Why Do Dogs Bite Each Other’s Necks? Concerns And Solutions

Being a dog owner to two wonderful but silly goofballs, Duke and Bella, has added a lot of fun, laughter and adventure into my life.

From Duke’s crazy energy and his amusing attempts to ‘help’, to Bella’s calm demeanor, her sun-soaking habits, and her protective nature towards the kids – every day is filled with new experiences and laughter.

These four-legged friends have not only become members of the family but also my companions, always ready for the next adventure whether it’s a trip to the mountains or simply a game in the backyard.

As a dog owner, it’s important to understand your pet’s behavior and body language. Dogs have a unique way of communicating with each other and with us.

One behavior that might seem alarming at first is when a dog bites another dog’s neck.

As responsible pet owners, our duty extends beyond providing basic care; we also need to understand and respond appropriately to our dogs’ behavioral cues.

So, what does it mean when a dog bites another dog’s neck? Why do dogs bite each other’s necks? It can mean your dog is playing, attempting to be aggressive and dominate, or fighting.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Bites Another Dog’s Neck?

I did a quick rundown of what it can mean, but it was quite a variety of reasons and may have led to more questions than answers.

Let’s take a closer look at each so that you can better determine what is going on with your good boy.

Playful Neck Biting: All In Good Fun

It’s common for dogs to play fight and roughhouse with one another. Just like us humans, they enjoy having a good time with their buddies. Often, neck-biting behavior is a playful interaction among two or more dogs.

But it’s important to note that while one dog might be immersed in play, the other could be trying to retreat.

Take my dogs, Duke and Bella, for instance. These two start off playing innocently, but Duke sometimes escalates the roughhousing beyond Bella’s comfort level.

As Bella attempts to run away and end the playtime, Duke continues to pursue her, aiming for her neck.

Thankfully, a swift call of Duke’s name is enough to put a stop to the overly excited play behavior.

Neck Biting As A Sign Of Dominance Or Aggression

Sometimes, neck biting can indicate a dog trying to establish dominance or acting aggressively.

As with my dogs Duke and Bella, this can be an evolution from playtime. Or the neck biting could even begin this way.

If it results from your dogs playing, it will be easier to recognize and put a stop to.


This can become dangerous in a hurry. Dogs who are fighting aren’t just trying to assert dominance but also keep another dog away.

They want to persevere and may not back down quickly.

Signs That Your Dogs Are Neck Biting While Playing

If your dog is biting his buddy’s neck (or vice-versa) you’re hoping your dog is playing and not being a bad boy. But how can you tell?

Pay attention to both dogs’ body language and look for these telltale signs of playful neck-biting behavior.

Taking Turns

A good sign that your dogs are engaging in play while biting each other’s necks is when they take turns ‘dominating’ one another.

This means that they’ll switch roles – one dog allowing the other to be on top or in control and then reversing positions.

This back-and-forth shows that both dogs are having fun and not trying to assert real dominance.

Relaxed Body Language

When dogs are playing, their body language is usually more relaxed and easygoing. They won’t seem tense or rigid, which is a good sign that they’re just having some friendly roughhousing.

Look for wagging tails, play bows (where a dog lowers his front legs and stretches his rear end in the air), and loose, bouncy movements as evidence that they’re just playing around.

Soft Hits And Gentle Bites

Dogs engaged in play fighting will be careful not to use their full force, as they don’t want to injure their buddy. While it can be challenging to determine if your dog isn’t biting with his full strength, it’s easier to observe whether he’s holding back when ‘hitting’ or tackling his playmate.

When dogs are playing, they’ll often deliver gentle, inhibited bites and less powerful pounces and tackles, ensuring that no one gets hurt in the process.

The Neck Hug

During playtime, dogs often engage in what appears to be ‘tackling,’ but it’s more like an affectionate hug.

While they may latch onto each other’s necks, it’s all in good fun and not an aggressive act.

Taking Play Breaks

One great way to determine whether your dogs are playing or not is to observe their breaks. When they pause during play for a brief moment and then happily dive back into action, it’s a strong indication that they’re just having fun.

During these breaks, pay attention to their body language and facial expressions. Does your dog look angry, or is he sporting a big, joyful doggy smile?

