If your dog has been nibbling you a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog nibble me? Common causes of dogs nibbling include teething, having learned that the behavior is rewarded, boredom, not enough training, wanting attention, and being overly excited.

There are actually multiple reasons why your dog might have been doing it and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider that will help you figure out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog nibbles you

Below are a number of common causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.

Teething

A possible cause is that it has started teething. This would be more likely if your dog is a puppy, if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been nibbling on other things as well. In this case, it would help to give it things that it is ok for it to chew on and to give it lots of positive reinforcement training as shown below.

Encouraging the behavior

The reason could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded so it does it more. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it nibbles you. 

Boredom

A part of the cause could also be that it is bored and looking for ways to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more before getting exercise and it does it less afterward. In this case, it would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

It thinks it is ok

If you have not given your dog any training it will not know how it is supposed to behave and it will behave the way that it feels like. The way it feels like behaving is unlikely to be the way you would like it to behave which is why it is important to train it to behave the way you want it to.

It wants something from you

Another possible cause is that it wants something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you would normally give it things such as food or exercise.

It wants attention

Another possible cause is that it has learned that nibbling you results in it getting extra attention. If you tend to give it more attention, when it nibbles you, it will likely do it more in order to get more attention from you. Instead, it would help to reward it with attention when it behaves the way you want it to.

Nature

Before dogs are even able to open their eyes they will begin to explore the world using their noses and mouths. This means that you shouldn’t be overly concerned if your dog likes to smell your hands and to nibble on them since it is how they are designed to interact with the world from an early age.

For the most part, when dogs nibble when young, it is due to their nature. Despite that, you should take measures early on to reduce it to prevent it from continuing when they’re older.

Warning

Even though dogs will nibble naturally at an early age. The nibbling could be to warn you that you are doing something that it doesn’t like. If your husky becomes uncomfortable and anxious, when it is nibbling, then it could be that you are doing something that it doesn’t like.

Perhaps you’re holding it in a way that is uncomfortable or it might be that something is hurting it. If this is the case then the biting will probably be accompanied by other things such as growling. If you think that your husky is doing it due to discomfort then you should consider taking it to a vet where they can diagnose any physical issues that it might be having. 

Aggression

The nibbling could be due to aggression that you will want to stop immediately. Nibbling due to aggression can be harder to diagnose but the biting will normally be quicker and more painful than playful nibbling.

Excitement

The cause could also be that it is excited which would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you arrive home or when you’re about to walk it. In this case, you could try waiting for it to calm down before giving it what it wants. 

Things to consider

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

How aggressively your dog nibbles you

It would help to consider how aggressively it does it.

If it does it aggressively, it would be more likely to be due to things such as wanting you to stop touching it or a lack of training. In this case, it could help to get help from a professional dog trainer so that you see how to get it to stop safely.

Whereas, if it does it gently, it would be more likely to be due to one of the other reasons mentioned above. In this case, it would help to consider the other things mentioned below.

What else happened when it first started

If your dog did not always nibble you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded, teething or something causing it to become overly excited. 

What is different when it does it

It might be the case that the timing has something to do with it. It would also help to consider if it tends to do it more at a certain time. 

For example, if it tends to nibble you when you arrive home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as excitement and separation anxiety. In this case, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it nibbles and to limit reasons why it might be anxious.

Whereas, if it does it more when you are sitting down with it, the cause could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. 

What other body language signs it shows

It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it nibbles you. 

If it shows signs of excitement such as by wagging its tail, it would be more likely to be due to excitement and learning that the behavior is rewarded. 

Whereas, if it shows signs of aggression by doing things such as snarling and nibbling forcefully, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to feeling threatened in which case it would help to get help from a professional dog trainer.

What to do about your dog nibbling you

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

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not nibble you and to stop giving it any rewards, including attention, when it starts nibbling until it calms down.

Training

One option would be to use positive reinforcement training so that it learns that nibbling you does not result in it getting the rewards it wants.

To use it to get your dog to stop nibbling, you would:

  • Stand up and turn away when it starts nibbling you leaving the room if necessary.
  • Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts nibbling
  • Repeat the above until it learns that nibbling causes it to lose your attention
  • Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well

You can watch the video below to see more on how to get your dog to stop nibbling with positive reinforcement training along with more tips.

Redirect its focus

Another thing you could do is to redirect its focus whenever it seems likely to start nibbling on you. Things to redirect its focus towards could include toys, a bone or a task to complete. 

Exercise

In order to get it to be calmer, it would also help to give it the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Give it other things to chew on

It would also help to give it things to be distracted with especially if it seems to be teething. Things you could give it would be toys, chews and bones.

Get help

If you are unable to get it to stop nibbling you or it has been doing it aggressively, it would help to get help from a dog behaviorist or trainer. By doing so, you should be able to see how to get it to stop safely and effectively.

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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.