When your dog nibbles or chews with his front teeth, it’s referred to as cobbing or corn-cobbing, and it is most common in puppies. However, some dogs continue to do it even after growing up.
The most common reasons for dog cobbing include the release of excitement or stress. Like human babies, the behavior is instinctive, stemming from the desire to nurse, play with other puppies, show affection, and ease teething pain.
In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know about dog cobbing. This includes the causes, effects, when to intervene, prevention, what to do, and frequently asked questions.
What Is Corn Cobbing in Dogs?
Cobbing, also known as nibbling, is a typical behavior in dogs that occurs when they try to get your attention or play with you. It’s usually done by dogs using their front teeth.
Cobbing is a gentle, instinctual behavior among dogs, especially puppies. It signifies affectionate bonding between animals and should not be mistaken for nipping or biting.
As dogs grow, sometimes they continue to nibble, but it’s no reason for concern as long as the behavior doesn’t get out of hand.
However, it is still best to understand why dogs exhibit this behavior to help you discern whether you should intervene, especially if it’s highly excessive or causing problems.
Why Do Dogs Cob?
Each of our four-legged friends has its own personality, and it is up to us to learn to understand and interpret their behaviors. Here are some reasons why your dog may be cobbing.
1. Show of affection
Dogs are affectionate by nature and use their mouths to show love in several ways. One of the most common reasons dogs nibble or chew is they want to show their affection for their owner.
A gentle nibble from your dog could mean that it loves you. This is also a sign that they want attention and affection from their pack leader, which is you, their owner.
Dogs may become excited when they have the opportunity to play with other dogs or meet new people, and they often exhibit that happiness through cobbing.
If you see this behavior from your pup, take it as a sign that it is excited about something going on in its environment.
Furthermore, dogs also tend to nibble or chew on things when they are excited because it’s a way for them to release energy. It could also mean they are trying to tell you what’s arousing them.
By then, you can take this opportunity to develop some techniques to assist them in calming down during these circumstances.
3. Relief of stress and anxiety
Some dogs are more prone to separation anxiety than others. A dog in a state of fear is likely to chew, gnaw, or cob on your hands and fingers.
This can be a coping mechanism to relieve themselves from the stress of being away.
Aside from separation anxiety, dogs can be prone to other neurotic behaviors that can make them exhibit cobbing on you or themselves.
It is best to consult your veterinarian if you see an excessive display of worry and stress, as sometimes they can lash out if you’re not equipped to handle the situation or make them feel relaxed.
4. It’s a sign that they want to play
If you’re often the subject of your dog’s playful nips, it could mean that they are merely expressing their desire to have fun with you.
When they are young, puppies will nibble on their littermates to play with each other and get to know one another.
Puppies’ instinctual drive to nibble on their littermates can be redirected toward owners by separating them from other dogs during the puppy phase.
So when your puppy nibbles on you, this might be its way of letting you know that it wants some love and engaging playtime.
5. Canine post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Many dogs that have experienced traumatic events can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, manifesting as anxiety and hypervigilance symptoms.
This is common in working dogs returning home from war zones and even rescues or strays that experienced abandonment, neglect, excessive hunger, and abuse.
Dogs that suffer from this disorder are known to bite out of fear and can soothe themselves by nibbling.
6. A form of grooming
Dogs of all breeds enjoy nibbling on each other as a form of grooming, whether they’re grooming themselves or another dog.
More often, this behavior is seen in mother dogs when they groom their puppies, especially if they don’t know how to groom themselves yet.
Dogs tend to nibble when they are experiencing boredom. This usually happens when they are left alone for extended periods of time or when they are left in the same room or bed with the same toys and treats.
Most of the time, you will also notice bored dogs exhibiting cobbing behavior together with barking and restlessness.
You can help your dog by providing proper exercise and mental stimulation so it can remain happy and healthy. Additionally, this can prevent accidental nibbling of wires and cables.
8. Exhibiting bite inhibition
Corn cobbing can signify that your dog is learning bite inhibition, as they learn not to hurt others while playing or interacting with them.
Bite inhibition is a natural behavior that occurs in dogs when they’re growing up. It’s how they learn not to bite too hard and hurt their mom or siblings.
When your puppy bites too hard and gets scolded or bitten back by its littermates, it learns to adjust its biting style until it knows how to nip gently enough not to cause pain.
9. Gathering extra sensory information
When a dog cobs or nibbles at you, it can detect the pheromones in your skin or from another dog, making it possible for them to gather information on its surroundings.
Moreover, this organ also helps newly born puppies to identify and find their mother when they are blind, deaf, and have little or no sense of smell.
10. Display of ownership
When dogs cob their owners, it might be because dogs view their humans as part of their pack and are attempting to claim possession of them.
Typically, this behavior is harmless and is demonstrated by puppies as part of a game that teaches them social skills. It is generally common and should not be violent.
Otherwise, you may need to control this behavior and train them earlier so they would know what’s okay or not before it develops into aggression.
11. Poor impulse control
Some puppies have self-control issues, which can manifest as biting and cobbing, especially if they are teething.
When a puppy can’t resist the urge to nibble on whatever’s within reach, it’s time to work on impulse control training.
The next time your dog uncontrollably cobs on you, use a high-pitched voice or a painful-sounding scream, and it will be more careful around you in the future.
12. They love your salty skin
Your dog might love to nibble or lick you because it loves the salty taste of your skin. When dogs lick you, they’re not just being affectionate; they’re also showing their love for your salty skin.
Dogs are naturally drawn to salt because it helps them balance their body fluids, which can be difficult for them since they don’t sweat as we do.
Moreover, they also enjoy the feeling of your skin against their mouths, and they don’t want to stop until they’ve gotten a little too much.
