Why Does My Dog Nibble My Nose? Nibble My Nose?
[Complete Guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated July 1, 2021

If you want to know why your dog keeps nibbling at your nose, worry not. You have come to the right place to find all the answers you need. First things first, let me assure you that it is NOT an unusual thing for pets to do. Pooches do it all the time, and in most cases, it is nothing to worry about. As we would assess a new environment with our hands, pick up new things to explore, and scan for any unusualities, dogs do the same but with their mouths. Mouthing or nibbling is their way of exploring new environments or things.

Okay, but your nose isn’t new to them. Then why are they still nibbling at it!

Let’s take a look.

Why do dogs nibble on or bite the nose?

Show affection:
Like us humans, dogs can not shake hands or hug. That is why you will find fellow dogs nibbling at each other’s noses.
It’s their way of
saying hello. And because your pet considers you as their family, they greet you as if you are one of them. Isn’t that super sweet? Other ways they might be showing you affection are licking you and goofing around you.
Want attention:
Just as they make an effort to show you that they love you, they want you to show them you love them too. Your pet is your biggest fan, and they will do anything to get your attention. And if biting does the task, so be it. Some other ways your baby might be
asking for attention are getting under your legs, switching between staring at you and their leash, or the classic, bringing their toys to you. “Get the message, hooman!”

Puppyhood:
Like babies have an age of teething; puppies have the
sensitive teeth phase when they are young. During this time, they feel restless in their mouth, making them want to move their jaw, nibble on or bite something. This is accompanied by pain in their gums, which may lead to more restlessness. There is no reason to be alarmed as this phase is very normal, but you can always consult your vet if you are still unsure or worried.

Showing excitement:
Your pooch might be trying to express their
eagerness to play by gently biting on your nose, ear, or hand. If you have taken this as a cue to play with them in the past, then you have unknowingly reinforced this belief of theirs. This is a mistake that many of my clients have made and realized much later. While it could have been prevented, it does not mean that it can’t be reversed anymore.

Showing companionship:
Dogs mouth each other’s nose or ear, which can be taken as a
sign of friendship. It means they trust each other even when there is potential harm in sight. Basically, when your pet plays around by mouthing you, they believe in a mutual relationship of trust and friendship between you two.

Hyperactivity:
Dogs are
inherently active. They like to play, run, go for walks, or do any physical activity that demands good use of their energy. Lack of exercise induces anxiety and restlessness in dogs. At such times, they naturally look for a way to let out their pent-up energy.

Lack of training:
Just as teaching wrong behaviors is harmful, not teaching right behaviors is as well. You might not have taught your pet to bite your nose, but if they are still doing it, then you probably didn’t train them not to do it either. Unfortunately,
lack of training is as bad as wrong training. 

Why make an effort to stop this behavior now?

If you are looking for an answer to this question, your pet is probably still a baby.

Caughtcha

Look, I get it. A cute little puppy biting your nose with his soft little mouth is super adorable—a hundred percent #instamoment.
But your baby isn’t going to remain a puppy forever! That mouth is going to get bigger (and sharper). They are going to get stronger. Now is the time to teach them what is allowed and what is not in your house. 

Generally, the mother teaches the dog what is called “bite inhibition.” You might have seen a puppy play around with their parents or siblings, during which they bite and nibble on each other. If a puppy goes too hard with its teeth, the other lets them know by either squeaking, staring in the eyes, or simply moving away. If your pet hasn’t had these lessons from their family, then it is your responsibility to teach them so. 

Moreover, this particular behavior will be harmful to you more than anyone else. So, strap on and begin that training program right now. 

