How to Stop Leash Biting

Why Do Dogs Leash Bite?

There are a variety of reasons why dogs bite on the leash. Sometimes, they may be bored of leash training exercises. More often, they are redirecting their excitement or frustration onto the lead.

Walking outdoors is frequently a high energy, high stimulus, extravaganza of scents, movement, sound, and sights, for a dog. Therefore, they are more likely to lose control and act out, than when they are at home. This usually occurs when our dog sees a person, squirrel, cat, or some other trigger. Instinctually, he wants to chase the squirrel and cat, or interact with the person. When our dog is prevented from chasing, all that excited energy must still go somewhere, so it may get redirected onto the leash.

My dog was ultimately leash biting, because he was picking up on my weak, tense, and fearful energy. This increased his stress level, and would usually trigger his crazy leash dance. For shy dogs, unbalanced human energy may also cause fear aggression.

Which technique we use to prevent biting on the leash, will depend on the intensity and source of the behavior. If our dog has a bite history, it is best to hire a professional trainer.

For the Bored and Playful Leash Biter

Dog Training

1. Let our dog carry a stick or toy during leash training.

A problem with this technique is that some dogs may want to lie down, and just play with the toy or stick.

2. Play the Find-it game.

A fun game that I play with my dog during walks, is the Find-it game.

  • First, I get my dog’s attention by calling his name.
  • I reward him for giving me his attention.
  • Then, I say Find-it and throw him a treat a short distance away.
  • When he finds it, I praise him well, treat him, and repeat.

Once he is accustomed to finding it, I may combine the exercise with other obedience commands, e.g. Come. As his skills improve, I make the game more challenging by throwing the treat under bushes or in tall grass, but only if it is safe to do so.

Most importantly, I keep sessions short, fun, and rewarding. The Find-It game is a big favorite with all of my dogs.

3. Make leash training more interesting.

Leash training and walking will be a lot more interesting, if we change direction, change speed, and throw in some fun foot-work commands, such as Jump, Up, Weave, and Spin.

4. Walk our dog on a loose leash.

I walk my dog on a loose leash, stop often, and let him smell the roses. I only shorten the leash and move my dog into a heel position, when there are excitement triggers around, such as squirrels, cats, other dogs, and loud people.

5. Take our dog to interesting environments.

Visit nearby parks and empty school fields. These places have interesting smells and interesting objects that will keep our pooch happy, while he exercises his scent muscles.

For the Mildly Frustrated or Excited Leash Biter

1. Redirect our dog onto a toy.

Redirection worked initially, but after a time, my dog would ignore the toy and continue biting on the leash.

This technique is most effective when we catch the biting behavior early, so that our dog is not too frenzied to redirect his energy, onto another object. Redirection works best with Sephy, when I am calm and confident.

2. Issue an alternative command.

Once I notice that my dog is starting to lose control, I quickly get him to refocus on me, and get him engaged in doing obedience commands. I only use simple commands, which my dog knows so well that it is almost a reflex, for example Sit. Command redirection will only work, if we catch our dog before he gets too excited or frustrated.

3. Touch the dog’s body with our foot.

We can touch our dog, to try and refocus him back onto us. Do not kick him or apply excessive force to our ‘touch’. This refocus method worked for me initially. However, after a few touches, my dog got habituated to it and just ignored it.

Note that this technique may also be risky, if we accidentally apply too much force, if our dog is easily spooked, or if he is really sensitive to handling. Any of these conditions may cause him to lose trust in us, become even more anxious and fearful, or redirect his crazy energy onto our hands and feet, instead of on the leash.

For the Out of Control Leash Biter

In this situation, it is very important that we stay calm and use management equipment, as necessary, to keep everyone safe. With Sephy, I also have a plan ready, so that I can respond quickly and decisively.

1. Step on the leash and ignore our dog.

This technique is similar to a time-out, but it is not as effective. We take away our attention and our dog’s freedom to explore. However, there are still interesting things happening around him, and fascinating smells.

When I use this technique, my dog will settle down after a short time. As soon as I step away from the leash though, he will start his biting behavior again. I have tried lengthening the duration for up to about 15 minutes, but he still resumed his bad behavior.

2. Get our dog into a brisk walk home.

Forcing my dog to focus on an alternative physical activity, for example a brisk walk home, is the only thing that works for us. I also ignore him while we are walking home. I hold the leash really close to his collar, so I have good control of him, and just go. I do not look at him, talk to him, or touch him, for the entire trip.

Once my dog realized that leash biting only ends the walk and gets him a quick trip home, he stopped the behavior. He still gets excited when he sees a moving deer, but is able to calm himself down once we move a certain distance away from temptation.

Note – I only do this because my dog has good bite inhibition and will not bite hard on my hand, which is now near to his rather large teeth.

There are several advantages with this leash biting technique:

  • Engaging my dog in a physical activity, gives him an outlet for his frustrated and excited energy.
  • The brisk walk quickly removes him from the object or event that caused him to lose control. It also ends his enjoyable neighborhood outing.
  • Since he is busy walking, he does not have the opportunity to do anything else, including leash bite.
  • Finally, I can get home quickly and put him in a full time-out, if he continues to act out.
3. Time-out.

If my dog leash bites in the house, then I put him directly into a time-out area. This allows him to calm down, and shows him that extreme behavior will get his freedoms revoked.

Dogs are smart, and will quickly stop a behavior that gets them nowhere.

4. Spray water on our dog’s muzzle.

This is an aversive method, albeit a mild one. Nevertheless, it still comes with some of the dangers of applying an aversive stimulus. When I tried this technique, my dog just attacked the spray bottle. In addition, it will not be effectual if our dog likes, or is not bothered by water.

Some trainers suggest adding some vinegar or using mouthwash. If we do this, however, we must be very careful with our aim so that the added chemicals do not hit our dog’s eyes. I only used regular water on my dog.

5. Leash correction.

Leash corrections did not work well for Sephy. It only caused him to fight back and escalate his leash biting behavior. Leash corrections are difficult to implement and can be risky, especially when not properly applied.

6. Desensitization exercises.

Another good way to reduce leash biting, is to desensitize our dog to the triggers that get him over-excited. For example, we can do controlled desensitization training with people, other dogs, and even cats.

Desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises helped a lot with my Shiba Inu.

Reactive Dogs and Leash Biting

Some dogs get excited more quickly than others. My Shiba Inu is a very reactive dog and like a super sports car, he can go from 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. Once a dog loses control, he is no longer able to listen to us, and anything that we say will fall on deaf ears. A very high priority treat may sometimes snap him out of his frenzy, but I found that to be unreliable. Most of the time, when a dog goes rear-brained/reactive, he will be totally disinterested in food and other rewards.

At that point, it is no longer possible to redirect the dog’s attention away from the squirrel or cat. Instead, I take Sephy to a quiet, low stimulus area, away from the trigger object, so that he can calm down.

In general, we want to catch the behavior early, and prevent our dog from obsessing over the trigger object (squirrel, cat, dog), before he gets into a reactive state. This is one of the reasons why some trainers suggest walking a dog in a perpetual heel-like position (without the more stringent demands of precision heeling).

Forcing a dog to walk close to us, with eyes ahead, can help to discourage distractions and over-excitement instances. However, it also makes for a more boring walk, that does not fulfill a dog’s need to smell and explore.

Precision heeling demands constant attention from both dog and handler and is not appropriate for long periods of time, like for your daily walks around the block or to the park.

In general, I walk my dog on a loose-leash. At the same time, I stay vigilant and redirect my dog’s attention back to me, as soon as I spot a squirrel or cat. In these cases, distance is our greatest friend. Moving our dog away from the trigger object will help to reduce its potency. I usually redirect my dog’s attention onto me (by calling his name), and move him away from the trigger area.

Retraining behaviors will take time, effort, and repetition. However, if we are consistent and fair, our dog will quickly learn which behaviors are positive and rewarding, and which behaviors are not.

