Why Do Dogs Bite Their Leash When Walking & Running?

why do dogs bite their leash

My dog drives me mad with his leash biting. As soon as I get his leash out of the drawer to take him for walks, he tries to bite it. This means it’s really hard to put on him with his collar. Then once the leash is on, he tries to bite it again – it’s completely counterproductive behavior from him, as it means it takes me longer to get him out of the door and off the leash at the park.

But what is it that makes my dog want to bite his leash when walking, or even as we run along? Actually, scratch that… he tries to bite at it before I’ve even got it on him! Here’s the short answer followed by an in-depth answer and then tips on how to stop your dog biting his leash.

Why do dogs bite their leash? Dogs bite their leash while walking for reasons including over-excitement, the fun of tug of war games, learned behavior from puppyhood, or frustration through not getting enough exercise.

Dealing with dogs that bite their leash

Dealing with a dog that has a habit of biting its leash on walks can be a stressful experience. It can make a calm and pleasant walk, an annoying and frustrating experience, sometimes before you’ve even started.

Although this behavior might not seem that big of a deal to non-pet owners, it can quickly take its toll on even the most patient of dog owners.

why do dogs bite their leash while walking
My dog used to bite his leash before we went for a walk – probably due to excitement.

Leash biting can also be dangerous in the wrong situation, especially if the offending dog comes from a large breed. Dogs who bite their leash will often pull their owners all over the place in the process, which can prove risky if you live on a busy street or in a major city – after all, the last thing any of us want is to be dragged in front of an oncoming vehicle.

Puppies that bite their leash

Unfortunately, this habit of leash biting seems to be all too common amongst our canine friends. If you have owned a puppy, you will be familiar with how prevalent this behavior is in young dogs, for example.

Bearing this is in mind, it is easy to see why so many dogs retain this habit late into adulthood. If not properly trained, even the best-behaved dogs can develop naughty habits, or remain unruly when it comes to leash etiquette.

Similarly, dogs with an obsession with chewing their leashes can be troublesome. Although these types of dogs may not cause you problems while walking, they can cost you money if they continuously damage their leashes.

This can also happen if you own multiple dogs, with one dog often being particularly obsessed with chewing the leads of its companions. This can often occur when you are distracted (for example, if you have your back turned) or when you are attending to a separate dog.

To understand how you can address this behavior, you must have a clearer understanding of why canines bite their leashes in the first place. At first glance, the answer to this question might seem simple. However, it is not quite so apparent as many may think, and there are varying reasons as to why dogs like to chew or bite their leads.

In this article, we will aim to explain some of these reasons, as well as address other questions that are related to this subject. Hopefully, with this newfound knowledge at hand, you will be able to put a stop to your dog’s leash biting habit. After all, your dog and you deserve to have a happy and relaxed walk, instead of a stressful and irritating experience.

Handy Hint: Some dogs will start walking sideways when on the leash. This can happen for a variety of reasons, outlined here.

Why do dogs bite their leash while walking?

Dogs bite the leash for a variety of different reasons. Although it might not seem complicated, there is a surprising amount of depth to this behavior.

As touched on above, to handle this better, a proper understanding of what is causing the issue is required. Similar to human beings, dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, and, therefore, your dog may bite its lead for a completely different reason to another pooch.

However, when it comes to puppies and young dogs, overstimulation is usually the main culprit for this. Most young dogs are still exploring the world and experiencing new sights and sounds which can lead them to become over-excited and even start nipping.

This is the probable reason why my dog bites the leash, because he is so excited about the prospect of a walk outside.

dog bites leash when running
Here’s my dog biting his leash before we go outdoors for walks.

The outdoors is an incredible place for young pups, full of a variety of different smells, unusual movements, weird creatures, and new people they have yet to meet. Bearing all of this in mind, it comes as no great surprise why the act of leash-biting is so common in younger dogs.

Although sometimes annoying, this behavior is an outlet for puppies and is a manifestation of the excitement they are struggling to contain. Whilst some dogs will never grow out of their puppyish ways, most will eventually begin to relax as they reach adulthood and calm down significantly.

Therefore, if you own a puppy who is guilty of leash-biting, try to remain patient and refrain from shouting or getting angry with them. Failure to do this may lead to your puppy developing anxiety, which could further exasperate this issue and cause other problematic behaviors down the line.

Most of these rules apply to adult dogs, too. For example, if you are the owner of an adult dog that bites the leash, there is no doubt that you have seen how excited they get when they visit a new place or area for the first time.

Just like puppies, dogs can easily be overwhelmed by new smells, people, and animals, which in turn often causes them to bite or playfully tug at their leash. If this only happens occasionally, then you should not worry about it too much (so long as your dog is not endangering you or pulling your arm off in the process).

Even the most well-behaved dogs can sometimes bite the leash this way when extremely excited, and some patience is required.

Dogs are social animals and much like humans they have varying different emotions. At times, these emotions can play a role in their behavior causing them to become bored, playful, or mischievous depending on their mood.

Almost all dogs get excited when they see their owner come through the door at the end of a long day, and this can make them want to play. For example, if your dog bites its leash and tries to initiate a tug of war with you, they are usually doing it out of a desire to have fun and not out of aggression or defiance.

Lastly, leash-biting can also be a learned behavior. At times, younger dogs will notice their siblings or family members doing this and will copy them. Furthermore, some dogs can also begin to associate biting their lead with walk time.

Similar to a ritual, they will begin to bite or tug at their lead due to a belief that it will then result in a walk.

Can your dog’s breed affect how much it bites its leash?

It is worth noting that dogs prone to leash biting is far more common in high energy breeds. Dogs such as these are naturally more excitable and are prone to destructive behaviors, especially if they are not getting the correct amount of exercise.

Therefore, if you are the owner of one of these breeds, you should make sure that they are regularly exercised to avoid leash-biting. Additionally, the same mentality should be applied to lower energy dogs who can also act up if they are left indoors for long periods.

Although the majority of people picture high energy dogs solely as sled pulling or sheep herding breeds, smaller and more common breeds of dogs can also fall into this high energy category.

For example, Yorkshire Terriers, Shiba Inus, Welsh Corgis, Toy Fox Terriers, Beagles, and Border Terriers are all high energy dogs who require several walks to avoid becoming destructive. More typically thought of high energy breeds are Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Dalmatians, English Springer Spaniels, and German Shepherds.

How do I get my dog to stop biting the leash?

Thankfully, learning how to stop your dog from biting its leash is relatively straightforward. First, regardless of the reason they do this, you should always make sure not to tug back on the leash. If your dog is playful, this will only worsen the situation, and signal that you are ready to play.

Instead, ignore their biting on the leash when walking, or (if inside or at a suitable location such as a large park) drop their leash and only pick it up once they have stopped this behavior.

However, it is important that you only do this when there are no other dogs around, as your pooch could run away.

Expanding on this, you could also use this method with treats. Whenever your dog successfully stops biting its leash, reward them with their favorite doggy snack. After a few days or weeks, they should begin to stop this behavior entirely.

Alternatively, if your dog is very playful, then you could try giving them more biting or chewing toys to play with.

Also, (if you have the time), you could set away 10 to 20 minutes in the day to play tug of war with them.

However, it is important to schedule this playtime carefully, and not too close to a walk, as this could cause them to try and continue the game with their leash.

Conclusion

I applied the methods described to stop my dog biting the leash when walking, and after 2 weeks of patience, it had worked.

Like most dog training, without shouting and scolding, and rewarding good behavior, you can usually get it to work.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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