Dog Biting Other Dog’s Legs [Play Nice!]

Zack Keithy, our author, has been a certified veterinarian technician for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers. Learn more about us here.

I’m always happy to bring my dogs out to play with other dogs. They seem to have so much fun!

But before you let your furry friend play with other dogs, it’s important to understand the potential risks and consequences of dog biting.

What can possibly cause this behavior?

A dog may bite another dog’s legs because of fear, innate behavior, or lack of socialization, among other reasons. Some are harmless playtime actions, but some can be outright dangerous and need our intervention.

In this post, I will share more on the reasons this happens and how you can arm yourself with the knowledge to recognize and deal with the issue in the future.

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Why Does a Dog Biting Other Dogs Legs? 5 Reasons

Reasons for a Dog Biting Other Dogs Legs

As an owner of two dogs, Bella (a Frenchie) and Cookie (a Yorkie), I know full well that dogs biting other dogs’ legs are not only common but also completely normal!

But I understand the concern dog owners have when their dog bites another dog or the other way around.

Whether these are just playful nibbles or a sign of canine aggression, here are some of the most common reasons why dogs have this type of behavior.

Doggy says, you might like this too: When Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Calm Down?

1. Behavior of a specific dog breed

Whether we like it or not, breed plays an impactful role in a dog’s behavior.

For instance, dogs use leg biting as a form of communication, especially for breeds with dominant behavior. 

Dominant dogs tend to give a warning nip to keep the other dogs in line.

Here are some dog breeds with dominant behavior:

  • Boerboel
  • Shar-Pei
  • Siberian Husky
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Caucasian Shepherd

Herding dogs will also nip other dogs’ legs, and sometimes they do it to us too. 

Don’t worry; they’re just imitating the herding behavior they were originally bred for.

Herding dogs like Border Collies, Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, and German Shepherds often display this type of behavior.

2. Aggression

A dog biting another dog’s legs may also be a sign of aggression. 

If your dog breed is included in the list below and exhibits this biting behavior, you may want to do some training with your dog.

Extremely aggressive dog breeds:

  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd

Aggressive dog breeds:

  • Akita
  • Basenji
  • Chihuahua
  • Chow Chow
  • Shar-pei

Doggy says, you might want to read this too: My dog sniffs other dog then attacks

3. Fighting

Yes, dogs bite other dogs’ legs during fights.

A dog may start a fight or become aggressive in response to perceived threats or stressors, such as a new dog entering the territory, loud noises, and fear.

In fights, dogs may bite other dogs on the legs, neck, or face.

Bites can range from minor nips to severe injuries requiring medical attention.

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4. Not enough socialization

A lack of socialization can cause dogs to bite other dogs.

Puppies are most receptive to socialization between the ages of 3-14 weeks.

Dogs that don’t receive adequate socialization during the puppy stage may become fearful or anxious about others, leading to defensive or aggressive behavior.

Think about it, even you will feel awkward in a room full of strangers, so it makes sense that your dog would feel the same way.

Proper socialization can help dogs become comfortable around other dogs and learn appropriate social skills.

5. Could be just playing

Dogs may bite another dog during playtime, but it’s nothing unusual.

They often nip or bite at each other’s tails, ears, or legs, but these bites are usually gentle and not meant to cause harm.

This behavior often accompanies other playful behaviors, such as chasing, wrestling, and bowing.

But sometimes, they unintentionally bite too hard, especially for puppies, and the immediate response of the bitten dog is to bite back.

It can serve as a learning curve for your dogs. It will help your dog learn to control their biting force when playing.

Do you know what to do if your dog is overprotective of a new puppy?

Signs of Aggression/That a Dog May Bite?

Signs of Aggression or That a Dog May Bite

Dogs may display various warning signs before they bite. Some of the most common signs include:

  1. They growl and snarl. It is a friendly warning that shows a dog feels threatened or uncomfortable.
  2. They show their teeth. Dogs may pull their lips back or curl to show their teeth, which can indicate aggression.
  3. They portray a stiff body posture. A dog about to bite has a stiff, rigid body posture and may stand tall with its ears erect.
  4. They raised their fur. A dog’s fur may stand up on its back and neck when aggressive or fearful.
  5. They may lunge or snap if they feel threatened.
  6. They bark or growl when approached by unfamiliar people or animals.

While dogs show signs of aggression before they bite, there’s no way to predict an attack.

It’s best to avoid unfamiliar dogs; if you must approach one, do so cautiously.

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Prevention of Dog Biting Other Dogs Legs

You wouldn’t want your dog biting other dogs’ legs, right? And, of course, you wouldn’t want your dog to be bitten too.

Here are some dog owner tips you can do to prevent this from happening:

Distract your dog

One effective way to distract your dog is to carry a toy or treat with you when you are out with them.

If you see another dog approaching or their play is starting to lead into a fight, ask them to perform a trick, such as sitting or lying down.

Or give them a toy or treat to play with. 

It can redirect their attention or prevent them from overly focusing on the presence of other dogs.

