The Battle of the Pets — Why Does My Dog Nibble My Other Dog?

Why does my dog nibble my other dog is a complicated question with more than one answer? The most common causes are:


Why Does My Dog Nibble My Other Dog?

When I adopted my two dogs, I noticed that one of them was a bit more dominant than the other. I also saw that he liked to snack on his companion.

That, of course, made me wonder — why does my dog nibble my other dog? What’s more, it made me consider if that’s something I need to worry about.

As a proud owner of two adorable furballs, I get a first-row seat to the wonderful show of Dog Bonding almost daily.

Both my furry friends are rescues, and I have no idea what their actual breeds are.

That makes figuring out if their behavior (such as nibbling) is breed-specific or merely weird just a tad difficult.

Overall, my two dogs get along like two peas in a pod. They are constantly together!

Even better, they love to snuggle up next to each other when they sleep and share their toys as all good little doggies should.

But then there’s the nibbling and an occasional squabble. They don’t fight that often, but one of my dogs definitely nibbles on the other quite frequently.

Being the nurturing, concerned dog parent that I am, I had to look into it and see if one of my dogs might devour the other one.


The Mystery Behind Nibbling

Dogs Love to Play

Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are numerous reasons this keeps happening.

What’s more, there probably isn’t one single cause that will always be the right answer to the question Why does my dog nibble my other dog?

Still, it’s vital that we, as pet owners, understand all our dogs’ behavior patterns, see the reasoning behind them, and encourage or discourage them.

So, let’s see a list of reasons one dog may think that the other one is the perfect nibble toy.


Puppy Love and Nibbling as a Pastime

If the nibbling occurs between puppies, we can narrow down the list of potential causes to a few:

  • Nibbling because the puppy’s teeth are growing out
  • Exploratory nibbling while playing
  • Nibbling as seeking comfort from other packmates


Puppies might seem complicated, but they really aren’t.

More often than not, we’ll catch them nibbling on other dogs, furniture, miscellaneous household items, and even us because their gums are itchy.

Their tiny teeth are probably bothering them as well, or they want to take them out for a test run.

Puppies also like using their newfound nibbling ability to explore the world around them. Sometimes, that includes other dogs in the house.

By nibbling on other packmates, they are getting to know them while also seeking their attention and comfort.

If you ask the puppy, it’s a win-win scenario.


Grooming and Affection of Older Dogs

Why Does My Dog Nibble My Other Dog

Once the dog grows out of its puppy stage, it should stop nibbling on other dogs as a means of getting to know them.

However, if you think the behavior will stop altogether, you’re in for a rude awakening. Dogs never stop nibbling on themselves and other dogs since that’s one of the ways they communicate.

By nibbling on another dog, they can say quite a bit:

  • You’re part of my family!
  • Stay away from me!
  • I’m the boss here!
  • Don’t try to take what’s mine!


As we can see, there’s a wide range of emotions dogs can express through nibbling.

Therefore, the accompanying behavior and context will help us quite a bit if we’re on a mission to figure out precisely why one of our dogs is nibbling on another dog.


Grooming Among Packmates

When two dogs live together, nibbling is more often than not a part of the grooming ritual. What we perceive as gentle biting might actually be the care for a packmate.

If my two dogs are lounging in the sun, for example, and one of them starts nibbling the other, I don’t even need to ask myself, “Why does my dog nibble other dogs?” — the answer is pretty clear.

Although dogs groom themselves, there are places they can’t always reach, like their ears. So, other packmates will help their family members and groom them instead.

Sometimes, they’ll lick the other’s fur; other times, they’ll nibble on it to brush it out.


Comforting Nibbling

Aside from grooming, dogs also use nibbling to show affection. That type of nibbling is always extremely gentle and affectionate.

It may also happen if one of the dogs is upset. By nibbling on it, other dogs are trying to soothe the upset dog.

They want to help it feel better and less anxious.

There’s a good reason dogs nibble on each other for comfort — it’s soothing because it reminds them of childhood.

It’s what they used to receive from their mother when they were puppies. So it makes them feel safe, protected, and content.

