Why Does My Puppy Lunge At My Face? | How To Train Them Not To

When puppy owners adopt a new puppy, they often envision a cute bundle of joy who follows them around, loves chasing his tail, and plays with the quintessential toilet paper roll. Who can blame them? It’s what is often portrayed in movies and shows. But the reality is far from that. 

Puppies have a big tendency to misbehave. If not taken care of correctly, they can even be aggressive and lunge at other dogs or strangers. Worse, puppies sometimes lunge at your face too! So if you are not running in hiding already, then probably you’re asking yourself: Why does my puppy lunge at my face? And how do I train him not to? 

Most puppies get in your face to show how excited they are to see you. Yes! Most of the time it’s not a sign of aggression but actually to show love and affection. No puppy will lunge at its owner’s face to hurt them. Other than to show affection, your puppy may be lunging at you because they are bored, he wanted you to do something or you accidentally rewarded this behavior before. 

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Aside from what is mentioned above, there are several other reasons why your puppy lunges at your face. If this behavior started when you first adopted your puppy, then this behavior would more likely be due to factors such as being overexcited, attempting to meet you, or not having been properly trained to refrain from doing so. However, if your puppy just started this behavior recently, then there is a trigger behind it. Knowing when your puppy started this behavior will help you identify what’s really causing it. Did you stop training him before he started this behavior? Have you been busy lately? Did you give him treats after the first time he lunged at you? What happens before and after the first time your puppy lunges at you will likely be the reason why your puppy keeps doing it. 

 

©HoundGames
  • Attention Seeking

Puppies are extremely affectionate animals, but they also deserve the same level of affection from you. There is no better way to show how you love and care for them than giving them attention. Many pups lunge in front of their owners to seek their attention. If you have not been paying attention to your puppy recently, or if you pay more attention to them if they lunge at you, this could be the cause of this behavior. 

  • Greeting

It’s possible that your puppy is greeting you by lunging on your face. In cases where your puppy only acts in this manner when you return home, it’s likely that your puppy misses you and is lunging at you because he is looking forward to seeing you. In addition to your puppy lunging at your face, he will be bouncing up and down in excitement upon seeing you.

  • Boredom

When your puppy is bored and hasn’t had much exercise recently, he will most likely lunge at you in an attempt to amuse himself.

  • Trying to Get You to Do Something

If your puppy lunges at your face at regular intervals, such as before he eats, before you go for a walk, or before you play with him, he may be giving you a cue to do what you and your dog generally do at that time.

For example: If your puppy lunges at you before you usually feed him, he may be communicating that he is already hungry and that it is time for you to feed him.

  • The Behavior was Reinforced

You may have been encouraging bad behaviors unintentionally by shifting his attention away from what he’s doing, through rewards or giving him attention. Like when your puppy lunges at your face for example. If you have been giving him treats just to get him out of your face, then your puppy has been lunging on your face to get a treat.

After you’ve figured out what’s causing your puppy to lunge at your face, there are a few things you can do to put a stop to it. Continue reading for more information on how to get your dog to stop getting in your face and other additional information.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Getting in Your Face? 

  • Rewarding bad behavior isn’t a good idea

The way you react to your dog when he lunges can make a big difference in whether or not the habit progresses. When he lunges at your face, maintain your composure and avoid giving him any attention. The more subdued and uninteresting your reaction is, the less fun the behavior becomes. Look away and slowly cross your arms until your dog calms. Aside from that, don’t give him treats just to get him out of your hair.

Additionally, do not scream and throw your arms up in the air or push your dog down. Whenever you panic, your pup can interpret it as you playing with him, getting him more excited. 

©Petco
  • Teach your puppy to settle down

Whenever your puppy looks like he is about to lunge at your face, practice having him do something different like sit or lay down instead. Stop whatever interaction you are doing with your puppy. Continue with your steady position and ignore your dog until he calms down. You can reward your dog as soon as he acts calm by stinging or laying down. 

With practice, your puppy will learn that lunging doesn’t work to get attention, but that sitting gets them treats and attention instead!

  • Avoid Roughhousing

A puppy who is accustomed to a lot of roughhousing may come to believe that you enjoy it when he lunges or bites you. Instead of roughhousing, use a toy to engage in interactive play with your dog. In addition, do fetch games and run after a moving object. You can also do ball games and tumbling games.

Tip: Use a signal that tells your dog it’s time to play, such as saying “let’s play!” before you bring out a toy, to keep your dog engaged in a scheduled play session. This allows your dog to tell when you’re available to play and when you’re not.

 

  • Consistency is key

Training dogs requires consistency, and the same holds true if you want to completely remove his habit of lunging at your face. If your puppy continues to lunge at your face, ignore him consistently. Be consistent in ignoring your puppy if he keeps on lunging at your face. Be consistent in giving him treats and encouragement whenever he does good. Be consistent.

Is Your Puppy Lunging Aggressively? 

Puppies lunging at you aggressively is far different from the reasons mentioned above and is a more serious matter. Aggression in most pups is not common, and it is crucial to seek professional assistance if your puppy is displaying aggressive behaviors.

Puppies lunging at you aggressively will often be very stiff and still right before they lunge. They also might growl, and may still wag their tail, although it’s likely to be a very stiff tail wag. Other signs of aggressiveness include snarling, growling, mounting, snapping, nipping, lip curling, dominant body language/play, challenging stance, dead-eye stare, aggressive barking, possessiveness, and persistent biting/mouthing.

©The Humans Society of the United States

What to Do When My Puppy Lunges at Strangers or Other Dogs?

Every time you go for a walk in the park, you are likely to come across strangers and other dogs. This is usually not a hassle unless your dog lunges at other people or animals, which can turn into a sticky situation. Because it is impossible to completely avoid strangers all of the time, there are certain things you can do to keep the situation under control.

  • Teach your dog to perform a different task

Your dog will not be able to lunge at strangers while also obeying your commands at the same time. For example, the command “sit” which is one of the most basic techniques to teach your puppy is ideal in this case. Your dog will not be able to lunge if you teach him to sit around instead!

  • Use treats as distraction

While walking past strangers, you can also use your hand as a treat magnet to draw your dog into your presence. Put a bunch of treats on your palm and hold it by your dog’s side to get them to put their nose right up to it. As you move away from or pass the stranger, slowly uncurl your fingers one at a time, starting with your pinky finger, to allow your pup to enjoy the treats you are offering him. Your pup won’t have time to lunge at a stranger while he is intrigued by these treats. 

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