Why Is My Dog Biting Other Dogs Necks

If you see dogs biting each other’s necks, you can guess that it’s either out of play or out of aggression. Dogs biting at each other’s necks is very common, and as long as it’s fun, you shouldn’t be concerned.

Although it may be challenging to distinguish between the two at first glance, learning your dog’s body language will enable you to do so and determine whether or not you should step in to stop the neck biting and grabbing.

What playtime neck biting looks like

Dogs primarily interact with one another through play fighting. This is a crucial stage in any dog’s development since it teaches them how to control their bite, respect their limits, and determine when aggression is and isn’t appropriate.

Handy Tip: In this other guide to ear biting habit, I explain how dogs will also bite at each other’s ears while playing.

Because they actually pick up their own “social” abilities from interacting with one another, more socialized dogs are easier to train. This playful activity includes actions including chasing, wrestling, growling, and neck-biting.

By observing a dog’s body language, it is simple to determine when it is playingfully biting the neck of another dog. You can believe that any neck-biting is just innocent horseplay or “dogplay” if both dogs appear to be grinning, leaning into the action, bowing to the other dog, and look to be “frolicking” and “bouncing”!

What aggressive neck biting looks like

Your dog may be acting aggressively toward another dog for a variety of reasons. The most frequent ones include being frightened, feeling possessive, being too protective of you or another human or dog, as well as displaying misdirected hostility.

The dog is repeatedly mounted, the dog is physically restrained, and it appears that the dog is getting bit roughly. These are some of the indications that neck-biting between dogs is motivated by aggression.

Handy Tip: Even if you’re alone, there are methods to break up a fight if it turns into a real dogfight.

Additionally, the dog that was bitten can begin displaying aversion behaviors like yelping, lying down, rushing to hide behind you, or turning their heads away from the other dog.

A dog gripping the other dog’s neck and shaking it is how many owners describe violent neck biting.

To reduce the chance of dogs becoming hurt, it’s crucial to take action right away if you believe a dog is being assaulted. Though many owners employ the wheelbarrow technique, in which you grab your dog’s back legs and pull them backwards, avoid stepping in between them.

Neck biting and aggression could originate from:

  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Possessiveness
  • Game drive

It is our duty as owners to prevent things from getting to this point before it is too late by keeping an eye out for the indications that play has escalated into hostility.

The following are the warning indicators to watch out for that indicate things are about to get nasty:

  • Snarling and deep growling begin.
  • Gums and teeth are visible.
  • On their backs, they have elevated hackles.
  • There are loud yells of pain.
  • ears down as they stare.

If the dogs are acting aggressively and there is blood on the neck or other parts of the dog, you should separate them right away and try to change the behavior.

Do dogs typically bit each other’s necks?

The majority of dogs engage in neck biting. Although it may be unsettling to observe, dogs frequently interact in this manner.

You can tell by a person’s body language whether they are being hostile or just having fun.

Neck Biting as Normal Behavior During Play

Neck-biting during play is entirely acceptable. Early on, it plays a crucial function and continues to be a typical mode of interaction for dogs. It teaches kids self-control, boundaries, and social graces.

As long as they adhere to the four principles of healthy play—meta-signals, activity shifts, role-reversal, and self-handicapping—neck biting is acceptable (M.A.R.S).

Meta-signals: These are behaviors that tell other dogs something. They suggest that a dog is acting playfully rather than aggressively.

Activity shifts: Dogs should play with a range of activities and use meta-signals to indicate when one activity is about to change while maintaining its playful nature.

Role-reversal: It’s crucial for fair play to alternate between being the dominant and the submissive. As long as they communicate and alternate duties to some extent, dogs don’t need to divide their time equally.

Self-handicapping: Dogs limit their willingness to play fairly and safeguard the safety of other dogs by using more force in their bites.

How To Identify Playful Neck Biting

They must be having a fantastic time if both dogs are participating in the action and acting in unison.

Sometimes when dogs are playing, it appears and sounds much more ferocious than it actually is.

Your dog is play bowing when his behind is sticking up in the air and his chest is close to the ground.

A study on play bows found that dogs are most likely to bow just before or just after acting in a way that their playmate would interpret as threatening.

