It’s pretty common for fur parents like us to have several dogs.
And when we see them interact with each other…
IT’S SO CUTE.
Playing, barking, and running around with each other, typical fur baby behavior.
However, you see something else.
One pooch is nibbling the other.
Is this safe?
Can they hurt each other?
Read more to find out:
- 13 reasons why your dog nibbles on your other dog.
- How they might repeat this behavior because of you.
- 3 tips on how to stop your pooch from nibbling on your other dog.
- Whether your dog’s nibbling is an alternative to toothbrushes (since they can’t use one on their own).
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog nibble on my other dog?
- 13 reasons why your dog nibbles on your other dog
- #1: They’re grooming
- #2: They’re being playful
- #3: They feel bored
- #4: It’s a way of social bonding
- #5: They’re exploring the world
- #6: It’s a way to relieve mild anxiety
- #7: A way to clean their teeth
- #8: They’re showing affection
- #9: It’s a way to welcome your other dog
- #10: It’s a jaw exercise
- #11: They feel overly excited
- #12: It’s a learned behavior
- #13: You’re encouraging them
- Should I let my dog nibble on my other dog?
- How do I stop my dog from nibbling on my other dog? 3 tips
- Common situations:
Why does my dog nibble on my other dog?
Your dog nibbles on your other dog because they’re being playful, affectionate. This behavior is a way your dog welcomes someone to their pack. Your dog may also be feeling a little bit anxious and bored and they do this to cope with this. It’s also a good way to play and exercise their jaws.
13 reasons why your dog nibbles on your other dog
#1: They’re grooming
Dogs are highly hygienic creatures.
They can’t purchase in grocery stores their own soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
That’s why nature has given them teeth to nibble and a tongue to lick.
However, this behavior isn’t something that dogs do to themselves, they groom others, too.
Especially if they deem you as part of their pack.
Canines look out for other members of their family.
It’s a natural behavior.
According to the VCA, dogs are naturally social beings.
And that they live together with other members of their species.
They even welcome those that aren’t canines – like you.
Grooming others is a way your dog helps others by cleaning their fur.
They do this when they love and trust someone.
#2: They’re being playful
Ohhh… you know this.
All fur parents are aware of how playful their babies can get.
Canines can run around for hours.
And they also love playing with their siblings.
Jumping around, running in your yard or at the park…
Hey, they might even tag team and wrestle with your throw pillows.
Some dogs even go professional and compete in sports and agility contests.
And who are we kidding?
With the energy levels of your pooch, they just might join one of these:
- World Canine Freestyle Organization Competitions.
- Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition.
- North American Flyball Association CanAm Classic.
- Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship.
- United States Dog Agility Association Cynosport World Games Agility Championships.
And if they can’t, then they’d show their playfulness with their fur siblings at home.
This is another way for dogs to express that they love the members of their pack.
And nibbling is one of the things they do to tell the other dog, “Hey, you wanna run around and catch insects with me?”
#3: They feel bored
We’re all familiar with this feeling.
You might have finished your tasks for the day and have nothing to do. On the other hand, you might have tons of chores. But you don’t feel like doing it.
Either way, you’re not safe from boredom.
But you know who else experiences boredom?
Our furry friends.
Especially when their fur parents sometimes have emergencies.
Or they might have urgent matters to attend to.
And due to this, fur parents may accidentally skip playtime for the day.
But what is a bored pooch to do?
One of the ways your fur baby releases the feeling of boredom is to nibble on their siblings.
At least this way, they get to interact with minimal effort and get to do something.
Here are other ways your pooch is trying to be playful with their fur siblings or other dogs according to the AKC:
- They’re acting silly e.g. jumping around.
- Your pooch will slap their front legs on the ground repeatedly.
- They do the play bow. This is when they lower their head but their butts are still up.
- They lie down and “expose” themselves by showing their tummies to your other pooch.
- Play growling. They will snarl and growl at other dogs – don’t be shocked, this is normally louder than usual aggressive growls.
However, there might be times that one would mistake aggressiveness with being playful.
There are the signs you need to watch out for:
- They growl with their mouths closed and it’s at a lower frequency.
- Your pooch looks scared. Their tail is tucked in and they don’t look excited.
- Their bodies are stiffer than usual and if your dog has short hair, you’ll see it slightly stand up.
- The one who “lost” the fight will walk away. When dogs are in play mode, they usually come back for more.
- Their actions are calculated as if they’re looking for ways to attack back. No funny and silly jumping around.
As mentioned earlier, dogs are highly social creatures.
And they love connecting with those they trust.
Relating to #2, dogs see playing as an important part of being social.
According to research, your pooch can learn about other canines through:
- Engaging in playtimes.
- When they watch others play.
Nibbling is one of the methods they try to play with others. Plus, it serves as a way for them to know more about their fur siblings.
They get to be close to other pooches and smell them.
When they do, they also get a lot of information regarding their health and mood to name a few.
Physical touch is also a common love language in dogs.
Nibbling is one expression of it. It can be paired with licking or cuddling.