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  1. char says

    Hey, I found your blog and I already have written down some usefull tips which I’m going to try. My in-laws have a girl pup of 5 months ( lab) and she is VERY high energetic. She listen very well to my mother in law since she is 24h home with her. She always walks him and does the simple training with her. But because she has a prosthetic knee, my bf does the puppy training with her (some excersises are impossible with her knee) Thus my bf and I train the pup as well, but recently puppy is very stubborn with us. Normally she is very sweet, she listen well and is very smart.

    She is a leash biter ( mostly out of frustration) and we tried several methods to get her out of her zone and redirect her into a submissive state. We put her on her back, we pinch her neck, we correct with the leash, nothing works with us. If she bites the leash when my mother in law walks her, she gets out of the zone almost inmediatly with every method she will use at that time. It would not be such a problem if puppy would leave it at biting the lease but she bites us too! She has always been a playful biter and we already trained her not to bite, but with her new teeth and greater strength it starts to het a lot more painful and very annoying. When she gets in the zone; she bites the leash, then gets my ankle/other part of my leg, tries to bite my hands, even lunges for my face! She sees every punishment as ”fun” and an invitation to play… that way, no correction will work. It becomes a real pain in the ass to train her.

    She is sweet at home most of the time, but she gets overexcited easily at home too. At those times its more difficult to correct because there is no leash or collar. She gets overexcited of everything, and it is hard to prevent it. If we don’t have a solution, I think she may become an aggressive dog because WE lack the tools. 🙁 I already tried the, ”if you act out we go home inmediately”, but even that does not work! Because we go home she wil act out even more and bites harder.

    She does not act out this extreme with my mother in law, only to us and my father in law. I guess she sees her more as a dominant boss. There is no reason to see us not as her leaders, we are careful about that too.

    We want to enjoy our walks with her too, and we never stopped walking with her , but after the walk nobody has a happy face. >.< I hope you have some sort of ideas on whatever part of this story. At this moment I don't even care what kind of tips I get from people, I'm open to try everything…

    Clearly I want her to have a pleasant walk too.. but if I have to avoid everything that interests her, because everything that interests her gets her in the extreme mood, her walks will be just a plain boring walk and she wont learn from other dogs, people and natures things. Like flying leaves and big sticks 🙂

  2. Stacy says

    Hello, I have read several of your articles and have enjoyed them very much. We have a 1 year old puppy and a 6 year old who is very mellow and does not want to play. The puppy will take toys to her and try to play and she wants none of it. This has now turned into her snapping at the pup and the occasional dog scuffle which sounds terrible but neither dog has been hurt. When I put the older dog in another room so she has a calm place to be she wants to be back where we are and I can’t put the pup in a separate room because he needs to be supervised. This is a constant thing. Anytime they are in a room together he wants to play and she doesn’t want anything to do with it. Specifically how did you teach your dogs the rules for play or how can I teach the pup to leave her alone? I appreciate any help.

    • shibashake says

      During the training period with my puppy, I put a light lead on her (Only with supervision, and only with a regular collar or harness. No aversive colllars). I can use the lead to easily control my puppy and keep her from going to my other dogs when they do not want to be bothered. When I cannot supervise, I separate puppy from my other dogs.

      I establish a mark and a no-mark with my puppy to indicate good behaviors and undesirable behaviors. In this way, I can communicate with my puppy and help teach her the rules. More on how I teach my puppy the mark and no-mark.

      I teach my puppy the Leave-It and Come commands. I can then also use these commands to redirect my puppy away from my other dogs.

      At the same time, I try to create as many positive and rewarding together experiences as I can between my new puppy and my existing dogs. In this way, my puppy will know how to behave with my other dogs, and my other dogs will learn to see the puppy as a positive addition to their life. The key is not only to maximize positive and calm experiences together, but also to minimize negative experiences. More on how I introduce a new dog.

      Big hugs to your furry gang and Happy New Year to you all! 😀

  3. Shannon says

    Thanks for your blog. I agree with your aversive-free training methods and enjoy hearing about the trials and errors you’ve experienced. I’m currently going through that type of experience with my latest foster dog, a 2-year old Lab/Rottweiler who has not had good, consistent training or structure until coming to me almost 2 weeks ago.

    He was highly collar reactive when I got him due to overuse of a prong collar by his previous foster. He would mouth my wrist every time I went anywhere near his collar with my hands. We worked on that by pairing a reward with a touch of his collar, and he quickly improved.

    His biggest issue remains becoming overly excited and going into what you call “rear brain” behavior. He will suddenly chase one of my cats or begin biting his lead outside. (We keep him on a very long drag lead outside since he jumped the rear fence in the dark one night.) The lead biting usually follows an attempt at play with one of my dogs (he doesn’t have much experience with play as he was kept away from other dogs) or resource guarding of a stick (we don’t allow toys outside).

    I’m usually able to distract him from my cats with a toy, but I haven’t yet found something that works with the lead biting. He’s not good in general with a “drop” command, so anytime you attempt to remove something from his mouth, he clamps down tight. Any ideas?


    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my dogs are also very attuned to motion, so when the lead moves around, it can get them excited and they may pounce or play with it. A long lead will be especially tempting, because there is a lot of visible movement.

      What things have you tried in terms of leash biting? Bitter Apple, find-it game? Does he guard resources with people? Has he shown any aggressive behavior towards people? What is his daily routine like?

      Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. More structured daily exercise, walks, structured games with me, obedience sessions, etc.
      2. Sephy really likes chasing games, so they are helpful both as a positive outlet for his excited energy, and as a way to teach him to control his level of excitement.
      3. I play the object exchange game with my dogs, which helps to get them used to giving things to me. It also helps with Drop training.
      4. In general, I prefer not to remove things from my dog’s mouth physically, unless I absolutely have to. I used to keep going into my Shiba’s mouth, and as a result, he started to guard his things.
      5. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and dog-to-people interaction rules. An important rule is the “no-stealing” rule. In this way, Sephy knows exactly what to expect from the Husky girls, what to expect from me, and what I expect from him. Certainty over “his stuff” helps to reduce stress and makes it unnecessary to guard his resources.

      As you know, dog behavior is very context dependent, so we will need to craft our training to suit our individual dog and situation.

      Hope this helps. Big hugs to your furry gang!

  4. sue says

    Please someone tell me how to stop my 16 month old jack Russell from jumping up and biting the lead. She is ok when we just go for a walk but, when we are near the park , on our way back from the park, or she sees another dog she just jumps and growls when I try and make him let go.

    • shibashake says

      What things have you tried? What is her daily routine like? What are her house rules and how is she at following them? What type of training is she used to?

      I talk in great detail about all the things I tried with my Shiba Inu in the article above. However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so we will need to adjust our training to suit our particular dog and particular situation. For this reason, getting help from a good professional trainer can also be helpful.

  5. Syd says

    Hi I have a corgi/jack Russell/Chihuahua/lab/pitbull mix (dna test to prove it:) who weights at 40 pounds. She is a great dog to walk until we come across another dog. Every time she gets excited and pulls to try to get at the other dog and when she hits the end of the leash and she will either bite and pull the leash or if I make her heel she will bite my pants and pull what should I do? She is a dog aggressive dog; she has actually killed 2 other dogs in her lifetime.

  6. Lilian says

    Hi I’m trying to train my dog to walk on a leash and he always tries to pull on it and go in the direction he wants to go in! I’ve tried just standing still when he does it but he gets really frustrated and starts to growl and snap at his leash. I’ve also tried just turning in the other direction and it worked the first few times but now he just gets frustrated again. When we’re out on walks he pulls on the leash and won’t stop and it’s really hard to get him to walk at the same pace as me

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, showed similar behaviors when he was young. He figured out pretty quickly that by leash biting, he could control me and control the walk. Some additional things that helped with Sephy-
      1. I have strict rules for him at home (using the NILIF program). We practice walking at home first before going out. If he does well, we do door manners, and we *do not* leave until he is calm and following my directions.

