Dogs want and like to nibble on almost everything, and they will do it occasionally. But why does my dog nibble on my puppy? It is dangerous; should I be scared? This is one of the rarest and most interesting variations of the question here. Below, we will explain why your dog does this and what you should do about it.
My Dog Nibble On My Puppy, Why?
Nibbling Is Their Instinctive Behavior
Why does my dog nibble on my puppy or anything else? The first thing you need to know is that this is their instinctive behavior. Dogs start to nibble at one another at an early age. This is done for fun, to play, and also to decrease the discomfort caused by growing teeth. Yes, puppies do have teething issues, just like babies. It lasts shorter in dogs, and they can withstand the discomfort easier, but it is still an annoying issue that causes pain and can be complicated to sort out. As a result, they will nibble at one another.
If a puppy is alone and you are the only one in proximity, he will nibble you. The best thing you can do in this scenario is to get him toys for teething. These are not the same as the ones for babies, obviously, but they are effective, and there are a lot of them on the market.
As you can see, puppies start to nibble at an early age, but this isn’t something that will stop or end completely. As a matter of fact, most dogs will nibble at you or other pets their entire lives. There are many reasons why dogs like to nibble their owners, and we will touch on one or two reasons later on.
Dogs Will Nibble A Puppy As A Sign Of Affection
Nibbling is common and nothing to worry about. When your dog nibbles your puppy, it is a sign of affection, and he likes the puppy and wants to play with him or make him more comfortable. He will nibble him around the ears or on the neck. There is nothing to worry about, and usually, you can see your dog showing gentle moves and being happy.
Of course, in some rare cases, it may look different. If you notice any signs of aggression, you should act. This is extremely rare, and usually, a dog will move, growl, or bark. He will not nibble your puppy.
An interesting fact is that if there is no puppy present, your dog will nibble you. The situation is the same. He will nibble you around the neck and ears, and he will enjoy it. Yes, he is showing his affection once again, and there is no need to worry about it.
It is also possible that he nibbles you in order to tell you, “I want to play.” If this is the case, you should do the obvious thing and play. All dogs need your attention, and they want to play with you. This affects all dog breeds and all dogs in general. There is nothing to worry about.
It is worth noting that you should consider when and how long your dog has been doing this. For instance, if your dog did this for years, he probably learned that this would give him a reward, and he is doing this for this reason only. You can also see that if one dog does this to another dog when he is aggressive, the reason is submission. This obviously doesn’t affect nibbling between a dog and a puppy in the way we are discussing but can affect in the opposite way.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Nibbles Your Puppy?
As you may know by now, there is no need to do anything. This is normal behavior, and your dog won’t injure your puppy. You can let them play and enjoy each other’s attention. But if you still want to eliminate this behavior, you can. There are 3 main things you can do and each one is different so you need to pick the one that works best in your case.
1. Do Not Encourage This Behavior
The first thing you can do is to discourage this behavior. For instance, you can reward your dog every time when he stops nibbling the puppy or when you give him a command and he obeys it. On the other hand, when he nibbles your puppy, do not encourage him to do this. He will continue and he will start doing it all the time.
2. Have A Special Place For A Puppy
It is a good thing to have a special place, a room, or anything similar where your puppy can go and escape from nibbling. This actually works for other dogs as well. A puppy can go there if he doesn’t like nibbling. On the other hand, he may stay and enjoy. Each puppy is different.
3. Redirect The Focus Of Your Dog
As you can see, a dog will nibble on your puppy, and if you don’t do anything about it, he will continue. But, you can give him a toy or a bone and he will stop. In simple terms, you will redirect his focus and discourage the initial behavior. This is a simple and effective method that works well with most dogs and in most cases.
It is worth noting that you can and should use all three methods at the same time. When combined, the success rate is the highest, and this issue will be resolved in a matter of days or weeks. Yes, some dogs are stubborn, so they will need a lot of time to change their behavior.
