Is your dog fond of nibbling your nose? If this is something your dog likes doing, chances are you find it quirky or even funny. However, even if the nibbling is gentle and cautious, it should not be taken lightly – even a simple nibble can damage the skin and turn into a bite. But, before you judge your dog for nose-nibbling, you need to understand the reasons behind this behavior.
So, why does my dog bite my nose? There are several reasons why your dog might be biting your nose – from initiating play through seeking attention to encouraging the behavior. Plus, in the case of puppies, there is one more reason – teething pain and sore gums.
In this article, we will describe the reasons why some dogs decide to nibble on their owners’ noses. We will also go through the important considerations regarding this behavior and finally provide tips on coping with this behavior.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A DOG NIBBLES ON YOUR NOSE?
There are several different reasons why our dogs love biting our noses. Here is a short description of the most common and popular reasons.
Dogs are playful by nature. When a dog wants to initiate play with another dog in the canine world, it can simply start nibbling on its nose. Simply put, the nose nibbling is like a play invitation.
Although dogs understand humans are not dogs, some habits are instinctual. If your dog seems overly excited and eager to play when it starts nibbling on your nose, it is probably trying to initiate a good play session.
If your dog is bored and you are not giving it any attention, chances are it will start doing shenanigans, so you would notice and acknowledge its presence. Nose-biting is one of those shenanigans.
To prevent attention-seeking behaviors in your dog, you need to keep it mentally and physically stimulated. It is not a good idea to start paying attention to your dog when it starts nibbling on your nose – this will only encourage the biting behavior.
If your dog bit your nose once or twice and you responded to the biting, offering treats to get it to stop biting, or engaged in play, your dog will link the nose-biting with getting treats or playtime. Simply put, this is a way of encouraging biting behavior.
Puppies go through a great deal of pain and discomfort during their teething phase. Rubbing the sore gums and teeth is a good way of alleviating the pain associated with this process. If your puppy is biting your nose because of teething pain, you will notice an overall increase in its biting behavior.
Providing your dog with different chewing toys will decrease the number of nose-biting attempts. The modern pet market offers an array of chewing toys explicitly designed for teething puppies. These toys provide more significant pain relief than your nose.
NOSE BITING CONSIDERATIONS
To manage the nose-biting behavior, you need to identify the underlying reason behind this behavior. To do so, you need to consider two critical factors.
What happened when your dog first started biting your nose?
If your dog was not a notorious nose biter before and suddenly became fond of this activity, chances are there was a specific trigger event. For example, if it began nose biting as soon as its baby teeth started falling, the underlying reason is teething pain.
On the flip side, if you cannot pinpoint the exact moment when the behavior started, perhaps you have unintentionally encouraged the behavior. For example, if you offer your dog a treat every time it starts mouthing or nipping, your dog will learn that this behavior gets rewarded.
What is different in the cases when your dog bites your nose?
Timing is the second thing you need to consider when determining your dog’s reason behind the nose-biting habit. For example, if your dog bites when you come home from work, it is probably doing this because of excitement. If your dog engages in nose-biting every time you interact, chances are it does not know that the activity is not acceptable.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR DOG BITES YOUR NOSE?
If your dog starts biting your nose and you are irritated by the behavior, there are several things you can do to prevent similar scenarios in the future.
Do not encourage the behavior
As mentioned, you must not encourage your dog’s biting behavior. Forget about offering treats or giving your dog attention when it bites. If your dog starts playing with your nose, just ignore its efforts.
Use positive reinforcement training
Scolding and punishments are never a good idea – they are cruel and can permanently damage your relationship. Instead, it would help if you used positive reinforcement techniques to eliminate your dog’s nose-biting habit.
For example, if your dog starts biting, all you have to do is just leave the room without saying a word. When you come back into the room, feel free to offer a reward if your dog behaves correctly. On the other hand, if it resumes its biting session, leave once again, but this time you should be absent for longer.
Redirect your dog’s biting focus
Another option would be to redirect your dog’s biting efforts towards something else – a chewing toy or bone. However, you need to know when to draw a line – if your dog starts associating the biting start with a reward, you are actually encouraging the behavior.
Seek professional help
When parenting a dog, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. This is because most dog parents are not professional trainers, and when it comes to our dogs, we often spoil them excessively. In such cases, before the situation escalates, it is advisable to hire a licensed dog trainer to help with the problem quickly and efficiently.
THE DILEMMA – SHOULD I BITE MY DOG BACK?
Dog parents, whose dogs are fond of biting, face a huge dilemma – whether or not they should bite back? Well, as weird as it may sound, it can be tempting to bite your dog back when it does this to you.
However, biting your dog back is meaningless and can encourage the behavior even more. First of all, when dogs bite each other noses, it is because they are communicating – nose-biting is a dog thing. Your dog understands that you are not a dog, so biting back will be confusing and meaningless.
Plus, some dogs can become scared if bitten back. In such cases, the nose-biting behavior can evolve from an excitement-related habit to a self-defense mechanism due to fear.
As dog parents, we often consider the nose bites as the canine equivalent of human kissing and are actually thrilled when our dogs do this. Although the concept behind nose biting is benign, the actual activity can turn out to be dangerous, especially if your dog is large-sized and unaware of its strength.
If you do not want your dog biting your nose, you need to discourage this behavior starting from an early age – the moment your dog expresses its nose-biting fondness.
Sometimes, training our dogs to stop doing something can be challenging even if we know the theoretical rules behind the training. In such cases, it is best advised to seek professional help – a licensed dog trainer.
Why does my dog grab my nose?
In the canine world, dogs often communicate with each other through nose bites. However, this form of communication is always associated with positive feelings. Therefore, if your dog is biting your nose, you should be pleased – of course, you should not let the behavior get out of your hands.
Why does my dog bite my hands?
The dog’s gentle biting or nibbling tendency is called mouthing. Mouthing is usually a play trigger for dogs. Although sometimes it can be misinterpreted as aggression, mouthing is always linked with happiness and playfulness. Anyway, if you find mouthing to be irritating, you should discourage the behavior.
Why do I want to bite my dog back?
According to studies, we often want to bite our dogs back or squeeze them hard to maintain emotional balance. When interacting with our dogs, we are flooded with positive emotions like love and happiness. The need to express somewhat violent behaviors like biting or squeezing is a balancing mechanism.
What if my dog accidentally bites me?
If your dog accidentally bites you, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Even tiny and superficial dog bite wounds can get dangerous fast. Therefore, it is always better to err on the side of caution and have your injury checked by a medical professional.