Dog Corn Cobbing: Reasons Behind the Behavior & What To Do

A wiry-haired Dachshund nibbling on a tennis ball.

If you notice your dog nibbling with his front teeth, you may be wondering if it’s normal behavior. Nibbling is sometimes called cobbing or corn cobbing, and it is most common in puppies.

Some dogs continue to nibble on themselves, other dogs, and their owners as they grow, but it is not always a cause for concern.

Understanding why your dog is cobbing can help you decide if you need to intervene.

Why does my dog nibble? Dogs nibble for many reasons, but the most common is to show affection or release distress. It is an instinctual behavior that begins when dogs are puppies. Some dogs grow out of the behavior, but others resort back to it even as they become older.

If you often see your dog cobbing or nibbling and are wondering why, read on to learn more. 

Cobbing in Dogs

Cobbing can occur for many reasons, and it’s important to identify these reasons to determine if you need to intervene or if the behavior is harmless.

What Is Corn Cobbing in Dogs?

Cobbing is simply a term for nibbling in dogs. It is when a dog gently nibbles with the front teeth at another dog or a person. It is a gentle action and is quite different from nipping or biting.

Cobbing is not meant to be a sign of aggression and is instinctual for dogs, especially puppies.

Cobbing is something puppies do to stimulate milk production. They also nibble at their littermates during play and to even help ease the pain of teething. 

Why Do Dogs Nibble?

Nibbling or cobbing is common for puppies, and as dogs grow older, they may continue to nibble at each other for various reasons. 

1. Common Puppy Behavior

Cobbing is something puppies do to stimulate milk production from the mother. They nibble at the teat to release milk.

They also nibble their littermates to play, show affection and relieve the pain of teething. 

2. Sign That They Want To Play

If your dog is cobbing you, it could mean that he is trying to get your attention because he wants to play. As puppies, dogs nibble at each other in play and to socialize.

The instinct sometimes causes dogs to do the same for their owners.

3. Displaying Affection

Many dogs nibble their owners and other dogs to show affection. When a dog gently nibbles, it means something similar to a hug.

It shows you that your dog is comfortable with you and is trying to be close to you.

4. Way To Relieve Stress and Anxiety

When dogs feel stressed or anxious, they can nibble as a way to calm their nerves.

This is usually not cause for concern if it only occurs at times, but if it becomes a habit, it could require intervention.

Dogs can nibble themselves or other dogs until they break the skin and cause an injury or infection. If dogs are nibbling objects, they could damage the object and harm the dog’s teeth. 

5. Form of Grooming Behavior

Dogs often use cobbing as a form of grooming. They use their front teeth to remove fleas, ticks, and matted fur. They can also nibble at their skin to reduce itching or discomfort.

Adult dogs may also cob other dogs to groom them, and many mother dogs do this to keep their puppies clean.

6. Demonstrating Bite Inhibition

Some dogs bite when they are anxious or upset, and even though they may not bite out of aggression, it can be harmful and painful.

Cobbing is a way for dogs to control their biting instinct and demonstrates that they are learning bite inhibition and self-control.

Is Cobbing or Nibbling Bad?

Cobbing and nibbling are not always bad.

As long as the behavior is not chronic and does not appear to be causing harm to the dog, other dogs, or property, it can actually help your dog stay calm and may be the result of natural instincts.

If the behavior seems to be causing the dog to hurt himself or others, you may need to put a stop to it.

Is Corn Cobbing the Same as a Pibble Nibble?

Yes, both are the same. The term is often called corn cobbing because the dog uses its front teeth to nibble just like we eat corn on the cob.

The front teeth come up and down over the skin or the object the dog is nibbling on, and the dog will move the teeth up and down quickly and repeatedly.

Pibble nibble is the same movement or action but is a term generally used when speaking of the behavior in Pit Bulls.

A close look at a dog's front teeth.

How To Train Your Dog To Stop Cobbing

If your dog is demonstrating nibbling behavior and you want to put a stop to it, you may need to try one or more of these methods.

Determine the Cause

Before you can correct the nibbling behavior, you need to know the reason behind it.

If your dog has skin problems that make him itchy or uncomfortable, you may need to take the dog to the veterinarian to get a topical solution or other medication.

If your dog is cobbing out of anxiety, then you will need to find a way to keep him calm.

If your dog is nibbling because he’s teething, offer plenty of chew toys and frozen treats.

Offer Chew Toys

If your dog is nibbling because he is bored or nervous, offering a chew toy can help. Try to keep a variety on hand so there is always one nearby and your dog doesn’t become bored with any one toy.

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This can also work if your puppy is teething and needs to chew on something to relieve pain. Bones and dental cleaning treats can also help.

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Distract

If you think your dog is cobbing out of habit, you will need to watch him closely and distract him any time you notice the behavior.

You can try nudging your dog when he begins to nibble and saying a firm command of “No” to let the dog know he needs to stop.

Sometimes breaking the nibbling can be enough to make the dog forget he was doing it and to lose interest in the behavior.

If that doesn’t work, try offering a squeaky toy, ball, or small snack to take his mind off nibbling.

Use Positive Reinforcement

If your dog is cobbing to deal with stress or anxiety, you may be able to stop the behavior by providing plenty of affection and attention.

When your dog seems upset, calm him by petting him and talking calmly to him. This can help reduce anxiety and the drive to nibble.

Related Questions: 

Why Do Dogs Nibble Each Other?

Most dogs nibble each other to show affection or to play. This behavior begins in puppies who nibble at their littermates to let them know they are near and later to initiate playtime. 

Why Do Dogs Nibble on Blankets?

Dogs nibble on blankets because it helps to keep them calm and feels good on their teeth. This behavior is instinctual to them, and nibbling helps them pass the time.

The behavior is similar to how a baby uses a pacifier to stay calm and relaxed.

Why Does My Dog Nibble on My Clothes?

Your dog nibbles on your clothing because it allows him to feel close to you and also helps him stay calm. Dogs nibble out of instinct, to show affection, and to relieve boredom.

Your dog may choose to nibble on your clothes because they are easily accessible or because he enjoys the scent and relates the clothing to you.

Conclusion 

If your dog is cobbing or nibbling, here are many reasons for the behavior. If the behavior does not seem to be harmful, you may want to allow it.

If it becomes severe or chronic, you may need to intervene. You should always consult a veterinarian to rule out an underlying cause that may need to be treated medically.

Last update on 2022-05-18 at 08:20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API