Understanding Dogs: Why Does My Dog Nibble on My Clothes?

Why does my dog nibble on my clothes
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Dogs nibble. It is an instinctual behavior flowing in their bloodlines. Canine ancestors chewed different objects for getting nutrition, entertainment, and a soothing effect. Today, pet dogs do not need to exhibit this behavior anymore: they plenty to get nutrition and entertainment.

But since you are here to find an answer to “Why does my dog nibble on my clothes?” it looks like our furry pals are not entirely free of this behavior yet.

Why is it so? Scroll down to find an answer!

Why Does My Dog Nibble on My Clothes?

1. Teething

As per the American Kennel Club (AKC), it is normal behavior in puppies to nip at different objects when their teeth begin erupting. If your clothes are in approach, your newborn will not stop short of testing his brand-new teeth on those.

You can expect your pup to begin nibbling by the age of three weeks as his teeth start coming out. Since incisors take the lead, your dog will attack your clothes only with the teeth on the front first. Common signs of teething include gum bleeding, drooling, and bad breath.

2. Taste

Dogs have a penchant for crazy tastes like human sweat. When given a chance, your dog will not stop licking your body or nibbling at your clothes right after a good workout session or when it is too hot.

Dogs tend to explore the world around them with the help of their mouths. When they find their favorite taste during this exploration, they indulge in it further. You might also find your pooch nibbling at your bedsheet when you lay on it sweating.

Did You Know?

Men produce more sweat than women. If you are a male and your dog is into your sweat, the chances of him nibbling at your clothes are higher.

3. Playtime

The AKC points out that dogs do not necessarily bite to hurt someone. They do it so when asking for playing as well. It is like pulling someone out to the ground and saying, “come, let us play!” Your dog might be bored or lagging on his physical activity requirements (more often the case if he is a big boy like the Bandogge Mastiff).

Since you do not have any leash around your neck, your dog will only find your clothes as a suitable option to pull you out of your chair!

4. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety makes a dog nibble at his owner’s clothes—but not in a typical way. When you are away, your dog will miss you; if he finds your clothes, he will nibble them because of the scent. Unlike a destructive behavior in which canines turn to chew whatever comes their way, this kind of reaction is special: it is a cute alternative in which your dog stays close to your memories.

But remember, it could be bad for his health. He could end up having a bad eating schedule and losing weight rapidly.

A cute Shiba Inu dog sniffing its owner’s clothes

5. Breed and Genetics

Some dogs—Corgis and German Shepherds, for instance—have the instinct to nip at the feet of the herding cattle. Having such genetics, they might choose their owners’ clothes to bite at, thinking of them as a part of the herd. However, experts also say that the breed is not solely responsible for such a demeanor. Several other factors can also make a dog bitier. Moreover, families with kids must be cautious of this fact even more.

6. Boredom

Boredom is a motivating force for our canine pals to engage in entertaining tasks. For them, digging, barking, and chewing is classified as such. If your clothes come in the way—they will nibble at them!

Dogs were bred to work alongside human beings. Without either the company or enough work, they do not get the feeling of fulfilling their purpose and take matters into their own hands. Other likely symptoms of apathy in dogs include bad sleeping and eating habits.

7. Unruliness

Impulsive dogs can bite out anything whenever they want to. Such dogs are either untrained, or the owners ignore their destructive and herding nature. If that is the case, your dog will have no qualms about nibbling on your clothes, even if he tears them away. Moreover, he might even attempt to bite you.

8. Encouragement

Dogs are quite eager to seek praise. If you appreciate your dog’s nibbling whenever he aims for your clothes, you are only inculcating in him that it is a good thing. “The more he does it, the more he will be praised,” is what he thinks!

You might be doing it only unknowingly. It might be just a petting session where you have a handful of treats you want to give your dog. But feeding his favorite food while he just nibbled at your clothes would not be a good idea.

How to Tell if My Dog Is Nibbling or Biting? 

The ability to separate a nibbling behavior from an aggressive bite is worth having. Experts say that when dogs are about to deliver a serious bite, their bodies are stiff, they make no noises, and they usually approach head-on. Similarly, you must also be aware that some things associated with a happy mood in dogs do not necessarily indicate so.

For instance, when a pup is wagging his tail, it may also mean that he is angry rather than happy. If you see such signs in your dog, his nibbles can turn into bites within no time.

At your best, you can try doing the following:

  • Avoid petting your dog if eating, nursing, or chewing at something—food or toys, for instance.
  • If your dog is visibly agitated, say he has been barking or growling, keep a distance and never approach him until he has calmed down.
  • If your dog is injured but angry, it is wise not to go near him. Let him calm down first.
  • Do not keep mischievous children with your dog. They might do stuff like pulling his tail that will make him lose his mind.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Nibbling on My Clothes?


  • Playing Regularly: Engage in different activities with your dog and never let him get bored. Even if you have difficulty staying with him, just make sure he has plenty of mind-stimulating toys and puzzles.
  • Chewable Toys: Supplant your clothes with some chewable toys. Just make sure that your dog has a lot of them and that he loves them too. You can hope that he will eventually leave your clothes one day! A bonus: it is great for your dog’s dental health.
  • Training: Ensure that your dog is neither unruly nor undertrained. Just teach him some simple commands, such as “leave it,” and you must be able to get him off your clothes. If he does it, reward him.
  • Discouragement: Just do not appreciate your dog nibbling on your clothes. Push him away (only gently) when he approaches to do so.

Do Nots

  • Over Stimulation: Never exercise your dog too much in the quest to keep him busy. Too much stimulation can also lead to chewing behavior, causing other health issues.
  • Hurry: Do not feel overwhelmed when your dog does not respond effectively, even after hard work. Inculcating new things in his mind takes time. It might take weeks before you see any results.

Should I Worry About My Dog Nibbling on My Clothes?

If your dog is nibbling because of the aforementioned reasons, you need not worry about it. But if it is unusual or the nibbles are too hard, as if they are aggressive bites, you should seek professional help. Schedule an appointment with your vet. Notice the symptoms and actions of your dog carefully. Explain them well for your vet’s better understanding.

Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Nibble on My Clothes?

Your dog is nibbling on your clothes to manifest various behavioral tendencies and issues. He might suffer separation anxiety, teething pain, boredom, etc. He might also be unruly, or it could be simply a problem of genetics. But you need not encourage this behavior. Keep him under your control and stick to the tips to control this issue. Moreover, if your dog is nibbling subtly and intends to bite instead, you should be extra careful.


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