How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite

By Amy McCready, Animal rights journalist. Updated: March 19, 2020
How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite

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Pit bulls are one of the most popular breeds exploited for dog fighting. For this reason, more and more people get the impression that they are dangerous.

In this article from AnimalWised, we will go through whether pit bulls are violent breeds, how to avoid dog fights and lastly, how to safely make a pit bull release their bite and unlock their strong jaw.

You may also be interested in: Why Is My Pit Bull Becoming Aggressive?

Are pit bulls dangerous?

This breed has, unfortunately, garnered an unfair load of bad press over the years, deeming them to be an aggressive and dangerous dog. Nevertheless, pit bulls are not dangerous. Like any other dog, they can be violent when they feel unsafe and in danger. This is exactly the position they were put in when forced into dog fights. Having being victim to this cruel activity, pit bulls have gotten the reputation of being violent. This discrimination against the breed has led them to be banned in more than 20 countries around the world. These include: Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, USA, Canada (In Ontario, Manitoba and the city of Winnipeg), Bermuda Islands, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Malta, New Zealand, Ecuador, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus.

There is also a legislation in several countries that aims to promote and establish certain behavioral guidelines for pit bull owners. It specifies that they should only walk with a muzzle, a short leash and under the responsibility of the owner. The owner must also obtain an administrative license involving another series of requirements.

We often judge pit bulls simply by their physical qualities: a developed musculature and great athletic ability. Perhaps they are more physically intimidating compared to say, a Yorkshire Terrier, but the latter can be equally as snappy - if not more so!

The key is to educate them from an early age so they can be a loving, obedient and faithful companion. Always remember to use positive reinforcement too.

We elaborate more on this subject in our article Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?

How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite - Are pit bulls dangerous?

Break stick for dogs

Have you heard of the break stick? If you search how to make a pit bull release their bite online, you will probably see this object. A break stick is a device inserted into the mouth of a pit bull (behind their molars) to facilitate the release of their grip on another dog. See image below.

Now, a responsible pit bull owner who has dedicated themselves to thoroughly train and give plenty of affection to their dog will have no use for it. The break stick is a device popular amongst dog fighters or those who do not train their dogs through positive reinforcement, instead, they opt for cruel punishments.

It is important to note that no dog owner should use their hand to unhinge their pet's jaw. Otherwise, you risk them redirecting their bite to your hand, or elsewhere on your body.

Not all pit bulls are aggressive toward other dogs. This is will depend on their upbringing. Nevertheless, break sticks are still considered useful in a multi-dog household, to some people. However, we believe this scenario should never be an issue to begin with, so we would like to offer some tips on how to avoid a dog fight or attack.

How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite - Break stick for dogs
Image: extremedoggear

Does a pit bull lock their jaw when biting?

This myth is as common as it is absurd. There is no different anatomical or physiological mechanism in a pit bull that allows their jaws to lock. On this regard, the pit bull's bite is exactly the same as that of any other dog.

This myth is actually not only related to the pit bull, but to many other dog breeds. It is also directed to the Boxer, the American Stafforshire Terrier and other dogs considered aggressive or violent. But it is simply nonsense stemmed from their powerful strength and determination.

How to avoid a dog fight or attack

If you are introducing your pit bull to another dog, perhaps a new pet, check out our article on cohabitation between pit bulls and other dogs. The meeting will not get violent if both pets have been well trained. It is your responsibility to ensure your pet is ready to be exposed to fellow animals.

  1. The introduction should take place in neutral territory, and never at home.
  2. Pay equal attention to both dogs.
  3. Don't force the situation on them; let them interact on their own if they want to.
  4. Refrain from stepping in as long as neither dog is at risk.
  5. Avoid rewarding them with treats during the first few days of knowing each other to avoid getting them jealous.

Many canine educators recommend using an anti-pull harness to give you better control of your dog. However, we encourage you to teach your dog to walk by your side. You could keep your dog on a leash until you are certain the situation is under control and your dog is reacting well to everyone around them.