      2. In the beginning, I would do shorter but more frequent walks around the house. In this way, if Sephy starts to misbehave, I can quickly march him home. In this way, he learns that –
      Leash biting = Fun walk ends,
      No leash biting = Fun walk continues.

      If he starts misbehaving and leash biting at home, I say time-out and put him briefly in a time-out area. In this way he leash that – Leash biting at home = Lose freedom to roam the house.

      3. I exercise Sephy some first before going on our walk by playing structured games with him at home. I set up clear game rules, and control his level of excitement with play breaks. This teaches him to look to me for direction, and also helps him to learn to control his own excitement.

  7. Beth says

    Thanks so much for this article. I have a 9 month old husky, who can be an absolute terror on walks. We can be going along, very nicely, loose-leashing our way down the road, when suddenly he just goes into what you described as “rear-brained”. That describes it perfectly. I’m not always sure what triggers it- maybe frustration at not being able to go where he wants (usually he wants to go into the woods to follow a squirrel or some scent he picks up on), or not being allowed to run at full speed- which if course, as a husky, is what he really dreams of doing on walks. He even does it sometimes when we first start out on walks- because he is just too happy and excited about going out! But, anyways, he will suddenly stop walking, and start biting and pulling at the leash, and just acting like a lunatic. He has an easy-walk harness, and twice in the past month he has managed to slip out of his harness while in the throes of one of these tantrums- once while I was stepping on the leash, and the second time- I was actually crouched down next to him holding onto his harness, because a car was going by, and we were working on his sit/stays. He decided he wanted to chase the car and in just a split second, I was left holding his harness in my hands, uselessly, while he ran after the car! Luckily, the people stopped, and opened their door so he would come say hi, and I could then grab him- very good people they were! I am considering using two leashes on out walks- for his own safety- one attached to his harness, and one to his collar. Do you think that would be helpful- or do you have some advice for me? I’m getting to the point where I dread taking him out, because I’m afraid

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my dogs also used to slip out of their harness and collars. It happened because the fastenings would slip, so the collar size would change after some use. To prevent collar escapes, I now use a no-slip Martingale collar. I adjust it so that at its tightest, it is the size of a flat collar (i.e. I only use it for its no-slip properties and not for collar corrections). The no-slip collar has worked very well for my dogs in terms of preventing escapes.

      A bit more on dog collars & harnesses.

      In terms of the leash biting, here are some things that helped me with Sephy-
      1. I took Sephy out on shorter but more frequent walks. This helps because we are closer to home, and I can quickly end the walk if he acts up.
      2. Before taking Sephy out, I would practice leash walking him in the backyard or inside the house first. This gets him into the habit of following my commands, and walking well. Then we do door exercises, and we only leave when he is calm. He is more likely to behave when we start walks in a calm state.
      3. I make sure to stay very calm during our walk, and have a detailed plan of what to do if he starts to leash bite. In this way, I can just focus on implementing my plan, which helps a lot with my fear and frustration.

      Here is a bit more on the steps I described above.

      I had a very difficult time with Sephy and his leash biting. It really made walks into a very stressful affair. However, things got a lot better after I started controlling my own energy, took decisive action when he started leash biting, and figured out some management techniques that worked with him. After that, I just tried out a variety of different methods until I found one (the “march him home” method) that worked well with Sephy. After doing that a few times, he totally stopped his leash biting behavior – it happened really quickly.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how things go, and big hugs to your Husky boy.

  8. Keej says

    Hi there! I just wanted to thank you for this post because your tips have been extremely helpful with my rottweiler puppy! Talking her for walks was becoming a painful ordeal but your tips about stepping on the leash and ignoring her have changed her behaviour almost overnight. Thanks!

  9. Celine says

    Hello! I just got a 7 week old chipoo (chihuahua and toy poodle mix) on June 15. He is too full of energy and my parents are already planning to give him away. I was so happy when i got him but he gives me terrible allergies. Anyways, when I put on the harness he always bites it and then when i manage to get the harness on along with the leash, he would still bite the harness and leash on himself. When i take him outside he tries to eat every little thing he sees. We feed him 3 times a day (1/4 cup each time) and i don’t think he should be hungry. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my dog wanted to eat everything as well during puppy-hood. He was not hungry, but he was very curious. He wanted to manipulate and taste all the new things that he saw – using his mouth.

      In terms of putting on a collar or harness, I first desensitize my dog to it, and help him associate it with positive experiences.

      NOTE – I *do not* walk my dog in the neighborhood until he is fully vaccinated. Puppies still have developing immune systems and may get sick from eating bad poop from other dogs, cats, or other animals.

      In terms of leash training, I first start training inside the house. It is lower stimulus in the house so I can focus on helping my dog get used to the leash and collar/harness. Once we are good with walking inside the house, we do training in the backyard, and then I *very slowly* increase the environmental challenge.

      After my puppy is fully vaccinated, then I start leash training outside. In the beginning, I watched him like a hawk and prevented him from getting to anything bad. I also kept him on a short leash so that I have better control. In addition I teach him the “Leave-It” command.

      Here is a bit more on how I trained my puppy.
      Here are a few more things that I do to train my puppy.

      Dogs are a lot of work. They need a consistent set of rules, a fixed routine, training and structured exercise, especially in the beginning when they are energetic, curious, and fully of puppy exuberance. 😀

  10. Donne says

    I have a Mali and she is normally well behaved, she only bites the leash if someone stops to talk to me. I think it is an attention seeking action and I have tried every method and have not been able to get her to stop. I now have a chain leash but she still manages to get to the handle and chew it. When people approach me now I have to ask them to stop so that I can first get a hold of her choke chain to try and stop her, it has really become a problem.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Donne,

      What has worked well with my Shiba in terms of greetings, is to do people desensitization exercises in a structured setting first. This helped to raise his reactivity threshold wrt. people, and he is now able to stay calm, not bite the leash, or jump.

      Desensitization helps with both over-excitement and fear issues. Here is more on people desensitization.

  11. Jonah says


    My puppy always bite his leash this causes the leash to be ripped., what shall i do with him? my mom disagrees using Spray Bottle in disciplining him..

  12. Janelle says

    I have a 4 month old full bred golden retriever puppy and she is a menace. When I take her on a walk, she bites the leash. When I try to get it out of her mouth she lunges at my hands really aggressively. I’ve tried just about everything and nothing has worked to get her to stop. I really need help. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      What techniques specifically have you tried and what was your puppy’s reaction to each technique? Does she only leash bite outside during walks? What is her behavior like in the house? Does she also bite on hands while in the house?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent. To come up with an effective solution for my dogs, I observe them closely, observe the environment closely, and identify what “things” trigger the behavior. Once I gain a better understanding of where the behavior comes from, I can better address the issue at its source.

      Also, timing and technique are very important while retraining a behavior. When I was going through a difficult leash biting period with Sephy, I visited with several professional trainers to help me with his retraining.

  13. Paige says

    My lab/german shepherd mix does not bite on the leash when we are walking but He bites on his drag lead. I have been trying to get him interested in other toys but he always goes back to biting the drag lead.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, if the drag lead is long, it will move around a lot when a puppy is playing. This can get a puppy excited and want to pounce on or play with the lead. Dogs are highly triggered by motion, so a moving toy is usually a lot more interesting than a stationary toy. I play the flirt-pole game with my dogs, and use that to teach them play rules and positive behaviors. This also gives them an outlet for their need to chase and pounce. I also play other movement games with them.

      Some people spray bitter apple on the drag-lead, which is a taste deterrent. It can help with some dogs, but many others will not be bothered by it. Sephy continued with biting on his lead even with bitter apple.

      I found that shortening the drag-lead can help, but it also reduces the effectiveness of the drag lead. I only do that after my puppy has learned most of the house rules and is pretty well behaved at home.

