It is a puzzle trying to understand your dog’s nibbling behavior. There is no simple answer to why your dog nibble on you. However, your dog could be playing, going through puberty, exploring, or wanting to show some affection to you as its owner and caregiver.
Your pup could also be nipping your finger when they are going through teething. While teething, your puppy’s gums are very irritating and require relieving. Be cautious of this behavior as it can result in injuries. As soon as you notice your dog nibbling on your finger, you have to correct it depending on the underlying cause of the behavior.
Why Does My Dog Nibble On Me? Common Reasons for Mouthy Dogs
Other than chewing and carrying objects, dogs use their mouth to communicate, express, and explore the environment. Unfortunately, some of these mouth activities can sometimes be pathological, annoying, strange, and meaningless.
However, just like non-verbal cues for human beings, it is normal for dogs to exhibit behaviors that characterize their specie. One of these behaviors is biting. Biting can have different meanings depending on intensity, context, and emotions.
A nibble is a small, soft, quick bite of a dog using the upper and lower incisors. A dog usually nibbles with its jaws closed, making them look as if they are chattering its teeth. They often do this to their caregiver, playing objects, other animals, or themselves.
Therefore if your dog nibbles on you it might be due to the following situations:
Your dog keeps nibbling you mainly to express its affection towards you. Dogs usually use their mouth to make a statement, like showing they trust you.
You will notice your dog nibble at your hand when they are relaxed and resting quietly next to you. You will feel as if they are licking while biting you. This is their way of showing a strong and positive relationship between you two.
Dogs can develop a terrible habit of nibbling at your hand, pulling your clothes to capture your attention, or simply needing a treat. This should be discouraged and stopped. One way to stop this habit is by not rewarding it. This generally means you should not pay them any attention at that moment. Also, do not scold them because it would only mean they have succeeded in getting your attention.
Upon realizing that behavior is not bearing any fruit, your dog may develop a behavioral explosion or peak where it will increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of the nibbling.
However, please do not give in since this is normal toward the extinction process because it is confused about why its behavior is not being reinforced. After a while, the habit will subside; this is where you train it to take an alternative action while asking for treats.
Dogs, more so puppies, are very playful pets. They like to explore the world around them. Therefore it is completely normal for them to nibble on you as a way of having fun.
However, the nibbling can lead to accidental rough bites in the process. Therefore, it is advisable to teach your dog from an early age how to suppress biting. Better yet, you can provide it with chew toys, ropes, and stuffed animals to play with when they get too rough and over-excited.
Discomfort from Teething
The teething phase can get messy at times for both human babies and puppies. As your puppy goes through teething, it will bite anything they come across.
Some may fail to outgrow this behavior and bring it in the form of nibbling into adulthood. They will cling to this habit to help soothe and comfort them. However, the behavior could also be mimicking a dental problem.
There is nothing as painful as a toothache. Nonetheless, sometimes when your dog nibbles on you, it may be due to an underlying oral problem. Oral issues like gingivitis, cavities, and periodontal can cause discomfort and irritation to your dog.
Anxiety or stress
Dogs tend to suffer separation stress if you stay away from them for a long time. They may develop nibbling behavior to deal with their anxiety. You should be alert to an anxious or nervous dog since it can lush out on you unexpectedly at any time.
How to Stop Your Dog from Nibbling On You
There are several ways in which you can stop or minimize these cute, annoying love bites from your dog:
Be firm: each time your dog attempts to nibble on you, you should use a firm even tone to pass your point across. For example, tell it “no!” Or simply “gentle!”
Time out: since your dog adores you and for them pleasing you is their goal. Therefore, spending time with it and showing no affection will make it alert and pay attention. If your dog continues nibbling on you despite telling it to stop, ignore them for about 15 minutes and separate from them physically if possible. This will get to him and do the trick.
Positive reinforcement: you should try praising your pooch for not trying to nibble or mouth you. The positive reinforcement will make them learn and stick to that habit.
Offer them chew toys: give your dog chew toys to satisfy the nibbling needs. This will shift their attention from nibbling on your feet or arm. Also, do not allow it to nibble on the furniture.
Your relationship with your dog is a learning process with room for failure and success. Therefore, be patient with your pooch and always aim to get to the root of the problem to increase the chances of training your dog successfully.
Do not encourage your dog to nibble on you. He can do it to other objects or animals but not to you. Despite how cute and loving those nibbles could be, they may be miscalculating their strength, and you end up having a dog bite mark on your arm or feet.