It is great to see your puppy playing, running around, and having fun with other dogs. However, there are times when they make concerning noises and actions too, which include neck biting. For us humans, we look at biting, outside eating, as a sign of aggression. So if you see your pup doing this to other dogs during play, is it something that you should worry about? Should you jump in and intercept the activity? Can that cause injuries?
In dogs, neck biting has various meanings. Read on as we delve deeper into the root of this behavior.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
During the first few weeks of puppies’ life, they find their way into the world with the help of their mother and siblings. This is the stage when they learn how to use their mouth and teeth to survive and interact with their littermates, other dogs, and human beings. In fact, this is one of the most important things that they get to learn.
Furthermore, unlike humans, dogs cannot talk to express themselves. So they use their mouths to explore their environment. They bark softly when they mean to greet a fellow dog or their owner. When they see strangers, they are most likely to bark louder. And when they play, they use their mouths too and this is how they find out about their strengths.
On the other hand, when dogs want to express anger, they utilize their mouths as well. But instead of soft bites, they do it with fierceness, and that’s the time when biting becomes dangerous.
You also have to take note that some dogs were taught how to defend themselves and go after other animals that they consider as their enemies like rodents and cats. Dogs that were bred specifically for hunting were also trained to be more aggressive, and they do this by biting the prey’s neck.
Dog Neck Biting
When playing, it is normal for dogs to grab each other’s neck using their mouths. It involves soft bites. However, as a pet owner, you should know how to distinguish the difference between a casual play and a fight that involves neck biting.
You can clearly tell if your puppy is just having a good time with his playmates. If his body is relaxed, then everything is fine. But if you see signs of aggression and rough play like loud barking or even low growling, you should stop them right away to avoid any unwanted incidents.
Other signs of danger include mounting, hair standing on end, hard staring, or showing of teeth. Again, it is crucial that you observe the behavior of your dog and his playmates.
Things to Do When Your Dog Is Showing Aggression Through Neck Biting
If you observe that your dog is becoming more aggressive every time he plays with other dogs and he continues to inhibit neck biting outside play, then you have to take some steps. Here are things that you can do:
· Know the Cause
First of all, you have to find out what’s causing your puppy’s aggression so you would know exactly what to do. Does it look like he feels threatened around other dogs? Remember that fear is the number one reason why canines are showing signs of aggressiveness. This could be due to a lack of proper socialization, negative experiences with other dogs in the past, or even abused by previous owners.
Resource guarding is another thing that can trigger aggression. Your puppy may not be too happy if other dogs get too close to his favorite toys, food, dish bowls, or his territory in general. If you think that your puppy is becoming unruly because of resource guarding, you need the help of experts to stop this behavior as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could get worse than you can imagine.
Next, anxiety. You probably just moved to a new place and your dog is not that comfortable yet. This could also make him exhibit aggressive behaviors. The same is true when there is a new member in his litter or even in your home.
Frustration may also be a cause of aggressive behaviors. If your dog is unable to get or do what he wants, he could take the frustration out on his playmates and that’s what drives him to inhibit neck biting.
Other causes of neck biting include social aggression, leash aggression, and illness. Once you have identified the main cause, it will be so much easier for you to choose the best preventative action
· Contact Your Vet
There is nothing more helpful than consulting your veterinarian if your pooch is showing unruly behaviors by rough neck biting whenever he plays with other canines. A vet should be able to help you identify the cause of the behavior, and from there, you would know what to do. If it is due to an illness, then proper treatment will be given to your dog. So the sooner you consult a vet, the better.
For the most part, a vet can conduct a physical examination in order to give the right diagnosis and treatment. In case your dog passes the examination and he is still showing signs of aggression, then you might as well request your vet to refer you to somebody who specializes in animal behaviors.
· See an Animal Behaviorist
Seeking the help of an animal behaviorist is also important if your pet won’t stop aggressively biting the neck of his playmates. This is the best way to go if your vet rules out an underlying health condition that is causing pain and making your puppy change his personality when playing.
An animal behaviorist is an expert when it comes to the normal behaviors of the species that they are treating. They can also recognize the possible reasons why a dog’s behavior changes during play, particularly as to why they bite their playmates neck hard enough to cause a fight or injury. And most importantly, this professional can help in modifying your dog’s behavior. They can also advise you on the things that you must do to stop your dog’s bad habit of excessive neck biting.
· Use a Bite Muzzle
While your dog is under treatment, it is highly recommended that you avoid taking him to crowded places, especially those where he can see other dogs. And as a precautionary measure, it would be best to have him use a bite muzzle for the meantime. If you do this, then he can continue playing with other dogs. But then again, you should be very observant.
· Do Not Punish Your Dog
Although neck biting outside play is something that should not be tolerated, this should not be enough reason for you to punish your pet either. If you get too hard on your dog, that can further aggravate the situation and the more that he may get aggressive.
Follow the steps that we have highlighted above in identifying the cause of your dog’s behavior. Your vet and the animal behaviorist can tell you the best things that you can do to help your puppy as well.
What If Your Dog Got Bitten Hard on the Neck?
Another issue that you might be worried about is what if it is your dog’s play mate that is exhibiting the aggressive behavior? Or worse, what if your puppy got bitten hard on the neck? This is possible since dogs can be unpredictable too no matter how observant you are.
In case your puppy sustains a neck bite, first, it is essential that you calm down. Try to assess the injury and see if medical intervention is needed. If it’s just a tiny nick, then you can treat it at home. But if it is severe, and since we are talking about neck bites, take your dog immediately to the vet’s clinic so proper treatment will be given as soon as possible.
According to vets, the first thing that you should do when accidents, such as serious neck bites, occur, is you should remove your dog from the situation as soon as possible. After which, seek medical help.
So what’s the treatment? It all depends on the severity of the wound/s. If it is really serious, your dog may be put under anesthesia for a surgery. But before that, thorough evaluation will be conducted, which may include x-rays and ultrasounds.
Other treatments for bites on the neck may also involve antibiotics. With this, you need a vet’s prescription. You will also have to identify a comfortable option for your dog not to touch his wounds.
‘Neck biting’ is normal when dogs are playing. It is their way of having a good time with other dogs. However, you should be observant too. If you see that your dog or his play mate is exhibiting signs of aggression, you should interfere immediately.
The bottom line is, know the difference between a fun play and rough play. You also need to know how to identify the cause of aggressiveness.