What Does It Mean When Your Dog Nibbles on Stuff?by Naomi Millburn
Even if you think that your cute and cuddly dog is the bee's knees, it doesn't make his pesky nibbling habit any easier to handle. Nibbling in the canine universe can have a lot of potential associations, from the joie de vivre of playtime to tedium and the desire for fun.
Your doggie might nibble on things as a way of unwinding -- even canines need relaxation. Putting his mouth on random objects -- whether the legs of your chaise lounge or your latest paperback -- just might produce a satisfying, cozy feeling in your pet, kind of like the way some people feel when they play with their hair. Some dogs also nibble on things as a way of easing tedium, especially if they don't have other outlets in their lives, such as ample outdoor exercise or positive attention from household members.
Nibbling is a typical behavior in young puppies who are just beginning to learn about their surrounding environments. In puppies, nibbling on things also frequently points to the discomfort of the teething process. If your pup's baby teeth are in the midst of falling out, don't be surprised if he's more "chew-happy" than before. Puppies' deciduous teeth usually begin to come out when they're between 6 and 7 months in age.
The behavior can also be a sign of playtime in canines, especially for the youngsters. When puppies frolic around with their siblings during the first weeks of their lives, they run after each other, nibble and grapple together -- the works. Some dogs extend such behaviors well into adulthood. If your dog chews on everything you own, he's not trying to upset you -- he's just being a dog having a little fun. It also is a big hint that you need to get your pooch a few rubbery chew toys -- stat.
Nibbling behaviors in dogs often denote nervous feelings -- think separation anxiety. If your dog is upset and everything around him feels absolutely chaotic and confusing, he could just turn to nibbling as a way of handling his unpleasant emotions. Some dogs even nibble on things as a means of managing intense apprehension.
Dogs can be pretty savvy creatures, and if they know a way to get something, they'll try it. If your clever cutie has realized that nibbling on things is a surefire, reliable way of getting you to come over to him, he'll start chewing on things.
If your poor pooch is undergoing any gum discomfort due to dental woes, he may begin nibbling on things to dull the intensity of it all. If you suspect that your dog might have a dental problem, schedule a veterinarian appointment immediately. Gingivitis could be the culprit.
Nibbling on People
If the nibbling on "stuff" turns into nibbling on people, pay attention to any possible clues of fierceness in your cutie -- namely a rigid stance, growling and the displaying of teeth. If your dog nibbles on people and you think that the behavior could be due to defensiveness, apprehension or any other negative emotion, investigate the situation further, and speak to a qualified pet behavior expert immediately. When it comes to potential aggression in dogs, always err on the side of caution and never ever try to remedy the situation on your own.
- DogChannel.com: Dog Biting During Play
- ASPCA: Destructive Chewing
- ASPCA: Mouthing, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs
- DogChannel.com: The Big Book of "Simple Solutions" for Dogs
- DogChannel.com: Dog Biting
- DogChannel.com: Chewing Behaviors in Dogs
- The Humane Society of the United States: Chewing
- ASPCA: Aggression in Dogs
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images