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Why Does My Puppy Jump & Bite Me On Walks?

You’ve got a new puppy and thought walking them would be fun and simple,

Yet, your puppy is constantly jumping up and biting you while on walks… So, what is going on, and why is your puppy trying to eat you alive?

I’ll explain everything you need to know about this weird and annoying behavior… Let’s get right into the most common reasons.

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6 Reasons Why Your Puppy Jumps Up & Bites You on Walks

There are several reasons why your puppy might be engaging in this behavior. Every situation will be different, so it could be one or a combination of things causing your puppy to do this.

To identify the cause, owners must consider things like daily routine, breed, stimulation levels, time of day, previous training, as well as how you react to the jumping and biting. This will all become clear once I start explaining the reasons.

1. Excitement & Play

Perhaps the most innocent reason is genuine excitement and wanting to play. Some puppies will just be so happy and excited to be going outside that it causes them to act erratically.

Puppies that are particularly energetic and hyper usually don’t know how to handle their own energy. This often results in some wild behavior. Jumping up and biting you being one of them.

Is this relevant to you?

This most likely applies to puppies of certain breeds known for being particularly hyperactive and bouncy. It can also be the result of puppies that aren’t sufficiently stimulated throughout the day.

2. Getting Your Attention

Another common reason why puppies jump and bite you on walks is to get your attention.

It’s important to remember, there’s almost no difference between “good and bad” attention for puppies. Any attention is good attention.

So If they can provoke you enough to get a reaction, then this counts as attention. And what better way to get a reaction than jumping and biting you while you need them to walk nicely!? Purina Attention Seeking Behavior

Is this relevant to you?

This most likely applies to puppies that are lacking attention from their owners throughout the day. This could be caused by being left alone too long, or not actually receiving real engagement like training and playing.

3. No Leash Training

Although some puppies do not need leash training, many of them do. If your puppy hasn’t had much practice walking on the leash yet, this could certainly be the reason.

While some breeds take to it naturally, many puppies will not understand the concept of walking nicely next to their owner on a leash. At such a young age, they don’t even know what a leash is!

The leash itself can be daunting for many puppies. Being attached to something they’ve never seen before, can trigger fear, anxiety, or playtime.

Is this relevant to you?

This is most commonly a problem for very young puppies that are just starting to go outside on the leash. If your puppy has already successfully walked on the leash in the past, this probably isn’t a relevant cause to your situation.

4. Accidental Reinforcement

Believe it or not, it’s really easy to accidentally reinforce the behavior you don’t want to happen! This happens all the time in many situations.

This also ties into receiving attention, as I explained above. The problem with giving reactions is that many pups actually enjoy the reaction, whether we are happy or seemingly frustrated with them…

If we give our puppies the reaction they intended to get, this reinforces to them that whatever they did, worked! Puppies always remember this.

Is this relevant to you?

This depends on how long the behavior has been happening and how you typically react to it. If you react by giving a lot of attention to your puppy then it could be having an effect.

If you have ever reacted to this kind of behavior inside the home by suddenly petting and giving positive attention (like many of us do) then this certainly could have stuck in your pup’s mind as the right thing to do.

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5. Stress, Anxiety, or Fear

If your puppy is stressed, anxious or fearful this can cause them to jump up. They may be jumping up at you in the hope you pick them up…

Sometimes, even going outside can be overwhelming for some timid puppies. Not to mention if they are around a lot of other dogs or have had a bad past experience.

Keep a close eye on your puppy and try to notice any patterns in the jumping/biting behavior. Owners might come to realize this behavior only starts happening at a certain point (after seeing another dog approaching etc). PetMD Dog Fear & Anxiety

Is this relevant to you?

I would say this has a lot to do with previous socialization experience or any traumatic events that have happened outside.

If your pup was attacked or had a scary encounter with another dog, this may be the original trigger. OR it could just be that you have a very young puppy who is yet to be fully comfortable being outside around other people and dogs (under socialized).

6. Frustration

It’s not uncommon for puppies to get frustrated the moment they go on the leash. Which is heavily tied to having a lack of leash training.

Excited puppies may feel that the leash is stopping them from exploring and is limiting their movement to the point it frustrated them.

The classic reaction to frustration is to “complain” to the owner. This results in constant pestering, jumping, whining, and even biting you.

Is this relevant to you?

If your puppy is new to the harness and leash, or has never learned to walk sensibly on it, then this could be the cause.

This may also tie into being understimulated and having too much energy at home. A puppy that’s already well-stimulated and leash trained at the time of a walk, will rarely jump and bite their owner.

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7 Proven Ways To Stop Your Puppy Jumping & Biting On Walks

Thankfully, there are many ways to stop this behavior. Just keep in mind, behavior that has been happening a while can take longer to resolve.

