Some dogs nibble on their owners from time to time, but it can be indicative of a problem that should be addressed.
If your dog has started doing this to you, it is crucial that you try to determine the reason. This is the best course of action for you and your pet.
It’s Your Dog’s Natural Instinct
One of the most common reasons for dogs nibbling on their owners is that it is their natural instincts coming out. This is especially true for puppies, which nibble on other dogs as well. This is nothing to worry about, as it is all in good fun. It is just your dog’s way of playing with you, as annoying as it can be at times.
Puppies often nibble due to teething, which is a natural stage of their development. This is very similar to what happens with many small children. The best thing that you can do is just be patient with them as go through this phase. You can also provide them with plenty of fun toys to gnaw on instead of your fingers.
It’s also a possibility that your dog keeps nibbling on you because they are stressed or anxious. This is actually a fairly common way for this particular issue to manifest in dogs. If your dog has separation anxiety, they might do this as a way of letting you know they are excited you have come back.
Many dogs become anxious when there are loud or disorienting noises, such as fireworks or thunder. The best thing that you can do in this situation is distract your dog by giving it a treat or fun toy to play with. If your dog’s problem with anxiety is serious, it could require meditation to treat. This is something that you should discuss with your veterinarian.
It’s Your Dog’s Way of Showing Affection
There’s also the possibility that your dog’s nibbling is just their way of showing how much they care about you. While this is more common among puppies, some adult dogs do this as well. If your dog is feeling particularly playful, it might start engaging in this behavior.
You Aren’t Paying Enough Attention to Them
Your dog could be nibbling on you because they are trying to get your attention. If you don’t play or interact with them enough on a daily basis, this could be their way of acting out. This can be solved by simply setting aside a little bit more one-on-one time with them.
Dogs are social creatures just like humans, so they need mental and physical stimulation. This might just be a cry for attention, which you should take seriously. It is particularly important to give them lots of affection if they are still just a puppy. It will help your dog become a well-adjusted adult canine.
It is a Warning
If you are doing something to your dog that it doesn’t like, it might give you a nibble as a warning. This is your pet’s way of saying “I don’t like that, so please stop.” You should have a pretty good sense as to whether or not this is the case.
You should stop whatever you are doing immediately, unless it is necessary. Some dogs will start nibbling on their owner when they are getting their nails trimmed or receiving a bath. If this is the case, you can give them a toy to chew on.
Either way, you should heed the warning and take the appropriate action in response.
If your dog is having any issues with their teeth or gums, they might start nibbling on you. This is just their way of dealing with the discomfort they are feeling. Look for any swelling around the gums if they keep doing this.
You’ll want to take your dog to see the vet right away if you suspect that they are having any problems with their oral health. The sooner you do this, the better off your pet is going to be.
How to Prevent Nibbling
There are quite a few different approaches that you can take when you are trying to put a stop to your dog’s nibbling. The method you use will mostly depend on the reason for the behavior, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Has Plenty of Toys
It is important that your dog has plenty of fun toys to play with. It’s possible that your dog either doesn’t currently have enough toys or is bored of the ones they do have. Puzzle toys and ones that dispense treats will be sure to keep them occupied.
Make sure that you get toys that are appropriate for your dog based on their size. Big dogs typically need toys that are very durable. If you have a smaller dog, you don’t want to get any toys that are tiny, as they could choke on them.
2. Respond Appropriate in the Moment
You’ll want to make a point of scolding your dog firmly as soon as it starts nibbling on you. This will get their attention and let them know this behavior is not acceptable. It might take a little time for them to get the message, but it should stop eventually.
You should never hit your dog or get physical with it. This is inappropriate for any type of pet, and it might actually encourage their nibbling. If your dog is doing this as a way of being playful, it could reinforce this behavior.
While a little nibbling might not seem like very serious behavior, it can be indicative of something serious. If your dog is also drooling excessively, has a lot of appetite or exhibits other signs of pain, you should see your vet immediately. This behavior is very common for puppies and usually not cause for concern. The more thorough you are in narrowing down the possible reasons for their nibbling, the easier it will be to stop it for good.