If your dog gently bites you a lot, you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs do it and what your options are.

So, why does my dog gently bite me? Possible reasons why your dog gently bites you are teething, excitement, thinking that the behavior is acceptable, or having learned that the behavior is rewarded.

There are actually multiple possible causes, and it might be due to a combination of causes. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes, and there are many things you can do about them.

Reasons why your dog gently bites you

Below are a number of reasons why your dog might have been doing it, and what would make each of them more likely.

Teething

The cause might be that it has been teething. This would be more likely if your dog has started doing it suddenly and if it has been nibbling on other things a lot as well. In this case, it would help to give it lots of things that it can chew such as: toys, bones or chews.

Nature

Dogs interact with the environment using their mouths and their noses as much as they do with their eyes; even more so when they are puppies.

The reason why your dog has been biting you could be that it’s interacting with you. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.

Even if it does seem to be doing it naturally, it will still be important to get it to stop by training it not to bite you.

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as: toys, treats, or extra attention, when it bites you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Excitement

The cause could be that it gets excited, and it is trying to show its excitement.

This would be more likely if it only seems to biting you when you’re about to do something exciting such as going out for a walk. It would also be more likely if it tends to show other signs of excitement when biting you.

In this case, something you can try is to stop it from biting you by standing up and turning around or by leaving the room. You would then reward it when it shows signs of behaving the way that you want it to. Doing this will teach it that biting you does not get it what it wants.

It thinks it’s ok

If you have not given your dog much training, it will behave the way it feels like behaving. The way it feels like behaving is unlikely to be the way you would like it to behave. So, it would help to make sure to start giving it training by starting with the basics and building up from there.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

What is different when your dog gently bites you

If your dog seems to do it more at a certain time, it would help to consider what is different about the timing. For example, if it tends to do it when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to excitement. Whereas, if it does it when you are petting it, the cause would be more likely to be that it thinks it is ok to nibble you, teething or having learned that the behavior is rewarded.

If it has always done it

If your dog has not always gently bit you, it would help to consider what else occurred when it first started. It might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If your dog started doing it suddenly, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as teething, inadvertently rewarding it or stopping training it. In this case, it would help to consider what else changed when it started doing it.

Whereas, if it has always done it, a lack of training would be more likely to be the reason. If you have trained it not to do it, your training method might not have been effective and you could try using a different strategy.

How old it is

It would also help to consider the age of your dog since its age will have a big impact on the most probable cause.

If your dog is still a puppy it would make it much more likely that it bites you naturally because it is teething.

Nevertheless, it would be important to train it not to gently bite you so that it doesn’t do it when it is older.

If it is an adult then it would be more likely that it never learned not to do it.

However, if it started to do it suddenly and it didn’t do it in the past then it might suggest that something is wrong such as that it is in pain.

What to do about your dog gently biting you

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, your dog might have learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid giving it rewards when it does not.

Give it other things to bite

In addition to the above, it would also help to give it things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to feel the need to bite you. Things you could give it would include, toys, bones, and puzzle games.

Redirect its focus

It could also help to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to bite you. Doing this consistently should help to get it out of the habit of biting. Things to redirect its focus onto could include toys or bones.

Positive reinforcement training

One option would be to get it to stop with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see from your dog by rewarding it when it shows signs of displaying them and avoid rewarding it when it does not.

To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop gently biting, you would do as follows:

  1. Start giving it positive attention
  2. Stop giving it attention by turning your back and hiding your hands when it starts biting you
  3. Carry on giving it attention when it stops biting you
  4. Stop giving it attention again when if it starts biting you
  5. Repeat the above until it learns that biting you results in you not giving it attention

Below is a video showing you how to use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.