Why Do Dogs Bite Each Other’s Necks?

By John Martin - May 7, 2021

Dog playing together biting each other's necks

It is difficult to find out if your dog is having a good time or simply being aggressive. Neck biting or chewing, growling, and snapping can point to obvious aggressive behaviors. However, more often, neck grabbing is just a sign of play in dogs.

So, how will you know if your dog is aggressive or having fun? It’s all about noticing small tell-tale sign changes in your pet’s behavior to know their mood.

Understanding the Underlying Behavior of Dogs

A dog finds it extremely normal to grab another dog by the neck. It’s acceptable playtime. What makes playtime neck-biting and aggressive neck-biting different is the intention behind it.

Many understated behavior patterns can help you distinguish between the fun time and violent dog attack as a dog owner. When your puppy is new to the world, it practices bite inhibition on its littermates and mother.

Bite inhibition is a foremost skill that dogs learn in their puppyhood. It makes them disciplined and ready to socialize with human beings and fellow canines.

In the first 12 weeks of their life, puppies struggle to communicate effectively.

Just like human babies, puppies also explore the world with their mouths. Puppies use their mouths to communicate until they can bark to express themselves.

Puppies are active in play fighting as it strengthens their survival instincts. It makes them realize their strengths and how to use them for their safety.

With a little help from fellow littermates, young puppies learn first-hand the effects of a bite.

They use the information to adjust their bites and, in turn, learn how to use their mouth. This is why it’s advised that puppies should be left with littermates and their mother till at least 8 weeks of age.

The first 8 weeks of puppyhood are peak learning time for your dogs. You might have the urge to train him yourself, but this type of training and experience cannot be replicated.

So, make sure that you have given your beloved puppy the training and space to learn socializing.

Is It Typical for Canines to Bite Each Other’s Necks?

When two dogs are playing, they often tend to do a lot of necks biting and growling. It can be tough to assess whether your dog is being violent or just having a jolly good time.

Like we mentioned earlier, it’s common for dogs to bite each other’s necks during playtime.

There is absolutely no reason to worry that your dog is biting a fellow canine’s neck. It can be daunting to know when to step in and save your dog.

The key essential to understanding your dog’s behavior is to understand your pet’s body language.

Let’s go over some common playtime and aggressive behaviors so that you can intervene when your dog is a bad boy.

What Does Neck Biting During Playtime Look Like?

If you’re wondering how dogs communicate, then the simple answer is play fighting.

Teaching your dog play fighting discipline is a significant aspect of them being mature. It teaches your canines boundaries, bites inhibition, and to recognize when to use aggression.

Here are some actions which point to innocent playtimes like chasing, growling, neck-biting, and wrestling. These are in no way aggressive behaviors.

If you want your dog to be more disciplined, then make sure they are socialized.

Dogs find it easy to learn the discipline of play fighting by experiencing it with fellow dogs. It is easier to train such dogs as well, as they learn best from experiences.

Want to know the signs for playtime neck-biting? Notice your canine’s body gestures. If both the dogs seem to bounce, are open for action, and smiling, then the neck-biting is just a harmless fun time.

Related: Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels?

What Does Aggressive Neck Biting Look Like?

You cannot pinpoint the exact reason for your dog’s aggression. The common reasons dogs are violent are because they are afraid, being overprotective of you, or feeling territorial.

Here are some signs that you can notice right away to distinguish violent neck-biting. It includes the dog being repeatedly mounted, your dog looks as if it has been bitten roughly, or your dog is being held bodily down.

In addition, you might also notice your dog showing dislike towards other dogs. Your dogs might yelp, lie down, run behind you, or hide behind you for cover and protection.

These are some signs that would point to your dog being in an aggressive episode.

Speaking from experience, many owners find that neck-biting accompanied by shaking is mostly an aggressive behavior trait. If you have even the slightest inhibition that your dog is under attack, you should intervene and stop.

Want to know how to distress an aggressive dog fight safely. Many pet owners swear by the wheelbarrow technique.

