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We may hate to admit it, but sometimes puppies can be a little mean. They reel you in when they are all cute, little, and innocent and then turn into naughty little puppies who LOVE to test their limits.

Sometimes when you tell your puppy “No!” their puppy brain tells them that now they absolutely have to do the thing they aren’t supposed to do!

Along with being naughty, sometimes puppies are just plain not nice. They’ll play too rough, bite too hard, or even growl at you and act aggressively around food. So if you’re puppy is being a naughty little puppy, will they ever turn into a bundle of cuddly love?

Why isn’t your puppy nice to you?

There are a few reasons puppies can display some not-so-nice behaviors. For the most part, your puppy is still learning right from wrong and what is acceptable behaviors. This stage of puppyhood is normal for all owners, but it can be a difficult time.

Puppies can often bite as this is how they learn about their environment. They also have enormous amounts of energy while they are awake and can wreak havoc in the house. If your puppy is difficult to calm down, be sure to read our post, Calm Down a Crazy Puppy the Right Way: (Hyper Zoomies)

One that is commonly seen as puppies are growing is something called resource guarding. Food, toys,  bed, and even people, can be seen as a resource in the eyes of a puppy.

Just like children, puppies must also be taught to share their things. But some puppies have a stronger instinct than others to guard or protect their resources.

For example, if you are feeding your puppy dinner and your older dog walks by to get to his food bowl, and your puppy starts growling menacingly and snapping at your other dog, this is an example of what resource guarding looks like.

Another reason a puppy may not be nice to you is because of fear. Unfortunately, in some cases, a puppy may be really fearful of people or other animals and may act out in the form of fear aggression. This may make it seem like that puppy will be a mean dog, but in reality, it is just the puppy’s way of trying to protect itself.

Even at a young age, puppies can experience trauma, and certain events form a certain impression on them that is hard to break. For puppies that are acting aggressively out of fear, you will need to have a lot of patience. Finding ways to reward your puppy, like food or toys, to help you earn their trust and remind them you aren’t going to hurt them is the way forward.

You always want to treat your puppy to success, luring them towards the behaviors you like to see.

Another reason puppies may be difficult is that they simply get overstimulated and play too hard!

Most puppies learn through play that biting too hard hurts. One puppy may bite the other puppy too hard, and the puppy who got bit will cry out, letting the other puppy know not to do that. But some puppies are just bad at reading those social cues and need a bit more help.

If your puppy left their litter too early then they can also have naughty traits, as they haven’t learned some important lessons early on. It will be up to you to yelp and stop play if your pup is biting too hard.

You might also like to read our post, Why Is My Puppy So Naughty? (Explained)

What age are puppies most difficult?

Puppies go through various stages as they grow and some of those stages are very difficult as owners. When you first bring them home, your biggest challenge is usually just trying to keep them from peeing everywhere! If this is you, we have this post that can help, Puppy Still Not House-trained: Age expectations

But as they get older, they can start showing some undesirable and naughty behaviors like food, bone, or toy aggression, jumping or leaping on people, face lunging, or just getting into the garbage! Your puppy might even like jumping and ripping your clothes or growl when they are picked up.

Puppies haven’t learned their boundaries and are naughty by nature. It’s up to us to redirect these behaviors. Biting is one of the most common complaints from puppy owners and we have a post you can read here on puppy biting.

It’s sort of like how human children go through their terrible twos and their rebellious teenage years. Except with puppies, it seems to all happen at once. The timing can differ depending on breeds and, of course, the individual puppy.

It seems to happen anywhere from 5 to 11 months of age when the puppy will start to forget all of their manners that it has learned so far and maybe even some of its potty training!

Or your puppy may begin testing their limits with you in terms of obedience. Thankfully it only seems to last a few months at most. But those months sure can feel long!

Many people even go through a period of wondering if they made a mistake bringing a new puppy home, or they feel so overwhelmed that they don’t know what to do.

We have this post for you if this is you, Regret Getting a Puppy: Here’s What to Do

When does puppy behavior get better?

Thankfully the naughty stage of a young puppy doesn’t last long, and with patience and positive training, it will always get better. Remember, your puppy is still learning about the world around them and what they can and can’t do. That’s a lot to learn!

Sometimes they’ll test their limits to see what they can get away with. It’s important to remember to never punish your pup, as a scary owner only instills anxiety that leads to more and more problem behaviors.

A puppy simply doesn’t understand that the behavior they are doing isn’t what you want. Instead, redirect bad behaviors to something more appropriate, and reward good behaviors so your puppy chooses to make better choices! And when they make a good choice on their own, be sure to offer lots of praise and rewards.

For redirecting a naughty puppy to something positive,  we recommend our snuffle toy mat, which can keep a busy puppy busy for a long needed break.

Snuffle Mat for Dogs and Puppies
SNUFFLE AND LICK MAT IN ONE - The two best dog feeding toys in one awesome enrichment game, extending foraging and feeding times for your dog or puppy.

How do I get my puppy to be nice?

According to a dog behaviorist, there are some training techniques that work to help turn bad puppy behavior around. These are known as counter-conditioning, desensitization, and forming an alternate response.

For example, if your puppy seems to get super mean around other dogs and wants to lunge at them and bark at them, work on teaching your puppy to look at you every time you see another dog. You can do this by say ‘Look at me’ and giving a treat when they do.

Looking at you for a treat is the alternate response you want to form. By associating something that is scary or upsetting to the puppy with treats, you are counter-conditioning them, and over time and with practice, this will lead to desensitization.

We also recommend you read our post, How to Discipline a Puppy: The Right Way


If you and your puppy are going through the stage where your puppy is not so nice, for lack of a better word, don’t give up hope! It is something that all pet parents seem to have to go through, and you are definitely not alone. Just be patient and keep up with all the good work you’ve been doing.

If you feel like you need more help, don’t be afraid to reach out to a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist. They can often offer solutions to specific problem areas based on you and your puppy. These puppies can be a lot of work but having a four-legged best friend is so worth it!