Your dog may nibble on different things like blankets, couches, or even your hands for various reasons. Let’s check out all the possible reasons and explore different ways to stop your dog from nibbling.
5 Reasons Your Dog is Nibbling on Everything
Natural Instinct (Frequently Observed in Puppies & Young Dogs)
Dogs and other canines have a natural instinct to nibble and chew on everything. They want to repeatedly satisfy this instinct or craving and hence resort to nibbling stuff they can easily find. Nibbling up to a certain extent is fine and goes away with age, training, and socialization.
Nibbling and chewing are common and frequent in puppies and young dogs. While it is natural and must be allowed to certain limits, excessive and destructive nibbling can harm your puppy’s teeth, and he may nibble on things he isn’t supposed to. For example, a puppy nibbling on carpets, blankets, and furniture can be harmful to your dog and also damage your valuable stuff.
Another factor to consider here is breed disposition. Some dogs have been bred for years to use their teeth for specific tasks. For example, Labrador retrievers were trained to retrieve ducks and fish from icy water. Australian cattle dogs were trained to use nipping to move cows along.
Some dogs nibble on different things to relax and unwind after a day’s grind. This gives them mental satisfaction and relaxation. This behavior is similar to spending time on social media, reading books, or talking to your loved ones to unwind daily.
Your puppy may start nibbling aggressively if he is teething. Puppies start teething at the age of 5 to 8 weeks. So, if your puppy is teething and nibbling/chewing too much, give them chewing toys or consult your vet on how to deal with teething.
A common reason adult or senior dogs engage in nibbling or excessive chewing is boredom. Many pet parents ignore boredom as a possible reason behind nibbling. When your dog has nothing to do or can’t release the pent-up energy, he will engage in destructive behavior like nibbling, scratching, or barking excessively.
Stress and Separation Anxiety – Psychological Changes
Dogs are highly sensitive to changes around them. They know what’s happening around them and often get stressed out when you have an argument in the house, or someone is shouting. This gives dogs a lot of negative energy, and they engage in destructive behavior around the house.
If your dog nibbles furniture, he is likely suffering from separation anxiety. If nibbling and chewing happens after a training session, the training was too harsh for him, and he isn’t happy with how things went. A dog affected by stress can engage in different behaviors like manic licking, excessive barking, or nibbling his paws.
It is critical to identify what’s causing your dog stress. Knowing what’s behind your dog’s erratic nibbling helps control it.
Solutions to Fix Nibbling and Chewing Problems
Identify the Trigger
Investigate how powerful your dog’s nibbling is, when and why he is more likely to nibble, what happened before he started nibbling, whether you changed his or your routine, or whether he underwent a sudden shock. All these questions are pretty useful in finding out the triggers. Once you know the triggers, you can remove them or move your dog to another place. For example, if your dog nibbles when a particular person arrives at your home, you can put your dog in a crate or move him to a closed space for the time being.
Chewing is normal for puppies and young dogs. You cannot train a puppy to stop chewing. Instead, you can provide them with a safe alternative to chew. Many dog trainers recommend giving chewing toys to adults and senior dogs too. You must not try to stop something that is a natural instinct of your canine buddies. However, you must stop them from nibbling or chewing things like furniture, blankets, couches, or your hands.
Train Your Dogs
The best way to stop a grown-up dog from nibbling or chewing is to train them. You can use commands like “Stop” or “Leave” to make them stop. Once your dog obeys, reward them with a treat to reinforce positive behavior. It may take some time before command-based training shows some results. So, you have to be patient and steadfast in your approach. Command training, although time-consuming, gives long-lasting results.
Keep him Happy
A happy and relaxed dog is unlikely to nibble. Keep your dog properly fed. Give him plenty of exercise, toys, and treats to keep him occupied. Take him out for walks regularly (frequency varies based on breed and energy level) and play with him so he doesn’t get stressed.
Take care of Separation Anxiety
If your dog stays home and nibbles, he probably suffers from separation anxiety. Make sure you train your dog to stay alone. Start leaving him alone for 10-20 minutes initially and then gradually increase the time. You can also use 2-way camera and pet-monitoring devices to communicate with your dog when he is alone. Many people hire dog walkers to take their dogs out for a walk in their absence.
What is the Difference between Nibbling and Biting?
A nibble is quite different from a bite. A dog is said to be nibbling when he touches his teeth on different surfaces without biting the surface. The dog applies minimal teeth pressure during nibbling, and it can involve the dog’s entire mouth or just the front teeth.
When a dog bites, he applies maximum teeth pressure. It involves his entire mouth, and the dog tries to push his teeth as much as possible.
Why is my Dog Nibbling People?
If your dog starts nibbling your hands or other people, it is time to take immediate action. This is a sign of fierceness and aggressiveness in your dog. It can stem from various reasons, but you must act quickly to stop it.
You must use commands like “stop” or “leave” to determine what’s causing this aggressive behavior. It could be due to defensiveness, apprehension, feeling threatened, or other emotions. Some dogs may nibble your hands during a thunderstorm or when they hear loud sounds.
Why is my Dog Nibbling himself?
If your dog excessively nibbles his paws or skin, it could indicate an allergy or a rash. Random and occasional nibbling is fine, as your dog may be trying to scratch or remove dust.