If your dog has been nibbling on your neck, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of common causes and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog nibble my neck? Possible reasons why your dog nibbles your neck are that the behavior has been encouraged, it is teething, excitement or that it thinks that it is acceptable to nibble on your neck.
The reason why it has been doing it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Reasons why your dog nibbles your neck
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.
Encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards if it nibbles your neck. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it nibbles your neck, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Not enough training
If you have not given your dog any training it will not know how it is meant to behave so 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. This is why it is important to train it to behave the way you want it to.
Another 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.
A part of 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.
Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be 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 things you can consider when figuring out the main cause of the behavior.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always nibble your neck, it would help to consider what else changed 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 your dog nibbles your neck
If there is a certain time that your dog tends to nibble your neck, it would also help to consider what is different when it does it.
For example, if it tends to nibble your neck 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.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it nibbles your neck.
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 neck
Below are a number of things you can do about the behavior.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to avoid giving it any rewards, such as attention, when it nibbles your neck and to reward it when it is being well behaved instead.
Positive reinforcement training
One option would be to use positive reinforcement training so that it learns that nibbling your neck 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 your neck, 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
You can also try redirecting its focus when it seems likely to start nibbling. Things to redirect its focus towards could include toys or bones. Doing this should help to get it out of the habit of nibbling your neck. However, it would be important to make sure not to do it after it starts nibbling otherwise you’ll be rewarding it for nibbling.
Give it other things to chew on
It could 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.
It might also be the case that it has been doing things to get a reaction out of you due to being bored. It would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.
If you can’t get it to stop nibbling your ear 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.