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My Dog Snapped at Me for the First Time: 4 Reasons & What To Do

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

dog snapping at owners hand

We all love our canine friends and are shocked when they snap at us for the first time. Snapping from a dog is considered to be aggressive behavior and is a cause for concern, especially if it continues. While dogs are usually gentle and loving, some will snap at you if they feel threatened or even if they are scared and confused. We’ll discuss why your dog is snapping at you and what you can do to stop it.

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What Is Snapping?

A dog snapping and growling at you is a warning that it needs you to stay away and give it space. As we said, there are a few reasons for this behavior. The best thing you can do is keep calm, back away, and try to figure out the cause of this behavior from your normally loving and gentle furry friend.

belgian malinois dog barks infront of owner
Image Credit: Julia Malsagova, Shutterstock

The 4 Reasons for a Dog Snapping for the First Time

Here are the primary reasons your dog is snapping at you.

1. Possession Aggression

This type of aggression is when your pal thinks someone is going to take something that belongs to it. The dog will be on guard and ready to protect what you’re trying to take away. It could be when you’re holding its favorite toy or when your dog thinks your snack belongs to it.

2. Territorial Aggression

Another reason a dog might nip is that it is working to protect the environment it lives in. The first thing you need to do is determine why your dog is being territorial and what it’s being territorial of. It’s best to give your dog space and decide from a distance if your pet is protecting a particular area in your home as its territory.

Pomeranian dog barking at owner
Image Credit: Midlightstar, Shutterstock

3. The Dog Is Scared

Often a dog will snap at you because it is scared. It could be because the dog has been traumatized, or you inadvertently startled it when you entered the room. The snapping could be completely harmless if your dog is usually shy and anxious, to begin with. You can talk to your vet about calming medications that could help your anxious dog, but until then, avoid scaring your dog with sudden movements or loud noises.

4. The Dog Is in Pain

Any living being will snap when in pain, and a dog, even a gentle one, will snap when it’s hurting. This is the dog’s way of protecting itself. Be patient with your canine as you try to figure out where the pain is coming from. If it isn’t an obvious injury, then it’s time to take a trip to the vet to determine the cause of the pain.

Brown doodle dog barking
Image Credit: dahancoo, Pixabay

How to Handle a Dog That Is Snapping at You

The best thing you can do if your dog snaps at you is step away from your pet and look at the situation. You’ll want to figure out what triggered the dog to snap and if it’s happened before. If the snapping continues, you’ll need to make an appointment with your vet for a full examination. We’ll also list a few tips you can do to prevent snapping.

  • Avoid playing music too loud
  • Eat snacks in the dining room or kitchen away from your dog
  • Try not to startle your dog
  • Set up a safe room for your dog with a bed and toys so that they can escape if frightened by storms, construction work, or fireworks
  • Do not yell at or punish your dog for misbehaving
  • Ensure you play with and exercise your pet every day
cat owner listening to music
Image credit: Artem Oleshko, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

A dog snapping at someone is the dog’s way of telling them to back off. As a pet owner, it’s frightening for your pet to snap at you and also concerning. The one thing you should never do is punish your dog for snapping. If the behavior continues after the initial incident, and you’re concerned, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet.

If the behavior continues your vet may recommend a behavioral therapist for your canine to be on the safe side. Usually, there’s always a reason behind a dog snapping, even for the first time, so know that help is out there if you need it.

Featured Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

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