What does Dog Nibbling mean?
Animals are more like humans than we care to admit. Dogs especially, have striking human-like traits and tendencies. They picked up on these attributes during their evolution from wolves to domesticated pets. With a vast array of emotions and expressions, from reading facial expressions to displaying empathy, jealousy and anger, dogs have a way of understanding us and being understood.
Nature allows us to express our feelings in a multitude of ways. There are various verbal and non-verbal communicative gestures that bring forward our thoughts and feelings. Hence just like humans, dogs have a very peculiar way of expressing their emotions.
They may playfully ‘nibble’ at you to display a tad of mouthing affection and try to occupy you in a playful game. It might even be a part of their approach to greet someone, or a natural way for them to act when they are amped up about something.
In some cases, nibbling is also considered to be a technique of relieving stress. It is a common occurrence amongst dogs, they often get charged up about something and fail to understand what to do with that enthusiasm, in which case nibbling on to you or their chew toys (as a substitute) becomes an involuntary action.
Here’s a video showcasing canines and their nibbling tendencies which can be as simple as a playful venture or as serious as a habit they picked up from having ticks:
Besides all the above stated reasons, your dog might also be nibbling at you because he is simply curious. Like babies, dogs tend to put anything and everything in their mouth and chew at it. It is their war to explore the world!
Why does my Dog nibble me like I have fleas?
Overcoming fleas is one of the worst fears of all dog owners. It can be extremely tedious and overly uncomfortable for your dog. Fleas are a gateway to other grave illnesses and infections. If your dog has recently suffered a flea infestation, then he may have imparted it to his surrounding pets or toys. He might have also picked up the habit of nibbling along the way. Nibbling becomes a coping mechanism for your dog to fight off the itch and irritation in their skin. In such circumstances, dog fleas and tick collars are highly recommended. It is advisable to use these collars as a mode of prevention rather than cure.
Why does my Dog nibble with his front teeth?
While nibbling might be considered as a handling technique for scratchy and irritant skin, it can be a major behavioural trait as well. Your dog nibbling with his front teeth is his affectionate play to demonstrate love and deepen his bond with you. It is his exuberant way to depict his relations with you and illustrate his engagement and indulgence in the activity.
Another reason for the constant nibbling might be because your dog is teething and hence is experiencing a great deal of painful pressure on his gums. Like babies, they begin relying upon other objects to chew or nibble at to relieve them off the pain that is caused by teething. It would be easier for them to manage, if you simply buy them a couple of chew toys.
Young pups, when in a litter, tend to playfully bite each other and that is when they acquire the understanding of how and in what ways is their nibbling valid and the intensity of chewing that is permissible without hurting anyone. If at a young age, your dog has not had a chance to be in a playful environment with other puppies, then there are fair chances that you might become his chew toy.
As adoring as it might seem initially, as the dog grows, his habit sustains and someday, when he has too much zeal, his nibble might turn into a precarious bite. To avoid such circumstances, it would be wiser for you to nip this habit in the bud.
Why to stop my Dog from Nibbling?
Dog nibbling might seem very affectionate and cute, but this obsession should not be encouraged. This habit of your dog can have adverse effects in the long run. Here is a list of tips and techniques that you can employ to rid your dog off the nibbling habit.
Shaping dog habits is rather easy when it is practiced predominantly in the early age of the dog’s life. Dogs do not have the intrinsic understanding of the sensitivity of human skin, hence are oblivious to the consequences of frequent nibbling and biting. Hence it is essential that you make it known and evident that their nibbles are a cause of pain and discomfort to you. Acting hurt and limp after he nibbles at you can be one way to make him understand that nibbling is off limits.
As mentioned earlier, dog habits are easier to shape at an early stage, hence socializing your dog with other animals at a young age will make him more comfortable around new and unpredictable surroundings. Nibbling and biting are often a consequence of nervousness and uncertainty. If your dog is used to different habitats and environments, then chances are that he won’t feel the urge to nibble or bite in order to alleviate his anxiety.
Another effective way of keeping his nibbling habit at bay is by using taste deterrent sprays. Apply the spray over areas that he tends to nibble at frequently. Do this before interacting with him and as soon as he starts mouthing the area, stay still and let him nibble and react to the bad taste of the spray. Ensure that you praise him heartily for letting go of you even if it was because of the bad taste of the deterrent. Positive reinforcement plays a vital part in instilling a psychological effect in the dog’s brain that “not biting/nibbling leads to treats”.
Discipling your dog is another great way of getting rid of the nibbling obsession. You can start by trying out some impulse control activities, teaching him to sit, stand, wait and leave it. Then you can go on to discipline or train him to not nibble or bite by enforcing negative association methods such as leashing him and giving time outs if he disobeys.
Finally, it is always a good idea to get professional help if the nibbling continues despite all your efforts. Requesting the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) is always a great way to train and discipline your dog. This will make the dog more restrained and centred.
Here’s a link to a video to further guide you to train your dog to stop nibbling: