Why Does My Dog Nibble On My Clothes?

dog looking confused after nibbling on clothing

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One moment, your dog is just standing, sitting, or laying near you looking as cute as usual. The next moment, you hear some chewing that may be a little too close and find your dog is chewing on your clothes!

Besides having the thought about how your clothes might have holes in them and are all wet now, you might also think, “Why does my dog nibble on my clothes?”

There are many reasons why your dog might nibble on your clothes. Some reasons involve you and your time such as wanting to play, gain your attention, and needing more exercise. Other reasons include your dog being bored, feeling hungry, and liking the taste. It could also be a sign of separation anxiety.

There are more reasons why your dog chews on your clothes. Let’s take a closer look into these reasons why your dog nibbles your clothes along with the other ones.

Reason 1: Your Dog Wants To Show Affection

There’s no questioning how much we love our fur babies! We love them so much and we show them through different things like giving them a new toy, giving them yummy treats, or even a simple pat on the head. Even a little compliment in a higher pitch voice lets them feel the love!

However, dogs can’t do all of the same things for their owners. Instead, they use their body language and actions to let us know how they feel.

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they want to show their affection.

Dogs can’t tell us with words how much they love us. Their way of showing love is by being near us. Your dog might grab onto your clothes as a way to be close to you and hold on.

Our pups can’t always tell that our clothes are not a part of us. They might think that by holding onto our clothes, they are holding onto us.

They don’t intend on hurting you or ripping your clothes, but rather, they want to say, “I love you and want to be with you!”

Reason 2: Your Dog Is Grooming You

You might be laying on the couch with your dog when suddenly, you feel little nibbles on your shirt or pants. Your pup doesn’t look like they’re playing with your clothes. In fact, you realize that they’re using their front teeth.

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they are grooming you.

Dogs often use their tongue and teeth to clean themselves up and they might want to do the same to you. If this is the case, you may notice your dog licking you in the same areas in addition to the nibbling. Dogs might groom their owners for various different reasons that may be for themselves or for you.

Interestingly, dogs aren’t the only ones who groom each other by nibbling with their front teeth. Take a look at this fox doing the same:

Reason 3: Your Dog Wants Attention

Dogs are often called babies by their owners. That’s because they share similar behavior with human babies!

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they want your attention.

Dogs have more similar behaviors to humans than we often think! Just like a human child, dogs often want our attention. This is understandable with the amount of love you give them!

If you find yourself having a day busier than usual, your dog might want a little more attention just so they can spend some time with you. To keep them away from hanging onto you by your clothes, you can give them a little food puzzle to keep them occupied for a little before spending some quality time together.

There are other signs that your dog might be nibbling on your clothes for attention. Some of those include begging and jumping up at you. A combination of these behaviors may be a signal that your pup wants your attention.

Reason 4: Your Dog Is Bored

Similar to wanting your attention, your dog might need something to keep them entertained.

While your dog might be similar to humans in that they like attention, your dog might nibble on your clothes because they are bored.

Your dog might be chewing on your clothes because they have nothing else to do. Your clothes might be the closest thing to them to chew on in a time when they feel like they have nothing else to do. If you’re nearby and wearing clothes that are easy to grab, your pup might nibble on your clothes that way.

While it may surprise many, dogs don’t always love to just lay around on the couch or bed all day. They need something to do just as much as people need things to do.

Mental stimulation is something that causes the brain to be used. Without it, your dog might be feeling stressed and won’t know what to do to keep them busy. This can often result in destructive behavior which may include chewing on your clothes.

Redirecting their attention to something else such as a toy or a food puzzle as mentioned before can help keep your pup entertained and their brain active.

Reason 5: Your Dog Does Not Get Enough Exercise

Like with almost every moving creature, your dog needs to stay active!

Your dog might chew or nibble on your clothes because they do not get enough exercise.

Similar to being bored and needing mental stimulation, dogs also need exercise to release their energy. Having excess energy can also result in your dog being destructive and wanting to nibble on your clothes.

Giving your dog somewhere safe to run around or chase a ball can be beneficial to your dog’s mental and physical health.

However, some dog breeds are considered more energetic than others including bully breeds. Another example could be hunting and working dog breeds. Their breeds were created to do certain tasks and have certain instincts to use their energy on. Without having an outlet to let those instincts loose can result in nibbling on clothes!

If you are looking into getting a pure-bred dog, it is important to do research on the breed and their energy levels to match your lifestyle. You might be able to find your perfect running buddy or fellow couch potato!

Reason 6: Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

When your dog loves you so much, it’s understandable that they want to be with you as much as they can! However, some dogs don’t act like themselves when you’re not around.

Your dog may nibble or chew on your clothes because they have separation anxiety. They may even grab onto your clothes and hang on tight.

Separation anxiety is when your dog cannot seem to function without you. They feel helpless, stressed, and anxious when left alone.

Why would separation anxiety cause your dog to chew on your clothes?

Your dog may be trying to hold onto the clothes that you’re wearing in an attempt to keep you near them. Similarly, they may nibble on your clothes to be as close to you as possible.

How do you know if your dog is nibbling your clothes because of separation anxiety?

If you are not home, they may chew on the clothes found around them because they are stressed and need to direct their anxiety towards something else. When you’re home, you might notice that your pup is always sitting close to you or seeming to never leave your side.