Actions like these release oxytocin in their brains.
It’s a hormone that surges when dogs engage in social bonding activities.
#5: They’re exploring the world
Curiosity will never leave your pooch. That’s why they’re always trying to learn about the world around them.
When you’re walking around with them, they can’t help but stop regularly. They use their nose to investigate.
Your pooch suddenly turns into a detective.
Or something that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have written.
The investigative Sherpooch Holmes.
And their being inquisitive may also apply to your other dogs.
Especially when your other pooch came from somewhere outside.
Or if they smell something interesting in them like fox poo, which is very attractive to dogs.
Their inquisitive minds will also work if they notice that they’re eating food.
They will try their best to learn about them.
Your dog will try to do these to get acquainted with the new information they smelled or saw on your other dog:
- Paw at the other pooch.
- Nibbling on them gently.
- Nudge them once in a while.
- Smell them in several parts of their body .e.g butt area.
As long as your other pooch is okay with it, there’s nothing to worry about.
Just make sure that there is no aggressive behavior showing from both sides.
#6: It’s a way to relieve mild anxiety
Have you ever been anxious about something?
When I’m anxious, I fiddle with my fingers.
Sometimes I’d even crack them while I anxiously wait for something big.
Like life-changing news.
Other people might even resort to fingernail biting.
In the same way, your dogs also have a behavior that they do when they feel anxious at the moment.
It can sometimes become compulsive and repetitive.
If you see this happening, you should try and check what’s making them anxious.
One of the ways they do show this is by nibbling on your other pooch.
“When does my dog feel anxious?”
Well, there are several reasons why your pooch might feel this way such as:
- Loud noises.
- Being in an unfamiliar place.
- Meeting new people or other pets.
- Being in a tight and uncomfortable location..
As much as possible, keep your dogs from these situations.
Also, socialization activities can cause anxiety.
Because of this, you need to introduce them to it slowly.
Instead of having your pooch meet a lot of people or pets at once, start first with a few ones so they get acquainted.
PetMD suggests having your dog socialize as early as possible.
You can have your puppies experience new things between 3 to 12 weeks.
Most vets would recommend to start socializing 7 days after their first shot of vaccine.
This way, they’d have a level of protection from any virus they might come into contact with.
When they’re already at 12 to 14 weeks old, continue their socialization activities.
It will help build good behavior and aid your fur baby not being anxious.
Through this, they’d be better in handling anxiety-inducing situations.
And when they’re mentally ready for it, your pooch will no longer resort to nibbling.
They would also reduce anxiety-related behaviors such as:
Note: PetMD states that these should only be seen as signs of anxiety if your dog does it excessively.
#7: A way to clean their teeth
Caring fur parents like us will always make time to clean our pooch’s teeth regularly.
This not only promotes healthy teeth, it also prevents them from having bad breath.
There are several doggie toothpaste brands one can use.
Problem is, your pooch can’t use it without your help.
They then resort to certain methods to clean their teeth.
“How do they do it?”
According to AKC, gnawing on objects would help them remove tartar.
It can also reduce dental build-ups on their teeth.
These objects include:
- Appliance cables.
- Soft surface objects such as couches.
Your pooch might even resort to gently nibbling on your other dog.
This behavior is normal in canines as a way to keep their mouths from having diseases.
These life-threatening health conditions caused by poor dental hygiene include:
- Liver damage.
- Heart muscle damage.
- Diseases affecting the kidneys.
#8: They’re showing affection
Dogs are naturally affectionate beings.
You’ll notice this when you come home after a whole day of doing work and chores.
Wide smiles, tail wagging, and sloppy kisses are only a few of the ways they show their love for you.
But this affection extends to other members of your family too.
And this includes your other fur babies.
If they’ve built a relationship with them, it’s pretty normal that they’d interact constantly.
Here are a few ways your dog shows love to their furry siblings:
- Nuzzling them.
- Eating with them.
- Playing with them.
- Sharing their belongings e.g. toys.
Another way they’d show this is by nibbling on them gently.
It’s a more physical way of showing your other dogs that they trust them
As mentioned earlier, acts like this will also release oxytocin in their system.
According to research, your dog is more inclined to form bonds with other pooches because of this.
#9: It’s a way to welcome your other dog
When you bring home another pooch, it takes time for them to get acquainted with each other.
They still don’t know anything about each other and might be inquisitive when they meet.
You’ll probably notice them sniffing around each other.
They might also become hesitant to approach.
But when they’re comfortable, they’d try to play with the new pooch.
Just look at this furry Golden Retriever meeting their sibling for the first time:
They look so cute together, right?
The relationship of your pooch and their new sibling will grow over time.
Because of this, there will be more instances that they’d show love to each other.
This mostly manifests in bonding activities.
#10: It’s a jaw exercise
Your pooch’s bite is one of the important tools your dogs have.
That’s why they might nibble on their siblings.
And it’s because they’re trying to exercise their jaws.
Since they do not have hands with opposing thumbs like humans, they use their jaws to grab things.
And then there’s the obvious reason that they use it mainly for eating.