  14. Alisha says

    May I ask what breed your dog is? My puppy is a mixed breed. Her mother is a full-blooded Beagle, but her father was a mixed breed. The thing is, her father looks almost IDENTICAL to your dog! I think if I can find out what kind of dog you have, I might just have the answer to my question of “what kind of dog do I have exactly?”. lol
    Also, I wanted to thank you for this article! My puppy (her name is Sadie) just turned 7 weeks and I am trying to figure out the best way to leash-train her. So far, when I leave the leash on her in the house just to “get her used to it” all she does is chew on it. lol

    • shibashake says

      The pictures in this article are mostly of Sephy. Breed = Shiba Inu. He is definitely quite a character – very stubborn, mischievous, adventurous, and bold. 😀

      Sadie sounds absolutely adorable. Do you have pictures online? Would love to see her.

  15. Susan says

    I am so grateful for this site. It is so helpful to realize that my 5 month old feist’s leash biting behavior is not so unusual. I helps me to apply the calming attitude with myself to know that I am not the only one with this problem. Your suggestions have been a great help. She is doing better but still has lapses.

    I am interested in something you said — that your dog “goes rear brain”. Would you explain what you mean by that because I wonder if that is what is happening sometime when she just starts running like crazy, sometime in the house and also in the yard (not on a leash). Sometimes it seems just all out joyful, but sometimes out of frustration (cat stops playing with her).

    • shibashake says

      That is an interesting question. When I say “rear brain”, I am referring to the instinctual (non-thinking) part of the dog’s brain, for example the parts dealing with fear, hunger, and other survival behaviors. This is sometimes also referred to as the Primitive brain or Reptilian brain.

      When my dog switches to instinct, she has pretty much left the building. At that point, the best that I can do is to remove her from the problem stimulus so that she can calm down. For example, Husky Shania has high prey drive. If she sees a deer (especially a running deer), her drive to give chase may take over. If that happens, she will be operating based on instinct, so my command monologue will fall on deaf ears. Dogs who are in the middle of a fight, are also in that “rear brain” state. They are no longer capable of learning, because instinct has taken over.

      The key, I found, is to manage and train my dogs so that they do not get into this mode. I try to catch things before instinct takes over, so that I can redirect their energy and behavior. In addition, desensitization exercises can help to raise a dog’s instinct threshold.

      As for running, my Sibes love to run. Often, they would run just for the joy of it. There are many other reasons why a dog may run, sometimes they are chasing prey, sometimes it is out of fear, other times they are releasing excited or stressful energy, and more. I think people run for a very similar set of reasons. However, running alone does not indicate that a dog has switched over to his primal brain.

      I play structured running games with my dogs in the backyard (e.g. chase, recall, flirt pole), and through the games (in particular, the game rules), I teach them impulse control, which can also help with their instinct threshold.

  16. Hannah says

    Hi, I have a 7 month old male border collie. When he was younger he was good on the lead but lately he will walk fine for a while then just turn and he will try to bite the lead and then pulls on it asif it is a game of tug-of-war and he will even try to jump up and bite my hands, wrists and arms. I am concerned and it is embarrising when we are in public as everyone stares. Once he is in this state its very rare he will stop untill we are home. Everyone in the family walks him and he is fine it is only when im walking him and when im alone. What should i do to stop him.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Hannah,
      I went through a similar thing with Sephy. It got so bad that as soon as someone passed me the leash, he would start his bad behavior.

      In my case, a big part of it had to do with my own energy. I was stressed out that he would start behaving badly, so I was always thinking and worrying about what might happen. I was also somewhat fearful of him, because sometimes he would grab onto my jacket sleeve and pull on that.

      Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. I made a big effort in controlling my own energy. The more calm and less fearful I was, the more Sephy’s behavior improved.
      2. I took Sephy on shorter but more frequent walks. In this way, we were always not too far away from home. If he acts out I would end the walk right away, and power-walk him home. If he starts his nonsense at home, he goes straight to timeout.
      3. I start by leash-training Sephy in the house. We would make several laps and I make sure he is following rules and not pulling or leash biting. If he leash bites, he goes to timeout and we don’t try again until later. Once he is good, I practice door manners. Then if he behaves for that, then we go out. In this way, I establish rules and calmness before even starting the outside walk.
      4. I try to set us both up for success. I start by going to a very low stimulus area – e.g. a very quiet area in the neighborhood. The more calm the environment is, the greater the likelihood of success for the both of us. Then, I slowly increase the environmental challenge once we have many successes under our belt.
      5. I follow the NILIF program with all of my dogs. It teaches them to work for all of their resources, and motivates them to follow rules and listen to commands.

      Here are more of what I did with Sephy-

      Another related story-
      Embarrassed by My Dog

  17. Chris says

    Me again

    I also have this issue with my sibe. I use chain as a choker(I use this because he loves to pick up anything small things he finds interesting and eats it, he even got curious when he saw ants marching by and starts barking at them, really hard to walk him outside) and pull him when he bites it, but doesn’t work. When we walk and have a stop, it’s what he does, or just really being on the leash.

    Our terrace is also only the place where he can do time-outs and inside his crate, so yes he just sleeps

  18. says

    Great info for help with dogs biting their leash. I found this link when someone placed it on my forum post. I’m definitely going to try out your suggestions. I’ve tried bitter apple on her leash to no avail but all your tips are great and certainly worth trying.

  19. Mary says

    I recently purchased a chocolate lab puppy, he is almost 8 weeks old. The first two weeks were awesome but now I am having a lot of issues with the leash and overall listening. Now when I put on the leash he growls and fights and pulls. It seems to me his is starting to get aggressive. I can’t get him to calm down and back into a submissive state. I am trying to remain calm, but it is starting to scare me over his reactions. I don’t want him growing up and acting aggressive. I have a 7 year old that he is constantly trying to climb on and eat his pants. I have stepped in and taken ownership of my son but that does not stop him. The only place he is calm is his kennel. I don’t want to use that as his time out place but I don’t have anywhere else to take him. Please help.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Mary,

      What do you usually do when he pulls on the leash? What do you do to “get him into a submissive state”?

      When leash training my dogs, I usually start in my backyard. It is quiet and there are few distractions so it is a great place to get them used to walking with collar and leash.

      In terms of pulling, I use the start-stop technique and the 180 turn around technique.

      I don’t want to use that as his time out place but I don’t have anywhere else to take him.

      I definitely agree with you here. It is generally not a good idea to do timeouts in the crate because that is where the dog sleeps and rests, so we want it to be a very positive place. My dog’s timeout room is the laundry room because it is quiet, safe, there is nothing to do there, and nothing interesting to see or smell.

      In my old house, I didn’t really have a good laundry room, so I got a baby gate to block off a small quiet section of the house and used that as my timeout area. Using a tie-down is another possibility, however we want to make sure that we have that set-up safely and that we are nearby to supervise.

