Dogs will be dogs, and sometimes they’ll do things that just don’t make any sense. Like when my dog starts nibbling on me like I have fleas.
I know she doesn’t really have fleas; she’s just trying to get my attention. But it still drives me crazy when she does it! Especially because it happens at the worst times, like when I’m trying to watch TV or work on the computer.
Do you have a dog that likes to nibble on you like you have fleas? If so, you’re not alone. There are many different reasons why dogs do this, but most of them are pretty harmless.
In this article, we’ll take a look at seven of the most common reasons why your dog might be nibbling on you and when you should be concerned.
1. They Are Trying to Tell You That They Have Fleas
The first obvious reason why your dog may be nibbling on you like they have fleas is because they actually do have fleas!
If you notice your dog scratching or biting themselves more than usual, it’s a good idea to take a closer look and see if they might have fleas.
Fleas are tiny parasites that live on the skin of animals. They can cause a lot of irritation and discomfort for your dog. It’s also not good for you, as the fleas can bite you, too.
If you think your dog might have fleas, it’s important to get them treated as soon as possible especially if you have children in the house.
Flea treatments are available over the counter at most pet stores, or you can talk to your veterinarian about getting a prescription.
If the fleas infestation is still light, you may be able to treat them with natural or home remedies such as essential oils flea spray. (We’ll talk more about this later in the article.)
2. They Are Trying to Get Your Attention
Another reason your dog may be nibbling on you is that they want your attention.
Dogs are very social animals and they love spending time with their human family. When they can’t get close to you, they may act out by nibbling on you.
This is especially common with puppies who are still learning how to behave around people. They may see nibbling as a way to get your attention and get closer to you.
The best way to show your dog that you love them is by spending time with them. Take them for walks, play fetch, or just hang out and relax on the couch together. They’ll love you for it!
3. It Could Be a Sign of Affection
Dogs often show their affection to other dogs by nibbling on them. So it’s not too surprising that they may do the same thing to their human family members.
You can see this in a litter of puppies. The puppies will often nibble on each other as a way of playing and getting to know each other. Nobody taught them to do this, it’s just something that comes naturally to them.
4. They May Be Bored or Have Nothing Else to Do
If your dog is spending most of their time alone, they may start to get bored. And when dogs get bored, they often turn to all sorts of mischief to keep themselves entertained.
One of the things they may do is start nibbling on you. Sometimes, they’ll just nibble on your clothes or skin. But other times, they may couple this nibbling act with barking, whining, or even jumping up on you.
This can be a real nuisance, especially if it happens when you’re trying to work or watch TV. The best way to prevent this is by making sure you give your dog enough exercise and stimulation.
5. It Could Simply Be a Habit for Them
If you tend to pet or scratch your dog’s head a lot, they may start to see this as an approval signal. And once they start to see it as an approval signal, they may start nibbling on you as a way of getting more of your attention.
This is especially common in dogs who are very food-motivated. If you give them a treat every time they nibble on you, they’re likely to keep doing it because they know they’ll get a reward.
The best way to break this habit is by not rewarding them when they nibble on you. Instead, give them a treat when they behave appropriately.
6. They Might Be Teething
Dogs start teething anywhere from 3 to 6 months of age. And during this time, they will often chew on anything and everything in sight.
The reason they do this is that their gums are sore and they are looking for relief. Chewing and nibbling on something helps to soothe the gums and distract them from the pain.
If your dog is teething, you may notice them chewing and nibbling on everything they can get their paws on. This includes your skin, clothes, furniture, and anything else in the house.
You can provide them with some relief by giving them a cold chew toy or frozen treat.
7. They May Be Trying to Groom You
Last but not least, your dog may be nibbling on you because they are trying to groom you.
Dogs often lick and nibble on their siblings as a way of cleaning them up. They may see us as their human friends and try to do the same thing.
The next time your dog nibbles on you, try to check if there are any leftover bits of food on your clothes. This could be what motivates them to nibble on you in the first place.
Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Nibbles on You?
Nibbling isn’t usually a cause for concern as it is common behavior for dogs. However, there are a few instances where you should be worried.
If your dog never nibbles on you but suddenly starts to, it could be a sign that there is something wrong. Maybe they have fleas and are trying to tell you or there is a medical issue that needs attention.