Health Concerns Related to Nibbling Behavior
When observing an older dog nibbling on a puppy, while it can often be a benign form of communication or grooming, it’s essential to stay alert for potential health concerns. Here’s why:
Sometimes, an older dog might be drawn to nibble on a puppy because they sense or taste the presence of external parasites like fleas or ticks. It’s not uncommon for dogs to try and “help” by nibbling at the site where these pests are located. Regularly check your puppy for any signs of fleas, ticks, or other external pests, especially if you notice increased nibbling.
Puppies, with their still-developing immune systems, might be prone to certain skin conditions or infections. An older dog might be drawn to areas that are inflamed or infected, attempting to clean or soothe the area through nibbling. Ensure you inspect your puppy’s skin regularly for any signs of rashes, redness, or inflammation.
Taste or Scent
Sometimes, what we might see as nibbling could be an older dog’s attempt to understand a new or intriguing scent on the puppy. This might be harmless, but ensure that your puppy hasn’t gotten into anything toxic or harmful that the older dog is now trying to clean off.
Dental Issues in the Older Dog
If your older dog is nibbling not just on the puppy but on other objects too, it might be a sign of dental discomfort or issues. Ensure you get your older dog’s dental health checked regularly, as they might be nibbling to relieve some form of gum or dental pain.
Underlying Stress or Anxiety
Sometimes, a change in behavior, like excessive nibbling, can be a sign that your older dog is experiencing stress or anxiety. This might not necessarily be related to the puppy, but the introduction of a new animal could exacerbate or highlight these feelings. Observing the older dog’s behavior in other contexts can provide more clarity.
In all situations, while it’s essential to monitor and understand dog behavior, it’s equally vital to consult with a veterinarian if you have concerns about either your older dog’s or puppy’s health.
How to Intervene: When Nibbling Turns Excessive
The sight of your older dog gently nibbling on your puppy can be endearing, often seen as a sign of affection or grooming. However, if you observe that this nibbling behavior is turning excessive or aggressive, it’s crucial to step in and address the issue to ensure the well-being of both dogs. Here’s a guide on how to intervene effectively:
Before jumping to conclusions, spend time observing the behavior. Is the older dog causing the puppy any distress? Is the puppy yelping or trying to escape? Identifying the nature of the nibbling will help you understand the root of the behavior.
Redirect the Behavior:
If you notice the older dog’s nibbling is getting a bit too intense, distract them with a toy or call them over for a command they know, such as “sit” or “come”. This not only diverts their attention but reinforces positive behaviors.
Provide Chew Toys:
Sometimes, dogs resort to nibbling when they have excess energy or feel the need to chew. Ensure both dogs have enough chew toys to keep them occupied, and that might lessen the nibbling on each other.
If the nibbling becomes too intense during play, consider having separate playtimes for a while. This allows both dogs to expend energy without the risk of the behavior escalating.
Teach “Leave it” Command:
This is an essential command every dog should know. It instructs the dog to immediately stop what they’re doing. Start training your older dog with this command if they haven’t learned it yet.
Consult with a Behaviorist:
If the excessive nibbling continues or if you’re concerned about any aggressive undertones, it might be beneficial to consult with a canine behaviorist. They can provide tailored strategies and insights into why the behavior might be occurring.
Regular Vet Checkups:
Sometimes, behavior changes are linked to underlying health issues. Ensure both dogs get regular checkups to rule out health concerns, like dental issues, which might cause excessive nibbling.
Dogs have a myriad of behaviors that might seem peculiar to us, but often have roots in their natural instincts, communication methods, or even health-related issues. When an older dog nibbles on a puppy, it can leave many owners wondering, why does my dog nibble at my puppy? This behavior could be seen as a display of affection, grooming, dominance, or even a potential health concern.
It’s essential to observe and interpret this behavior, intervening when necessary. By gaining a deeper understanding of such actions, dog owners can ensure a harmonious environment for both the older dog and the puppy, fostering a bond based on trust and mutual respect.