Why Do Dogs Bite Other Dogs’ Legs? [5 Reasons & Solution]

Why Do Dogs Bite Other Dogs Legs

It feels strange when a dog sneaks up on another dog and suddenly nips or bites its leg. We will look into five different reasons behind this issue and provide solutions.

Here is why dogs bite other dogs’ legs:

A dog may bite another dog’s leg due to a breed-specific trait, as part of playing, fighting, lack of exercise, and socialization. Possible solutions include distracting the dog, keeping it away for a while when it tries to nip at another dog’s hindquarters, redirecting and praising it, socializing it, and providing adequate exercise.

To address this issue, it is important to observe the exact reason behind it in order to find a solution.

Reasons why dogs bite other dogs’ legs

I have seen this behavior in my dogs and other dogs many times. It may be caused by both normal and abnormal reasons, which can often result in damage or injury.

When I noticed this in my dogs, I immediately decided to address it as I own a Doberman and a Rottweiler, whose bite force is significantly high.

Therefore, let us consider the following reasons.

1. Breed specific behavior

We can see this behavior a lot from herding dogs who are guilty of trying to knock other dogs’ legs out from under them and even attempting to tip them over with their heads.

That’s exactly what they do while herding.

Mine also used to sneak behind the other dog and grab its hind ankle and pull it down in an attempt to show dominance.

Although this can be due to instinctive traits, this can be solved by following the appropriate approaches, which we will discuss next in this article.

Here are some dogs that often display this behavior:

  • Border Collies
  • German Shepherds
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Australian Cattle Dogs
  • Corgies
  • Shelties
  • Great Pyrenees

2. They might be just playing

Dogs bite each other’s legs, pull on ears, bite each other’s faces and neck as a part of regular play.

However, the issue here is that not every dog has sufficient perception about each other’s threshold for hurting or other abnormal behavior.

Often puppies don't have full understanding of how hard to bite while playing.

When a pup intentionally bites the mama dog's or another sibling's back leg, but without controlling the force, the other dog will nip back instantly, which teaches them how hard is too hard while playing, resulting in them learning to control the force when they bite and play.

Frankly, this is why dogs have big cheeks with loose skin. They have places to grab onto in the case of fighting or just playing.

Imagine for a second how a mama dog carries her puppies by using their mouths. It’s not hard enough to cause any damage, yet it’s strong enough to hold them and move them from one place to another.

Dogs playing in snow

3. Fighting

Besides enticing another dog to play, a dog might bite on another dog’s back legs while they fight, pull the other dog down, and show its aggressiveness mixed with dominance.

This is dangerous as they can bite each other without controlling the bite force, resulting in injuries and wounds. In particular, you should be extremely careful if you own a pit bull and he is around a small dog.

4. Lack of exercise

Imagine a dog staying inside the house all day without sufficient exercise. That dog might become wild when it goes to a dog park or ground where other dogs are playing.

A lack of exercise for a dog means that it has a lot of pent-up energy and may play roughly with other dogs, expecting them to do the same.

If this dog is large and bites another small dog’s feet, it could cause serious injuries if the situation is not controlled.

5. Lack of socialization

When a dog is not exposed to the outside world, it can lead to a lack of socialization.

These dogs lack an awareness of how to behave when they encounter another dog. This often leads to aggression and attempts to fight.

Therefore, it is not surprising if such a dog nips or bites another dog’s leg.

What to do when your dog keep biting other dogs’ legs?

It is better to avert the dog whenever you notice such behavior from him, in order to keep them from harming each other.

Take a look at the following tips which are worth considering to prevent such situations from occurring.

1. Distract the dog

Distracting your dog whenever it bites another dog’s legs is the very first thing you need to do.

Suppose you are in a dog park and the dog tries to misbehave. Immediately distract the dog, stop playing with the other dog, and then consider playing a game such as tug of war with him.

After a while, let him play with other dogs. If he continues to nip or bite another dog’s leg, repeat the process. This will teach him that this behaviour is not appropriate.

Let's say you have two or more dogs. One dog may bite the leg of the other out of anger or with the intention of playing. In such a case, consider these things: 

1. Stop the dog from playing with the other in the first place. 
2. Play tug of war or ball with the dog instead. 
3. Provide him something to occupy his time, like a chew toy or bone.
4. Allow them to play together again after some time has passed.

Suggested reading: Here is why dogs with fleas bite each other

2. Keep them away from each other for a moment

If your dog is playing and biting each other’s legs, it’s better to make them stop.

