If your dog has been nibbling at your nose 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 about it. 


So, why does my dog nibble my nose? Possible reasons why your dog has been nibbling your nose are that it is excited, it is trying to get extra attention from you, it has learned that the behavior is rewarded or that it is teething.

Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to figure out what to do about it. 

Why does my dog nibble my nose?

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

Excitement

The reason why it nips your nose could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it is going out for a walk.

In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about and to wait for it to stop nipping your nose before continuing. 

Attention seeking

It might be the case that your dog does it because it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it attention or if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.

It would help to give your dog attention throughout the day by training it, walking it and by playing with it. But it would also help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it nips on you by standing up or leaving the room if necessary.

Your dog hasn’t learned that it is not ok to nibble your nose

If you have not trained your dog not to nip you, it might be the case that it has not learned that it is not ok to nip you. If you haven’t, it would help to start training it by using the tips in the section below.

Encouraging the behavior

It might be the case that it has been doing it because you have actually been rewarding the behavior. If you give it things such as toys, treats or more attention when it does it, your dog might have learned to do it more in order to get those rewards.

Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it does it by withdrawing your attention and to reward it when it is well behaved. 

Teething

It could be the case that it has started teething and that biting on things soothes its gums. This would be more likely if your dog is a puppy and it has been biting or chewing on other things a lot as well.

In this case, it would help to give your dog lots of things to chew on such as toys and bones. It would also be important to give it lots of training now so that it learns what it can and cannot bite on by using “leave it” training and the other tips mentioned below.

Nature

Dogs interact with the environment using their mouths and their noses as much as they do with their eyes and even more so when they are puppies.

The reason why your dog has been nipping your nose could be that it’s interacting with it. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.

Even if this is the case, it will still be important to get it to stop by training it not to do so. 

Dominance

Many people would argue that it is due to dominating behavior. 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 about your dog nibbling your nose

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

What else happened when your dog first started nibbling your nose

If your dog did not always nip your nose, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since there might have been an event that caused it to start. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded or teething.

What is different when your dog nips your nose

If there is a certain time that it tends to nip your nose, it would also help to consider if there is anything special about the timing. For example, if it tends to do it when you arrive home, it would be more likely to be due to excitement and not knowing that it is not ok to nip your nose. 

The body language it shows

It would also help to consider the body language signs it shows when it does it. 

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 nipping your nose

Below are a number of things you can do about your dog nipping your nose. 

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that nipping your nose results in it getting rewards. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to stop giving it things such as attention as soon as it starts nipping you.

Positive reinforcement training

It would help to train your dog not to do it by using positive reinforcement training. This is where you train your dog by rewarding it for making small steps towards doing the thing that you want and avoid rewarding it when it misbehaves.

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

  • Stop giving your dog attention whenever it nips you by standing up or temporarily leaving the room if necessary.
  • Start giving it attention again until it starts nipping again, then stop giving it attention again.
  • Repeat the above, rewarding with a treat it each time it doesn’t nip you when it normally would.

Give it distractions

In addition to the above, you could also give it things to be distracted with, such as toys, treats or bones. 

Redirect its focus

Another option would be to redirect its focus onto something else as soon as it seems likely to start nibbling. Things to redirect its attention toward could include toys or bones. However, it would help to make sure not to do it after it starts nibbling otherwise it could perceive it as a reward.

Exercise

It would also help to make sure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed. Doing this could help to get it to be calmer when it is around you and result in it nibbling you less.

Get help

If you’re unable to get your dog to stop nipping your nose or it has been doing it aggressively, it would help to get help from a professional dog trainer. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing the behavior and how to get it to stop. 

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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.