Dogs can be weird and using another dog’s paw as a bone definitely falls into that category.
However, is there really more to it or is it just a fun quirk among dogs?
This largely depends on your dog and the circumstances, and while most reasons are harmless, it can indicate an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
In summary, dogs may chew their legs during play, due to poor play experience, lack of bite inhibition, teething, grooming, affection, and aggression.
As you can see, the reasons differ widely, so let’s break down each one and find out why your dog bites another dog’s legs.
8 reasons why dogs bite their legs
There can be many reasons why your dog bites, but I can assure you that most of the time, it is simply a sign that your dog is having fun while playing or showing affection to another dog.
You can determine the specific cause by observing your dog, the other dog, and your surroundings.
Just by looking at the other dog, you can immediately tell if it’s a positive or a negative.
If the other dog is comfortable and enjoying the interaction, your dog likely has the best intentions and it’s just a normal form of canine communication.
The most common reason dogs bite their legs is play.
Dogs can only play with their paws or mouths and it is normal for two dogs to bite each other’s mouths during a play session.
Some dogs tend to use their mouths a lot more than others and it may be their preferred style of play.
When dogs meet, they are usually of two types, fighters and hunters.
Beyond that, there are plenty of other styles of play, and some dogs love to go for those bouncy limbs (you’re lucky if that doesn’t include a love of chewing on your limbs).
When we got a foster dog, we quickly noticed that his playstyle was very leg-focused and he made it a game of chasing them.
My Rottweiler Amalia is usually a fighter so she was used to a lot of body contact and they handled the weirdest play scenarios and often just collapsing on each other.
Game bites do not leave marks and you should monitor play for signs of discomfort.
It can also be used to start a game session similar to a game arc.
2. Little gaming experience
If your dog hasn’t played much in his life, he may not know how to interact with other dogs.
Positive canine interactions are an important part of socialization and are necessary to properly prepare your dog for all kinds of situations.
Different dogs have different play styles and your dog may not have a clue how to handle this.
Exposure to controlled play sessions with many different dogs should curb this problem.
It is very important that interactions with dogs are as positive as possible so that your dog does not walk away scared or unsafe.
Your dog doesn’t have to be able to play with all dogs, just like humans aren’t always compatible with each other.
However, any behavior that actually annoys or annoys other dogs should be worked on.
3. Lack of bite inhibition
Bite inhibition is something dogs need to learn at a young age.
As pups they have very sharp teeth and when they bite their littermates and especially their mother they will receive feedback.
A bitten pup will howl and stop playing and the mother may put an unruly pup in her place.
In this way, they learn to adjust the force of their jaws, which eventually leads to good bite inhibition.
A dog that has been taken away from his family too soon or has had little contact with dogs, in general, may never have had the opportunity to learn this valuable lesson.
When you bring your puppy home, it’s your job to continue to teach him what’s right and what’s wrong.
Human skin or clothing may not be bitten under any circumstances and depending on the dog this can take a few weeks or even months.
If you’re not sure how to accomplish this, read my guide on puppy bites for more tips.
This also works if you have an adult dog, it will just take more time and training.
I always recommend taking your dog to puppy socialization classes where he continues to learn those lessons during play sessions with other pups.
Just like baby teeth, puppies and when those teeth want to come out, it hurts and can be uncomfortable.
They start to get their baby teeth at around 3 weeks and have a full set of pearly whites by 6 to 8 weeks.
Most begin to lose those teeth around 3 1/2 months of age, and adult molars grow in between 5 and 7 months of age.
So don’t be surprised when you find a little tooth in the carpet, that’s completely normal.
You should even feel blessed as most of the time, milk teeth are simply swallowed.
During this time, puppies may become louder or more destructive around the house.
This is only temporary and should pass over time.
Maintain your bite inhibition training and offer your pup a variety of chew toys for pain relief.
Some puppies prefer them soft, others harder. Many like their chew toys chilled or even frozen.
Don’t worry if he chews too much on his leg during this time, as it will most likely go away when his permanent teeth are fully grown.
It is completely normal for dogs to groom each other and it is part of their social communication.
Usually this will not be limited to the legs and your dog could brush another dog’s ears, face or paws.
Dogs first come into contact with grooming through their mother and it is an important developmental stage during puppyhood.
While dogs mostly groom themselves, this attention can extend to their canine friends as well.
Licking, nibbling, and grooming release endorphins that can help combat anxiety and stress.
So it’s definitely a win-win!
Gently biting another dog’s legs can also be a sign of affection.
When my dog and his friend Saarloos Wolfdog snuggled together on the sofa, they loved to sloppy kiss each other and gently nibble.
If two dogs are very close to each other, biting legs or other body parts is a way of showing that they are comfortable with and trust each other.
Dog aggression comes in many shapes and forms and can lead to one dog biting or chewing on the legs of another dog.
It can be easily differentiated from play by looking at the dog’s body posture.
A dog that is playing will have a relaxed body posture, eyes and mouth open.
The tail will be low and relaxed or wagging.
There are plenty of bouncy moves and you’ll see the occasional game bow.
Aggression, on the other hand, comes with a lot of tension.
There may be signs such as creeps, a stiff tail, crooked lips, a forward-leaning posture, and an intense gaze.
A dog that is aggressive may also be wagging its tail (although not quite as much), so it’s important to always look at the whole picture rather than one specific part of the body.
Vocalization is often a part of aggressive displays and you may hear growling, growling, and barking.
Fear is often the cause of aggressive behavior and can occur when your dog is intimidated or scared.
There is also possessive aggression or resource guarding which often occurs when one dog approaches another while they are playing with a toy.
It can also occur during meals or around any other valuables to your dog.
Territorial aggression can occur when one dog enters another dog’s territory.
This usually happens at home, but dogs that are truly territorial can quickly reclaim outdoor areas where they have spent some time, such as picnic areas or park benches.
When things really get out of hand, a dogfight can break out.
During a dog fight, there is definitely a chance that one dog will bite another dog’s legs or other parts of its body.
Dog fights do not have to end with injuries and most are resolved with very loud vocalizations.
However, all dogfights must be stopped before anything serious happens and the dogs must be separated from each other.
Dogs constantly communicate that there are many signs that lead to a dogfight, so it is very important to pay attention to the situation and end the meeting when things get too heated.
If fights between two of your dogs occur in your own home, consider reading this article.
Should you stop biting your legs between dogs?
Whether or not you should stop between dog leg biting largely depends on the reasons.
If it only happens during play and your dog is very familiar with the other dog, there’s no need to discourage him.
Unless the family dog is bothered.
However, if you are meeting a strange dog for the first time, it would be best not to allow excessive chewing on your legs, as this could lead to conflict.
Not all dogs accept this behavior and may even view it as intimidating.
When dogs first meet, they don’t know much about each other and while some dogs are more outgoing and open, others may be intimidated by their personalities and may react with fear.
There is nothing wrong with mutual grooming between dogs either, quite the opposite.
As I mentioned earlier, the lack of bite inhibition and socialization need to be worked on to resolve the issue.
Potential aggression is something you should take very seriously and consider getting help from a professional trainer who has experience with aggressive dogs.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for veterinary care and is not intended to be. I am not a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.
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