    • says

      Hi Mary,
      First of all, a puppy problem does not have to be a problem that your dog has for life – if you can help him learn the behaviours that will make him a great pack member. I wasted a lot of time and energy when my Siberian Husky was a puppy by worrying that his behaviours would mean I’d have to give him up (which was NOT what I wanted to do). He would bite me so hard he’d draw blood (in ways that made me think he was doing it on purpose – i.e. trying to ‘get back’ at me – as he’d do it when I put his leash back on after he’d been free running and having a great time). I decided one day (after being in tears, crying to my partner) that I’d made a responsibility to this dog and i was DETERMINED to give him what he needs – not automatically expect that he give me what I want and need). This meant my perspective shifted to ‘how can I get the information to help my dog be the amazing companion I know he can be’. That decision changed everything. My dog grew out of his bad behaviours with consistent training, positive reinforcement, time outs for bad behaviour and generally fairly low stress methods for me to implement. I just really wanted to reach out as your message sounded desperate and I know what it’s like to be in that panicked mode. It really won’t help you or your dog get the relationship you wanted prior to acquiring him. So know that many bad behaviours can be easily trained away and some just go as the dog grows up and has more experience with you (this is where consistency and patience in your approach will work wonders). When you 7 year old was naughty, i bet you did a great job of letting him know firmly and calmly that his behaviour wasn’t ok (use time out for this at home – there are lots of mentions of how to do time out on this site). Next, try some of the suggestions on this very site – they are sound and well researched. And if after consistent application (time out was the main saviour and training tool I used for many bad behaviours) seek professional help. Don’t give up on your dog – he’s just a baby and this first year is when he’ll need your patience and guidance the most. So many ‘aggressive’ behaviours are not that at all – my bet is you just have a rambunctious puppy who has a LOT of energy (which will need draining). You can do this with physical exercise (EVERY DAY!), and also since he’s a lab (great service dogs) challenge his mind with consistent obedience training. give him lots of play time with you and your son (supervised and ensuring he follows rules and boundaries – otherwise give him time out). Challenge his mind with enrichment toys and lots of different environments/situations. Take him for a swim, into new places and view this first year as the time you’ll lay the foundation for the perfect dog he’ll become. No dog comes to us fully trained and ready to be the perfect companion, they are shaped by us – and that’s the beauty of the relationship and why it’s so fulfilling. Puppies will be puppies and you need to be patient, firm and calm. He will learn quickly – especially with time out for bad behaviour. Most of all, as a puppy with lots of energy, make sure he’s getting a structured walk for 45min-1hr every day, first thing in the morning is best as it will mean his energy is drained and should give you an easier time of it. Best of luck – you’ll do great, I know it.

  20. Dawn says

    I have an 8 month old yellow lab. She only bites the leash when we are running together or biking – which we won’t do anymore until we buy an attachment for the bike!! How do I train her to not bite while running? I can’t treat while I am running or she will bite my hand! Any suggestions would be wonderful! Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Dawn,

      My Shiba used to do that because he got over-excited when I started running. Dogs, especially hunting dogs are instinctually tied to motion.

      One thing that helped is to slowly get him used to my running action. I first started by leash training him in my backyard. The backyard is more quiet and has fewer distractions, so it is a good place to start.

      Initially I would walk at a fast clip. Once he is ok with that, I would start with a slow jog. If he starts to jump or get excited, I stop walking and wait until he calms down and does a sit. Then I start with the fast walk again and work my way up.

      In the beginning I don’t jog for too long at a time, I just do it briefly then go back to walking and so on. Once he is ok with short jogs, then I slowly lengthen my jog time and so on.

      This gets him slowly used to speed changes during our walks.

  21. MalamuteMama says

    I have an 8 month old Alaskan Malamute who weighs about 80 lbs. He’s a big boy, not fat, but solid. His legs are like tree limbs! When he was about 10 weeks old I took him to visit some family members and one of them played some crazy games like kicking leaves up for him to attack and tug of war with the leash. Well we all know it only takes an instant for a bad habit to form, but I thought I had resolved the issues. After being fine all this time, my dog recently started attacking the leash. At first it was playfully, trying to tug of war. I consistently corrected him telling him “No.” and “drop it”. When that didn’t work I would drop the leash, turn my back and cross my arms, indicateing I wouldn’t be part of his game. He would get bored having nothing to pull against and the outburst would quickly pass. But now he does it seemingly out of nowhere in the middle of a walk and I can’t drop the leash. Having to hold or stand on the leash, there is still something for him to pull against so crossing my arms and turning my back doesn’t work unless he does it so long he tires himself out. He’s a high energy dog and persistant and that could take a long long time. IT’s not practical. Grabbing close to his collar and making him “sit” will calm him for a second but as soon as we start to walk again he goes right back after the leash. He’s a huge dog and could really hurt someone even when doing that in a “playful” manner if he got a hang instead of the leash for example but lately he’s been seeming to get more agressive. He seems to get frustrated when A.) I try to correct him for attacking the leash or B.) when we turn around to come home from a walk. And now when I reach close to his collar he tries to turn his head to nip at me. I don’t know what to do! If I get him to where I finally think he’s calm (he’s sitting or laying down seemingly fine) the second I let him get up he either tries to run full speed ahead/ back and forth and jumping up at me or again right back at the leash/my arms. And as I sadi he’s very big and heavy and he could drag me down the stret if I let him. The worst problem my last Mal had on the leash was trying to pull- as if we were sledding and after turning the opposite direction whenever he pulled I quickly broke him of that when he figured out we didn’t cover any ground when he pulled. I tried switching directions with this dog and he seems to get even more bored and frustrated. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking of trying a weighted backpack that maybe having a “job” would keep him from going after the leash in the first place. Because he walks like a champ the majority of the time and then bam, he goes into these frenzies and once that happens you just can’t snap him out of it.

    • shibashake says

      Hello MalamuteMama,

      Your boy sounds a lot like my Shiba Sephy in terms of behavior. Sephy learned that when he starts biting the leash he could control the walk, which in turn rewarded the behavior, which made him repeat it constantly and whenever he wasn’t getting his own way.

      Thankfully Sephy is a small dog, so I was able to march him straight home whenever he started his hijinks.

      With Sephy, his leash-biting behavior was driven by him learning that he could control the walk with that behavior. It was not out of boredom or playfulness, so I needed to show him that leash biting actually gave him no-control. Once he saw that leash biting got him nowhere, except an end to his walk, he stopped doing it.

      With a big dog, it is possible that using a head-halti could be helpful.

      One of my trainers also suggested using a metal-leash with Sephy, but I never tried that because marching him home worked well for us, and I was worried that he might hurt himself on the metal leash.

      How is your Mal’s behavior at home? Does he only collar snap when out on walks or at home as well?

    • says

      Hey Malamutemama,
      I’m in a large walking group that meets monthly (Siberians and Mals) – there are about 80-100 of us in all – quite a sight as we walk around town as you can imagine. About 50-70% of the mals have weighted backpacks on (so I’d take that as a sign that’s its helpful for them). As I own a Husky, i can’t comment directly on Mals, but I do know that a backpack with a 500ml full water bottle on each side (my dog is about 23kg) INSTANTLY (no kidding) turned my Sibe puppy into a great walker. Sibes and Mals aren’t really bred to just ‘walk’. If you love running, a daily walk won’t really be as satisfying as a full out run. However, running with my sibe every day isn’t practical (if I’m unwell for example) so the backpack is perfect. Best of all, the hook where the lead clips on is basically in the middle of your dogs back, so hard for them to reach to start biting. My sibe bit the lead all the time, the weight instantly made him work harder and it relieved his frustration that we were walking. Occasionally he’ll still have a little go out of frustration, say if we’ve had 2 days of walking with no running, but I stop dead in my tracks and say ‘ah!’. If we start up and he bites the lead again, again stopping dead with another ‘ah!’ usually finishes it. Also, I don’t get frustrated about this behaviour any more as I know it can be greatly reduced and perhaps eliminated – that knowledge keeps me calm and with a no-nonsense attitude. I thnk that is a big contributor to him giving up the biting game far quicker than he used to. But yes, a backpack will be a lifesaver for you and fun for your dog – he’ll be more tired – and a tired dog is a good dog in my books! 🙂

  22. josh says

    i have a 7 month old rednose/bluenose/american pitbull and for 2 days now he has bit my sisters hair because of the hairbows in it. does anybody have any suggestions and when i walk him i find him pulling on the leash and when he does i now know its a mistake but i pull back and put him on the ground and tell him no and take it from him but everytime we go out it seems to repeat. hes stubborn with a attitude. but im 15 and dont want to give him up for anything and my mom said if he bites my sisters hair again then thats what were going to do. any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Josh,

      It is normal for puppies to bite in play. Dogs do not have hands like us, so they manipulate things and play with their mouths. What I do is teach my puppy what are ok things to bite not, and what are not-ok things.

      When she bites on people or other not-ok things, I no-mark her (Ack-ack) and redirect her to bite on a toy. If she redirects, then I praise her and play with her. Here is what I do when she bites on me or other people-

      Here is a bit more on how I start training my puppy.

      Also, consistency is very important in dog training. I have found that it is best when everyone in the family participates in the training of a puppy.

