My friend has this rescue dog which obviously had a bad life before they rescued it, but has a nasty habit (which they are trying to stop) of Nipping people if they come close to its head when it is sleeping. They keep saying it has never bitten anyone but to me a nip is a bite… what are your thoughts?


Posted anonymously, 19th July 2018


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  • A nip is a tiny bite not a harmful bite



  • A nip is more of a defensive warning in my mind but it depends on the situation bites to me come with warnings growling hackles and different body language… really the dog is probably running on auto pilot when it nips trying to say it’s unhappy with the space invasion rescue dogs need time to settle in and trust again.



  • i teach my children not to go near the dog when his in his basket, that’s his own space. I think your dog was probably smacked on the nose and may never feel comfortable people touching him/her on the head. The good news is she likes being stroked and is in a happy caring home now.



  • Everyone knows to not go near dogs while they’re asleep for starters. A nip isn’t a bite, but if the dog is particularly startled one time, it could end up being a bite



  • you have already answered this question yourself. This is a dog who has been mistreated in the past, and needs to feel safe,going near his head when he is asleep is threatening to him. No I do not believe a nip is a bite, The dog is warning you away because he is scared. Lots of love and affection and patience to make dog feel safe again. Hope this answers your question a nip is saying do not touch me a bite is much bigger and can draw blood



  • A nip is a form of bite if making contact with someone, although not as bad as a full blown bite. Otherwise if the dog nips but doesn’t connect with anyone I’d say it’s just warning you that it’s scsred and uncomfortable.



  • A nip is not a bite but it is a warning to you from dog to get out of my space. The dog is as you say sleeping, but does not like you near his head. Maybe something happened say hit around head ! as you say badly treated earlier. You have to show it lots of live and give strokes to head, body and nice calm voice ‘good dog’ It is about retraining slowly. Hope this helps I have had a lot to do with traumatised dogs and slow, love and kindness does work



  • Yes, I would class a nip as a kind of bite. Not full blown and definitely not as damaging but its a kind of bite. That being said its not recommended to go near or startle a dog when its sleeping for thus very reason. Its not a”habit” but rather a reflex. They need to ensure the dogs sleeping space is well out of foot traffic and to not let others walk nearby if its sleeping.



  • Personally, a nip is not a bite. A nip is a little warning that the dog is uncomfortable, scared or unhappy.
    Based on it being a rescue dog, it may need some help to feel safe while in the vulnerable state of sleeping. You don’t know what it had to deal with before you took in the dog. Maybe research ways to help the dog overcome it’s anxiety so it can feel comfortable.


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