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Categories: Dog Bites , Kids and Dog Aggression

Q. My recently adopted dog occasionally nips other dogs, children and me. He is obsessed with small children and has very gently nipped a boy. He has gently nipped me when we go to the park, is this a love nip? What is he trying to communicate to me when he nips?
I adopted a 5 y/o male Rottweiler 3 months ago who occasionally nips other dogs, children, and even me. He is a neutral dog - submissive to me (pack leader) but neither submissive or overly dominant towards other dogs/people. The family I got him from had a 2-3 y/o little girl and he is obsessed with small children when I take him to the park, especially little girls. He gets excited and stays close and keeps a close watch on them. He did a very gentle nip to a little boy who was running and playing the other day that didn't even leave any mark. At the dog park, Taz will nip in two situations; when there's a young male dog who is in-tact (dominance) and occasionally when there's a pack of dogs playing chase (herding, dominance?). He has nipped me very gently in excitement when I'm taking him to the park - love nip?

What is Taz trying to communicate when he nips and how do you suggest I stop the behavior? Are his nips rooted in his herding instinct or are they a show of dominance?


A. You need to get him out of the dog park first of all. It’s a horrible place to take a dog that has aggressive tendencies. Ed has written an article about them.

There is no such thing as a love nip. Your dog is over stimulated and redirecting the excitement/aggression at you. This needs to be addressed for what it is, lack of respect and aggression. You should take this very seriously especially since he’s fixated on and has bitten a child. This is an accident waiting to happen. Here is  a section on preventing dog bites in kids. Take a look at some of the photos of what can happen to kids when unmanaged dogs make the wrong choices.

A child could be badly injured and you could be sued. Depending on the laws in your state, your dog could also be put down. If I had to guess, the people you got him from rehomed him because they had incidents with their child.

This dog should be on leash, supervised and trained.  If he’s putting his mouth on you in the way you describe it’s a bite and he doesn’t respect your authority. That is what Taz is communicating to you. Lack of respect.

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet. I’d also recommend Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

Please train him and change the way you are handling him before something worse happens. I don’t think you understand how serious this is. You may also need a muzzle. We have directions on how to measure the dog for a muzzle on this page.  Dogs like this sometimes act out more aggressively when you suddenly start demanding respect, so you need to be prepared for this.

We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you.

For future questions, you might benefit from learning to use our SEARCH function, which is located in the top left corner of every page of the website. If you type in your key words or question it will find you articles, Q&As, free streaming video and links to threads on our discussion forum. Our website has over 16,000 pages and it’s very likely you’ll find the information you are looking for. I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


Hi Cindy,

Thank you for getting back to me. I read over the articles, thought about it, observed Taz’s behavior and I’ve come to this conclusion; I disagree with you entirely and I think you’re just plain wrong. Taz does not have aggressive tendencies; I found out that his previous owner let him chase and nip their older teenage daughter when he was a youngster and therefore, he still nips when he gets excited and he’s playing. He’s not the dangerous dog you make him out to be.

As for the dog park, I couldn’t disagree with you more and I can’t believe the crap I read in Ed’s article. Bring a stick to the park to beat off the other dogs? Are you kidding me? Is this some kind of joke? I’ve been taking my dogs to various dog parks 2-5 times per week for almost 8 years now so I’ve seen a lot of things happen and 95-99% there are no problems and when there are, it’s almost always due to the owner’s mismanagement of the dog. If you bring an intense dominant dog that’s been bred for protection and isn’t neutered, there’s a good chance you’ll have a problem but for the average pet dog owner, the dog park is not only safe but it’s a GREAT idea for the overall well being of the dog. It’s therapeutic and it makes them happy and balanced. I’ve actually seen Schutzhund 3 GSDs at the park that were totally under control with no problems thanks to their remote trainers.

Thank you again for getting back to me and I appreciate your opinion but I disagree with you.

  Follow-Up Response:

I’m glad you have had such good experiences in the past but obviously if you felt the need to write to us, there’s more going on here than you are prepared to handle.

I’m being completely sincere when I say I HOPE I am wrong. I’d hate for anyone (dog or human) to be hurt.

Dog parks are unnecessary, if the humans in the dog’s life know how to give the dogs what they need. They are a nice IDEA, but an idea doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. I’d love to take my dog’s to a dog park, but I won’t—not because my dogs aren’t controllable but because the vast majority of the people there are clueless and their dogs aren’t under control. The people with Schutzhund dogs are not the problem, (I’ve titled multiple dogs in Sch and other sports, so I know the type of control needed in this sport) The problem is idiots who don’t understand dog behavior, body language and refuse to control their dogs or they are in denial that there is a problem. These tend to be pet owners, not people training performance or working dogs. Not always, but usually.

What kind of dog park allows kids to be running around? Good dog parks don’t even allow small kids and if kids are allowed, they must stay with their parent and NEVER run. While I don’t think all dogs should be at a dog park, even balanced dogs can get overexcited and bite a child in the heat of the moment. You may want to browse through the bites to children photos again.

As a parent, if I saw your dog (or any other dog) running after a child, nipping a child, becoming fixated on a child, etc I’d step in. In this day and age of lawsuits & anti dog legislation, an actual bite doesn’t even have to happen for legal problems. If your dog even scares someone, you can be sued. True story.

Depending on the state laws, you can be fined, sued or your dog can be euthanized. A child can be traumatized and/ or injured. If you are going to continue to go to parks, do everyone a favor and train your dog PLEASE.

I hope your good luck holds out.
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