Why Does My Dog Nibble Me?

Loosely speaking, a dog’s nibble is a sign of exploration, affection, and play. The group of canines that have the most fun nibbling on anything is puppies. So, it is more likely for a puppy to nibble you than an adult dog. For pups, nipping assists in making the teething process easy because their gums are usually irritated.

However, the nibble may mean a lot of things. In this read, you will get the many explanations capturing and explaining your dog’s mouthing behaviors. Also, you will get to know if you should allow it or not, and if not, the ways you can stop it. In the end, you will go through a few dog breeds that nibble the most. Let’s chew down this read already!

The Reasons Behind Dog Mouthing Behavior

If You’re In A Hurry…

Why The Dog Nibbles YouWhat You Should Do
Your dog could be showing loveKick back, relax, and enjoy the love
It could be overly excited about somethingFind out what excites it
It could be dealing with an oral issue, such as painGet the dog medical help
It could be having an anxiety attackYou should get the diagnosis and treatment plan
The dog could just be getting comfortable around youTry and accommodate it while preventing any painful experience
The dog could be acting possessivelyGive the dog extra warmth 
The dog could be conducting an investigationSniff around and find out whatever is lurking in the shadows
It could just be a puppyLet it be
It could just be that the dog is aggressiveResearch ways of making the pup calmer
The dog may be fearfulShow the dog that it should feel safe
You could be tasting sweetStop being too salty (joke!)
The dog could just be playing with youTry and play with the pup, but gently
The dog may have little or no control over its impulsesYou should try impulse control training
The dog could be dealing with PTSD issuesTry and guide the dog to calmness

1. Your Dog Could Be Showing Love

As mentioned in the kicker, nibbling is a sign of love. Generally speaking, a dog will engage in mouthing or nibbling behaviors because it feels connected to us. Because dogs can’t communicate using human language, they make their statements with actions – even if it means making you feel some little pain.

2. It Could Be Overly Excited About Something

Even humans behave erratically when they feel a sudden rush of sensation throughout their system. Look at Cocker Spaniels. For example, they tinkle a little bit when they become overexcited (minus the urine, you don’t want a nibbler and a urinary expert).

Unfortunately, you could be the victim of the nibble of an excited dog. So, whenever Fido nibbles you, you should try and be patient. Yelling will probably kill the dog’s spirit, and I’m sure you don’t want that to happen.

3. It Could Be Dealing With An Oral Issue, Such As Pain

A toothache I something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, even my worst enemy. Sometimes, because of a lot of sugar and bacteria in the mouth, our dogs develop teeth issues. Because of the painful situation, they will mouth, nibble, or gnaw at you. Some of the oral problems that the dog could be dealing with include gingivitis, periodontal diseases, and cavities, and they are all uncomfortable and irritating.

Because of sudden sharp pain, the dog may react by nibbling your fingers or hands. So, once your dog mouths you, take your time and look at all its teeth to see the situation. If you discover anything alarming in their dentition, you should talk to a vet as soon as you can. This is because even the slightest oral issue can become severe in a short period. I’m speaking of things like oral tumors and infections.

4. It Could Be Having An Anxiety Attack

Not all dogs are confident; some are shy, and others have serious nervousness that builds up anxiety. When a dog is worried about something or is unsettled, the dog may gnaw, nibble or even suck your fingers and hands.

But, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. This is because nibbling or biting is merely a mechanism to cope with anxiety. What you need to do is keep an eye on the dog when its body language changes. If the nervousness and anxiety are beyond control, the dog may leave severe injuries on your hand, finger, or foot.

5. The Dog Could Just Be Getting Comfortable Around You

Sometimes, the nibbling behavior may make the pup feel calm and comfortable. You can compare that action with a cat’s kneading or when a child sucks its thumb.

The nibbling action is done in retrospect; that is, the dog usually reminds itself about when it was a baby and how comfortable those days were. Since you’re the pet parent and new mom, the dog won’t mind making you its nibbling item.

6. The Dog Could Be Acting Possessively

Some dogs act like they’re possessed by demons, but that is not the case here. When they fit your hand or finger in their mouth, dogs make a territorial statement – that you are their human. Those kinds of nibbles are usually soft, gentle, and lack any sort of aggression.

When your dog shows you mild forms of possession, there is nothing to worry about. However, if you start feeling like the dog is aggressive, you may want to train the behavior out.

7. The Dog Could Be Conducting An Investigation

You’d prefer that dogs Google or ask the FBI for help, but there they are – nibbling on anything they can find, including your hand. Like sniffers and K-9s, household dogs engage their mouths and snouts in inspections and investigations.