Reason 7: Your Dog Is Hungry

Many dogs love to eat! Sometimes they love food so much, that they act like they’re starving all the time!

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they are hungry.

Even for humans, being hungry isn’t the best feeling. Extreme and constant hunger can even lead to negative impacts on the body.

Chewing on your clothes may be a way for your dog to let you know that they’re feeling uncomfortable because they’re hungry. The action of chewing and nibbling is related to eating and trying to tell you that that’s what they want to do!

How can you tell if your dog is nibbling on your clothes because they are hungry?

Is it almost your dog’s feeding time? If so, that’s the best sign that they’re hungry. After a busy day, it can be easy for it to slip your mind.

It is also important to know how much to feed your dog on a daily basis. There are many factors to take into consideration as mentioned in this article. Knowing the balance between not causing your pup to gain too much weight and not starving them can help your dog life a happy and healthy life!

Reason 8: Your Dog Likes the Taste

Dogs like the strangest of things. There are certain sounds, scents, and flavors that they might like, but you do not.

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they like the taste.

While most humans might not be able to tell you the flavor of clothes, dogs are fans of different flavors. They might lick each other’s eyes because they like the taste of tears!

Why does your dog like the taste of your clothes?

Maybe you spilled something on it or dropped some food! Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and can tell if there was food or drink on your clothes. They might try to taste it by nibbling on your clothes!

Your dog might just like the way your clothes taste simply for how they are! As strange as it may sound, they might be able to taste the sweat that is on the clothes!

Reason 9: Your Puppy Is Teething

Puppies are adorable little balls of energy! Everything they do seems to be super cute… except for the constant chewing on everything!

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they are teething.

If you’ve recently gotten a young, furry addition to the family, it is most likely that they are teething. Teething is when young animals, including humans, start growing their teeth. At this time, their teeth may be very so sharp, that people describe them as needles!

Chewing on things helps your puppy with that uncomfortable feeling of growing teeth. They might chew anything they can get their teeth on, which makes chewing on your clothes an option!

Chew toys are very useful at this stage. Providing your pup with different textures and materials to chew can help with their teething process, keeping your clothes and furniture free from holes!

Reason 10: Your Dog Wants To Play

If there’s one thing that many dogs have in common besides wanting to eat or sleep, it’s wanting to play!

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they want to play.

Wanting to play is a combination of the previous reasons. They love you so much, they want to spend time with you and they might have some cooped-up energy.

Playing is a great way for your dog to be active both mentally and physically. It is an important part of socializing and interacting with others.

It is important that you spend some quality time with your pup. They might grab onto your clothes in an attempt to get you to throw a toy for them to fetch! Your pup might even think chewing on your clothes is a fun game and love the reaction you give them when they do.

If you want your dog to stop nibbling on your clothes as part of a game, you can redirect their attention to a toy that they can chew on!

Reason 11: You’re Encouraging The Behavior

Your dog looks up to you even when you don’t know it!

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because you’re encouraging the behavior.

Oftentimes, your dog looks to you after they do something to see what your reaction will be. Since dogs can’t understand us, they look at our actions and reactions to determine whether or not you approve of what they did.

Positive reinforcement is something that is given as a result of certain behavior. It is an action and reward method that is often used in training dogs. When teaching a dog to sit, sitting is the action and a treat is a reward. The more you give the reward, the more likely your pup will do the desired action.

In this case, your dog might chew or nibble on your clothes because they are getting a reaction out of you that they want. The reward in positive reinforcement doesn’t always have to be a physical object; it can also be attention!

If your dog loves the attention they’re getting for chewing on your clothes, they will continue to chew! Taking away the attention will most likely lead to less chewing on clothes.

Reason 12: Your Puppy Thinks Your Clothes Are Toys

Puppies are as curious as human babies! The whole world is new to them and they want to take everything in!

Your dog might nibble on your clothes because they think your clothes are toys.

If you recently got a very young puppy, they are experiencing the world for the first time! Puppies still don’t know the difference between your clothes and a chew toy, leading to them nibbling on your shirt or pants.

When getting a young puppy, patience is key. While it is frustrating when they chew on your clothes, understanding that they need something to chew on is important. Providing your pup with different toys and redirecting their behaviors instead of punishing them will lead to better results and behavior.

Watch this video of a tiny pup chewing on her owner’s clothes:

Is This Behavior Something To Worry About?

Unless you suspect your dog is chewing on your clothes because of separation anxiety, this behavior is usually not something to worry about. It’s normal for dogs to want to chew on something, but they may need to redirect their attention elsewhere to avoid destroying things.

If you suspect your dog to be nibbling on your clothes because of separation anxiety, patience and training can help your pup overcome this obstacle. Leaving your pup for short periods of time and gradually increasing their time alone can help them. If you aren’t sure where to start, contacting your vet or a behaviorist is a great place to start.

No question is a bad one and the professionals in the veterinary and animal sciences communities are always ready to help you take care of your fur babies.

Final Thoughts

Knowing why our dogs do what they do is an important part of being a dog owner. Since they can’t tell us what they want with words, their actions are the key to their communication. The more we know about our dogs, the better we can help them live happy and healthy lives being our best friends.