Lots of play and exercise

Give your dog plenty of opportunities to play and exercise as they will then be less likely to act aggressively toward other dogs.

Regular exercise can help your dog burn off excess energy and provide an outlet for their instincts like chasing and retrieving.

In addition to regular exercise, provide your dog with mental stimulation like puzzle toys and interactive games.

Training exercises to keep your dog’s mind engaged and prevent boredom.

While play and exercise can help prevent dog-to-dog aggression, they are not substitutes for proper socialization and training.

Obedience training

Obedience training can be an effective method of preventing dog bites. 

It helps establish a strong bond between you and your dog and teaches him appropriate social skills and behaviors.

With obedience training, you can train your dog in basic commands so that it can prevent unwanted behavior toward other dogs. 

Use positive reinforcement during obedience training by using rewards and praise to encourage behavior rather than harsh corrections.

Socialize your dog often

Socializing happens by exposing your dog to various people, animals, and environments in a positive and controlled way.

It should begin young and continue throughout your dog’s life. 

Exposing your dog to various breeds, sizes, and personalities of dogs is essential, as well as people of all ages and backgrounds.

Hiring professional trainers

If you feel like you need professional help from a trainer, don’t be afraid to do so. 

A professional dog trainer can help you identify and address the underlying causes of your dog’s behavior. 

They also provide appropriate training and management techniques for behavioral issues.

When you choose a dog trainer, I suggest you choose one who uses positive reinforcement, rewards, and praise to encourage desired behavior.

And, of course, listen to your dog. Choose a trainer that your dog is comfortable with. 

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Treatment of Dog Biting Other Dogs Legs

What first aid can you do immediately to a dog bite wound?

If your dog is on the receiving end or the other way around, you should take immediate action to prevent further injury.

Here are some tips for you:

  • Try to separate the two dogs together to prevent further injury.
  • Prevent the dog from biting or scratching the affected area.
  • If bleeding is present, apply pressure to the wound with a clean towel or cloth to stop the bleeding.
  • Clean the wound with warm water and mild soap.
  • Apply an antiseptic solution, such as povidone-iodine, to the wound to help prevent infection.
  • Cover the bite wound with a sterile bandage to protect it. 
  • Change the dressing regularly to prevent infection.

You should then seek out veterinary care as soon as possible after a dog bite to ensure your dog’s safety and fast recovery.

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Thank you. The rest of the article continues below.

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Is there a risk of infection from a bite wound?

Yes, there is the risk of infection from a bite wound. Dog bite wounds are particularly prone to infection because of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth. 

Signs of infection can include redness, swelling, warmth, discharge, and a foul odor, which can develop even after treatment.

Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these signs.

Symptoms of infection from a bite injury

During the aftermath of a dog bite, you need to monitor the wound closely for signs of infection.

Here are some symptoms:

  • Redness and swelling: The area around the wound may become red, inflamed, and swollen.
  • Warmth: The area around the wound may feel warm.
  • Discharge: Pus or other discharge may be around the wound.
  • Foul odor: The wound may have a foul odor, indicating the presence of infection.
  • Pain: Your dog may show pain or discomfort, such as limping or favoring the affected limb.
  • Fever: In some cases, a fever may develop as a sign of systemic infection.

You can prevent infection by regularly keeping the wound clean and dry by changing the bandage.

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What Does Good Play Between Dogs Look Like?

What Does Good Play between dogs Look Like?

It can be difficult for owners to know when a dog is playing friendly or aggressively. 

However, if you look at the way the dog’s body moves and reacts, you can tell if both pups are enjoying themselves.

Good play is vital for dogs’ physical and mental well-being and it’s essential for their social development too.

Here are some signs of good plays:

  1. They have relaxed body language. When dogs are playing well, they have softened, loose body language. Their tails often wag, and they may have softened open mouths.
  2. They invite you to play. Play bows are a familiar gesture to communicate. They signal that a dog is friendly and wants to play.
  3. They alternate their roles. Dogs often take turns chasing each other or playfully wrestling. Dogs may switch between being pursued and the one who hunts.
  4. They are play-biting. Dogs often play by biting or mouthing each other during play, but the bites are usually gentle and do not cause harm. If one dog becomes too rough, the other will yelp or disengage, signaling that the play is too harsh.
  1. They use breaks and pauses. Dogs will pause during play to catch their breath, drink water, or rest. It helps prevent overstimulation and exhaustion.
  2. They have equal energy levels. Good play often involves dogs with similar energy levels. 

Doggy says, you might like this article too: What to do if my dog killed a rabbit?

What Does Bad Play Look Like?

While good play benefits physical and mental health, bad play can lead to aggression or injury. 

Here are some signs of bad plays:

  1. They play rough. While play biting is normal during play, rough play can indicate that a dog is not playing well. It can include biting too hard, not responding to yelps, and targeting sensitive areas like the face and other sensitive parts.
  2. The play is one-sided. If one dog constantly bites or chases the other, the play may have a problem. Sometimes, one dog may become anxious and fearful, leading to an imbalanced power dynamic.
  3. They are ganging up. When multiple dogs play together, they sometimes gang up on one dog, leading to aggression or injury. It can be dangerous if the target dog is smaller.