When the dog nibbles you, it may just be exploring whatever situation is around. You could be smelling like a cat (a dog’s enemy), and they want to confirm that no feline is in sight. Your Fido will naturally become curious when he detects a slight change in the environment, and so, he will stop at nothing before he gets to the bottom of things.

8. It Could Just Be A Puppy

Like human kids, puppies are super curious – they love to nip, gnaw, bite, and nibble. Mouthing is one of the ways that dogs use to learn how the world operates. Actually, the nibbling comes impulsively rather than reactively.

But you have nothing to worry about because there is a lot of time to take care of that behavior. For now, you only have to take care of how you react towards the behavior because it goes a long way into the dog’s adult life.

9. It Could Just Be That The Dog Is Aggressive

A dog that nibbles may be dealing with issues of aggression. The dog’s psyche may be troubled a little too much, explaining why the dog is mouthing. You should investigate why the dog is reacting that way by talking to an animal behaviorist.

Whichever the cause, you need to give the pup all the attention it needs. If you deal with the aggression issues early, the dog’s behavior may improve.

10. The Dog May Be Fearful

You shouldn’t expect dogs to be all-powerful and confident. They sometimes feel low, fearful, and apprehensive. This is indeed true for dogs who have been neglected or abused repeatedly.

While it may be challenging to break the reactive behavior, it is quite possible. You need to have a lot of patience with the dog, and if you can’t, try and talk to a vet.

11. You Could Be Tasting Sweet

Dogs are not cannibals, and indeed, your dog couldn’t be thinking of eating you. Our bodies sweat, and as you may know, sweat is quite salty. Dogs like the salty taste, and it will all start as a simple lick before it becomes a nibble. Try not to be too sweet, will you?

12. The Dog Could Just Be Playing With You

When your puppy mouths you, it may be trying to play with you. If you’ve watched puppies or dogs play, you will realize that nibbling and nipping are all part of it. Actually, it is a way that pups use to teach themselves how to interact without biting too hard.

If you did not allow your dog to socialize a lot when it was young, it could painfully bite you. The way to deal with such a situation is to discourage it completely.

13. The Dog May Have Little Or No Control Over Its Impulses

Humans can tell a better story on self-control or, in this case, the lack of it. When a dog or a puppy hasn’t mastered its system, it will bite, nibble, and gnaw without control. If the canine has never undergone any kind of control training, it may end up hurting someone. However, you have nothing to worry about because you can teach the canine impulse control.

When your pup nibbles you next, make a high-pitched sound; that ought to scare him from doing it again. It is unlikely to repeat that behavior because it knows it would be crossing a line.

14. The Dog Could Be Dealing With PTSD Issues 

Like humans, dogs are susceptible to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When that happens, the dog may react by nibbling you. The dog’s PTSD could be from lack of water (dehydration), abuse, neglect, accident, or saying looking without food.

PTSD may manifest in the dog in many ways, including aggression, hyperawareness, skittishness, and even potty issues. The act of nibbling or gnawing could be giving the dog comfort.

To get a proper diagnosis, you need to present the case to the vet. That way, you will know how to treat the symptoms and help the dog heal from PTSD.

Dog Nibbling Questions

Should I Allow It?

Well, looking at what the previous section captures, it is all up to you. You need first to identify the reason why the dog is nibbling you. Once you do, you will know whether or not you should accommodate the behavior. Nonetheless, you should not bash or scare the pup away.

Can My Dog Learn How To Stop Excessive Mouthing?

At first, your dog will look so cute when they try to nibble you. But soon after, things may get serious, especially if the dog tries to bite you seriously. It may feel grossly painful or even frightening – especially if the dog nibbles a kid or a guest.

You should know that it is tricky to teach a dog not to do something. On the one hand, you don’t want to hurt, scare, or startle the dog. And on the other hand, you want it to stop hurting people, and sometimes, the only way to present that kind of point is by being a little unpleasant.

Most expert trainers and behaviorists do not focus on mouthing behavior. Instead, they teach the dog something new – something more rewarding that will keep it off the nibbling.

For example, you can try using a squeaky toy. When you see that the dog is about to mouth anyone, you should give the toy or throw it for the dog to retrieve. If the dog comes back with it, try engaging in some tugging with it. This actually works for most dogs, if not all, because they learn that chewing on the toy is better and more fulfilling than nibbling on a person’s finger.

Correcting Dog Nibbling Issues: The Mistakes We Make

1. Moving One’s Hands Too Much

Whenever you’re using the toy to stop the dog from nibbling you, you should not move your feet or hands too much. Anything that moves attracts dogs, so it won’t be long until your arms become the center of attraction.