Make sure you are abiding by your country's law, as you may be obligated to put a muzzle on your pit bull. This will keep strangers at ease, who may be intimidated by your pet. If anything, this improves the reputation of pit bulls and their owners, so it is a win-win.

Finally, and most importantly, you should teach your dog to drop objects. Regardless of any emergency action you may need to take, practicing "release" with your dog will help prevent such conflicts and improve your overall relationship with one another.

How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite - How to avoid a dog fight or attack

How to make a pitbull release its bite

If you find yourself in the position in which your pit bull has gripped onto an object or worse, a fellow dog or human, you will need to know how to act.

Most dog breeds will snap erratically at the dog or person they have an issue with, biting and releasing repeatedly. However, pit bulls will usually bite and hold. This is not a breed specific trait, but it is because they are a Terrier.

If an encounter between a pit bull and a fellow dog becomes vicious, it is normally effective to squirt them with a hose or a big bucket of water. We do not recommend the break stick because it can harm their teeth and the person using it can be harmed too.

Likewise, you could grab one or both dogs by their hind legs to remove their center of gravity and their balance. This is another effective way to break up a brawl.

Having said all of that, real, well-trained pit bulls are sweet, loyal, friendly and energetic dogs. Do not be put off by negligent owners who have encouraged the discrimination of this breed. They are not only great pets for experienced dog owners but are fantastic with children. Just ensure young kids are taught how to treat animals properly.

The only way we can subvert this bias against pit bulls is to educate and reveal how loving and compassionate this breed can be. Do you have a pit bull? We would love to receive some photos of your pets! Feel free to leave us a comment below.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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I have a very loving and wonderful Pitbull he is 3 years old and he has been fixed. We have trained him very well he is good around kids and we've always had another dog in the house as well but he's never fought with her. But we got a new puppy that is also a male pitbull we got him fixed as well but after about a year the two of them started fighting to the point that they are hurting each other very badly. The younger dog actually ended up being a little bit bigger and stronger then the one we already had so he kind of dominates the fights but the older dog is the one that starts them. How can I get them to stop? I'm afraid that one of them is going to kill the other.
Too, pit bull showed up at my house cause I have females in heat! He started attacking another dog an killed it! Not mine another male! I tried the the break stick I had him lifted in the air an mashing his nuts! If a pit bull attacks you or your animal! Shoot an kill the dog!!
I wish I would of read this so much sooner. My shitzu was attached by a pit bull around 5:40pm today. Worst experience ever that dog seemed so viscous.
I agree, train them young not to bite.
Isabella Rocha
Royce at 8 months.
Brandy L Jackson
This is 3 month old DeeOhGee
Kevin Thomas Weindorf
Water works the best, they can't breath easily thru their mouth while locked. Pour it on the nose and it's shock them out of the moment. My dogs had this issue, they would try to kill each other and I tried everything and once I figured that out, easy street.
At an off lease dog park, a pit bull grabbed my mini lab puppy (11 months old) by the collar and the owner could not get her dog to release. My dog was frozen... I stepped in and luckily could un clip my dogs collar off of her. The pit owner held her dog and told me that she is only a pup as well, 8 months, and recently started grabbing other dogs by the collars... what to do?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Greg,

This is an extremely important time in any dog's life, but especially a Pit Bull. They need proper socialization and education from their guardians. This isn't easy to do and this is why Pit Bull owners should be experienced and available. Here is some background in aggression in Pit Bulls which hopefully should be helpful:
Hi, my name is Virginia, I just adopted an adult male pit bull terrier. I rescued him from a sure death, very wounded and bited in a fight by another Pitbull. Mistreated and neglected by his owner. I took it to the veterinary hospital, and after a lot of work and dedication, he is now an healthy, gorgeous and majestic dog. He loves me and adores me, and I´m nuts for him. Only thing is that he always wants to fight another dogs. He already attacked a neighbours female Belgian Shepard. It was horrible, disastrous disheartening to me. Every day that I take him out for a walk, is a constant struggle and I´m starting to get fed up of his behaviour. I will like to know if there is hope for me and my dog together. I live in a constant internal fight because I don´t want to give him up, but I just can´t control his temperament, and I always fear that he hurts another dog. What can I do to to change his attitude? should I never take him out of the house? Please help!!
Thanks a lot for your attention
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Virginia,