  23. Gem says

    My 1 year old jack Russell is a leash biter. She bites the leash every single time I put the leash on her before going on walks and for the next 5 minutes or so at the beginning of every walk. She’s been doing it since she was a pup. I’ve tried many ways (distracting her with a treat, taking it off her mouth using my hands) to try to get her to stop but none has worked so far until recently. Thought I’d share this. I realised that my dog wants to go on a walk. So excited that she can’t control her excitement hence acting out biting on the leash and getting into a frenzy. So when I put the leash and she starts to bite – I undid the leash. She stops looks at me as if to say ‘I want to walk’. I let her calm down, ignoring her no we contact. Once she’s calm, tell her to sit. If she is about to bite again (gotta be really quick), do the sharp “ackh” (as if to say don’t mess with me tone), she usually let go of the lead when she hears he ackh, wait until all attention is on you and the dog is still sitting. Then I’ll let her walk to the gate. This is the second trigger that makes her leash bite again. If she does bite, unclamp the lead and start from step one. If not, I tell her to sit and wait while I open the gate. If she gets up, I tell her to sit and stay. My dog also tends to rush off the gate as if to shout “freedom!!” – so I put her in a sit and stay position again until I am ready.

    Thanks for your article! I’ll definitely bookmark this blog!!

    • shibashake says

      Great solution Gem!

      As you say, a very big part of dog training is identifying what most motivates our dog, and then using that to teach her good people behaviors.

      Hugs to your JRT. They are such awesome and fun dogs.

  24. Carolina says

    Hi! This information was very helpful. My puppy is a siberian husky, she is 7 weeks old, and I have found that by leaving the leash at attached to her collar for most of the day, except at night, to be very helpful. She is still very stubborn, but she is getting better. Although, I don’t think my do knows her name, she doesn’t listen when I call her name. In addition, she has turned out to be quite the biter, she keeps biting me, and several other family member, do you have any ideas?

  25. says

    I have to second the ‘Brisk walk’ method.
    I actually noticed this worked before i came here and read this.
    I found it worked accidentally at first when i decided to walk home quickly out of frustration with my Shihpoo (not proud of it i know, but hey, it all gets to us at some point) and he just followed suit. So i tried it the next time he started pulling and biting his lead (he seems to do this when he wants to direct you and try and become leader). I just walked quickly, clearing my mind of any sort of emotion other than focusing on getting home, and what do you know, it worked a charm.
    95% of the time he’s a pleasure to walk, but every now and then he will try and exert his authority and all i have to do is pick up the pace a little.

    The one thing i can say to be careful of, is if you have a dog that tires before you do. He’s 8 months old now and only a small dog (mother was Shih-Tzu and father a medium sized Poodle) and he gets tired a long time before i do and i notice that he pulls and bites his lead when he’s tired and wants to go home. So all i can say is make sure you don’t mistake being tired for being dominant.

    • shibashake says

      Yay! Another ‘Brisk Walk’ fan. 😀

      I tried many many different things with my Shiba before I thought of trying that. Wish I had found it sooner.

      So all i can say is make sure you don’t mistake being tired for being dominant.

      That is a very good point. I should include it in the article. Thanks!

  26. Snoop Bobb says

    Ok, I’m embarrassed to ask this question, but: As a last resort, would it be acceptable to muzzle a dog to keep him from biting and tugging on a leash?

    Before anyone hates on me, here are my circumstances, and I hope that people will empathize with them:

    My wife and I have an 11-mo-old golden retriever and a 4-mo baby (human…) girl. I just finished my family leave and returned to work, so my wife is now managing both the baby and the pup at home alone when I’m at work. Tall order.

    The pup still periodically playfully bites and tugs on his leash for many of the reasons that you mention in your article — particularly, excitement, boredom, and sometimes frustration. I’ve tried all of your tips and some others, and I’ve found that many of them have been effective in stopping the leash biting – at least until the next time the pup gets excited, bored, or frustrated. But of course, those tips also take time and therefore necessarily extend the length of the walk.

    That said, when my wife is at home alone with the pup and the baby, she has exceedingly limited time to walk the dog before she needs to manage the baby’s needs (feedings, screaming, changing, or whatever). And, she needs to walk the dog while she’s pushing the baby in a stroller. So, when the dog inevitably starts biting and tugging on the leash, it’s tough for my wife to utilize some of the tips that you’ve suggested, both because she’d need to set aside the baby in the stroller, and because she’s on borrowed time during the walk. Because of that, my wife has given up on trying to walk the dog, and the dog must wait until I get home in the evening to get a walk.

    I’d think that a muzzle would be acceptable under these circumstances, and would be better than no exercise at all. But, I thought that I’d check with a guru.

    Thanks so much.

    • shibashake says

      Yikes! I am no guru.

      I just write about my experiences with my dogs.

      One of the things I learned after an initial rocky start with my Shiba Inu is not to listen too much to so-called gurus, especially to a single guru. The ‘people’ that I rely on most when it comes to getting dog information –
      1. My dogs. They are pretty good at communicating to me what they want, what they need, what works, and what does not work.
      2. Studies from well respected behavioral psychology labs.
      3. Veterans of the breed. I had a lot of issues with my Shiba Inu initially, and the advice from experienced Shiba Inu owners were extremely helpful. More so than all the inconsistent lessons from the current popular ‘guru’.

      As for muzzles, I prefer using the open basket muzzles. They are less restrictive, and still prevents biting. Here is a pretty comprehensive article from the aspca on how to train dogs to wear a muzzle –

      As you say though, muzzles only manage the biting but doesn’t really retrain the behavior. Definitely still keep up with regular bite inhibition, refocus, and redirection training techniques.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

    • says

      Snoop Bob, have you tried a weighted backpack? It helps slow down dogs with a lot of frustrated energy. It was the best $60 I ever spent – and is very fast-acting – I saw a marked improvement from the first walk with mine.

  27. Alice says

    Thank you for such an informative website!! I have a new 11 week old husky/shepherd mix puppy, so I’m really find all your info very helpful!

    For my puppy, he is biting his leash, but not on walks. He only does it while he’s playing or when he is tethered. So, I’m not sure if he’s doing it because he thinks it’s a chew toy (which I suspect is part of the reason, since he does what you call the “kill-move” on it the same way he does his soft plushie animal chew toy), or it’s because he doesn’t like being tethered (although a lot of times after whining a little he’ll just plot over and rest and eventually fall asleep while tethered).

    I’ve tried to teach the “drop” command, but it only works like 5% of the time and never on the leash. I’ve tried to do the exchange technique but he considers the leash high priority or something. I’ve also tried to do an incompatibility technique, but he just straight up won’t pay attention to me. If I walk him to a time-out in his crate, he goes there with the leash in his mouth since it’s not a walk walk. Do you have any idea what might work on this stubborn little one??

    • Alice says

      Oh, I forgot to mention exercise since you addressed it below. I try to exercise him a lot everyday. We do 2 short walks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening. Then I try to have play time with him, but he looses interest in everything after like 2 minutes, if that. I also try to find fun ways to feed him his meals: I feed him his breakfast in the bowel, his lunch with a dogzilla treatball in his crate, and his dinner by doing the find-it game in the grass while mixing in obedience training. I also portion out a small part of his overall diet as treats for training reward throughout the day. During some crate times, I also give him some peanut butter with a kong. Sooooo, I’m not quite sure how else I can divert his attention. I guess this also applies to your hyper dog and chewing dog posts, since he pretty much prefers to chew everything but his actual toys.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Alice,
      Congratulations on your new puppy!

      Here are some things that really helped with my dogs –
      1. Consistency –
      It is extremely important to be consistent. Every time I non-mark Sephy, I am always prepared to follow through on that. Like a chess player, I would also plan several steps ahead. For example, if Sephy starts biting at the curtains I would non-mark him (ack-ack) and give him an alternate command. If he ignores me, I would body block him away from the curtain. If he goes back right away, I would calmly say time-out and take him to the laundry room.

