What Does It Mean When a Dog Nibbles on You

October 11, 2022by DOGuide0

It’s cute when your dog nibbles on you, but what does it mean? Dog Ownership Guide loves to uncover the answers to questions like “What does it mean when a dog nibbles on you?” so you don’t have to do the research yourself. Let’s begin!

What Does It Mean When a Dog Nibbles on You

When a dog nibbles on you, one or more of the following could be the reason:

  • Bored
  • Playing
  • Anxious
  • Aggression
  • Teething
  • Attention-Seeking

Below we’ll dive into each one separately to truly understand the answers to: “What does it mean when a dog nibbles on you?”

why does a dog nibble on you

Why a Dog Nibbles on You

Now that you have a general idea of why your dog is nibbling on you, let’s learn more about each reason.

Boredom

Dogs are just like children in that when they are bored, they find new behaviors to exhibit that may be entertaining for them. Nibbling on you is just one of them.

Your dog may be enjoying your reaction to his/her nibbling and continues to do it because there’s not much else going on at that time.

Playful Dog

From puppies to adult dogs, playing is an important part of their life. Nibbling is fun, which is why they do it with chew toys. However, sometimes, it’s more fun to do it to their human.

Nibbling in a playful way doesn’t usually lead to any destruction unless your pup has super sharp teeth – typical of puppy teeth.

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Anxiety

If you’ve ever taken care of a dog with separation anxiety when his/her owner leaves, you’ve probably seen the nibbling behavior. Anxiety can cause puppies and adult dogs to chew more and if there isn’t a chew toy somewhere, nibbling on a human works just as well.

Nibbling on a human when anxious is much like how humans may eat, smoke, or talk when they are dealing with anxiety. It gives them something their mouths can do to help vent their anxiety.

Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive behavior is another common reason for nibbling. Most dogs know that biting, so to get the aggression out they use nibbling behavior.

Many pet owners teach their young puppies bite inhibition. Bite inhibition is biting with no damage. Young dogs can learn this to keep them from exhibiting their instinctual behavior more aggressively.

The way to teach bite inhibition is to put a hand up to a puppy’s mouth. Usually, the puppy lick and nibbles on it because humans have salty skin. Keeping your hand there and training your pup on what is playful biting (love bites) vs. OW! bites will help the pup understand the intensity.

Dog breeds that are notorious for aggression (such as the german shepherd) are often taught this common behavior because it can be effective in reducing the incidence of biting. Little nibbles won’t hurt as much as an attack from an aggressive dog.

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Teething

Nibbling during teething is an instinctual behavior. Young pups often feel pain during the teething process, similar to human babies. Dogs nibble to massage the gums, which helps relieve the pain.

Giving your dog a frozen chew toy can help young dogs with the pain of the teething process.

Attention-Seeking

Dogs are loving animals and they want attention. To get the attention they crave, they use nibbling to show affection. Many pet parents find that their dog stops nibbling as soon as they start petting or scratching their dog. That’s because once you have your dog’s attention, all is right in the world.

Nibbling for attention is another instinctive behavior because puppies usually do it to the mother dog when they want their attention. Fortunately, puppies carry over this instinctive behavior to their pet parents.

How to Stop Your Dog from Nibbling on You

Now you know the answer to: “What does it mean when a dog nibbles on you?” For those of you who see this as unwanted behavior, there are a few ways to get your dog to stop.

Reduce Boredom and Play

Boredom can lead to nibbling, so have plenty of toys available and spend time playing with them with your pup. If that isn’t fun for you, take your dog to the dog park to play with other dogs.

Treat Anxiety and Aggression

Anxiety and aggression are common reasons why dogs nibble on you. You can stop this unwanted behavior by treating the root of the problem – anxiety, and aggression.

A combination of CBD for dogs and training can significantly decrease unwanted behavior such as nibbling, attacking a door when you leave the house, and many other things your dog does when anxious or aggressive.

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Teething Chews, Blankets, etc.

It’s a good idea to provide items for your puppy to chew on when teething or you may find your pup chewing on more than your hands. Make as many different types of chew toys available. Some pet parents use blankets because they are soft and can softly massage the gums. Of course, you shouldn’t care if your pup ends up chewing a hole in one.

Give Your Dog Attention

Your dog loves you and he/she wants to feel your love from you. Take time to be affectionate with your dog. If you do this, you’ll probably notice the nibbling slows down to a halt since he/she doesn’t have to work to get your attention anymore.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Nibbles on You?

When a dog nibbles on you, he/she is trying to get your attention in some way. It may be because your dog is anxious, mad, bored, in pain from teething, or just wants to be affectionate. As a good dog owner, identify why your dog nibbles on you and do what you feel is best about it. If it’s just playful biting and you don’t mind, then enjoy it. If it’s a problem due to sensitive skin, work with your pup to stop the behavior.

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by DOGuide

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