A dog is just having fun if it bows before or after biting the neck of another dog.

Neck Biting as Sign of Aggression

If your dog starts biting its neck aggressively, take action right away. There are several potential underlying causes of it:

Fear: Aggression is frequently fueled by fear. Due to their sense of vulnerability, they act aggressively to make up for it.

Excitation that is out of control can change and turn hostile, changing a playful neck bite into something unpleasant.

Territorial feelings: Dogs can become intensely possessive or territorial of their owners, their belongings, or their living environment. They may react strongly if they believe that another dog is attempting to take what is rightfully theirs.

High prey drive: Some breeds are predisposed to pursuing other animals as prey. A more genuine reaction may be elicited when dogs recreate a predator-prey interaction.

Pain: When a dog is playing, he may lash out in response to his discomfort.

How To Identify Aggressive Neck Biting

The other dog will likely attempt to flee when a dog starts biting its neck aggressively. You might see that there is no role reversal and the conversation becomes one-sided.

The dog being bitten may yell or wail because an aggressive dog will not exercise biting inhibition.

A dog that is hostile may attempt to intimidate the other dog by shaking it by the neck.

This is quite risky and could easily result in harm or even death, especially if one dog is significantly larger than the other.

Why does my dog bite the head of my other dog?

A “Muzzle grab” is a typical behavior displayed by sociable canines, such as wolves (Canis lupus lupus), dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), and dogs. It was captured in this image of Marco de Kloet (Canis lupus familiaris).

Instead of resolving a conflict, this behavior serves to affirm a connection. A more secure opponent will be muzzle grabbed by a more insecure one, so establishing the more confident person’s social position. The person who is less confident does not struggle against the muzzle grip. Contrarily, the more insecure person frequently exhibits subservient behavior by blatantly allowing its adversary to muzzle seize it. Although we occasionally observe this behavior after a disagreement, wolves and dogs only do it in front of people they are familiar with (pack members), almost as a way of expressing, “You’re still a cub (pup).” The conflict itself is usually not substantial, merely a minor challenge, usually involving access to a certain resource. Children, cubs, and puppies will occasionally ask people to grasp them by the muzzle. They seem to find comfort in this behavior, as if to say, “I’m still your cub (pup).”

Early on, the behavior of muzzle grabs appears. To stop their babies from nursing during weaning, canine mothers muzzle grasp them (sometimes while growling). During play, cubs and pups, which are normally between the ages of six and nine weeks, also muzzle grip one another. They most likely discover via practice that the muzzle grip is a reliable method of preventing an adversary from acting. When exhibiting a muzzle grab, cubs and puppies also learn the significance of bite restraint. They risk getting wounded if they bite their adversary too forcefully. Therefore, a muzzle grab just involves gripping and not biting. “We don’t hurt one another” is a conduct that fosters trust between the two parties.

A muzzle grab that is employed to resolve a conflict appears more violent and typically results in the victim becoming submissively passive. However, extremely seldom do the participants suffer harm, which would defeat the purpose of the conduct itself.

A muzzle grab necessitates restraint. Higher ranking wolves and dogs muzzle grip their pack members (team members) in order to demonstrate self control and affirm their hierarchy. In order to validate their acceptance of their social standing and to reassure themselves that they are still welcomed, lower ranking wolves and dogs encourage muzzle snatching activity.

The behavior of grabbing the muzzle of an animal most likely began as both a mother (paternal) behavior and a play behavior among cubs (pups). As it proved advantageous for all parties involved, it was picked up by natural selection and passed on from father to son, evolving in the same way as any other characteristic that improves an individual’s fitness.

Domestic dog puppies typically get their mother’s muzzle grabbed when they are five to seven weeks old. Even if their mother hasn’t injured them in any way, at initially, their mother’s actions scare them, and they could whine excessively. Later, the puppy quickly exhibits passive acquiescence when being muzzled (lies down with its belly up). It was once believed that the mother had to pin the puppy to the ground, however most puppies submit voluntarily. This behavioral pattern takes on modifications over time. The alpha male (pack leader) and other adults frequently grab wolf cubs and puppies by the muzzle. They demand an example of their elders’ wisdom and self-control while simultaneously demonstrating their acceptance and subordination. The most comforting behavior an adult dog can exhibit for a puppy is this one.

