If your dog nibbles on your feet 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 my feet? Possible reasons why your dog nibbles your feet are encouraging the behavior, not enough training, teething, excitement, or dominance.
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 feet
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been nibbling on your feet and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you often give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it nibbles on your feet, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Not enough training
If your dog has not received much training, it will behave the way that it feels like behaving. 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 could also be the case that it has been doing it due to 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.
The cause could also be that it is excited. This 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 so that it does not learn that the behavior is rewarded.
Many people will argue that it is due to the dog being dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.
Despite that, it could be doing it due to bullying behavior which would be more likely if it tries to get you to move and if it shows signs of aggression when doing it. In this case, it would help to avoid giving it reasons to feel threatened and to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to with training programs such as NLIF (“Nothing in Life is Free) dog training.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been nibbling your feet.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always nibble your feet, 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 overly excited.
What else is different when your dog nibbles your feet
It would also help to consider the timing of when it tends to nibble your feet. 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 feet 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 your feet 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.
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 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 your feet
Below are things you can do in order to get your dog to stop nibbling your feet.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, your dog could have learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not nibble your feet and to stop giving it any rewards, including attention, when it starts nibbling until it calms down.
Positive reinforcement training
One way to get it to stop would be with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you train your dog not to do it by rewarding it when it shows signs of not doing it and avoid rewarding it when it does it.
To use it to get your dog to stop nibbling, you would:
- Stand up and turn away when it starts nibbling your feet 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 your feet. Things to redirect its focus towards could include toys, a bone or a task to complete.
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.
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.
If you are unable to get it to stop nibbling your feet 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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