Just take your dog’s rear legs and twitch them away from the situation. Don’t try and get in the middle of the fight as it might leave you with more bite marks.

Here are some causes of neck-biting and violent behavior.

  • Pain
  • Excitement
  • Possessiveness
  • Fear

How to Encourage Good Behavior in Dogs?

If you have noticed, whenever a dog finds prey, they instinctively grab it by the neck. The dog gives a sharp bite to the neck and shakes it so that it can snap the neck.

This move is enough for a swift death of the critters in the most painless style.

While we dislike this kind of behavior in our pets, this instinct has been hardwired through breeding years. Dogs are known to fish out rodents and other critters effectively.

Dogs are very intelligent beings. Being the furry best friends of humans, they have the ability to distinguish between prey and a companion.

Dogs love to accompany their humans in hunting activities.

This is why dogs also play mock hunt plays with their fellow canines. These games are controlled and for fun only. Although at times, the games might alarm us with their intensity.

Noticing your dog’s behavior during playtime can give you signs that point to dangerous behavior.

Learning the signs and behavior traits of your dog is very important. It only takes one dog fight to cause your dog’s behavioral issues and unresolved fears.

Keeping a close look at your dogs will save you a lot of work later on. Some fun playtime signs are relaxed body posture, bows playfully, and allows to be “dominated” and is equally “dominating.”

If you notice your dog backing off and then returning to play, he is enjoying the play.

No matter how much fun your dog is having, it is very easy for canines to get over-excited. You should interrupt and supervise such playtimes for any sign of trouble.

It doesn’t take much for a joyful playtime to turn serious.

You can look out for some easy signs for your dogs on the back and exhibit submissive behavior like rolling on the back. These indicators will show that your dog is no longer interested in the play and doesn’t find it fun.

Related: Why Is My Dog Acting Weird All of a Sudden?

Considerations and Solutions for Neck-Biting

The first and the most important sign for concern is low growling. If you find your dog growling, then this is your first sign for alarm.

In such a situation, it is advised to interrupt the play immediately and get your pet away from the situation.

As responsible pet owners, it is your responsibility to control the situation before it gets out of hand. You should look for tell-tale signs of aggression and remove your dog from harm’s way.

Here are some cautionary behavior signs you should look out for:

  • Your dog is showing their teeth and gums
  • You can hear loud cries of pain
  • You can see your dog stare with flattened ears
  • Your dog is snarling and deep growling
  • Your dog’s back hair is raised

You can be rest-assured that neck-biting is not an alarming trait. If you see the above warning signs, you should immediately deflate the situation.

Especially if you notice signs of blood, work on correcting the behavior so that your dog can have a better response the next time.

The warning, as mentioned above, signs are a visual indication that the fun playtime has turned sour. If you see either of the dogs involved in play fighting exhibit these signs, it’s important to stop them.

If you don’t step in to stop the dogs, it could be harmful to both of them.

It’s always better to interrupt the play early than to wait for it to go wrong. Surprisingly, one bad playtime doesn’t ruin the friendship between the two dogs.

The same two dogs can be playmates again and have a jolly time.

It is the pet owner’s responsibility to oversee their dogs so that things don’t go bad.

If you notice such behaviors happening too often, there could be a medical reason behind it. Seek veterinary consultation at the earliest.

Also, if the frequency of aggressive behavior is too much, then you should isolate your dog. Prohibit your dog from playing with other canines until you instill some discipline.

Consult a professional dog trainer for some behavior modification training to ensure your dog’s safety and those around him.

Related: Why Do Dogs Lay On Your Feet?


The neck-nibbling, growling, and bouncing can be confusing for a dog-owner. That is because neck-biting has both fun and aggressive connotations. There are many reasons dogs bite each other’s neck, but they are mostly for fun reasons.

Although, it is advised to pay close attention to your canine’s subtle body language tell-tales. It will save your dog from violent behavior attacks and also help to discipline him.