This is a difficult problem and not one which is easy to fix. What should be done is that he needs to be re-conditioned to see other dogs as friends and not potential opponents. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task. It will take some controlled situations where he is introduced to other dogs while restrained. He will need positive reinforcement to know not to attack.

This is a complicated scenario which takes a lot of time and is a relatively lengthy process. The best thing you can do is to find a dog trainer who can go through this process with you. It might cost a little, but if there is a possibility for rehabilitation, they will be your best bet.

We hope this info has been useful!
Bozz Scaggs
Virginia, may I commend you for the rescue of this dog. I support the advice of AnimalWised. As a responsible dog owner one must be in control of their dog at all times, especially in public. The breaking stick article brought me here. Always have two on your person when you're with your dog. Know how to use it. It can be a fairly gentle means of opening the dog's jaw. I've seen them made with a framing hammer handle. It is basically a long wedge on a short handle. The wedge is inserted between the jaws and behind the molars and twisted in order to pry the jaw apart enough that the hold breaks. Your body position is important as well. If your dog locks down on another the hardest part will be to remain calm while acting quickly. If someone pulls on either dog the dog with the hold will likely hold harder and may shake more. Having a second long leash is a good plan. You might need to tie the other dog off to something and break your dog from the bite while dragging him away.
I knew a young man almost 40 years who had beautiful brindle dog out of California, a game-bred male walking around at 45 to 50 pounds. Always chased three of the four house cats but never biting. The fourth cat wasn't running due to an overly developed sense of self-importance and crazy catitude and the two decided to ignore one another. Neighborhood kids had access to three sides of Spikes back yard and would reach into the fence to grab Spike's toys to throw for him. His favorite toy was a 24" section of fence post. One day Mike had Spike in the park across from his house throwing Spike's ball. A Golden Retriever decided to own the ball and bowed up to Spike. He came at him with teeth bared trying to bite. In about one second Spike came up with a shoulder hold and started to shake it out with Mike running to scene. As he ran he hollered the command to release a toy, "Spike, drop it! Spike did and also obeyed the next command to go home. Mike took the Golden home while his dog laid on his front porch. He told the injured dog's owner what happened, got the name of the vet to call ahead and told the story to the vet's office just in case the story was spun. Months later there was a repeat of the event, same scenario. Mike took the trouble to have the Golden recognized as dog aggressive.
Besides the fact that this is a true good story is the point that Spike was a very well trained and well exercised game bred pit. Your dog has a very negative learned behavior compared to Spike's positive learned behavior but there is hope and there are precautions. Lean on effective training which will involve much reconditioning and always expect a bomb to go off so always keep your training and tools with you and your pit. You've rescued the dog. Be sensitive to the needs of the breed as well. If you can't keep other dogs safe around your dog then he needs to live elsewhere or not live anywhere. That's hard but it's better for the breed and it's better for the poodle leashed and walking on the street with his mistress or the little rat terrier at the dog park chasing his dog friends or the Belgian Shepherd you mentioned. I hope the the other dog survived but I would hate having to pay the vet bill. Best wishes.
I have also rescued an adult with similar behavior. She loves people but wants to attack everything on 4 legs. I keep her leashed at all times outside and limit dangerous situations. I will be getting her a " warning " harness that indicates dog aggression and a muzzle for outings. And then hopefully we can start training her to be friendly with others.
MY two dogs one a 4year old pitty mix and my two-year-old pit got into a fight.I think it was over food or jealousy. It was so bad one had the other by the ear. We tried everything blanket water. two chairs. We could not get them apart. It was so bad. We love our dogs so much. We were able to get them apart by pulling their back legs. We were so stressed. One had her ear almost pulled off and the other a whole in her throat .1,ooo later they will be ok.
You have your 2 castrated? I think its better, for Male Dogs for sure.
Just recently had my dog and my roommate's dog begin fighting after two weeks of them being besties. It was definitely resource guarding/jealousy. Find a trainer! We found a great one at Petco who is super confident (in general) and very knowledgeable. We've been doing the work (and it is work) to resolve. We now know exactly what to do although we still have errors in judgement but we are getting there. He says this issue can be resolved. The key is to get professional help before the behavior becomes set. It'll be more difficult to change the longer you wait.
Melissa Goodwin
One of my 4 pits
I encountered the situation of a pitbull latched onto the neck.of a GSP mix last week. The GSP had been humping all the dogs at the dog park and humped the wrong one. The people had been playing pretty well but apparently there was an altercation (I didn't see it just the result). each owner had their dog and I had handed off my dog to another person so I was free to act but how? I'm a trainer (though I let my CGC certification lapsed some years ago) and everything ran through my head. But what I had in my hand was a leash. It occurred to me to just flick this little snap of the leash against the face/jaw of the pit. I didn't think it would hurt much and if you do it to yourself it won't, until you try it on bone and then it actually does. At any rate the pulsing stimulus broke through to the pit who released his jaws without getting particularly angry at anyone around him. in fact once we got them separated the pit was back to smiling and soliciting play from my dog and even the GSP who had one break to the skin only since it turns out the pit had him buy a fold of skin, not the jugular. owners were very shaken but were commenced to exchange phone numbers and I tried to make them see how actually both dogs were wrong, it's just that one dog had particularly "effective" hereditary tool bag for fights. (And henceforth should not be in a Dogpark).

