Your dog is nibbling you with front teeth because it’s mouthing.

They do it when they want attention or to play.

They are also used to it from nursing.

It is their way to soothe themselves and explore the world.

Why Does My Dog Nibble Me With Front Teeth?

  1. Explanation of What Front Teeth Nibbling Means
  2. Importance of Understanding Why Dogs Do This Behavior
  3. Preview of Main Points

1. Explanation of What Front Teeth Nibbling Means

Nibbling is when your dog uses its front teeth to slightly and usually painlessly bite you.

These bites are not hard, but their sharp teeth can make them painful.

Nibbling is most common in puppies.

It starts with teething when their teeth come out.

This process can be painful and irritating to the pups.

Similarly to babies, they need to bite on something to relieve the pain and pressure.

After their teeth come in, if they have brothers and sisters they nibble and bite as a form of play.

Along with smelling and licking, dogs may nibble on things to get acquainted with them.

If the dog is stressed or bored it may use nibbling as a coping mechanism, or it can just be grooming itself.

Nibbling has many meanings, so let’s learn about them. [1]

2. Importance of Understanding Why Dogs Do This Behavior

The causes for nibbling are many. [2]

It is very important for an owner to figure the reason out and how to stop it.

Nibbling may seem harmless and cute, but there is a chance stress, anxiety, and hunger are causing it.

If your dog is nibbling make sure to pay attention to what may be causing it.

This will help you get rid of the nibbling.

Even harmless nibbling can turn into destructive behavior if it isn’t stopped on time.

3. Preview of Main Points

Determining the reason for what is causing the nibbling and how to prevent it can be an easy task.

You have to know the reasons why nibbling can appear, or stay with the dog from when they’re young.

Make sure to pay attention to specific behaviors in your dog.

It’s important to note at what age these behaviors appear as well.

5 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Nibble with Front Teeth

  1. Playful Behavior
  2. Teething or Discomfort in the Mouth
  3. Grooming Behavior
  4. Attention-Seeking Behavior
  5. Aggressive Behavior

1. Playful Behavior

Playing is entertainment for dogs.

Nibbling or mouthing is one way to do it.

They use it on humans, other dogs, and objects.

Nibbling is also a form of bonding.

Many dogs may use nibbling when they’re curious.

Playful dogs often do this with new visitors.

Aside from nibbling, dogs may use gentle bites when they play.

This happens when they play with other dogs and humans.

Play-biting and fighting are normal socializing between dogs.

This is especially puppies who are learning to navigate the world.

Playing in this way is also found in wolves.

It’s not so common in grown wolves, as it can lead to fights.

Wolf canines teeth are, after all, more dangerous than our dogs’. [3]

2. Teething or Discomfort in the Mouth

Teething is a painful reason for nibbling. [4]

Teething usually ends at around 6 months when the adult teeth come out.

Nibbling is used to lower the pain and discomfort.

During this period they will experience a few noticeable symptoms.

They become more vocal because of the pain.

Their gums become sore and excessive nibbling may relieve the pain.

The nibbling may burst a few blood vessels.

Don’t be alarmed if you see spots of blood on their gums.[5]

The pain may lead to lowered appetite, drooling, and annoyance.

It’s hard to prevent this in this period.

Offer them a chewing toy to stop them from chewing on furniture or on you.

This behavior can continue in their life for many reasons.

3. Grooming Behavior

Nibbling when grooming is also social behavior.

Dogs nibble on themselves, as well as other dogs.

This indicates a close relationship between them.[6]

They can do this to cats too.

This can also be caused by skin problems.

Allergies can lead to dermatitis.

This can cause itching so they scratch and nibble.

Fleas and parasites can also cause itching.

In the winter, dry skin is present in most mammals.

Dogs get rid of the dander by scratching and nibbling.

This is the reason why dental health is important.

Teeth scraping can help remove the dogs’ plaque.

This will maintain healthy teeth and gums so they can clean themselves. [7]

4. Attention-Seeking Behavior

Sometimes our dogs want our attention and affection.

Because of this, they nibble our legs or hands.

Mother dogs often nibble on their puppies to show them affection.

Puppies repeat that action for the same reason.

5. Aggressive Behavior

Reason for nibbling

Description of Behavior

Playfulness or boredom

Nibbling other house animals or objects

Exploring surroundings

Finding out new things


Lowering the pain in their gums


Socializing, cleaning themselves, scratching, or compulsion

Wanting attention

Nibbling on the owner or new visitors


Irritated and concentrated nibbling, growling

Destructive chewing has many causes. [8]

Stress from separation anxiety can cause chewing, whining, and barking.

It can also cause restlessness and more frequent urination and defecation.

In a panic, they can also hurt themselves.

