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PLAY AGGRESSION: Is it playing or is it aggression?

This is a rather difficult term to understand. How can a dog be aggressive when playing?

Even though it seems strange, this nomenclature is used because there may be injuries such as wounds, scratches or bites but caused by unintentional acts,  or lack of impulse control.

The most common way to understand this form of aggression is to think of puppies. Puppies suffer severely from lack of impulse control and what we call poor bite inhibition. What does that mean?

Most puppies love to play, interact, and exercise their primitive behaviors. They haven't received their first basic obedience lessons yet, so they love to bite! Add to that very sharp baby teeth, and there it is! Play Aggression!


As silly as it may sound, there are families who return their puppies because they can't handle this problem. In my own experience, I have dealt with families with young children or elderly people who couldn't handle these puppies biting their hands, arms, and ankles.


Is there a way to solve this problem if my puppy is crazy, and is biting me all the time? Of course, there is!

The first thing is not to become your dog's toy. We love interacting with puppies, but without realizing it, we encourage them to bite us. Are you going to tell me you've never played with a puppy by waving your hand in his face? Or squeezing his nose as he tries to bite you? Or still, letting him bite you because he's just a puppy? Congratulations! You're teaching your puppy to bite you, and you have no right to complain if one day, even if you're kidding, he gets you for real!


Use toys, ropes, squeaky toys that make noise, and teach your puppy to fetch a ball! Enrich his environment with lots of toys that are more interesting than your hand. And please, don't let your puppy feel rewarded every time he bites you.

Marco Magiolo is a bestselling author, trainer, and speaker. Connect with Marco on social media and subscribe to future newsletters and updates.

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