Top 3 Reasons Why Dog Nibbles with Front Teeth (Cobbing)

Your dog has a lot of quirks and behaviors you should take note of, such as nibbling you with his front teeth. Some pet owners also refer to this as “cobbing” or doing a “corn on the cob”. While you might associate this as an aggressive move, that’s actually not the case at all. Here are a few reasons why your dog is nibbling you with his teeth and how you can minimize this behavior.

1. Nibbling is an Instinctive Behavior

Nibbling or cobbing with the front teeth is an instinctive behavior for dogs, especially for puppies. Puppies will learn nibbling behavior as a group and like to play together by softly biting on one another. If the puppy doesn’t have any siblings around, you are going to likely be the next best play toy. This is more of an affectionate play that the puppy remembers from being very young and he engaged in with his mother.

Not only is this instinctive behavior, but it also is one of the most common teething behaviors. Just like with small babies, puppies will gravitate towards anything that could help relieve the pain of teething. If your puppy is nibbling on you as a result of teething, you should purchase some dog chew toys that can help your puppy through the teething process.

2. Your Dog is Stressed or Anxious

A dog that is stressed out or suffering from anxiety will nibble, including on you if you are around. A dog that has separation anxiety might decide to nibble on you when you get home as a way to show they are glad you’re home and that they missed you.

Stressful situations within your home also could cause your dog to begin nibbling on you, such as loud noises or weird people or animals being around. If that’s the case, it’s best to take your dog out of the stressful situation if possible and allow him to calm down.

3. Nibbling Could be a Sign of Affection

Nibbling is also a sign of affection and it’s often learned as a puppy when around other dogs. A dog grooms another dog and shows his affection to other dogs by nibbling around the neck or ears. If your dog is not around other puppies but is around you, then he might nibble on you to show his affection towards you.

Nibbling can also happen to you when your dog wants to play. If your dog is in a playful mood, he might nibble on you as a way to get your attention that it’s play time. Sometimes the nibbling to force play time is only done as a puppy and your dog could grow out of it. There are some adult dogs that still use nibbling as a way to get your attention for play time, especially if you are preoccupied with other work.

How to Minimize the Dog’s Nibbling / Cobbing Behavior

If your dog nibbles on you and you want it to stop, then you must begin thinking and acting like a dog would in this situation. When he nips at you say “Ouch!” really loud to mimic the yelp from a dog, and your dog will realize that he hurt you.

You should also make your hand go completely limp so that your dog will understand that this behavior isn’t welcome. When your dog stops, you want to praise him and give him gentle pets.

If the behavior continues, you also can purchase chew toys that hopefully will distract your dog from nibbling on you. Chew toys and other items will give your dog something else to focus on instead of your hand.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


  • nicholas | 21/10/2022

    I have 3 Chihuahuas. Mother/father(both 4 yrs old) and baby(2 yrs old). My dogs do this to each other as a form of dominance. But they do it when near me or when one of the others wants attention. But they do it to each other, even the puppy does it to it’s elders.

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