Chewing on anything they find can lead to dental problems.

Stopping this behavior is important for everyone.

Over 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog each year in the USA alone. [9]

Dogs can become aggressive quickly.

The first sign of this is growling and barking while nibbling.

How to Determine Why Your Dog Nibbles with Front Teeth

  1. Observation of Body Language and Context
  2. Evaluation of Other Behaviors
  3. Consultation With a Veterinarian or Dog Behaviorist

1. Observation of Body Language and Context

Dogs have relatively easy-to-read body language.

Happy dogs are relaxed.

Their tails are inactive or wagging.

They can also smile

Anxious dogs can look stiff.

Their backs can be arched and their tail tucked.

Their brows are raised and their eyes alert.

Dog teeth chattering is also a common side effect that looks like nibbling in anxious dogs. [10]

Affectionate nibbles are short.

Groomings are longer and concentrated on one area of the body.

Aggressive dogs growl when they nibble.

They wrinkle their muzzles and pull back their lips.

These nibbles can be harmful.

The aggression can be from irritation. [11]

Obsessive nibbling is very obvious.

They nibble in only one spot and it can cause irritation of the skin and dermatitis.

2. Evaluation of Other Behaviors

Chewing and licking one spot may also be a sign of pain.

Check the place they’re nibbling for foreign bodies.

Physical discomfort and boredom can lead to compulsive behavior. [12]

Nibbling can also be a symptom of fear.

3. Consultation With a Veterinarian or Dog Behaviorist

Consulting with a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist should be done.

A few days is enough to call for a consultation.

With careful observation, you and your vet can figure out the reason.

The vet will conduct exams for physical pain.

Attention should be given to the dogs’ snouts when they’re not nibbling.

Focal motor seizure teeth chattering may be mixed up with regular nibbling.

If the nibbling is because of behavioral problems, you contact a dog behaviorist.

They will suggest training to get rid of the nibbling. [13]

4 Tips for Dealing with Front Teeth Nibbling Behavior

  1. Redirecting the Behavior
  2. Training Exercises to Teach Alternate Behaviors
  3. Consistency and Patience
  4. Use of Positive Reinforcement

1. Redirecting the Behavior

Redirecting is easily done with training.

It’s easier if it’s a young dog.

Asking yourself: is puppies grinding their teeth when teething normal?

If it’s your first dog you’ll have many questions.

When they are smaller their attention span is small too.

A simple “No” can make them stop an action.

It will startle them and they’ll hesitate to repeat it.

Use tugging toys for grown dogs or chew toys for teething pups.

But always be careful depending on the breed.

A chihuahua tooth is much more delicate than a husky tooth.

2. Training Exercises to Teach Alternate Behaviors

You can get your dog’s attention by firstly teaching them simple commands.

Encourage the results with positive reinforcement and treats.

This will teach them impulse control.

Provide it with enough toys to keep it occupied.

If your dog tries to nibble you let out a loud noise.

Ignore it or leave the room for a minute.

It will give it a sign that it did something wrong.

Using unpleasant smells like peppermint spray on the nibbling area may help.

Don’t use peppermint oil as it can be toxic to dogs.

3. Consistency and Patience

Nibbling should be untaught daily.

Training may take a while but it’s worth it.

Don’t use aggression or sudden movements to scare it.

This may cause anxiety further on in life. [14]

4. Use of Positive Reinforcement

Training method How to do it
Positive reinforcement Saying “good job”, use higher pitched voice
Rewarding After it listens to your command give it a treat.
Ignoring If it does something it’s not supposed to, ignore it or leave the room. Don’t give it attention.
Unpleasant smells Use peppermint spray on the place they’re nibbling.
Consistency Daily training is the best method to stop nibbling

Dogs react the best to positive reinforcement. [15]

In training, always practice good timing.

The commands should be one to two words long.

Make sure to use a higher-pitched voice.

Dogs react to higher frequencies better.

Don’t distract your dog while it’s doing a command or action.

Reward it after it’s finished.

The reinforcement should be brief.

“Good job” will suffice.

Practice positive reinforcement daily.

Be careful not to reward bad behavior.

Find out what your dog’s favorite reward is.

It could be food or a toy.


It’s always important to pay attention to a dog’s behavior.

They easily express their emotions.

Any odd behavior that lasts more than a few days should be told to a veterinarian.

Training is an important step to improve any unusual behavior.

Nibbling can be cute when it comes from puppies.

It becomes problematic in older dogs, especially in big breeds.

It’s important to start training when it’s young.

It is crucial to address the problem and determine if it’s caused by physical pain.

If you don’t know how to train your dog, seek help from a veterinarian or dog behaviorist.

They will give you helpful advice and tips.