They also use their jaws for defending themselves when attackers come.
Your fur baby can be kind and friendly, but when danger strikes, you know they’ll fight.
And because they deem their jaws important to them, they’d exercise it regularly.
Other ways dogs train their jaws are through play biting and chewing on toys.
Having healthy jaws and aligned teeth are important to your pooch.
It can dictate their general well-being, according to the AKCCHF.
Their jaws can influence the way your dog stands and where their weight is borne.
This is because the position of your pooch’s mouth helps in directing its posture.
And if they have bad posture, they can be exposed to weight-bearing injuries in the future.
#11: They feel overly excited
Nibbling may also be a reaction to your pooch having a surge of emotions.
When they feel like they’re about to play and have fun with your other pooch, your dog might do this.
Generally speaking, your dog nibbles when they’re excited.
If they do this a lot, they might be hyperactive dogs.
This means that your pooch can easily be aroused by any stimulation that they’re exposed to.
Examples of dog breeds that have chances of being hyperactive are:
- Siberian Husky.
- Yorkshire Terrier.
- Belgian Malinois.
- Labrador Retriever.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
#12: It’s a learned behavior
Ever got curious about how your pooch can learn other doggie behaviors?
They get it from watching other dogs within their vicinity.
This is especially true for dogs who are still young.
They might see one of their older fur siblings lick and groom themselves, and they’d just follow suit.
It’s pretty normal canine behavior.
And it’s good that nature designed them that way.
Through this, dogs will already have the knowledge of their ancestors.
Since they already went through trial and error in their actions.
They already know what’s best in certain situations.
According to research, 8-week old puppies remembered how to solve a puzzle.
The contraption used was baited with food.
The memory lasted for an hour.
And the awesome thing is that this puzzle solution was shown to them by humans and, yes, by another dog.
The research says that the puppies who watched dogs they’re not familiar with learned better.
This is because they pay more attention to the puzzle-solving skill of a canine that they didn’t recognize.
Nibbling can also be like this.
You might be out in the park.
Then they saw a dog nibbling other canines and decided to try it out on their sibling.
#13: You’re encouraging them
Another reason why your dog nibbles on others is because they think you like it.
If you give your pooch attention after doing a specific behavior, the more they’ll repeat it.
This will also apply to other forms of rewards.
Let’s say for example, you pet your pooch after they nibble on their siblings.
This will make your dog think that nibbling will get them something good in return.
The reason why this happens is because dogs learn best when you give them rewards.
And when you repeatedly do this, they’ll learn to use nibbling to get treats, pets, and kisses, from you.
Should I let my dog nibble on my other dog?
Yes, you should let your dog nibble on your other dog.
Generally speaking, this is a sign of affection and positive emotions.
Usually, it shouldn’t be a problem between your dogs.
But if you see aggressive behavior, then you should start intervening.
Your other dog can also hurt the one nibbling at them when they become angry or annoyed at the behavior.
If this does happen, make sure that there are no bruises and wounds on the attacked canine.
How do I stop my dog from nibbling on my other dog? 3 tips
#1: Use verbal cues
One effective method in stopping your pooch on nibbling your other dogs is training them.
You can do this by introducing to them verbal cues.
These include the following:
- “Stop that”.
- “Leave him/her”.
- “Come here”.
All these are callouts that let your dog know that they shouldn’t do the behavior.
To reinforce this action on them, be prepared to reward their obedience.
Always keep a pack of treats on your person when trying to train them to follow verbal cues.
This way, you’ll always be ready to give them something in return when they do desirable behavior.
#2: Stop encouraging them
As mentioned earlier, encouraging them will cause them to nibble more.
Keep in mind that you’re not accidentally “training” your dog to do certain behaviors.
In this case, nibbling on your other dogs.
What you can do instead is physically move them away from your other dog.
And when they stay for a period of time away from your pooch, give them treats.
This way, you’ll stop the initial nibbling and train them to keep away in the future.
#3: Give them alternatives
If you want to stop your dog from nibbling on your other dog, it would also be wise to give them something else to nibble on.
There might be times when telling them “no” isn’t going to cut it.
So we just let them do their thing and allow them to nibble away.
But not at the expense of our other dogs.
Giving them chew toys will divert their attention.
Instead of nibbling on their siblings, they’ll be doing it on the toys.
Why does my dog nibble on my other dog’s neck?
Your dog nibbles on your other dog’s neck because they’re curious.
It could also be a sign that your fur baby is trying to play with them, or are showing affection.
Nibbling can be a social behavior that canines show towards other members of their pack.
Why does my dog nibble on my other dog’s ear?
Your dog nibbles on your other dog’s ear because they’re trying to groom them.
They also do this when they’re already comfortable having their fur sibling around.
This can also be a sign that your pooch is trying to bond and build a relationship with your other dog.
Why does my dog nibble on my other dog’s face?
Your dog nibbles on your other dog’s face because they’re sometimes feeling bored or are anxious.
This can be a method for them to relive some of the negative emotions they’re feeling at the moment.