Why Do Dogs Play 'Bitey Face'?

If you've ever seen dogs go at it with their faces all tangled up in what looks like a mix of gentle biting and playful growling, you've witnessed a game of "bitey face." It might look a bit intense at first, but don’t worry—it's just dogs being dogs! I remember the first time I saw Monti and Louie, my playful pooches, going at it with bitey face. At first, I was a little alarmed, but soon realised they were having the time of their lives. Let's dive into why our dogs love this game and what it means for their social lives and overall happiness.

What Exactly is Bitey Face?

Bitey face is when two dogs face off and start gently biting each other's faces, often with playful growls and wagging tails. Monti and Louie probably look like they're having the time of their lives, and that's because they are! This behaviour is a normal, healthy part of how dogs interact and play.

Why Dogs Love Playing Bitey Face

1. Social Butterflies

Dogs are social animals, and playtime is how they make friends and learn social skills. For our dogs, bitey face is like their version of a coffee date—only much more exciting! Through this playful interaction, they learn important social cues. For instance, a play bow (where a dog stretches its front legs out and lowers its front end) signals that any roughness is all in good fun. These interactions help dogs understand each other better and improve their ability to communicate in various social settings.

2. Doggi Chit-Chat

Play isn't just fun; it's also a way for dogs to communicate. Through their bitey face antics, Monti and Louie are learning how to read each other’s body language and social cues, which helps them understand the difference between “Let’s play!” and “I’ve had enough.” For example, if one dog yelps, it usually means the other bit a little too hard, and the game may pause or change pace. This back-and-forth helps them negotiate play rules and build a better understanding of each other’s boundaries.

3. Burning Off Energy

Just like us, dogs need to burn off energy. Bitey face is a great way for them to get some exercise. It keeps them fit and healthy, and best of all, it tires them out, so they’re more likely to cuddle up and relax afterwards. Regular physical activity is crucial for a dog’s health, helping to maintain a healthy weight, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of various ailments.

4. Mental Workout

Engaging in games like bitey face isn’t just physically stimulating—it’s a mental workout too. It keeps their brains sharp, which helps prevent boredom and the mischief that can come with it. When dogs play, they’re constantly thinking and reacting to each other’s moves, which is great for cognitive development. This mental stimulation can help prevent destructive behaviours that often arise from boredom.

5. Building Trust

When dogs play bitey face, they’re also building trust. This close-contact play helps them bond and feel more comfortable around each other, strengthening their furry friendship. Trust-building through play is essential for dogs, especially if they are new to each other or if one has had negative experiences in the past. Consistent, positive interactions can turn apprehensive dogs into confident playmates.

6. Practicing Their Skills

Dogs have natural predatory instincts, and play is how they practice those skills in a safe way. Bitey face mimics hunting behaviours but in a fun and non-threatening manner, helping them feel more confident and happy. This type of play allows them to express their instincts without harm, which is essential for their psychological well-being.

Is Bitey Face Safe?

Most of the time, bitey face is perfectly safe and healthy. But, it’s always good to keep an eye on the play to make sure things don’t get out of hand. Here’s how to ensure playtime stays fun:

  • Watch for Aggression: Playful growls and nips are normal, but if you see stiff postures, raised hackles, or intense staring, it might be time to step in. Real aggression often involves more intense and focused behaviours, so recognising the difference is key to maintaining safe play.
  • Even Play: Both dogs should be into the game. If one seems overwhelmed or is trying to escape, give them a break and distract them with something else. Uneven play can sometimes lead to frustration or anxiety, so ensuring both dogs are happy and engaged is important.
  • Take Breaks: Dogs, like kids, can get overexcited. Make sure Monti and Louie take occasional breaks to cool down and avoid any accidental roughness. This also helps prevent overheating, especially on hot days.

Common Myths About Bitey Face

Myth 1: Bitey Face is Always Aggressive

Some people think bitey face looks aggressive, but it's usually just playful. As long as both dogs are willing participants and there are no signs of real aggression, it’s perfectly normal.

Myth 2: Only Puppies Play Bitey Face

While it’s true that puppies play a lot, adult dogs enjoy bitey face too. It’s a great way for them to bond and have fun at any age.

Benefits Beyond the Dogs

Watching Monti and Louie play bitey face isn’t just entertaining—it can also be relaxing and stress-relieving for you. Engaging with them during playtime strengthens your bond with your pets and provides you with a sense of joy and relaxation.


Bitey face is a beloved game for many dogs, including your dynamic duo, Monti and Louie. It’s more than just a fun activity—it helps them socialise, communicate, exercise, and bond. By understanding why they love this game and keeping an eye on their play to ensure it stays safe, you can enjoy watching your furry friends have a blast. So next time your dogs start their bitey face game, sit back and enjoy the show, knowing it's all part of their happy, healthy lives!

Share Your Story!

Have your dogs played bitey face? Share your experiences and any funny stories with us on our Social Pages. We’d love to hear about your furry friends’ antics!

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