The unfortunate truth is, not all dogs will play well together.

Suppose you notice any signs of bad play, you must intervene right away and separate the dogs to prevent injuries or escalation.

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How To Spot a Potential Aggressive Dog?

While not all dogs that display aggression are dangerous, it’s important that you are able to recognize signs of a potentially aggressive dog.

Here are some warning signs:

  1. Stiff body language. A dog feeling threatened or aggressive may show stiff body language, such as raised hackles, a lowered head, and a tense, hunched posture.
  2. Direct staring. A dog staring intently and without blinking may exhibit a challenge or threat.
  3. Growling or snarling. These vocalizations can indicate a dog feeling aggressive or threatened.
  4. Showing teeth. A dog baring its teeth, especially if combined with growling or snarling, is a clear sign of potential aggression.
  5. Lunging or charging. A dog charging you or other animals may exhibit aggressive behavior.
  6. Unpredictability. If a dog is acting unpredictably, such as suddenly lunging or snapping, it may be a sign that the dog is feeling threatened or aggressive.
  7. Previous history of aggression. If a dog has a history of showing aggression towards people or other animals, it’s essential to be cautious.

What To Do if Your Dog is Bitten by Another Dog?

If your dog is on the receiving end of the leg biting, you should follow these steps:

  1. Assess the severity of the bite. Whether the bite is serious or not, apply first aid immediately. If the bite is minor, such as a scrape or the nose or a small puncture wound, you can generally leave it to heal on its own. However, suppose the bite is more severe, like a deep puncture wound or a torn muscle, you need to bring your dog to the emergency vet right away.
  1. Secure your dog. If the other dog is still loose, safely secure your dog and remove them from the area.
  2. Get contact information. If possible, get contact information from the other dog’s owner, including their name, phone number, and address. You should also ask for information about the other dog’s vaccination status.
  1. Report the incident. Depending on the local laws in your area, you may be required to report the incident to local animal control or the police. Even if it is not required, it is a good idea to report the incident if there are future incidents involving the same dog.
  1. Seek veterinary care. Having your dog examined is a good idea to ensure no underlying injuries or signs of infection.
  2. Document the incident. Take photos of your dog’s injuries and record any veterinary care received. This documentation can be useful if any legal or insurance issues arise from the incident.


What should you do if your dog gets into a fight?

If a fight breaks out, stay calm and use distractions like loud noise to break their focus. If they continue fighting, physically separate them using an object. In addition, check your dog for injuries and seek professional help if your dog is getting into fights frequently.

How do I keep my dog from becoming aggressive?

To prevent your dog from becoming aggressive, socialize, train, and supervise them. Give them lots of exercises and mental stimulation. Avoid punishing them, and seek professional help. Providing your dog with proper socialization, training, and care can help prevent aggressive behavior.

How serious are dog bite wounds?

Dog bite wounds can range from mild to severe. Even a minor bite can cause pain, swelling, and bruising, while more serious bites can cause deep puncture wounds. Bite wounds can become infected, leading to more serious complications. It’s important to seek medical attention to ensure proper treatment.

Does my dog need to be seen by a veterinarian after it has been in a fight?

Yes, it’s important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian after a fight, even if there are no visible signs of injury. He or she can examine your dog for any internal injuries or hidden wounds that may not be apparent to the naked eye.

Why does my dog bite my other dogs legs?

Your dog may bite another dog’s legs due to various reasons, including playfulness, dominance assertion, or trying to establish boundaries. It can also be a sign of underlying behavioral issues, stress, or discomfort. You need to learn how to socialize them to build a friendly relationship where they can live in peace together.

What does it mean when a dog bites another dogs back legs?

When a dog bites another dog’s back legs, it often signifies a play behavior or a desire to engage in physical interaction. It can be a form of playfulness or an attempt to initiate a chase game. However, context and body language are crucial; if it becomes aggressive or persistent, you should consider professional evaluation.

Why does my dog bite other dogs legs when playing?

Dogs often bite other dogs’ legs during play as part of their natural play behavior. It’s a way to engage, establish dominance, or initiate a chase. It’s generally harmless and a sign of social interaction, but monitor their play to ensure it remains friendly and doesn’t escalate into aggression.

In Conclusion: Dog Biting Other Dogs’ Legs

Biting is pretty natural among dogs, particularly when they are playing.

That said, it is our duty as dog owners to make sure that playtime is fun and safe for each and every dog.

We can do our part to lower the possibility of accidents and disputes by being aware of the potential dangers and causes and taking precautions to avoid them.

While your pet is playing, keep a close eye and remember to step in if required.

This way, he or she can continue to enjoy playing without risking injury or stress.

Check out other dog behavior articles such as why does my dog refuse to walk in certain directions, why is my puppy walking funny, dog licking lips when petted, and many more on our blog!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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