Why Does My Puppy Bite My Older Dog’s Face? [How To Play Bitey Face]

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Do you notice your puppy biting your older dog’s face, cheek, scruff, and neck while making growly noises, showing teeth, and in general making the most menacing looks and sounds a dog can muster?

Do you ever watch this situation and wonder why does my puppy bite my older dog’s face?

To the untrained eye, it sometimes looks like a dog fight, but make no mistake these two (Raven and Archer in the pic above) are having the time of their lives.

We like to call this game Bitey Face and it can be played anyplace at any time (not just in a doggy bed made for one).

My puppy bites my older dog in the face!? What's Going On?
My puppy bites my older dog in the face!? What’s Going On?

So what exactly is Bitey Face?

QUICK TIP: Even if your pup’s like playing Bitey Face you may not want them engaging in this activity. One thing we do when we want Bitey Face to end is put our two puppies on a tie-down with their favorite chew toy. One of their favorites are Bully Sticks.

How To Play Bitey Face

You’ll notice your puppies will engage in this game on their own and generally follow the rules in the list below…

  1. You need at least two dogs/puppies to play this game.
  2. Rough play is the norm.
  3. Grabbing cheeks, necks, scruff, and faces is all part of the game.
  4. Growling noises while showing teeth is commonplace.
  5. The game of Bitey Face looks and sounds very scary, but most of the time it’s harmless play.
  6. Remember, a game of Bitey Face can escalate so you always want to keep an eye on the players.

Does this sound like the same game you mentioned when you were wondering why your puppy bites your older dog’s face?

Being a puppy Archer doesn’t have the best social skills and he tries to engage the other dogs in our house in games of Bitey Face.  Here are the reactions of my other three dogs:

Linus vs Archer

Linus will play the game, but he has his limits and you can see as well as hear his mood change when he’s done playing.

Archer will test Linus’ limits, but it’s sometimes wiser for the humans to get involved.

Make sure you (the human) break up play if you see a change in either dog’s mood.

Stetson vs Archer

Archer will try to engage Stetson in a game of Bitey Face but to no avail.

Stetson simply runs away or ignores Archer till he stops bothering him. (see just like in crate training, ignoring your puppy’s unwanted behavior actually works!)

Raven vs Archer

While Linus has his limits and Stetson calls “no joy” Raven will indulge Archer for a full 12 rounds of Bitey Face.

They will go head to head like a bout between Ali and Foreman. It’s the Rumble In The Jungle Baby!

Raven teaching Archer the Art of Bitey Face.
Raven teaching Archer the Art of Bitey Face.

How Are Humans Involved in A Game of Bitey Face

QUICK TIP: Another way to break up a game of Bitey Face is by separating your puppies and giving them both a puzzle toy to play with like the Dog Brick Puzzle Toy by Nina Ottosson.

If your dogs engage in Bitey Face it’s usually harmless, but you still want to keep an eye on your dogs to make sure a real fight doesn’t break out.

Here are a few things to keep watch for:

Watch your dog’s body language.  You might want to break things up if:

  • Either dog looks tense, moving stiffly, or staring.
  • Dog’s ears, mouths, and tongues are not in a relaxed position.
  • One dog appears to be trying to get away from the other dog.
  • One dog is always on the top of the doggy pile.

Rough play will sometimes go on for too long and one of the combatants can get overstimulated or aggravated with the other.

Not all dogs enjoy playing bitey face.

Always keep a close eye on your dog anytime he plays with other dogs.

If he’s playing bitey face make sure to break up play every once in a while to give the dogs a break.

A great way to break up a game of bitey face is by drawing your puppy’s attention away with his favorite toy or chew.

The Milunova Pupr Pals Dog Toy is a plush puppet toy that will protect your hand with its bite resistant layer, just in case your puppy comes over with a little too much enthusiasm.

If your dog is still overstimulated you can try leashing him or putting him on a tie-down and giving him a chew like a Himalayan Dog Chew until he calms down.

That’s Bitey Face! So, how about your dogs?

Does your puppy grab your older dog’s face, neck, and cheek?

Do your puppies enjoy a good game of Bitey Face?

Tell us a little about the doggy games your furry friends like to play in the comment section below.

UPDATE: We’ve learned over time that friendly games of bitey face can often escalate. A quick tip for puppies engaging in bitey face is to remove collars so your puppy’s jaw does not get stuck in the collar of the other puppy. You also might notice that some puppies modify the game by also biting and dragging the other puppy by the collar.

Another safety measure is to use the PetSafe Break Away Collar which will break free if the collar happens to get snagged on a puppy’s teeth or any other object like a kennel, fence, bush, crate, etc. 

Keep your puppies safe and always supervise playtime.

Why does my puppy bite my older dog in the face? Raven teaches Archer how to play bitey face. Here are some puppy biting training tips when a puppy engages an older dog in a game of bitey face. Of course we want to make sure everyone is safe and the game doesn’t escalate into a dog fight. #puppybiting #puppybitingtrainingtips #puppybitingstop #puppybites #puppybitesolderdog #biteyface
Why does my puppy bite my older dog in the face?

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  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
  2. BEST DOG CHEW
    We Like: Bones & Chews Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
  3. BEST DOG TREATS
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
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Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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73 Comments

  1. The grammar police just could not help themselves from (needlessly) commenting on this article. Sigh. First, thank you for the article. For some people, such as those with dyslexia, spelling and grammar will always be an issue. Second, and more importantly, I fully understood and appreciated the explanations and suggestions being made and felt no such frustration about grammatical errors. We have a new puppy trying to play bitey face with our older dog and couldn’t tell how much was play vs aggression. The suggestions here will be very helpful in ensuring play doesn’t turn into a fight.

  2. What if new puppy always wants to play bites face but older dog never wants to. Do I just never have them play together? As it is I’m always keeping puppy on a leash to deter the bitey face game from starting.

  3. I am not trying to be rude, but I do have to tell you what I thought when I read this. This was a decent article from a content perspective, but the grammar and spelling are really frustrating for the reader. There are so many mistakes in this article!
    Professional proofreading should be a standard step before publishing. You are in the communication business and should really attempt to communicate clearly. Basic spelling and grammar are communication 101.

    1. Thank you for being so polite. I totally agree with you that every article on this site needs professional proof reading. Unfortunately, writing, grammar, spelling have never been my strong suit and this blog was originally only meant to be a way to update my friends and family about the puppies I was raising for guide and service dog schools. I recently implemented advertisements and affiliates to help recoup expenses and the site is now showing a profit. Among other things getting an editor/proofreader is on my to do list. Hopefully I can get most of the articles on the site updated in the coming weeks/months.

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