Labradoodle Forums banner

Nibbling Hair?

1860 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  River Rat
Chouette has recently begun to nibble our hair, with the sort of tiny quick bites that dogs apply to their own itches. He does this to DH's beard and to Rosalena and my hair. We discourage it because although it's funny, it's an unpleasant feeling and it pulls. I've never had another dog do that.

Any idea what it means? Is it dominant or subservient behavior, or doesn't it have any particular significance? And do anyone else's doodles do the same thing?

1 - 14 of 14 Posts
I have had a dog or two do that to my arm...but honestly, I have no idea what it means. I just like to think that they are grooming me! LOL
Honestly don't know what it means either, maybe nothing other than he loves you guys so much... :lol:
I would say that it's probably a grooming thing. And I don't think it necessarily a dominant thing. If it were a true bite, that would be dominant, but I would say its a sign of submission. Is she showing signs of dominance anywhere else?
I wasn't sure how to interpret it, since it's new behavior and also new to me! I was wondering about the dominance issue because we had an issue the other day. Wednesday we gave Chouette a large marrow bone to munch on, since I've noticed that she seems to be developing a stronger desire to chew. She was very absorbed with it outside for awhile. Then Rosalena, my ten-year-old granddaughter, came over to her and tried to take it away from her, and Chou growled at her. We were all shocked, scolded her, and insisted that she drop the bone and/or give it to Rosalena and us several times. Chouette looked very embarrassed and uncomfortable, and when I scolded her she immediately squatted and urinated a couple of drops submissively, looking up at me, and then was terrific about letting us have it, repeatedly.

We did let her keep it at the time, to avoid reinforcing her obvious fear that we'd take it from her permanently, but then I went in and did some reading in the Wilson and Killcommons My Smart Puppy and the previous book Good Owners Great Dogs, and saw that some dogs become overly possessive and aggressive with "body parts" like bones or pigs' ears. So I took the bone (she was now in the house and it was on the porch) and disposed of it. We are also having Rosalena do more training with her and feeding her, when she's here, as well as reinforcing preceding her out of doors and down hallways, which we had been working on anyway.

I was concerned about whether that was enough, so I posted a description of the incident on the My Smart Puppy forum, with a little more background about training and Chouette's temperament in general and got a quick response from Sarah Wilson, who said
Here's the thing: as you read, some dogs can handle body parts... some can't. Your, for now at least, cannot.

This can be a limited situation... no bone, no growling.

I think you handled it well and she was clearly stressed by the matter so... no marrow bones when kids are around.

If safe, and it certainly sounds it from here but I cannot know, you can practice with her - taking the bone, praising and giving something of a treat then returning the bone to her until she learns how to handle this. If she does, great. If she doesn't, she'll be bone-free which is no great loss.

You sound great and she looks like a cutie....

I wrote back that my inclination was just to ban juicy marrow bones, so I gave the two I'd bought to our neighbor for her lab, who was very grateful. Anyway, in light of that I was wondering about the nibbling. However, on the whole Chou's been very well behaved otherwise; she's been really good about coming and following directions, and yesterday we went to NYC for the day to go to the opera and left her with my son and d-i-l and she was perfect. I was a bit worried because my d-i-l is softspoken and I wasn't sure Chou would cooperate for her, but she was terrific; my son even hinted that they'd be happy to keep her overnight, and now they want a dog, too! So I didn't know whether the nibbling was a sign that we should be paying attention to or whether it was meaningless.

See less See more
Maya will do the nibbling you describe when she wants out of the bedroom in the morning. I think it may just be an attention thing.
Tanner does that nibbling thing to my pony tail if I am sitting on the floor and he is just in a rubbing, loving mood. He will also do it a bit on arms and he does it to the cat who doesn't appreciate it.

Tanner's nibbling seems to be a demonstration of affection, I think

:? :? :?
That's probably what it is, because she often does it when I'm already paying attention to her. It's such a funny sensation!

Except when they do it too hard and it pinches you :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
Hi, Vanessa! It did seem to be an affectionate gesture but after the bone incident I wanted to be sure I wasn't allowing something I shouldn't be.

I trust Sarah Wilson's advice pretty much; she seems to be very wise about dog behavior and has probably seen (and helped to remedy) most situations. Did you have an issue with Mija and bones?

I'm still thinking that we will just ban such exciting bones. Chouette has a small one that has no vestiges of meat on it that she's played with for a long time, and I sometimes stuff it with peanut butter and treats when we're going to be crating her for a bit, but I think we'll stick with that one and not try the other kind. She has no issues with her old one. We normally don't give our dogs fresh bones, so this was a new experience. But the first time our brindle Dane - who became a biter - snapped was when I reached into her crate to take a bone away from her because I could hear it starting to splinter. Obviously that wasn't a wise move but I had never had a dog that I couldn't take things from before so I definitely wasn't expecting it. I think bones and dogs may just not be a good mix, at least not for my dogs!

See less See more
Tyke is a nibbler too - she usually does it to me when I am rubbing her tummy or her back. If the nibbles too hard and I tell her to stop, she will nibble on her own foot! It seems to be something she does when she is content, or sometimes even a little sleepy, like a child sucking its thumb.
Actually, I think it was NJ Leslie (Imtoth) that had posted the guarding a bone topic....I think they had a brief bout with Kirby?....BUT, if I remember correctly, Leslie has also been working diligently with this issue (I don't think they have the issue with Dex though)---I'm sure she'll chime in here eventually....there may have been a few others on the forum that also had similar instances occur....
Hi...yeah we are having this same problem with Kirby. It seems to happen about 1/3 of the time when we give him a really good bone. We don't want to have to restrict what we give them so we are working at trading him something else when we take the bone. He did just growl at my husband yesterday but has only tried to snap once. We never had this problem with Dexter...but we have worked on taking things from him since he was a puppy.
We have always been able to take things away from Chouette, which is why this was such a surprise. Just now I had to take a chicken bone away from her; I will have to dig up, or get DH to dig up, the chicken carcass he buried in the garden because no matter how careful we are she gets into it, and it's also making her resist coming because she knows what will happen if I get her when she has a lovely bone in her mouth. I praised her and gave her a treat, and then another when we got inside, but she just loves those chicken bones, and they're potential death for her.

How do you get across that you "own" everything, Vanessa? As I said, it's never been a problem up til now, but maybe I could use some more tricks in my bag.

Vanessa, what great exercises, and thanks for taking the time to write them out! I will print and use them.

Chou is the only dog I've ever allowed IN the garden, mostly because she was such a little tyke in the summertime and had so much else to learn. All of our other dogs knew to stay out. We have brick walks running through the garden and dog etiquette required that they stayed firmly on the paths. Our dogs used to look at us balefully when they watched the cat roaming freely through the lettuce plants or whatever, but I've never wanted to try to herd cats so they do have the run of the place. I will now need to start training Chou in proper dog etiquette; I love your "games" and will use them, too. Unfortunately, now that Chou has found the treasure trove it's going to be harder; I didn't realize that DH had used the garden to bury carcasses and we can't get them all out. It was never an issue with our other dogs because they never went off the paths to explore.

Our garden does have a wooden fence around most of it, with three gates where paths begin, but we don't usually close them because it makes life easier to have free access. There's a tiny courtyard in the middle with two fruit trees where dogs sometimes lie while I rake or hoe or plant. The fence keeps rabbits and such out, at least.

Being alpha all the time is tough; hopefully a dog will accept that situation at some point and then you can all relax a bit. I never could with the brindle Dane, but with my next one it was a piece of cake. I'm sure it will become one with Chou as well. She is definitely eager to please!

See less See more
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.