Anyway, I don't know if this will ever work again for anyone but it was based on a pretty sound principle. When a dog is latched on and pulling like that the opposition reflex keeps him pulling when the other animal pulls away. The pulsing , sharp, wraps from the small spring snap clip caught his attention and made him change his reaction. However, though in less danger and then using your hands, realize you are still in danger adding pain to aggression. And pretty reliant on the guy holding on to the dog.
Administrador AnimalWised
Thank you so much for sharing that story and your tips with us! We’re sure it will be helpful to other people in the future. AnimalWised
i like your method. seems best option. all dog owners, esp dogs with strong bite strength, need to teach their dogs to release on demand, and also to regulate their bite strength from young pup. My dog, a mini black lab, carefully eats kibble out of my closed fist, and in play, I can safely have my hand in her mouth, as a fist, she has a soft play grip... the owner of the pit we met, seemed to have no control over its behavior latching onto my dogs collar...
Did I read this correctly, you're saying Pits shouldn't be allowed at dog parks because they're strong? Then Rottweilers, English Mastiffs, Cane Corsos and many more shouldn't be allowed either right?

Unless, you're trying to say Pits are hereditary aggressive but that can't be because you must know there's many Pits with CGC Certification right?
I don't know why I can't answer Rose but I should have mentioned that I was a CGC instructor and evaluator as well. The certification, now title, only indicates how the dog was behaving that day under that set of circumstances. We din't test their response to ill-mannered play by other dogs or any dog/dog interaction at all except ignoring other leashed dogs. My rescue Keeshond feared and disliked all dogs but she could hold it together long enough to let me shake hands with the evaluator (with a dog at heel).
Sick of ignorance
Pit Bulls have a strong bite. They are dogs which have a strong musculature, so it makes sense. I have met so many wonderful and beautiful Pits. i have met a few troubled ones too, but this doesn't mean they are all dangerous. It is obvious that there are other factors and until people stop being ignorant of what they are, the problem will never be resolved. The main problem is people not meeting their responsibility or being uneducated themselves when it comes to raising these dogs.
I can't answer the prior comment but actually my foster that I handed off to a bystander is a pit/boxer/?? mix. It's not pits that shouldn't be in dog parks. I've known lots of them that are good "dog" dogs. It's that one who has demonstrated a tendency to grab and hold the throats of annoying adolescents! Mine, foster, by appearances the mother of many litters, will do something like that and grab the flews of a bratty youngster) but briefly. Then she lets go! The adolescent, message received, handles it in various ways and often returns to play with my foster...but chastened and careful, at least for a while :-) BTW I had to teach my foster to bite gently in play (a separate thing from when reprimanding a dog). I can now tell her "gently" as she's playing and she will lighten her bite or use the side of her muzzle. If she doesn't I pull her out by the collar, her foster bandana, or I make a slip lead by running the leash through it's own handle and drop it over her head. Ditto if things start getting tense. At first it was often but now almost never. Anybody need an almost perfect dog?
