5 Ways a Toy Can Divert Your Puppy From Lunging at Your Face

Check out these five techniques for using toys to promote better behavior in puppies that lunge at your face during playtime. From chew toys to noisy toys, these tips show how to train, teach, and desensitize your pup.

5 Ways a Toy Can Divert Your Puppy From Lunging at Your Face

Check out these five techniques for using toys to promote better behavior in puppies that lunge at your face during playtime. From chew toys to noisy toys, these tips show how to train, teach, and desensitize your pup.

Teach your puppy to stop lunging at your face with these toy training tips.

Photo by Edge2Edge Media on Unsplash

When your puppy lunges at your face, it's usually because they're feeling playful or excited and want to interact with you. But it can be startling and sometimes painful if they nip you! I've learned that if you don't stop this while they're young, quick lunging behavior can become more concerning and often more aggressive.

Offering them a toy can redirect their energy and focus to something more appropriate and enjoyable. But how can you use a toy to correct this? Here are five techniques that have worked for me, and I think they'll work for you too. So why not try them and see how your puppy responds?

1. Grab Their Attention With Noise

If your puppy tends to lunge at your face when playful or excited, a noisy toy can be a helpful way to redirect their attention. Puppies are naturally drawn to sounds, so try using a squeaky toy, a crinkly toy, or a toy with a bell inside. It's a surefire way to draw their focus away from your face.

Once you've got their attention, toss the toy away from your face and motion for your pup to chase after it. Holding the toy close to the ground and moving it around can catch your puppy's interest, too. When they get the toy, praise them, play with them more, or give them a small treat so they'll continue to master it!

Every time they engage with a toy in this manner, it helps to praise their behavior. By consistently redirecting their attention to the toy's noise, you'll teach them that lunging at your face isn't an appropriate way to play. However, playing with toys is fun!

2. Train Your Puppy to Chew on a Toy

Puppies tend to explore everything with their mouth when they are teething or just plain curious. Unfortunately for us owners, that often includes our faces! This behavior can be painful and annoying for you, but natural for puppies. To stop it, you can train your pup to chew on a toy instead of nipping at your face.

Make sure the toy you choose is durable and safe for your puppy's teeth and gums. You could put some peanut butter on it (or a treat inside the toy) to make it more enticing for your pup. By consistently reinforcing this behavior, they should learn that chewing on the toy is more satisfying than chewing on your face.

Teach your pup to grab their toy instead of lunging for your face!

Photo by Jesper Brouwers on Unsplash

3. A Toy Can Teach Your Puppy Manners

Very likely, your puppy doesn't realize that biting your face hurts you or is inappropriate. That's where teaching bite inhibition and proper manners comes into play. Very simply, you can use a toy to promote more respectful interaction.

When your pup aims at your face, say "ouch" or "no" and stop playing with them Offer them a toy and play when they take it. This teaches them that nipping at your face ends the fun, but biting the toy continues it. Plus, it will help them learn how to control their bite pressure and be gentle.

With consistent reinforcement, they will understand that playing with a toy is a more appropriate way to interact and bond with you.

4. Desensitize Your Dog to Behavioral Triggers

Puppies sometimes jump up in our faces out of fear or aggression. That often happens because they are responding to certain triggers. These stimuli could include sudden movements, loud sounds, or encountering unfamiliar people or animals.

The use of toys can help desensitize your puppy to these triggers and reduce their lunging response. How do we use toys to achieve this? Well, start by identifying what makes the pup feel threatened or scared. Did they hear a loud bang? Are there fireworks outside? Did someone get up quickly from the couch?

Then, gradually expose them to these situations while engaging them with a toy. This will help your puppy form positive associations with these previously threatening situations, and over time, reduce their fear or aggression.

As an example of this technique, if the pup becomes anxious and lunges at your face when someone knocks on the door, you could offer them a toy to play with while you open the door and welcome your guest.

Help your pup overcome behavioral triggers by using desensitization techniques with toys.

Photo by Mathew Coulton on Unsplash

5. A Toy Provides Mental Stimulation and Exercise

Here's one final trick that provides an alternative to excitedly lunging at people: keep your puppy more mentally stimulated and physically exercised. Puppies have a lot of energy, and they need outlets to release it.

One effective way to do this is by offering them toys that challenge their brain and body. For example, you can give them a puzzle toy that requires problem-solving skills, a fetch toy that gets them running, or a flirt pole that encourages chasing and jumping.

By engaging in these activities, your puppy will be occupied and content. The likelihood of them lunging at your face will decrease over time. Playing with your puppy and reinforcing appropriate behavior will also enhance your relationship. This will ensure that they grow up to be happy and obedient.

Final Thoughts

Redirecting your energetic puppy's attention to a toy is a very effective way to keep him from lunging at you. Whether it's a noisy toy, a chew toy, a toy for teaching manners, a toy for desensitization, or a toy that provides mental stimulation and exercise, there's a wide variety of options available to suit all dogs' needs.

By consistently reinforcing positive behavior and incorporating playtime with toys into your routine, you'll strengthen your bond with your pet. This will ensure a happier and more obedient dog in the long run. So why not try these techniques? See the positive difference it can make to your pup's behavior.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek


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