If your dog nibbles on your clothes a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog nibble on my clothes? Possible reasons why your dog nibbles your clothes are teething, liking the scent, boredom, liking the taste, or having learned that the behavior is rewarded.

Your dog might actually be doing it for a number of different reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. 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 nibbles your clothes

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

Teething

The reason why your dog has been doing it might be that it has been teething. This would be more likely if it is a puppy, it 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 other things to chew instead.

Encouraging the behavior

Another possible cause is that your dog has learned that it will get rewards if it nibbles your clothes. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it nibbles your clothes, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to prevent it from damaging the clothes, ignore it and to give it attention when it calms down.

Boredom

A part of the reason might also be that it is bored and looking for a way to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it has not gotten any exercise. It would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

It likes the taste

It is likely that your clothes will have a strange taste to them due to the dead skin cells and sweat that will have built up on them. It could be the case that your dog nibbles the clothes because it likes the way they taste. This would be more likely if it nibbles other things that you use such as your pillow or your bed sheets.

Separation anxiety

It is also likely that your clothes have a strong scent on them. It might be the case that your dog has been nibbling on the clothes because they calm it down when you are away. This would be more likely if your dog only seems to be doing it when you are not around and when you are about to leave home. It would also be more likely if it also shows signs of being anxious when you are leaving home by doing things such as pacing or crying.

Things to consider

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

What else happened when it first started doing it

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

What is different when your dog nibbles on your clothes

It would also help to consider the timing of when it tends to nibble your clothes. If it tends to do it more at a certain time, it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it. 

For example, if it normally nibbles your clothes when you leave home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as separation anxiety.

Whereas, if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention, it might be doing it because it knows it will result in you giving it attention.

The body language it shows

Another thing to consider would be the body language that it shows.

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 being anxious by doing things such as pacing, crying or shaking, it would be more likely that it does it due to something causing it to be anxious.

What to do about your dog nibbling on your clothes

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

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has 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 rewarding it when it does not.

Redirect its focus

Another thing you could do is to redirect its focus whenever it seems likely to start nibbling on your clothes. Things to redirect its focus towards could include toys, a bone or a task to complete. It would help to try to redirect its focus before it starts doing it otherwise it might learn that the behavior gets rewarded.  

Give it attention throughout the day

It would also help to give it attention throughout the day so that it is less likely to do things in order to get extra attention from you. Ways to give it attention would be to exercise it, train it, to pet it or to play with it.

Limit reasons why it might be anxious

It would also help to limit possible reasons why it might be being anxious. Ways to do so would be to ensure that the room it stays in is cool, quiet and that there is a space for it to lay down. It would also help to let it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it.

Give it distractions

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.

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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.