Checking their demeanor will help you determine if it’s all fun and games.

Puppies And Play Biting

If one or both dogs involved are puppies, they’re likely engaging in play. Keep in mind that puppies, like human toddlers, push boundaries as they try to understand them.

Puppies often play-bite each other, their mothers, and anything else that allows them to do so.

And it’s not unusual for them to bite a bit too hard at times.

This is all part of their learning process – they start to recognize their limits when their mom pushes them away, or they hear a sibling yelp in response to their playful (but too strong) nip.

Recognizing When Your Dog’s Playtime May Escalate

Even if your dog starts out playing, something could go wrong. It’s best to keep an eye on playful dogs so you can intervene and separate them (using verbal commands) if necessary.

To help you stay vigilant, here are some warning signs that your dog’s playtime is escalating into something more serious:

  • Raised Hackles: If your dog’s hair on his back seems to stand up straight, this could indicate increased alertness or aggression.
  • Low Growls: When your dog emits a low growl, it could suggest he’s feeling threatened or about to act aggressively.
  • Snarls and Teeth Showing: A snarl accompanied by bared teeth reveals your dog’s potential discomfort or aggression towards another dog.
  • Stiff Body: Unlike a relaxed body (I discussed this above) during playful interactions with other dogs, a stiff body posture may signal that your dog is ready to defend himself or display dominant behavior.
  • Ears Back And Unrelenting Stare: If your dog lays his ears back, nearly flat against his head and intensely focuses on the other dog, he might sense danger and be prepared for an aggressive encounter.
  • Adult Dog Biting A Puppy: As previously mentioned, puppies learn about their bite strength through playful interaction. Older dogs don’t need this lesson. They shouldn’t be biting a puppy’s neck in retaliation. Instead, a light nip, a yelp, or a gentle push are appropriate ways for adult dogs to help puppies learn without escalating a situation.

By staying attentive to these warning signs, you can act swiftly to prevent any unwanted incidents between your dog and his playmates.

A little vigilance goes a long way in keeping your furry friend safe and happy during playtime.

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Biting Other Dogs’ Necks?

If your dog is playfully engaging in neck-biting, a firm and consistent ‘no’ should be enough to discourage him.

You might need to whistle or clap your hands to grab his attention if he’s really immersed in the activity.

With patience and consistency, your dog should learn that neck-biting is not a behavior you want him to exhibit during playtime.

However, if your dog is fighting and biting necks, addressing the issue may be more complicated. Ideally, you’d want to prevent the fight before it even begins.

If your dog continues to get into fights, there might be an underlying problem. If this is the case with your pooch, you probably want to consult your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.

They can determine whether your dog has a medical or behavioral issue and offer personalized advice for your furry friend’s specific needs.

By understanding the reasons and offering proper guidance, you can help your dog learn better behaviors and ensure that both he and you have a safe and enjoyable time during his interactions with other dogs.

Final Thoughts: Why Does My Dog Bite My Other Dog’s Neck?

Dogs bite each other’s necks for a variety of reasons, luckily it’s usually for playful interaction. But sometimes, it can be a sign of dominance, aggression, or even fighting.

As a responsible dog owner, you need to know the signs of friendly play, such as taking turns, exhibiting relaxed bodies, and engaging in gentle contact.

You should also know the signs that playtime is about to escalate into one dog trying to dominate another dog or even a fight breaking out. These include raised hackles, low growls, and direct, unyielding stares.

If your dog is consistently playfully biting other dogs’ necks and you want him to stop, firmly tell him ‘no’ every time he does it and he will eventually get the message.

However, if your dog is getting into fights, or always trying to dominate another dog you need to figure out the root cause and address the problem promptly.

Being in tune with your dog’s behavior will help ensure his safety and the well-being of other dogs he encounters.

Remember, it’s natural for dogs to engage in playful behavior, and oftentimes, neck-biting is simply a harmless part of their frolic. But vigilance is important because it will allow you to intervene and manage potentially problematic situations.

So, cherish your dog’s playfulness and continue to monitor his interactions with other pups. By doing this, you’ll be fostering an environment where your furry friend can thrive, and ultimately, live a happy and well-adjusted life alongside his fellow canines.

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