If your dog has been nipping you, when you leave, 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 your dog to stop doing it.

Possible reasons why your dog has been nipping you when you leave are that it has separation anxiety, it wants something such as food or to pee, there is an issue with the room it stays in or that it has learned that it gets rewards for doing it.

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 get your dog to stop doing it.

Why your dog nips when you leave

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

Separation anxiety

The reason could be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it gets anxious when it is left alone. This would be more likely if it has started doing it since you have been leaving it for longer. It would also be more likely if it starts getting anxious when you normally leave home.

It wants something

Another possible cause is that it is hungry and it does not have to wait a long time before getting fed. This would be more likely if you tend to feed it when you get back home instead of before. It could also be the case that it tends to need to pee, while you are away, so it would help to ensure that it gets a chance to pee before leaving it for long time periods.

An issue with the room it stays in

The cause might also be that there is an issue with the room it stays in and your dog does not feel comfortable when it has to stay there. It could be the case that the room is too hot, bright, loud or there might be other animals that it does not want to stay with.

Reinforcing the behavior

It could also be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards if it nips you when you’re leaving. If you tend to give your dog things such as extra attention, treats or toys, when it nips, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not nip and to avoid rewarding it when it does unless necessary and to follow the other tips mentioned below.

Boredom

Another possible cause is that it gets bored when you are away. This would be more likely if it does it more when it is not able to get exercise before you leave home. In this case, it might help to try and exercise it before leaving home and to make sure that it is getting the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Fear

It could be the case that something has been causing it to become fearful when you are not around. Things that might make it afraid could include noises like construction works or possibly someone else or another pet being around that it does not like.

If it does seem to be fear that is causing it to nip when you leave, it would help to try and figure out what it might be afraid of and to remove it from its environment if possible. Other options would be to have your dog stay in a different area or to do desensitization training.

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 nip, when you leave, 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 a change in the time that you feed it, you might have stopped letting it out to pee before leaving or it might have stopped getting as much exercise.

What is different when it does it

If it does not always nip when you leave, it would also help to consider what is different when it does not nip.

For example, if it only seems to nip when you are leaving for work, it would make it more likely to be due to separation anxiety, not wanting to wait for food or wanting exercise.

What to do about it

Below are some options you have when getting it to stop doing it.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for nipping you when you’re leaving. Instead, it would help to give it rewards when it does not nip and to avoid giving it any rewards when it does nip unless it seems to be because it needs things such as to pee.

Limit reasons why it might become anxious when you leave

It would also help to try to reduce the reasons why it might be anxious by doing things such as exercising it, letting it pee and feeding it before leaving it.

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 would:

  • Stop giving your dog attention whenever it nips you by hiding your hands 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.

Get help

If you cannot get it to stop or it does it aggressively, consider getting the help of a certified dog trainer or behaviorist in your area. By doing so you will be able to get expert help tailored towards your particular dog.

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