Domestic dogs will occasionally approach their owners and softly puff at them with their noses. We confirm our acceptance of them, our self-discipline, and our overall control of the surroundings by gently gripping them about the snout. The dog will typically demonstrate a nose lick after being muzzled for a moment, possibly yawn, and then stroll peacefully away. When a dog says, “I’m still your puppy,” and the owner responds, “I know, and I’ll take good care of you,” the situation is analogous.

It can be challenging to categorize the behavior of muzzle grabs. It is categorized as social conduct by some researchers, agonistic activity by others, and specifically pacifying behavior by a third group of researchers. This author categorizes this conduct as social behavior because its primary purpose is to validate a relationship between two people.

How can I stop my puppy from attacking the neck of my elder dog?

In order to meet the needs of both dog—your elder dog’s desire for solitude and your younger dog’s need for activity—you will need to devote time to both your older dog and your new puppy. To avoid an imbalance in the pack dynamics and a lack of respect for either of your dogs, always remember that you must be the pack leader. Do not let either of your dogs assume this role. It will take persistence, confidence, and time. Make sure your young dog has enough of toys and goodies to keep him occupied, and provide a peaceful sanctuary for your elder dog where he won’t be bothered or harassed by a young dog begging for attention.

Distract from older dog

Distract your puppy if it notices your elder dog. Call your puppy over by making a silly noise. Ignore the senior dog and ask him to sit or lay down.

Distract and reward

Pull out a toy and start a tug-of-war contest. Repeat the same steps after removing the toy. Repetition should last for roughly three tug-of-war matches in three periods of about five minutes each.

Teach obedience

To ensure that everyone is treated with respect and that their needs are satisfied, you must act as the pack leader. Work to develop obedience commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down” with both your elder dog and your new puppy.

Provide exercise

Lots of exercise for your new puppy. To prevent him from upsetting your elder dog with constant requests for play and roughhousing, try to burn off as much of his playful energy as you can through walks and outdoor or indoor play. Include your older dog in walks whenever you can to help both dogs develop a sense of belonging to a pack under your leadership.

Engage mind

Work the brain of your new puppy. Give him interactive toys and puzzle feeders. Teach him tricks, give him food as rewards, and adjust the usual feed if there are a lot of treats being given. Give your puppy a profession that complements his breed. Does he hunt for scents? Teach him how to follow. a herding canine? If possible, let him handle the small animals. a canine puller? Teach him how to pull a drag and the mushing orders. Until he is old enough to work, train in agility, or do anything else that matches his breed and nature, keep your puppy busy.

Do not allow dominance

Don’t let either dog go beyond what is appropriate for their rank in the pack. While older dogs can correct their own behavior, they don’t need to exert control over your puppy’s other actions, such as playing with other animals or doing chores around the house. Older dogs shouldn’t have to put up with young puppies’ constant nagging for play and attention. Treat both dogs equally and punish any domineering behavior without feeling sorry for one dog more than the other. While an older dog should be able to protect its territory, neither should it “rule over” a younger dog.

Allow play

Avoid interfering with play and roughhousing when both dogs are involved. Learn to distinguish between annoyance and aggression and fun conduct where both parties are consenting participants. Play can occasionally appear hostile with mouthing and growling. Allow dogs to share toys as they play, but do not let any of the dogs have exclusive ownership of any of the toys or bones. As the owner or pack leader, you should own all of the items. The other dog shouldn’t be permitted to take a toy that belongs to the first dog, though. If this happens, correct the offending dog and take away the toy.


Step between your older dog and your puppy if the puppy is requesting attention that the older dog doesn’t want to or is unable to give. Send your older dog to his quiet spot, then take your puppy somewhere else in the home and give him a toy to keep him occupied.

Enforce seperation

Separate the dogs if the puppy is still bothering the older dog. Use a crate to keep your puppy contained, or install pet gates or barriers to either keep the puppy contained, safeguard the older dog, or block off specific rooms.


Give your puppy access to canines that are his own age or a little older. Allow play so that your puppy can socialize with other canines who have a comparable amount of energy to himself.