Ways to stop your dog from biting you

  • Be gentle: First and foremost, do not manhandle your pet or be aggressive in any way. Be it while training or at other times. Especially when you are in their hold. If your dog is actively biting you and the wrong steps are taken, you are inviting an injury.
  • Exercise: This solution is such a savior when it comes to dog problems. Your pet has a body that needs activity. It’s simple and easy to do. Keep them active to keep them sane. It doesn’t have to be walks or mundane runs only. You can spice things up with different games, chewing toys, fetch toys, or dog puzzles. Make an effort to make playtime interesting for them and you!
  • Train to be calm: One of the worst mistakes I see people making is agreeing to what the dog wants, just to keep them quiet or not bothersome. If you take your pooch out to play as soon as they start jumping or feed them whenever they sniff around the dog food, you assure them that you are there to fulfill their demands on the spot. This doesn’t just extremely pamper them but creates trouble for you in the future, especially when you will not act as per what they want.

Here is what you can try. Next time you are about to leave for a walk and see your pet jumping, barking, or tugging, instruct them to stay in their place. Do the same before you serve them food. Make this ‘stay time’ as long as possible and treat them when they try to remain calm. 

This training will help your canine with their restlessness, and therefore, their biting and nibbling as well. 

  • Chewing toys: As a substitute for your nose, bring a chewing toy to your dog and let their instincts take over—a great way to keep your dog happy and your body teeth mark-free.
  • Train as early as possible: The best way to keep your baby out of trouble and best behaved is to train and teach them your way as early as possible. Preferably when they are a puppy, adaptive, and prone to learning new things.
  • Express your disappointment: If your pet is nibbling on or biting your nose, show them that it is unacceptable to do so. You can let out a little noise to let them know you didn’t like it. If they still don’t get it, show them you’re in pain or simply move away from them. This should tell your dog that biting ends playtime. Finally, you may leave the room and give them a time-out if they still don’t stop. Do so every time they repeat the behavior.
  • Use a deterrent spray: You can use bitter taste deterrent sprays on your body to keep your pet from biting you. They are safe for both and an effective, energy-saving solution.

  • Redirect: If your pet is biting or about to bite you, redirect them to a chewing toy or a puzzle game filled with treats like peanut butter. This way, they still have their instinct fulfilled, and you don’t have to be the bad guy.
  • Know your cues: A dog gives certain signs like growling or staring before they head on to nibble or bite your nose or mouth your hand. If you observe and learn these signs, you can quickly act before them and divert or redirect them to acceptable behavior.If you end up punishing them before they bite, the signs will disappear but not the biting. So, be careful and plan out your strategy.
  • Be in control: During your training hours or possible biting events, manage your way around to always stay in the commanding position. At any given time, you must be able to regulate your pet’s actions and stop or redirect them. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to have the leash on, even if you’re petting or cuddling with them.A leash isn’t always a bad thing, and you can always take it off when you’re confident in your lessons.
  • Witch hours: A popular experience amongst all my clients is how their pet gets excited around the same time every day. We trainers call it the ‘Witch hours.’ You may know this behavior as ‘getting the zoomies.’ If you have already identified this time, then make preparations in advance. You can prep your pet with a leash or introduce a muzzle in their routine. However, the best solution is to tire them out completely before this ‘Witch hour.’ 

Keep in mind

  • Don’t ignore the good behavior: If you don’t appreciate your pet’s acceptable acts, punishments for bad behavior will not work. 
  • Be ready: Carry your pet’s favorite toys for times when they might feel restless. At least during the initial stages of training. 
  • Discourage foul play: Since the beginning, discourage mouthing your hand or nose, fooling around with your body, even as a puppy. Remember, they are going to grow up and get stronger. 
  • Keep calm: During the training, make sure you’re not aggressive with your dog. It may backfire, and they may bite you because of fear now. 
  • Keep children away from pets that you aren’t sure of. 
  • Avoid chasing: Don’t run behind them or chase them during the training period. You might not like it, but your pet might think that it just turned into a game!
  • Address the issue as early as possible.

In Conclusion

Your pet wants to play with you, show affection and seeks attention from you. Their way of doing it might not be the best, but it can surely be mended. Even if it’s a long process, training your dog is a great way to bond with them. 

Just remember to stay focused, keep their toys ready, and begin on a positive note. At any point, if you feel the need for help, consult a specialist or hire a trainer

In any case, patience and consistency are what you need. Stay put, and you will see the results.