Dogs are fascinating pets – not only are they super curious and active, but they are also quite unpredictable. One minute they can be fine, and the next, they can show up with a split nail or having swallowed a screw. As such, you should always be ready for anything and just get used to rolling with the punches.
But what should you do when your dog starts nibbling on you? I mean, is this even normal? And more importantly, why does your dog nibble on you like you have fleas? Well, we have some answers for you.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about the reasons this happens, whether you should be concerned about it, and how you can stop it from happening. By the time you’re done reading this post, you won’t have to worry about this behavior again. So sit back, relax, and get ready to be thoroughly informed.
Top 7 Reasons Why Your Dog Nibbles on You Like You Have Fleas
There are a variety of reasons why your dog could be nibbling on you like you have fleas. These include:
While it may seem to come out of nowhere, your dog nibbling on you could be an instinct and not something intentional. Nibbling with the front teeth is particularly an instinctive behavior among puppies. They usually learn to do this while spending time together.
They especially like to softly nibble on each other as a way to play. So when your puppy’s siblings aren’t around, it’s natural for them to try this behavior on you.
It’s a Way to Relieve Teething Pain
Just like human babies, puppies feel pain when they are teething. As such, it’s common for them to nibble on anything that they feel will relieve this pain. This can push them to nibble on things around the house, their siblings, or even you.
It’s a way to show affection
Like many other animals, dogs show affection by grooming. They particularly like to do this by nibbling each other around the ears and neck. So when your dog is around you alone all the time, they can try to do this to you as well.
It’s a way to get you to play with them
Your dog may also nibble on you to get your attention so that you can play with them. This behavior is particularly common among puppies – most adult dogs grow out of it. But if you notice that your adult dog frequently does this, it could be an indication that you’ve not been spending enough time with them.
This could be because you are frequently preoccupied with your job. Alternatively, this behavior could indicate that your dog isn’t mentally and physically stimulated throughout the day. This can cause boredom and frustration.
It’s a way to relieve stress and anxiety
When your dog is stressed or anxious, it can come out in a variety of ways. These may include smacking, yawning, nose wrinkling, growling, tail raising, and even nibbling. If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, you may even notice that they will nibble on you when you get home. This is their way of showing you that they’ve missed you and are glad that you’re back.
Keep in mind that stressful occurrences within the home, such as loud noises, can also stress out your dog and cause them to nibble on you. So when you notice that things are getting stressful for your dog, take them to a peaceful spot and allow them to calm down. If you leave them in a stressful situation, your dog can get more aggressive.
It’s a way to explore
If there’s one thing you should know about puppies and growing dogs, it’s that they like exploring their environment. Interestingly, they can do this by nibbling on anything that moves, even you. They may even chase you around sometimes.
They are mimicking you
If you frequently kiss your dog, they may try to do the same with you. But since they aren’t proficient at it, the kiss may end up being a nibble. Some pet owners even notice that their dogs produce a murmuring sound when they nibble them, mimicking any noises you make when kissing them.
Should I Ever Be Concerned About This Behavior?
Unless your dog is showing signs of anxiety or their behavior is escalating, you shouldn’t worry about them nibbling on you. It’s a normal and fairly common dog behavior. And in some cases, it can even be cute. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you can live with this behavior or not.
Generally, your dog nibbling on you isn’t an indication that there is something wrong with them or you. If they are frequently nibbling on themselves, though, it could indicate that they have fleas. So when you notice this behavior, consider deworming them. On the other hand, if you notice that your dog is nibbling on a stuffed animal, blanket, or bed, this could be an instinctive behavior.
Dogs usually learn this behavior as puppies during their sucking phase. It is usually referred to as a sucking reflex, and it’s easy to understand why. When your dog is doing this, you’ll notice that its mouth moves the same way a puppy’s mouth does when it’s sucking milk from its mother. Ultimately, some adult dogs still do this as a way to relax.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Nibbling on Me?
If you’re worried that your dog’s nibbling will escalate into biting, you can train them out of this behavior. On the other hand, if you think it’s a sign of anxiety, you can try to alleviate this by avoiding situations that stress them unnecessarily. However, if you think it’s just a sign of boredom or a way to relieve teething pain, you can get them some chew toys instead. Ultimately, it’s up to you to assess the situation and choose an approach that works for both you and your dog.
There’s one thing you should know, though – training your dog out of nibbling you takes time and patience. To start, you can choose to distract your dog whenever they start nibbling on you. For instance, if you notice that your dog mostly nibbles on you when you pet them, you can choose to distract them by feeding them treats with your other hand whenever they do this. This will reinforce the idea that nibbling isn’t something your dog should do every time you touch or pet them.
Also, you can introduce your dog to more games that don’t involve touch – like tug of war or fetch. While it may take some time for you to train your dog to safely play tug of war with you, this game is a great way to teach them how to properly handle frustration and stress. This can also help them associate these negative emotions with a need to play this game. In time, your dog may go look for their tug toys every time they feel like nibbling you or anything else.
If you’re constantly wondering why your dog is nibbling on you like you have fleas, we’re here to tell you that in most cases, it’s not due to a health issue. Most times, your dog is just trying to be affectionate or is doing something instinctual. So unless this behavior is escalating or is accompanied by signs of anxiety, you shouldn’t be worried. And if worse comes to worst, remember that this behavior isn’t permanent – you can always train it out of your dog!