Give the dog at least 15-20 minutes to calm down and avoid scrapes or injuries. Then, release them to play again.

If they start nipping or biting again, take them away immediately. Repeat this process and they will understand what is expected of them.

Timing is crucial; you must take the dog out instantly when they become too rough.

The dog will be more responsive and learn more quickly if you do this exercise in a low-distraction environment. If your dog appears restless and is attempting to interact with other dogs, consider putting a harness on him as it often has a calming effect. Click here for more information.

3. Redirect and praise

When your dog is playing with another and it appears to be heading toward a fight – such as nipping or biting each other’s legs – consider redirecting the dogs into a different situation. Make sure you are closely supervising them.

Say “Stop” and then reward their reaction when they stop on your command. Replace the unwanted playing with something else, like fetch, basic obedience, or teaching tricks and games.

4. Socialize the dog

Dogs can become aggressive towards other dogs if they have not been sufficiently socialized. To ensure that your dog does not demonstrate such behaviour, it is important to provide them with plenty of opportunities for socialization.

One way to do this is by arranging a ‘play date’ with the friendly dog of a friend or family member. This will allow your pet to become accustomed to the presence of other animals in a safe and controlled environment.

Group training sessions are also a great way for your pup to interact with their peers. During these classes, dogs can learn how to interact correctly and safely with each other. As well as attending group lessons, you may also want to take your canine companion on regular walks around the neighbourhood or visits to local dog parks and shopping malls – activities which will help them become used to being around unfamiliar people and pets.

By taking these steps, you should be able to reduce any risks associated with poor socialization in dogs and ensure that they remain happy and healthy when interacting with others in future.

5. Play and exercise with the dog

Previously, we discussed that a lack of exercise is one of the primary causes for your dog to play roughly with other canines and bite each other’s limbs, faces, and tails.

Here, I suggest you take the dog for a run or walk, play in the backyard, have a game of tug of war, and play fetch to tire the dog out before it meets other dogs.

A tired dog is less likely to play rough with another dog.

What are the possible problems if your dog bites other dogs’ legs?

It is important to be aware that rough play can often lead to wounds, injury, or even worse consequences. We should take care to avoid any potential dangers that could arise if your dog bites another dog’s leg.

The other dog might get injured

It doesn’t matter the size of the breed; biting behaviours known as “Chicken legging” can lead to numerous problems.

The skin on a dog’s hind leg is particularly thin and delicate near the ankle, with a small bone located behind it.

Even if your dog has been trained not to bite other dogs, there is still the potential for enough pressure and force to be applied when they grip that area with their mouth to cause injury.

Possibility of a dog fight!

Even though your dog may bite another dog’s leg as a way to invite it to play, nipping the heel of the wrong dog could result in that animal becoming aggressive and biting back, leading to a more serious fight.

To avoid this, I would encourage you to follow the advice mentioned earlier.

What if the other dog has arthritic issues?

Things may worsen if the other dog has arthritis issues or any previous injury on its leg.

Such a situation may lead to people becoming angry with you.

Things to be aware of

You now know why dogs do this and potential solutions. In order to modify their behaviour, there are certain things you should be aware of.

Firstly, if your dog frequently bites other dog’s legs, you should use a leash when they are together.

If your dog is large and energetic, then close supervision is necessary when it plays with smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas, Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Pugs or Poodles.

Speak to your vet about creating an exercise schedule for your pet that can be adapted as it grows. Exercise is an important part of behavioural modification and can help tire out a hyperactive pup.

Punishing them for bad behaviour is not the answer; instead focus on positive reinforcement techniques and the tips already discussed. Rewarding good behaviour with treats or toys will help reinforce desired behaviours over time.

Herding breeds have natural instincts which some people think cannot be altered – this is untrue and almost every trait in canines can be changed with the right approach. Consistent training at home combined with regular visits to professional trainers where appropriate will help modify instinctual behaviours gradually but effectively over time.

Lastly, teach your pup the “Watch Me” command and recall so you can take their attention away from any unwanted behaviour. This is a simple but incredibly effective tool for redirecting your pup’s focus when it starts to display unwanted behaviours.

With the right information, tools and techniques, modifying your dog’s behaviour can be achieved quickly and safely. All that is required is patience and commitment to the process.


Many dog owners are curious to understand why their pups bite the legs of other dogs. We have investigated five potential reasons for this behaviour and provided possible solutions to address any associated issues. We hope you have found this article helpful.


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