Dog Suddenly Bites When You Pet Him – Top 3 Reasons Why

Biting isn’t always a sign of aggression. Biting comes with many different nuances. It’s important for dog owners to understand the different causes and motivation to determine if the biting is harmless or harmful. Here are the most common reasons for dogs that suddenly bite when you try to pet them.

1. Your dog is play biting

The dog could be feeling excited when you try to pet him or her. They may try to return the affection by play biting your hand. You will know if this is the case by checking other parts of your dog’s body language and from the pressure of the bite. Dog aggression can be seen in many forms. You could see it as play biting if the bite is gentle and the dog isn’t showing signs such as a raised tail or forward-pointing ears.

2. Your dog is sick

Sudden changes in behaviors are frequently linked to health issues. Your dog might be feeling vulnerable because he is feeling sick. The dog might not want anyone to touch him while he is feeling sick, even if it’s coming from trusted family members. The dog might even feel some pain when you try to pet him.

3. Your dog is uncomfortable

Is your dog also growing when you try to pet him? Don’t ignore the growl. This would most likely mean your dog is uncomfortable with what’s about to happen. The motivation for growling and biting isn’t always clear especially if it isn’t due to health reasons. Your dog, perhaps had a bad experience of being petted by someone else.

The way you are trying to pet your dog may also give him little time to react. Your dog, for example, might try to bite you if you pet him from behind. Petting from the front, however, may be perfectly fine as the dog sees your approach. A certified dog behaviorist may be able to better deduce the dog’s motivation for biting if you are at loss as to why this is happening.

How to stop a dog from biting when petting him

This biting behavior, even if it’s for harmless reasons such as play-biting, isn’t something you would your dog to continue as it sets as a bad precedence. The first step is to make sure there are no underlying health problems that’s causing your dog to bite when you try to pet him.

If you believe the biting is associated with aggression, you need to start figuring out the potential motivations behind the behavior. Start noting down when your dog tries to bite. After some time, you may be able to notice a common pattern. You can then take these learnings to a professional dog trainer to figure out a plan for changing the dog’s behavior. Whatever you do, never punish the dog when he or she tries to bite you. This will only make the problem worse.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


  • zahra hosaini | 22/10/2021

    My dog tried to lunge at me and he wouldn’t stop growling but this wasn’t a play with me growl it was more of a he actual wanted to bite me! I could see it in his eyes, what should i do? This is my first dog ive had him since he was a pup his never ever done this to me before, everyone use to get shocked of how close i was with my dog but now he doesnt even let me pat him and its not one specific spot its anywhere i try to touch. oh and his 1 and a half his breed is bullmastiff x blue nose.

  • Dani | 20/04/2022

    I’m dealing with a similar situation and I really just want to get rid of the dog.

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