I have had lavs for years, but recently got a rescue dog from the pound. She is 1 to 2 years old according to the vet, who guesses she may be a lab/pit mix. She loves to cuddle, but a L so loved to rough house. I have noticed that when playing, she often seems to get carried away, and I've had to physically restrain her in order get her to calm down. This makes me wonder if that is why this breed gets in trouble?
It's almost midnight and I just got home from the emergency vet because a pitbull from the camp next to ours entered our house (screen door wasn't latched) and latched onto our ten year old beagle. I was using the leg of a chair to get the pitbull off my dog without success. My husband (very strong) and another friend (also very strong) were both trying to pull the jaws of the pitbull open. It took about 5 minutes of trying to release the dogs jaws before he finally let go of my dog. My dog is in surgery as I write this and we won't know how he is until morning. As bad as this sounds, my story gets worse. Last January, a neighbors pitbull (totally different dog than this one) latched onto my dogs throat and nearly killed my beagle. Again, several large males tried to separate them. In both situations, my dog did nothing to provoke either pitbull. These pitbulls have cost me thousands of dollars and almost the life of my dog. They are bred to kill. In both situations the owners claim they are very friendly dogs that would never hurt anyone. Pitbull owners - your dogs will kill - no matter how good you think you train them - if they meet a certain dog (or child) that for some unknown reason they don't like - they will instinctively kill. Don't fool yourself into thinking you trained them correctly.
You are wrong I have owned several pits even took one from I guy I know who was fitting them and they are lovable you just need to know how to treat them and love them, I have 6 kids and trust my dog with them. It's all on how they are raised and treated
Debbie Stewart
I’m so sorry to hear this. I can totally identify. I have forced myself to approach pits at our park when I walk my dog for the past 8 years because I didn’t want to be closed-minded. That has all changed since last night. A man and his pit approached my dog and I to chat. I never met either one. While bending down petting her chin (my dog was completely docile sitting at my side) the pit latched onto my dogs left paw and would not let go. The owner was hitting her across the face and the dog just kept at it. My poor dog was in the emergency vet for 2-1/2 hours sedated, getting a multitude of stitches and today is in such pain. What bothers me is that every time I read or hear about these incidences, they are unprovoked.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Debbie,

The problem is not necessarily that the dog is unprovoked, but we do not know what is provoking them. Dogs can associate or perceive different people, animals or objects as something they are not, which is why socialization is so important.
@Brian Humphrey after reading your comment, all I have to say is wtf and how is it you have kids or allowed to own pets? You dont monitor your kids, you let your kids hurt your dogs and then you ran over one 'on accident' WHO THE HELL HAS THIS HAPPEN TO??? NO ONE!
Again, until you're in that situation, you should not comment on how to react in the situation.

I never said they have special jaws that lock, but their tremendous strength makes it damn near impossible to get their jaws off whatever they're biting.

Please stop making me look like a fool. I nearly lost my 8 year old dog to the aggressive breed. It was only a 5 month old female pit bull.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hello Cat,

Nobody is trying to make you look like a fool. Our reference to the 'locking' element of the dog's bite is due to this myth being widespread, so we deemed it relative to the discussion.

