When my dog was younger, it would regularly nibble me whenever it got excited such as when I used to arrive home. This was troubling since it used to hurt and it stopped me from wanting to interact with my dog as much. It turns out there are a number of possible reasons why your particular dog might nibble you when it gets excited and there are a number of different solutions. In my case, I was able to get my dog to stop by withdrawing my attention whenever it started nibbling.
So, why does my dog nibble me excited? Likely reasons why your dog nibbles you when excited are that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it is teething, and that it has not learned that you do not like the behavior.
Your dog might be doing it due to a combination of causes. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop.
Why does my dog nibble me when excited?
Below are likely causes and what would make them more likely.
Encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that your dog has learned that nibbling you results in it getting rewards. If you start giving it extra attention, good or bad, when it starts nibbling you, it will likely learn that nibbling you results in it getting rewards. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Another possible reason is that your dog is teething. This would be more likely if your dog is a puppy and it has started nibbling other things a lot as well. In this case, it would help to give your dog other things to chew on such as toys or bones.
It has not learned that nibbling is not ok
It is also likely that your dog has not learned that it is not ok to nibble you. If you have never trained your dog to not nibble you, it will not know that you do not want it to. This is why it would help to give your dog training as shown below.
A part of the cause could also be that your dog has some separation anxiety. This would be more likely if your dog tends to nibble you when you arrive home or first thing in the morning and if your dog starts to become anxious when you are leaving. In this case, it would help to limit reasons why it might be anxious such as ensuring that it can stay in a quiet, cool and not too bright part of the house and to avoid rewarding it when it does nibble.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
If your dog has always nibbled you when excited
If your dog did not always nibble you, when excited, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be the case that your dog learned that the behavior is rewarded and that it started teething.
What is different when your dog does not nibble you
If your dog tends to nibble you more at a certain time, it would also help to consider what is different when it nibbles you. For example, if it does it when you arrive home, the cause is likely to be that it is excited to see you, it has some separation anxiety, and that it wants attention from you.
What to do about my dog nibbling me when excited?
Below are some options you have to get your dog to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it is likely that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded or that it has not learned that it is not ok to nibble you. It would help to stop interacting with your dog and withdraw your attention as soon as it starts nibbling and to only give it more attention when it is being well behaved. If it starts nibbling again, you would stop giving it attention again. Repeating this process should teach it that nibbling causes you to stop giving it attention.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to try to redirect your dog’s focus towards things such as bones or toys, when it seems likely to start nibbling you. By doing so, it should help to prevent your dog from nibbling you in the first place.
Give it exercise
It would also help to make sure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of exercise for its age and breed. Doing this should help to get it to be calmer for the rest of the day.