Whether you think of it as a bite, a nip, a nibble, gnaw, or whatever you may call it, mouthing is an entirely common thing with dogs. At some point, your dog has done that light biting on you, where they use their front teeth to lightly bite at you in continuous, small, and fast movements that feel more like a vibration. This is the same way they behave when they have an itch from flea bites. And this is why this dog behavior is referred to as de-fleaing. Technically, it is a behavior that your dog will exhibit to show their affection and that they are around their trusted owner; it is not meant to be a bad thing after all.
When a dog nips or nibbles at you, it is a sign for several things, none of which is a sign of danger, luckily.
- Consider it a sign of affection. As mentioned earlier, dog nibbling only happens around a person or people or even other pets that the dog has acquaintances with. As such, this is meant to be an affectionate action.
- Your dog is curious. If the dog is young, then he or she is trying to learn things around the environment. Puppies are, in most cases, prone to these nibbles, in a bid to understand what things around them are, or what it would make you feel as its owner. It is up to you to encourage or discourage it if you think that the pup is a little bit too harsh.
- Your dog could be teething. This is true if the dog is still young. During teething, the gums of your puppy become a little itchy, and they tend to take care of it by slightly biting, nipping, or nibbling at you, other pets, or even toys.
- Your dog could be overcoming the fleas. Fleas are the worst thing you will have to contend with as a dog owner. It is stressing and overly uncomfortable for the dog, not forgetting its likelihood to cause infections and serious diseases. If your dog suffered from flea infestation and you de-flead them, they are likely to carry on with the nibbling because they were used to it. This also means extending it to you and other pets or toys around the dog. At this point, the use of dog flea and tick collars is highly advised as they help keep the pests away and your dog at ease.
How to Manage Dog Nibbling
Just like any other behavior in dogs, nibbling can be managed because experts consider it more of a behavior. Here are ways in which you can deal with nibbling in your dog.
- Get your dog something to nibble on. Sometimes it is pretty uncomfortable when your dog won’t stop with this habit. But you can divert his attention by getting him something to nibble on instead of your chin, leg, or hand. An irresistible toy or bone would do in most cases.
- Discourage your dog from nibbling. Behavioral experts warn that if it is not controlled, nibbling can become uncomfortable, especially if the dog does it a little harder every time. While you are not meant to lash out madly at your dog because of the pain, you still need to let him know he hurt you. Wince in pain and say ‘ouch!’ every time your dog nips at you; he will begin to know that he is hurting you and will stop.
- Heed your dog’s call. In some cases, your dog will nip at you as a call for attention or the need to play with you. The playful nature of dogs is something we all find cute. So, the next time your dog tries to de-flea you, give him some minutes of play and he will leave you alone.
Note: Pay attention to the behavior of your dog when they begin to nibble. When it comes to other pets, especially, the sounds and growls they make can help tell you in good time if your pup is becoming too aggressive or violent. If not managed before this point, your dog will quickly move from nibbling to biting right under your watch.