WHY DO MY GREYHOUND'S TEETH CHATTER SOMETIMES?
Have you ever experienced a small nibbling or biting from your Greyhound? Don’t worry! It’s not a sign of aggression or even that they are cold. Usually, it is quite the opposite. This is a behavior known as nitting (or “nittering” or "chattering" as some say) – and it is more common in Greyhounds than in other dogs. It’s generally a benign behavior that could be a way of cleaning or maintenance, or could indicate excitement or happiness. It can often be mistaken as different behavior, so here are some myths about it:
- My Greyhound is trying to bite me
It makes sense, particularly to someone who has never owner a larger breed, that any form of biting could be seen as aggressive. A nitting Greyhound is usually doing softer, controlled movements with their front teeth. An aggressive greyhound will snarl, snap, or growl before they bite.
- Nitting is only a thing that Greyhounds do
There hasn’t been much research around nitting, especially with Greyhounds. However, many dog owners report their furry friends ranging from dalmatians to toy breeds exhibiting the same behavior.
3. Nitting is a form of love from Greyhounds
Some experts think that nitting is a way of expressing love for their owners. Others think that it’s simply a response when they don’t know how to react. And there are even some that think it is linked with their anxiety. Some dogs are simply “orally motivated” according to Marsha Reich, a veterinary behaviorist in Silver Spring Maryland. Basically, the dogs don’t know what to do at the time, so they choose to do something with their mouth. If this action generates a desired result (such as an owner petting them or enjoying the nitting) then they will continue to do so.
4. There is no way to break the Greyhound nitting habit
Greyhounds are smart dogs. They can learn what behavior is accepted and what is not. There are a couple things you can do to help train your Greyhound and get them to not nit so much. First and foremost, make sure that you are reading their body language so you can understand when to expect the nitting to begin. Second, keep your greetings low key if you find that your Greyhound is most likely to nit as a greeting. Third, redirect their attention when the nitting begins. You can do this with a toy or something else. Fourth, walk away when the nitting begins. Fifth, use a positive punishment tactic and keep a spray bottle nearby. Make sure you do this right when the nitting action begins for the tactic to fully work. Lastly, you can do nothing if you are a Greyhound owner that enjoys the nitting and finds it entertaining or cute.
- Nitting is harmless
Beware, some dogs and Greyhounds will nit harder than others! Potentially leaving small bruises in the worst cases – particularly if guests aren’t expecting it. Nitting can be very soft as well, but just make sure to tell any home visitor if your Greyhound is known for nitting so they know what to expect.
Overall, it is up to you on how to handle this behavior. If it is annoying, damaging, or intimidating to guests – make sure you correct the behavior in whatever way you deem best. Nitting is quite an unusual behavior but can often be cute, like purring almost, and a way for Greyhounds to cope.
This article originally posted 8/14/19. Updated 2/22/22.