      2. Time-out –
      I take Sephy to time-out using a drag lead. Sephy is very crafty and his favorite game is to do something undesirable, and then run away from me, thereby starting a fun game of chase. When he was young, I put a pretty long drag lead on him (only with a flat collar), so that when he runs, I can just step on the drag lead and then haul him off to time-out.

      When taking him to time-out I move at a pretty fast clip and hold the lead close to his collar for better control. This forces him to focus on walking and also prevents him from leash biting.

      3. Exercise and routine –
      The things that drained the most energy from my pups during puppy stage –
      a) Puppy play sessions. Puppy class is great for this. Then I was even able to invite some of the people to stay after class to have a supervised play session afterwards.
      b) Flirt pole. But make sure they follow very strict play rules.
      c) Going to new places and learning new things. Just need to be careful that puppy is not exposed to anything dangerous before he is fully immunized. That is why puppy class is a great way to socialize puppies. The daycare center near my place also organizes puppy play sessions for free during the weekends – and these can be a lot of fun.

      Learning new commands is also a great way to drain puppy energy.

      During the puppy stage, I usually use all of puppy’s kibble for training, games, etc. Then I use frozen Kongs for when they have to settle down. I usually tether Sibe puppy Lara, then give her a frozen Kong to work on. After this I expect her to rest for at least 1 hour. I ignore all whining etc. She usually settles down after a bit. Now it has become a routine, so after I give her the Kong, she works on it and then goes to sleep on her own.

    • Alice says

      Thank you Shibashake! I just thought of another quick question. I remember reading somewhere else where you mentioned that you only save time-outs for severe actions like leash-biting while you’re holding the leash. But what if I’m not holding it? Should I non-mark that as well for consistency’s sake or just let him have fun with it? I’ve also switched back to the simple rope leash that was given to me when I adopted Marcus indoors so he won’t build a resentment for the actual leash when it really needs to be used outdoors.

    • shibashake says

      But what if I’m not holding it? Should I non-mark that as well for consistency’s sake or just let him have fun with it?

      I think that would depend on the pup. With my Sibe puppy Lara, I just let her play with it because she is not a very intense or stubborn dog. The lead was something new and she was just exploring what she could do with it. However, I do not let her chew on her tether lead. She only gets to play with the drag lead when it is not being held.

      With Sephy, I don’t let him chew on his lead at all. He is much more intense and much more stubborn. He will always be pushing his boundaries, so if I let him chew his lead sometimes, he will test to see if he can chew it when I am holding it, when he is on tether, etc. He is quite a character! 😀

      When in doubt, I would prevent all lead chewing so that as you say, it is clear and consistent.

      I’ve also switched back to the simple rope leash that was given to me when I adopted Marcus indoors

      That is a good idea. Just make sure that there are no loops etc that can catch on furniture or objects in the house. I also use different leads for when they are in the house and backyard vs. when they are on walks. For the house, I use one of those cheap and light nylon leashes. I just cut the handle loop to prevent it from getting snagged while puppy is running.

      Another alternative to time-out is to tether puppy to you. That way he still has access to you, but loses some of his freedoms around the house.

      When Sephy was young, I also blocked off the kitchen area. When I was busy doing stuff he would get to roam around in the kitchen freely, but not be able to get to the books and curtains which were his favorite chew toys.

      With Sephy, prevention and management were the best ways to deal with his mis-behaviors. If I don’t give him a chance to be bad, then I don’t have to keep correcting him. 😀

    • Alice says

      Thank you so much once again. I don’t think you understand how much your website and posts are helping me!

      All your Sephy stories are adorable as well. I would never have guessed he is such a trouble maker from the photos. I actually baby-gate Marcus out of the kitchen because he likes to chew on the large food bags on the floor that can’t be stored anywhere else. Also he once peed on one of said bags full of onions, haha.

  28. Matt says

    I need some help…
    My Shiba is almost 8 weeks old now, I’ve had her for five days. She’s been a great dog so far with eating, sleeping and going outside, but she hates and I mean hates a leash. When I got the leash on for the first time she freaked and tried jumping, biting and screaming, anything to get off the leash. She was in a frenzy and would ingnore anything I tried to do. Any suggestions on how to warm her up to a leash?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Matt,
      Two things that helped with my dogs –
      1. Don’t hold the lead.
      During puppy-hood, I usually let my dogs drag around their lead in the backyard. I am there to supervise to make sure the lead doesn’t catch on anything and I only do this with a nice and thick flat collar (not an aversive collar such as the choke collar or prong collar). This lets puppy get used to the weight, smell, and feel of the leash.
      I also find drag leads to be very helpful for controlling a misbehaving puppy.

      2. The Find-It Game
      Some puppies may get apprehensive being on leash and/or going outside to walk. The Find-It game is very helpful in distracting them and making the experience fun and rewarding. I usually play the Find-It game with my pups while they have the lead on, but without me holding it. Then after they forget the leash and start enjoying the game, I start holding the leash while playing the game. Then we play it while we are on the front-lawn, etc.

  29. shazz says

    hi my dog is 3 months old and his a pitbull crossed staff a brindle and his always bitting the leach i’m going to try this but i will need your help if you can give me a inbox i will be pleased thank you very much i will need lots of help to train him i got him when he was 6 weeks old he had 2 sisters and 1 brother he was out of the pack now i need to get a other dog for him to make his own pack

    • shibashake says

      Hello Shazz,

      In terms of leash-biting, I have found that it is very helpful to first identify why the dog is doing it. Most dogs leash bite out of excitement – they see the leash moving around and they think it is a fun prey chasing game. For this type of leash biters, exercise can help a lot; as well as having structured play-sessions where the dog is trained to follow very fixed rules.

      In terms of getting a second dog, two dogs mean two times the biting. 😀 In general, I have found that it is best to only consider getting a second dog after the first one is calm and mostly trained. That way, the first dog can teach the second one good habits and provide a good example for the second one to follow.

      Congratulations and good luck with your new puppy!

  30. shibashake says

    Hello Roxanne,
    What a lovely picture! He is a very handsome boy.
    “if we put him in his cage for his inappropriate behavior, will he always associate it with punishment?”
    Yes – probably so. In general, it is better to do time-outs somewhere else. I put my Shiba in the laundry room when he gets especially naughty. He has nothing to do in there, and I make sure he can’t chew on anything.
    “And, is it ok to stand on his leash to controll his friek outs… or is that too aggressive?”
    Personally I don’t think that is too aggressive because it just restricts freedom similar to a timeout. However, I have tried this on my Shiba for his leash biting and it didn’t really have any effect on him. Once I stepped away, he would start biting again.
    My Shiba drove me nuts in the beginning as well – but it will get better 🙂 The thing that helped most was controlling my own energy. Once I was able to remain calm and just focus on redirecting his behavior, things improved significantly.
    Here are some things that helped with my Shiba when I first got him –

  31. Roxanne says

    My stray shiba is really testing us. He bursts into a frenzy of biting, chasing his tail, and jumping and nipping…. my partner is really fed up… but I love the little guy. I have so many questions, and no one around here has any experience with Shibas! One question is, if we put him in his cage for his inappropriate behavior, will he always associate it with punishment?
    And, is it ok to stand on his leash to controll his friek outs… or is that too aggressive?

  32. shibashake says

    Hi Jessica,
    Yeah, please let us know how it goes and what works best.
    What also worked well with my Shiba is to hold his leash really close to his collar and to just keep moving him along.
    If not, he would try to move in different directions and get all tangled up with the leash. Using a very short leash provides better control as well as solves any tangling issues.
    Good luck!

  33. Jessica Ojeda says

    Excellent suggestions! I walk an English bulldog that seems to take his frustration out on his leash. I’ve actually tried everything except for spraying him with water and jogging with him. I KNOW he would attack the water bottle so that’s out. I am going to try the jogging technique on him and see if that will relieve some of his frustration. I’ll keep you updated!

