a puppy becoming uncomfortable. If a puppy is uncomfortable, it may react by lunging; this usually happens with strangers or other dogs.
Another reason puppies will lunge at their owner’s face is if they are showing aggression. Thankfully, it is typically fairly easy to stop this behavior if you start working on preventing it early on in the puppy’s life.
While it isn’t super common for puppies to show much aggression, it can still happen, and it is important to stop it as soon as possible.
One common reason puppies will begin to show aggression is if they have experienced trauma or lived in a bad environment early on in life, they may react to stress and change by lunging or biting.
Keep in mind that both dogs and puppies may act aggressively out of pain or underlying health issues. If you are concerned about your dog’s health and are wondering why they are behaving aggressively, it is best to visit a vet who can help you determine what the cause is, and what to do next.
NOTE: Puppies will oftentimes experience pain from teething, they may lunge or bite as a way of dealing with their teeth pain; they are not trying to be aggressive but are reacting that way because of pain and discomfort — Try giving them chew toys meant for puppy teething!
A lot of times puppies aren’t necessarily showing aggression but are instead, asserting their dominance. Dogs are known to show their dominance towards other dogs, but a lot of times this goes unnoticed when it comes to humans.
Lunging is one of the top ways to tell if your puppy is trying to assert its dominance over you. There are also several other ways to tell if your puppy is going to have a dominant personality, here are several common ways to tell:
- If your puppy doesn’t follow commands well
- Territorial over toys or food
- Aggressive with food
- Herding behavior (such as nipping)
- Obsessive Licking
- Hostile towards certain situations
- Doesn’t like eye contact from humans or other animals
- Growling, snarling, or obsessive barking
- Being constantly in others personal space (either humans or other animals)
You may notice that your puppy simply “doesn’t listen,” this may be because they are trying to assert their dominance, in their mind, they aren’t going to do what they are told no matter what.
Lastly, genetics can play a big factor in whether or not a puppy will be aggressive. If one or both of your puppy’s parents were/are aggressive, your puppy may have inherited some of these qualities as well.
NOTE: If the parent of you puppy lunges and your puppy is around them frequently, it is likely that the puppy will also pick up on the lunging behavior as well.
Just like it is easy to tell if a puppy is lunging out of playfulness, it is also easy to tell if they are doing it because of aggression. If they are growling, snarling, etc. this is usually a sign that they are being aggressive and not playful.
Why Does My Puppy Constantly Lunge at My Face?
A lot of times puppies who lunge out of aggression will only show this behavior once in a while; however, puppies who lunge out of playfulness are more likely to do this multiple times/consistently.
Puppies are learning the difference between right and wrong behavior at a young age, they want to see how far they can push their owners until they get in trouble. This is why some puppies will seem as if they are constantly lunging at you.
Have you ever been near a puppy who just won’t stop jumping on you? This is the same thing; they are going to keep up their lunging behavior until they are told to stop or are scolded for their behavior.
As mentioned previously, puppies will oftentimes lunge if they are wanting their owner’s attention, this can become a big problem for dog breeds that suffer from separation anxiety (such as Shepherds, Border Collies, Bichon Frise, Poodles, etc.).
Thankfully, there are many ways to stop this behavior from happening, and as long as you keep consistency, your dog shouldn’t lunge at your face ever again.
NOTE: It is important to stop lunging behavior while your dog is still a puppy, that way it isn’t harder to train them out of these habits once they are older.
Why Does My Puppy Only Lunge at My Face at Night?
Like most habits and behaviors, a lot of times dogs will only lunge at certain times; whether that be during the day, at night, only in stressful situations, when they are ready to play, etc.
A lot of puppy owners have said that their dog only lunges at their face at night, this is usually because they have a build-up of energy that needs to be let out.
Most owners leave their puppy alone at some point during the day or work full-time jobs where they can’t be home at all. But, when we are gone from our pups, what do they do? They usually sleep, roam around, and are bored unless they entertain themselves with toys, another dog in the house, etc.
Chances are, if your puppy is only lunging at your face at night, it is because they are releasing their pent-up energy and excitement from the day if they didn’t have anyone there to play with them and didn’t get any social interaction from other people or dogs.
NOTE: A lot of puppy owners have agreed that their pups sleep A LOT during the day!
Here are some tips to eliminate this energetic nighttime behavior:
- Take your puppy outside/on a walk before bed — this will likely wear them out to where they won’t have any more energy left to try and lunge and become excited/hyper at nighttime.
- Don’t let your puppy sleep on the bed with you — Sometimes puppies become very excited when they get to sleep in the same bed as their owners, if your puppy is only lunging at your face at night, try removing them from the bed where they can’t reach you as easily.
NOTE: By doing this, they may also realize that not being allowed on the bed is a form of punishment, and they won’t be as likely to lunge at your face anymore.
- Distractions — Give your puppy a distraction that will wear them out before bed, whether that be a chew toy, a bone, a nighttime snack, playing fetch for a while, etc.
Puppies have also been known to only lunge at nighttime because they may not only be energized, but also overwhelmed.
Most of the time, nights are when a lot of action occurs. For example; you might have guests over, there might be loud children running around, etc.
These can all cause a puppy to become overwhelmed, and, as a result, they may begin lunging and biting to release their energy, stress, etc.
How do I Stop My Puppy from Lunging at My Face?
When a puppy begins having bad behavior, owners typically try and fix this issue as quickly as possible. With puppies, it is better to change a bad habit/behavior earlier than later.
When it comes to lunging, there are several useful methods that seem to make puppies stop this behavior.
Here are some of the most common ways puppy owners have broken their pup’s habit of lunging:
- Don’t let the puppy get too excited — Lunging behavior will usually start if a puppy gets really excited; try not to roughhouse with your puppy, and if you notice them getting hyper, try calming them down as quickly as possible.
- Don’t cave into your puppy’s behavior — A lot of times it is easy to cave into our puppy’s behavior because they are so cute; however, if you begin doing this, it is likely that you will have more issues with your puppy later on.
TIP: Simply ignoring your puppy’s lunging behavior is oftentimes the best way to get them to stop. They will eventually know that you aren’t going to pay attention if they are acting that way; they will settle down when they realize that lunging is not going to get them what they want.
- Training — Training is always the best way to get a puppy to stop a bad habit/behavior. Positive Reinforcement training is one of the best ways to get a puppy to stop lunging. If they know they will be rewarded, they will listen and learn quickly.
- Don’t react abruptly — Reacting to this behavior in an abrupt way will sometimes only provoke the puppy more to behave this way, they know they are getting your attention.
- Don’t provoke rough play — One of the biggest mistakes puppy owners can make is encouraging them to play roughly. Don’t encourage your puppy’s lunging behavior, this could cause them to become aggressive later on in life.
- Redirect their rough play — If your puppy is playing by lunging, instead of you trying to play with them, throw them a toy, play fetch, or another activity that keeps them from being so close to you
NOTE: Instead of wanting to jump/lunge on you, they will go after the toy instead.
- Pick up your puppy — Sometimes simply picking up your puppy can teach them not to lunge, they will begin to learn that the owner is in control.
- Socialize them early — A lot of times puppies will lunge at either their owner(s) or other people/dogs if they are not socialized enough. Dogs are very good about teaching one another, if your puppy doesn’t get a lot of social interaction, they will think that lunging is okay.