If you’ve identified a specific trigger that you are sure to be the main cause, then addressing that trigger would be the best thing to do.

But for many owners, identifying a single trigger may not be possible. Therefore, it’s best to tackle this behavior with a combination of tactics. Try to implement as many of the following ideas below to help curb this behavior more effectively.

1. Release energy before walks

An excellent way to reduce general nerves and hyper behavior is to help your puppy release energy BEFORE taking them out. This is easier for those with private yards.

Take your pup outside in the yard and give them 10 minutes of fetch (or flirt pole action). Allow them 5 minutes rest to calm down a little, then pop on their harness and leash.

This tip alone can work wonders. Getting out some of their pent up energy/boredom before you expect them to walk sensibly is exactly where I would start first. (if you don’t have a yard, try your best to do this inside).

2. Reward sensible walking

Whenever your puppy walks sensibly be sure to reward them for that. This sounds minor, but it’s actually quite important.

We owners are quick to react to behavior we don’t like, but easily forget to pay attention when everything is going smoothly.

Even if your puppy walks 10 steps in a calm sensible way, briefly stop, give them a “good boy/girl” and one of their favorite treats (keep treats tiny).

It won’t take long before your puppy understands this pattern: they get rewarded for walking sensibly, not for walking crazily. This is positive reinforcement at it’s finest, and it’s very effective.

3. Avoid direct punishment or reactions

From now on, whenever your puppy jumps up while walking. Just stop in your tracks and look ahead for 15 seconds or so.

Don’t react by bending down, shouting or pulling on the lead. This kind of reaction will either satisfy your puppy’s desire for attention OR provoke them in a negative way (fear, high stress, defensive aggression).

By simply stopping and looking forward, your puppy is receiving the message that when they jump and bite, the walk stops. And the one thing a puppy wants, is to keep on going.

4. Carry out daily command training

One thing all owners should be doing is providing command training on a daily basis. Basic command training is seriously underestimated, yet it can prevent so much bad behavior!

By running through the basics like “sit, stay, down, wait, come, and drop” our puppies not only learn valuable skills, but it builds up their general understanding of good behavior and forever strengthens your position as the leader.

All puppies love to test their owners which is why general command training is so important. Puppies that quickly establish some level of respect and obedience are far less likely to act up in ALL areas of daily routine.

5. Provide more stimulation throughout the day

It’s certainly worth providing more mental stimulation throughout the day.

Stimulation can come in the form of training, playing with interactive puzzle toys, snuffle mats, flirt poles, and even just from engaging with your puppy more.

This is another tip that can potentially prevent a wide range of behavioral issues across the board.

One thing many owners overlook is just how bored and frustrated puppies can get throughout the day. Especially if they are left alone for any duration of time. Pups need to be entertained and stimulated, otherwise havok ensues. Veterinarians.org

6. Practice leash walking at home

The more you use the leash with your puppy, the quicker you can rectify bad behavior.

Start leashing training at home, inside or outside, wherever you have a small amount of space.

For very young puppies, leash training can start before you even put it on them… Simply laying it down in their area and letting them inspect it can be enough.

Once your puppy is not spooked or nervous with the leash, pop it on and practice walking across the room. Set your puppy up for success by walking 5 steps, before stopping and rewarding.

Do this as many times as you feel necessary before actually taking them outside in public.

Remember, whenever your puppy acts up, try not to react directly. Simply stop the walk, look ahead, and wait until they settle before going again. Always reward sensible walking after.

7. Encourage more interactions with friendly dogs

Something you can do when you are already out on the walk, is to encourage plenty of positive interactions with friendly dogs.

Don’t be worried about asking other owners if their dog is friendly. It’s a perfectly acceptable thing to ask another owner.

If they say their dog is friendly then take a moment to stop and encourage some doggy socialization. Not only is this a potent source of mental stimulation, but it will begin reducing a lot of fear and anxiety your puppy might have on the way to the dog park. This could be playing a huge part in the jumping and biting beforehand.

Socialization is such a critical part of raising a well-behaved, friendly, calm puppy. It’s wise for owners to take every opportunity they can to increase it.

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Do You Need To Correct This Behavior?

Many puppy owners ask me if this behavior will resolve on it’s own or if they can just let it slide…

Although sometimes the behavior might resolve on it’s own it’s best not to leave that down to chance. Once behaviors like this set in, they typically only get worse.

Behavior like jumping, especially biting, can often progress into more severe issues like aggression and aloofness, in addition to reinforcing any stress and anxiety that comes along with it.

Correcting this behavior is without a doubt the best thing, and I wouldn’t recommend any owner to let this behavior slide.

Plus, the longer this behavior continues, the harder it will be to resolve. So we may as well do it now!

Thanks for reading! Back to The Puppy Mag



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