  34. ruff-day says

    Thanks for this! My dog has just started leash biting. He’s over a year old and he’s been with us for about 6 months now, he’s a Beagle & Shepphard mix (I think).
    I take him to the dog park and for a walk on his leash twice a day. He is on week #5 of his obedience class and I think that this problem has something to do with this class, and the aggravation that he feels when he is in the gymnasium with all the other dogs and has to be on his leash.
    Last night at our class he was jumping on me, biting my forearm and pulling at the cuffs of my jeans, and he was even trying to pull me off my feet by my shoelaces.
    This morning when I took him for a walk on the trail, in the beginning he was fine, but I was going over all of the lessons from the class and I guess he was getting frustrated, he started biting on the leash and then he jumped up and grabbed my forearm. It was almost like he was playing tug-of-war with his rope. I didn’t know what to do really, so I scolded him and made him lay down. He calmed down for a second, but then started again, he even barked at me this time.
    I know that I am giving off a stressed and nervous energy when this happens. I’m not used to it happening and I am almost tempted to give up on the obedience school and find a one on one trainer, because I’m so embarrassed by what happened in the class last night.
    I’m definitely going to take your advice, and try all of the methods that you suggested, but did it ever get this bad with your dog? Is it because I am not dominant enough with him? I spoil him rotten and I guess I don’t come across as alpha with him. Is this a dominant/ non-dominant behavior? The teacher at doggy school suggested the spray bottle thing, but I already know that my dog would think this was a game too.
    Thanks again for your advice and any additional advice that you could give me would be appreciated. Sorry he’s not a Shiba, but you seem to have the best advice on the internet.
    Cheers, 🙂

  35. shibashake says

    Hello ruff-day,
    Yeah it got pretty bad with my Shiba – and it was not very fun. I started to get fearful of him because like your dog, he would grab onto my jacket forearm and play tug.
    What worked really well for me was to:
    1. Control my energy – this made the most difference. I was able to do this by focusing on the detailed steps I would take when he starts to leash bite.
    2. Brisk walk home – I would hold the lead close to his collar – this gives you the most control, and then walk quickly home. If he continued to leash bite once I got home – he gets to go to timeout.
    Here are some other things that I did that may also be helpful-

    I would also set up more structure for him at home, which will help you take control during the walk. Follow the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program. This means he has to do something for you before he gets anything in return (including getting food, toys, going into the backyard, coming out of his crate, etc etc).
    Here are some other things I did to set up structure for my Shiba-

    Re obedience class –
    Yeah I know what you mean. My Shiba was the same way. One time the instructor even put a screen around us – lol. I got a bit embarrassed initially, but then I thought to myself – “Hey I paid for the class so might as well use it to the fullest” 🙂 I started asking a lot of questions and trying to get help as much as I can.
    At the same time I got private lessons – no harm doing both 🙂
    “Sorry he’s not a Shiba, but you seem to have the best advice on the internet.”
    He sounds just like my Shiba! Maybe he has some Shiba in him. 🙂
    Let me know how it goes.

  36. akirchner says

    Cool~! Now if I could just get him to stop biting me! Geez louise – forgot how much fun a puppy could be – especially a 60-lb one at that. He got my nose last night -that was interesting! Just a nip trying to play and I guess I’ll be Rudolph for a few days!

  37. Aaron says

    I have a 9 week old Shiba. I’ve been walking him on his leash and haven’t had to much trouble, he responds very well to treats. Every once in a while he’ll tug the leash and won’t come, I would like to get rid of this behavior. If you have any suggestions it would be much appreciated.

  38. Lyanna says

    Thank you very much! I tried your method and she is now more comfortable with the leash.

    Another thing.This is not about my dog and leashes but about her biting problem.She doesn’t really like to play much,so teaching her bite inhibition by stopping game play isn’t really working.And also,do you have any suggestions how I can deter her from trying to get up on the furniture?

  39. Lyanna says


    I’ve just gotten a 3months old female Siberian Husky.Everytime I put on the collar and leash on her,she always bites and pulls on the leash and refuses to move.Do you have any suggestions on how I can solve this problem?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Lyanna,

      Congratulations on your new puppy! Siberians really are an awesome breed. Before you start taking her for walks, I would just put on the leash and leave it (don’t hold it). Then just let your puppy go about her business. Make sure however that the leash can’t catch on anything, and only have the lead on in this manner when you are around to supervise. Also just use a flat collar and not an aversive collar.

      This lets your puppy get familiar with having a leash and collar on – which is all very new and perhaps a bit scary. Make sure to always pair putting on the collar and putting on the leash with something positive – food rewards, toys rewards, play rewards, and affection rewards.

      Go about your business as well. After a time, bring out some really nice smelling food rewards – sardines usually work very well – just make sure you use something that your dog is not allergic to. My Siberian is allergic to fish, so I use cheese with her instead. The smelly food will attract your dog and when she comes to you, mark her (Yes), give her a food reward and play with her briefly. Then run some ways away, wait for her to come to you again and repeat. Once she is doing this regularly, you can add in a recall command (“Come” or “Home”). Then just repeat this multiple times throughout the day.

      Once your puppy gets used to you as well as to the leash and collar, you can try picking up the leash (no tension) move a few steps away and do the recall. Then just repeat. Very soon you will be having her walking with you on the leash 🙂

      Once she is comfortable on the leash, you can just do the walking without having to do the recall and treats.

      Good luck. Let me know how it goes. 

  40. shibashake says

    Hello Lyanna,

    My Sibey is not very mouthy either – I did bite inhibition training on her through hand feeding. I just feed her normally, and when she gets a bit too forceful in getting the food, I do the yelp and stop feeding her for a bit. Then I start again. When she is going well I keep the food coming. You can also adjust how difficult it is for her to get the food to encourage her to mouth on your hand.

    You can also combine hand-feeding with commands and grooming exercises.

    Another possibility is to try and give her tummy rubs. This gets my Shiba Inu really excited, and he usually likes mouthing then.

    Re furniture -When she gets onto furniture, non-mark her (ack-ack), and give her the “Off” command. Then you can show her what ‘off’ means by leading her down with a treat. Once she does, mark her (Yes), give her some affection, then give her the “Down” command or “Go to Mat” command, and treat her for the “Down”.

    If she will not get off on her own, then lead her down with her drag lead (You can also do it with just the collar but I prefer using a drag lead because collar grabs can cause a dog to become sensitive to the collar). Also mark her as soon as she gets down (Yes), and give her some affection. Then give her the “Down” command and you can treat that.

    Keep repeating the exercise and be consistent with “no getting on furniture at all times”.

    My Shiba Inu will sometimes still get on furniture even though he knows its a no-no. He usually does it when nobody is watching – he is a big scamp and likes testing his boundaries 🙂 I usually put him on a short time-out because he should already know better. But he doesn’t do this often – maybe once or twice in the last year.

  41. Janetta says

    It is nice to be around visiting hubs again 🙂

    I am going to have to be on high alert when my Kevring arrives….I would probably be star struck if I saw Sephy in the neighborhood, so I may have to put the blinders on! 🙂 Can’t let him catch me off guard!! lol

  42. shibashake says

    Hey Janetta! So good to see you, and in your usual cheeky mood no less.

    Sephy gets more royalties than he earns. He only eats the good stuff, gets lots of toys, and we moved to a larger house because of him – lol. I know, I am pretty nuts – as I said I have *issues*.

    You are definitely very welcome to be Sephy’s manager, but then you would owe me – at the very least – a Kevring!! 🙂 Actually, I already have many plans on how I can get it from you. Sephy will be very helpful – he is very good at creating diversions – lol.

    Hugs Janetta – glad to see that you are back and feeling all better!

  43. Janetta says

    well, humping your leg while doing the leash dance is pretty impressive…

    So, does Sephy get royalties for appearing in your hubs?? I am available to be Sephy’s manager. lol

    PS…keep your paws off my kevring!!!

    ok….if you’re nice, I *might* let you see it!! lol Love ya, Shiba 🙂

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