2. Not Giving The Dog The Attention And Love They Deserve

When dogs act up, we tend to scold them, and when they are doing good, we become oblivious of their progress. So, when your dog is doing something good (like chewing on a squishy toy and not your finger), you need to reward it.

Try using some treats, home-made or store-bought, to ensure that the dog keeps being happy all the time 

3. Scaring, Hitting, Or Scolding The Dog When It Nibbles

From the table, you get that not all mouthing incidents are done out of malice. Your dog may be trying to show you love or inviting you to play. So, when you yell, you scare it and prevent it from being expressive. This can trigger the dog to aggression. Therefore, avoid any blatantly confrontational methods. 

Bonus Section: The Mouthiest Dog Breeds

As we have established throughout the reading, a dog may be inclined to use its mouth a little more than it should. When the behavior is done in excess, it builds up to a condition known as mouthiness. You should know that the phenomenon of involving the mouth in everything is actually prevalent in some dog breeds more than others.

This final section brings you the mouthiest dog breeds under the sun. If you own any that appears on this list, you should be cautious when sticking your finger out.

1. The Basenji

Although the Basenji may be one of the cleanest, quietest dogs, it can become annoyingly mouthy. From time to time, the dog may think that everything is a game and the mouth is the tool of play.

For example, when you try getting up from your couch, your Basenji dog will try licking your feet or even grabbing your pants. If you get it leashed up, the dog will try biting the leash or you (if it gets the chance). If you try to control the Basenji and stop it from mouthing, it may act fiercely or even aggressively.

To take care of a mouthy Basenji, you should use consistent and excellent training methods.

2. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier 

This is one from the Terrier family known for its intelligence, agility, and shortness. On top of being courageously brave, this dog is very lovely around little kids. But here’s the catch: the dog gets mouthy.

An adult Staff (nickname) will not be all over the place biting every finger. However, puppies will be biting your clothes, shoes, hands, and many other things. Luckily, it won’t be a problem because the dog will still remain calm, loyal, and utterly cute.

3. The American Pit Bull Terrier 

Among all the dogs in the world, pit bulls are the most offensive and aggressive dogs. An untrained pit bull will often be involved in fights with humans and other dogs. Actually, members of this breed are the ones most used in dogfighting games. So, if you’re a parent to one, do not be surprised if it bites you.

Unlike the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, puppies of this breed are very calm. However, the dog starts nipping when it becomes mature. This is because its jaws mature, creating a higher bite force. So, it is vital that you train the dog to be tame. To know more about the dogs with the most powerful bite forces, click here.

4. The Pyrenean Shepherd 

Gracious, incredibly fast, and muscular, the Pyrenean Shepherd can get a little too mouthy. The dog is famous for its outstanding work performance, and one of the things it excels in doing is carrying things around in its mouth.

To prevent your Pyrenean Shepherd from nipping all your home stuff, you need to organize that it gets all the training it needs. Also, be ready to provide toys and other items for the dogs to chew on.

5. The Beagle 

This is one of the smartest, most curious, affectionate, and most playful dogs in the world. Because it is a size between being a toy dog and a small dog, it has no problems being around kids.

However, do not let the looks deceive you. That smart brain and those cute puppy eyes cover up the mouthing nature of this dog. When the Beagle is a puppy, you should be ready to lose your mind because it will nibble on anything. But, the remedy is giving the dog the right training.

6. The Labrador Retriever 

Retrievers are probably the mouthiest dogs. They love using their mouths to retrieve things and the behavior proceeds from puppyhood to adulthood. So, don’t be alarmed or shocked when your Lab bites, nips and licks more than you can take.

All retrievers were born to bring back game using their mouth, especially back then. So, to prevent the dog from hurting you with its nibbling, buy chew toys in plenty. Those ought to keep it engaged.

7. The Flat-Coated Retriever 

Like the Lab, this other retriever is mouthy by nature. If you present anything to it, it will chew without discrimination. If you don’t give the flat-coated retriever toys to chew, do not be surprised when your furniture, shoes, and clothes all have nibble marks.

Because the canine is a high-energy dog, you should know that it jumps on people a little too much. This implies that it can nibble on anyone, even strangers. So, work on the dog’s mouthing as soon as you can to prevent any kind of trouble with other people.

Final Words

With the relationship between dogs and humans, everything develops through learning. So, there are no mistakes, just errors. 

Once you understand the issue behind your dog’s mouthing, you will have a better chance of training it better. And before you make the dog’s behavior right, you should ensure that you know it well.

The mouthiest breeds in the world aren’t the most dangerous, just annoying. When they keep nipping and biting items in the house, they could cause a lot of damage. If you feel like things are a little too overwhelming for you, try and bring in an expert.

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