Another time to worry is if your dog is biting you instead of nibbling. This could be a sign that they have aggression issues and need to be seen by a professional.
5 Tips To Help Reduce Nibbling Behavior in Dogs
If you’re having trouble with your dog nibbling on you, here are 5 tips that can help:
1. Give Them Plenty of Exercise and Stimulation
Dogs need plenty of exercise and stimulation in order to stay occupied and out of mischief. Make sure you are providing them with enough playtime and exercise every day.
No matter how busy you are, you should always be able to find time for a quick walk or game of fetch.
If you really can’t dedicate time to a full-fledged exercise routine, consider hiring a pet sitter to come and play with your dog for a few hours each day or enrolling them in doggie daycare.
2. Distract Them With Chewing Toys
If your dog is nibbling on you because they’re bored, one way to stop them is by providing them with plenty of chew toys.
There are a variety of different types of chew toys available, so find one that your dog likes and keep it in a place where they can easily reach it.
3. Reward Them When They Behave Appropriately
The basis of all behavior modification is positive reinforcement. This is when you reward your dog for behaving in the way you want them to.
When your dog nibbles on you and you don’t want them to, give them a loud “ouch” noise or startling movement instead of a treat. This will let them know that they did something wrong and discourage them from doing it again.
Then, when they don’t nibble on you and behave appropriately, give them a treat as a reward. This will help to reinforce the positive behavior.
4. Do Regular Checks for Fleas
Regularly check your dog for fleas is recommended. Not only will this help to keep them healthy, but it will also help to catch any potential problems early on.
There are many natural and chemical-based flea products that you can use to prevent and treat fleas. Find one that works best for you and your dog.
Here are some of my favorite home remedies for getting rid of fleas on dogs.
Essential Oils Flea Spray
Some essential oils make great flea sprays. The most effective oils for this are citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary.
To make the spray, dilute several drops of any of these oils with water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spritz on your dog’s coat before brushing through. Shake well before use. Spray liberally onto your dog’s coat and let dry.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Salt Flea Spray
Another great flea natural remedy for treating fleas is apple cider vinegar and salt. The beauty of this solution is that it works by naturally balancing the pH levels of your dog’s skin and coat and creating an environment that is unfavorable to fleas.
So you don’t have to worry about the side effects that come with chemical-based flea treatments.
To make the spray, mix together six cups of apple cider vinegar with four cups of water and a dash of sea salt. Shake well and spritz onto your dog’s coat.
Lemon Bath for Fleas
If your dog has a lot of fleas, you can give them a lemon bath to help get rid of them. Lemons are not only a great natural flea repellent, but they also help to soothe and condition your dog’s skin plus leave their coat smelling fresh and lemony.
To give your dog a lemon bath, mix together half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice with two cups of water. Place your dog in the bathtub and pour the mixture over them along with your pet shampoo. Lather well and rinse off.
If you’re looking for a more homeopathic approach to getting rid of fleas, you can try using rosemary. This herb is a natural flea repellent and helps to soothe irritated skin.
To make the dip, boil two cups of water and add a couple of fresh rosemary leaves. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Allow the liquid to cool before pouring it over your dog’s coat.
Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar Drink
The combination of apple cider vinegar and water can be used to combat fleas from the inside out.
To give your dog a drink, mix together one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with four cups of drinking water. Shake well and put a few drops of the mixture into your dog’s water bowl.
5. Provide Them With Relief During Teething
If your dog is teething, it may be nibbling and chewing on you as a way to relieve the pain and discomfort.
You can help to soothe their gums by giving them frozen baby carrots, frozen mini bagels, or chew toys made for teething puppies such as Chilly Bone or Kong.
If you’re wondering why your dog nibbles on you, the answer may be as simple as they want attention.
They could also have fleas or be teething and trying to groom you. If none of these reasons are it, then maybe they just want to show you some love!
Regardless of the reason, it’s always important to be aware of your dog’s behavior and what they may be trying to communicate.
There are several reasons why your dog may be nibbling on your ear. They could be doing it as a way to show you affection, groom you, or get your attention. It’s also possible that they’ve learned this behavior from watching other dogs do it.