Anxious dogs will also often seek comfort from their housemates, who will, in turn, offer it in the form of tender, caressing nibbles and licks.


Poor Impulse Control

Poor Impulse Control

If the dog doesn’t stop exploring the world through nibbling after it grows out of its puppy stage, then the answer to the question Why does my dog nibble my other dog? is probably poor impulse control.

Some dogs simply don’t have enough self-control not to nibble on stuff (including their furry brothers and sisters).

That, unfortunately, means that more often than not, they’ll nibble on us as well.

That type of nibbling indicates a lack of impulse control and is definitely something that we should work on while training the dog.

Another concerning type of nibbling is the warning nibble, which may go hand in hand with poor impulse control.

Sometimes, the dog will nibble on another dog as a “last warning” sign before it bites it. That usually happens if the other dog is being annoying or insistent.

However, it also has quite a bit to do with self-control.

If we don’t teach our dogs to react appropriately in such situations, then warning nibbles may quickly escalate to real, harsh biting and violence.

That’s not the behavior we want our dogs to exhibit, especially not toward other housemates.


Why Does My Dog Nibble Other Dogs?

Is it playful and enticing or worrisome?

If one of your dogs seems to be much more energetic than the other, and you see it nibbling on its playmate, then the reason behind the nibbling is probably the desire to play.

Nibbling can be both playful and enticing behavior. By gently rousing the other dog, the nibbling dog wants to persuade it to come and play.

Dog Training Solution

In my house, this type of nibbling usually ends in play wrestling with just a bit of friendly growling thrown in.

Given that it’s always friendly, I never worry about playful and enticing nibbling. It’s just the dog’s way of asking for the other dog’s time and attention.


Warning and Possessive Nibbling

I’ve already mentioned that one of my two dogs is more dominant than the other. He’s the protector of the house and all its inhabitants.

Unfortunately, that can sometimes turn into an issue.

I take my two dogs to the dog park quite often. They usually entertain themselves at home, but I’m a firm believer in socialization, so I try to take them out as often as possible.

They both love the dog park and usually get along with other furballs there.

However, sometimes, I’ll see my more dominant dog nibble on its more submissive companion while eyeing something it perceives as a threat.

This is actually the type of nibbling I worry about and a good indicator of future behavior too.

When I see my dog exhibit protective nibbling behavior, I immediately look for the cause. It’s usually another dog that isn’t as friendly as I (or my dogs) would like it to be.

So, while annoying, the protective, possessive nibbling is actually a sign that I should either get my dogs away from the perceived threat or prepare for a ruckus.


Dominant Behavior and Jealousy

Why Does My Dog Nibble My Other Dog

For some owners, asking themselves Why does my dog nibble my other dog? may always spark worry that dominance or jealousy might be the answers.

Dogs will often fight for dominance or display signs of jealousy, especially when it comes to their owners.

So, when they gnaw at each other, we always worry that they are fighting over one or the other.

If you’re petting one of your dogs and the other one starts nibbling on it, then that’s a sure sign of jealousy.

By nibbling on it, the other dog is trying to not only display its dominance but also show that it’s clearly not pleasing.

Jealousy is also evident when one of the dogs takes the other one’s toy, or when one puts its paws on a particularly loved spot on the sofa.

In those cases, we’ll often find one dog nibbling on the other to chase it away or simply show that it is the top dog in the house.


A Few Parting Words

Although it can be quite sweet, we shouldn’t encourage any type of nibbling. Dogs can get carried away and nibble their furry brothers and sisters a bit too much.

What’s more, if it’s a warning nibble or one that displays dominance, we most certainly shouldn’t reward the dog for such behavior.

So, instead of sitting idly and wondering Why does my dog nibble my other dog? we should look into techniques on how to stop it.

And that’s exactly what I did.

When it comes to curbing any nibbling, our best options are staying firm and giving out clear commands (No and Quit are always good), as well as rewarding our dogs when they listen to us and stop nibbling.

Not all nibbling has to be eliminated at all costs, of course. However, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the dog and find out what’s causing the behavior.

It’s the only way to not only properly train our dogs but also to understand them and make cohabitation that much easier.

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