As we said before, we are not trivializing your experience, nor are we trying to demean you because of your opinion. We are simply addressing your points in a rational manner and adding to the discussion on this very sensitive subject.
The stats exist - no one can deny that. If you have a pit and have never had any issues - good for you. And hopefully you never will. As for the suggested techniques talked about here - check out pit attack videos and you will see that these do not work when it counts.
I am always on my guard when a pit is nearby. They don't scare me but it's a breed I do not trust
Author is in denial. Dangerous information. There is no appropriate way to stop a pit bull from killing your child. You defend yourself and your family with any means necessary. Some people are just mentally confused and believe a dogs life is as valuable as a humans.
I don't think the author has been in a situation where his/her dog was attacked and nearly mauled to death by a pit bull who had been seemingly socialized and had played with dogs many times before. Happened to me last night. My husband and I had to work together to pry that dog's jaws off my poor senior border collie who was screaming and whimpering. I would've killed the pit bull to save my pup--I wish I had thought to go for its throat, but I was so scared that I tried prying its stupid mouth open...thankfully hubby sprinted over and saved the day. The lifting the hind legs thing DOESN'T WORK -- a huge guy was trying that, and the pit bull DIDN'T GIVE UP. That pit bull is not even a year old and has been "socialized" but still fell prey to its deadly instinctive behavior. I love dogs, but it's not a bad thing to be aware of a dog's breed and instincts (NO different from knowing my border collie is a herding breed and likes to herd things like bicycles...and cars when she was a pup lol).

My border collie is going to be okay. The emergency vet said her thick fur saved her from major damage. She went into shock, though, so she was given meds for that. I'll never have her around another aggressive breed again. Not worth it. She's my precious baby, and I'd die for her.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Cat,

We are glad you and your Collie are OK. Being attacked by any creature can be a horrible experience. However, the techniques here are what we as dog owners have at our disposal. Some will work in certain instances, but not all. Unfortunately, there are many mitigating factors.

In your story you say your husband managed to break the bite. Would you be able to share how it was he did this? It might be helpful to the community.
There's a difference in a pit bull attack and other dog attacks. Pit Bulls will "lock" on to the neck and drag down or shake the victim. Other dogs are like wolves and will nip at random rather than hang on to a vital part. I've seen other dog fights. This was different. That dog intended to kill mine.

It took both my husband and myself using our hands to pry the jaws open. I want it to be clear that though I am fit, I couldn't make a difference in stopping this dog and almost watched my baby die in front of me. I've done maybe search to prevent this helplessness in the future. So your best bet is a break stick or something else as leverage for opening the super strong pitbull jaws. If you don't have access to that, suffocate the dog by grabbing on to its neck and stopping its air. This should stop it. I wish I had thought of that in the moment when nothing else worked.

I want to emphasize again this was only a puppy. The owner contacted us yesterday and said she is a 5 month old pup. That's what blows my mind more than anything. What if this had been a human child? It's horrifying. Please don't downplay the aggression and violence that is inherent to this breed. There's a reason in some parts of the world that people are required to have a license to own a pit bull, or that certain countries forbid them altogether.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Cat,

Please read our article on Pit Bull breeds and types to see more information about the misinformation spread about Pit Bulls. We do not want to in any way trivialize your experience, but at the same time Pit Bulls are incorrectly given the name of ‘inherently’ aggressive when there is much more to do with breeding, human interference, inadequate socialization and stigma.

Although they have an undoubtedly strong bite, it has also been proven that they are unable to ‘lock’ their jaw and their bite can be broken, especially with the use of a bite stick.

We have more articles on Pit Bulls to make these distinctions clearer, so please feel free to take a look, ideally starting with the following:
Sad what Dogs are bite or Fight. But remember2 Your Dog and that Pitbull both leashed and watch for your Dog= no problem. I think the Owner is unable to watch correctly for here Dogs, and after Dogs bite eatch other the blame the Breed for that..

How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite
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How to Make a Pit Bull Release its Bite

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