13. Oral problems
When a dog cobs on you or other items like your shoe or sock, it’s often because it is experiencing tooth discomfort and pain.
Due to the pain and discomfort, your dog may turn to corn cobbing to soothe themselves or be relieved. You may also want to rush it to the vet clinic for a dental check-up.
Nipping and cobbing can also be an indication of a dog’s aggressive nature. Aggressive behavior often stems from fear or insecurity.
So if you’re seeing excessive cobbing, especially outdoors or in the presence of other people, it’s best to check the environment to see if there are any threats to your furry friend and help them relax.
15. Scratching an itch
The most common reason for cobbing, or turning around to nip their backs against the side of the cage, is when your dog needs to scratch an itch.
Corn cobbing will be stronger as they try to scratch themselves rather than the usual scratching movement.
In addition, sometimes, they don’t have the luxury of using their paws in certain areas of their bodies, so they use their cobbing front teeth instead.
Is Cobbing Bad?
Cobbing and nibbling are actually not bad behaviors for your dog. They’re natural ways for them to communicate with each other in their pack. When they do, it means that your dog is feeling anxious or stressed out.
If your dog engages in the behavior only occasionally and is not causing harm to itself, you, or other dogs, there’s nothing to worry about. This behavior can be your dog’s natural response to stress.
On the other hand, if you see that your dog’s behavior is excessive and causing pain, then you may need to step in and intervene.
How to Stop Your Dog From Cobbing
Training your dog to stop nibbling and cobbing can be a challenge. Cobbing can range from annoying to dangerous, depending on the type of nibbling or cobbing your dog is doing.
It’s vital to keep an eye out for any signs that this behavior may have become problematic.
Here are some tips that can help you stop your dog’s cobbing behavior:
1. Establish the alpha position
Generally, your dog may try very hard to gain your attention and may exhibit excessive corn cobbing.
The key here is to establish yourself as the leader of the pack by giving your dog lots of affection and attention when they’re behaving well, which will help them feel calmer and more secure overall.
This will teach them that there’s no need to try harder. You’ll always reward them when they behave well. However, if they misbehave, they won’t get anything from you.
2. Walk away
Walking away rather than yelling at your dog when it is corn cobbing is much more effective in stopping the behavior.
Yelling at your dog will just make it more anxious and confused, which will make him want to cob on things even more. Instead, walk away and ignore the behavior until it stops.
Do not give it attention. When your dog stops and looks at you, reward it immediately. This will help it learn that good things happen when it stops the behavior.
3. Use positive reinforcement
Use positive reinforcement techniques, like giving treats or playing games, to encourage good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior by taking away things they enjoy.
Give your dog treats when it does something good, like chewing its toys instead of cobbing the couch. This will teach them what kinds of actions earn rewards, so they’ll do those more often.
4. Use chew toys
If your dog is really into biting and cobbing things that aren’t meant to be chewed, try providing it with some chew toys so it has an outlet for all its energy.
This is also a great option if your puppy is teething or if you want to keep its oral hygiene in check. Just make sure that these toys are not choking hazards to avoid accidents.
5. Teach bite inhibition
We recommend teaching your dog bite inhibition by using an item that is safe for your pet but can still cause pain when bitten. This could be anything from a chew toy to a rolled-up sock.
When your dog bites something too hard, give them a sharp “Ouch!” and remove the object from their mouth. Then give them a treat as soon as they let go.
You must be consistent in your approach and make sure you never play with your pet when they are nibbling or biting hard. Otherwise, they’ll learn that this behavior gets them what they want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does My Dog Nibble on Toys?
In the wild, a dog would chew on bones and sticks to help keep their teeth clean. So, when they see a chew toy, they automatically assume it’s supposed to be chewed on.
Moreover, when dogs are young, they will chew on anything they can get their paws on because they’re teething.
They need something hard enough to relieve pressure from their gums while they get used to having teeth.
As your pup gets older and matures into an adult dog, chewing becomes less about relieving pressure and more about relieving boredom or anxiety.
Why Does My Dog Nibble on Blankets?
Dogs will nibble on blankets because they’re bored or anxious, and you can fix both of those issues by providing more mental and physical stimulation for them.
If you notice that your dog is chewing on its blanket but doesn’t seem sick, try to increase its exercise routine to help keep it fit and healthy while also giving it an outlet for its energy.
Why Do Dogs Nibble Each Other?
Dogs nibbling on each other is completely normal behavior. It’s actually one of the ways they show affection to one another, as well as an important way for them to communicate.
Dogs are a very social species, and one of the forms they play is by nibbling on each other’s fur. It’s a way for them to establish that they’re friends, and it also helps them get comfortable with each other.
Check out this video of these adorable dogs nibbling at each other:
Why Does My Dog Nibble My Hand When I Pet Him?
When your dog nibbles at your hand, it is actually a sign that it loves you and wants more attention from you. It is not trying to hurt you.
In fact, it’s using its cobbing behavior to get more attention from its favorite human.
Should I Let My Dog Nibble on My Hand?
If your dog is nibbling at you because they’re hungry or bored, then you can let them nibble on your hand.
It’s actually a great way to help them learn what’s okay for them to do with their teeth, and it can even help calm them down if they’re anxious or stressed out.
However, if the cobbing is aggressive or if your dog has ever bitten someone or another animal before, then you should not let them nibble on your hand until they learn that biting is not okay.
In conclusion, dog nibbling is a common behavior in dogs. It can be caused by a variety of different factors and have a variety of different outcomes, but in general, it’s nothing to worry about.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s nibbling, talk to your vet and try some of the suggestions above to see if they work on your furry friend.
We hope this article has helped you to understand why your dog might be cobbing on you and what to do about it.
Share some of your similar experiences on how you dealt with dog cobbing in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.