Why Do Dogs Bite Each Other’s Necks? (What Neck Biting Means)

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When two dogs are playing with one other, it can be difficult to figure out whether or not you need to step in and stop what looks to be really aggressive behavior. This is true when you find out that the two dogs are grabbing and biting at each other’s necks when playing.

With the neck being a very sensitive part, you might be a little worried that the dog’s neck might come to serious harm especially if you are worried that the neck biting is done in an aggressive manner. The good news is, you most likely don’t need to worry.

Why do dogs bite each other’s necks?

Neck biting is a normal behavior in dogs it  usually means it is a sign of play. However, you should also pay attention that neck biting in dogs can, in some cases, be a display of aggression so watch out for all signs both before and during play.

The key to understanding why your dog might be nipping on another dog’s necks (or vice versa) is being able to notice on low-key behavior cues and body language that should tell you how the dog is feeling.

Today I would like to help shed some light on what it actually means when a dog puts its mouth on other dog’s neck. It includes my opinion on whether you need to be  distinct between a little biting or nibbling and grabbing or violently shaking of the neck part.

It offers useful insight into the reasons why dogs nip on each other’s necks (according to what I have researched about and found).

Is it quite usual for dogs to bite each other’s necks?

If by chance you come across dogs biting on each other’s necks, you can always tell that it is for one of two reasons; play time or aggressive behaviour. It is totally normal for dogs to nip on each other’s necks and seeming it is playful, you should not be bothered.

While it may be sometimes difficult to get the difference at first glance, understanding your dog’s body language will be of help to you to notice the difference and decide whether or not it is mandatory for you to intervene on the neck nipping and grabbing.

What Playing Time Neck Biting Looks Like

The most usual way that dogs communicate with each other is through play fights. This is a very important part of any dogs maturing process because it teaches them how to use biting inhibition, respecting of  boundaries and helps them to understand when aggressive behaviour  is not appropriate.

This is why more socially active dogs are easy to train, because they efficiently build their own ‘social’ skills from communicating with one another. Actions similar to  chasing, wrestling, growling and neck biting are all  harmless play.

What it means when a dog places it’s mouth around another dog’s neck it means they are usually just down to play.

It is clear to see when a dog is nipping another dog’s neck as part of playing by noticing their body language. If the two dogs seem to be happy, leaning into each other, bowing down to the other dog and seems to be ‘frolicking’ and ‘bouncing’, you can safely assume that any neck biting is nothing more than harmless playing.

What Aggression In Neck Biting Looks Like

There are so many reasons why your dog would be aggressive towards another dog. Some of the most common ones could include being afraid, being territorial, overprotectiveness over you or another human or dog or having misdirected aggression towards another dog.

You can always tell neck biting between dogs is aggressive behaviour by looking at some of the following signs: the dog is continuously being mounted, the dog is being  held down by the other dog and the dog looks to be getting bitten aggressively.

Further into this, the dog getting bitten may start exhibiting avoidance tactics such as yelping, laying down, running away to hide behind you or looking away from the other dog doing the biting.

Lots of owners describe aggressive neck nipping as a dog grabbing the other dog’s neck and shaking vigorously.

If you think a dog is being attacked, it is very important to try to stop it immediately to avoid the risk of dogs getting seriously injured. Do not try to step between them though; many owners make use the wheelbarrow technique where you take your dog’s hind legs and pull them backwards.

Aggression and neck nipping could be as a result of:

  • Intense Excitement
  • Exaggerated Fear
  • Severe Pain
  • Extreme Possessiveness
  • Prey hunt.

As owners it is our responsibility to make sure it does not get to this point before it is too late, by being attentive to the signs where play turns to aggressive behavior.

The warning signs to pay attention for to signal things are just about to turn bad include:

  • When growling and snarling starts.
  • When teeth and gums are being shown.
  • Hackles are shown on their backs.
  • Loud yelps of pain are heard.
  • Staring with flat ears.

If you notice these signs of aggressive behaviour and blood is seen on the neck or other visible areas of the dog, then you should lookout to try and separate both dogs and work to correct the behavior.

How bite inhibition shows into a dog neck biting behavior

If you have wondered why a dog biting another dog’s neck when playing is not a reason for concern, the answer is quite simple: it is all about your dog’s intelligent discernment to control the will of their mouth.

Indeed, being habitual biting characteristics in dogs is something that is in them from a very young age. An important skill that a puppy will learn within the first 12 weeks after their birth (with the help from their mother and litter mates)it is called ‘bite inhibition’.

Bite inhibition, essentially, refers to a dog’s capability to control the force of their mouth.

Just like babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths. They will often engage in play fights with their litter mates, and it is through these forming, early times of play time that they will learn about bite inhibition.

They will be able to notice from other dogs’ reaction how much of the biting is too much, and from there they will also learn how to adjust the force of their neck nipping in contexts like when it is playtime accordingly.

By learning this instinctive skill like bite inhibition, puppies are able to do certain things like some carry items in their mouth without them breaking and tend to play with humans or other dogs without inflicting them any harm through biting,mostly around the neck area.

They will learn and understand how to adjust the force moderately in which they use their mouth and could depend on the context they are in. For instance,your dog might not carry a tennis ball in their mouth with the same bite force they use in chewing a bone.

Consequently, if your dog is nipping another dog’s neck as part of playing, you needn’t  worry about the other dog getting injured.

This is because your dog will be harnessing their skills in bite inhibition to ensure that even if they are biting the other dog’s neck, they are not biting it so hard,enough to break the skin or hurt them.

How to prevent your dog from biting other dogs’ necks

If your dog is being unreasonably aggressive, it is very important to take them to the vet doctor immediately. Sometimes, a dog might start acting wild or getting more aggressive than usual as a result of an declining health issue.

You can also try involving a dog trainer in order to restrain some of your dog’s aggressive behavioral patterns to help them behave more socially around other dogs.

As a temporary fix,it is worth it to try and separate your dog from other dogs where and when possible and to have them always wear a muzzle in public to prevent any form of harm coming to another dog’s way if your dog chooses to attack them in any way.


The level of rough housing, growling and neck biting involved can be both wearying and concerning as a dog owner, as these behaviors are indications of both a very serious attack and harmless play… your dog could even start chewing at your nose for same reasons.

There are so many reasons why dogs nip at each other’s necks. For the most part, it is nothing more than a bit of playing for the dogs. However, it is very important to stay vigilant and to stay attentive to your dog’s body language just in case things turn bad. 

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