If you are a dog owner or you have ever been around dogs, you may have seen how dogs, especially puppies or pubescent dogs, nibble on each other, their guardians, or even objects. Unlike actual dog biting, which occurs when the dog feels threatened, this action is often gentle and may actually make you wonder why the dog does it.
This article explains this behavior that occurs spontaneously among dogs. It will offer details on why your dog does the nibbling, answer your questions on why they do so, and it will also guide you on what to do every time your dog nibbles.
What is Dog Cobbing?
Dog cobbing is simply the gentle nibbling that your dog does to you, your cat, your neighbor's cat, other people, other dogs, or objects such as its blanket and toys. Some people refer to it as the “cute nibble.”
A dog, while cobbing, will peel back their upper and lower lips and use their front teeth to gently nibble on you. This action resembles the human action of nibbling at a corn cob with your front teeth, hence the name “cobbing.”
So why do dogs cobb? What drives their universal behavior to gently nibble with their front teeth as though they are sending out a message? The section below highlights the answers to these questions.
Why Do Dogs Cob?
1. To Stimulate Milk
In some scientific ways, the cobbing of newborn puppies at their mother's teat encourages the production of milk. This primal action by dogs that forms an essential part of their early development grows to become a sign of affection later in their lives.
2. To Display Affection
The human action of hugging is somewhat similar to the dog's action of gently nibbling with their front teeth. When comfortable, a dog will generally cobble at you, another person, or another dog. Even mother dogs cobb at their puppies.
Therefore, do not worry next time your dog gently nibbles on you and starts biting you quickly and rhythmically. Dogs generally tend to do this when they are relaxed and resting next to you. Even when they do this with other animals, it is a sign of a positive relationship, and therefore there is no need to worry.
3. To show signs that they want to play
Dogs love to play. From puppies to adult dogs, play forms a big part of dogs' lives.
When they want to play, dogs usually start by nibbling at each other in a playful manner. This is a sign of socializing. This may also be the case when your dog nibbles at you. They may want to play with you and are simply seeking your attention.
4. To get your attention
When you are lying on the couch watching a movie or scrolling through your phone, you may have felt a gentle nibble on your hand from your dog. This is a gentle sign that your dog is simply asking for your attention.
As a result, gentle cobbing for your attention is not as troublesome as biting during play. You can simply return this call for attention with a good ear scratch or a gentle rub on their body.
5. To scratch an itch on their body
If your dog has an itch on their body, they may scratch it through the chomping motion of their front teeth. This type of cobbing is different from the usual gentle nibbling and may tend to be a little stronger than usual. This is because they are trying to scratch that itchy part of their body.
You should take great caution when a dog cobbs at their own body, as it may be a sign that they are removing a parasite (such as a flea) or an object stuck in their fur. If it is an object stuck in their hair, you can simply remove it. However, if they keep on cobbing frequently at their bodies, it may be a sign that you need to deworm your dog.
6. To Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Just as some people bite their lower lip when they feel stressed or anxious, dogs equally cobb as a way to calm their nerves. It is usually an instinctive reaction that develops from their primal action of gently nibbling at their mother's breasts. Since gentle nibbling is self-soothing, they will do it to relieve stress.
There is no cause for concern when your dog nibbles on itself once in a while to relieve stress and anxiety. However, if they continuously do it, they may break their skin and hurt themselves, causing an injury or infection on their skin. Moreover, your dog could nibble at an object and cause damage to the object or its own teeth. Hence, if this is so, you should find playful objects for your dog to keep him occupied.
In conclusion, cobbing for dogs is simply a sign of affection and should not worry you. However, care must be taken to ensure your dog does not hurt themselves or is not nibbling at themselves due to a parasite.