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What Is the Difference Between Mouthing, Nipping, & Biting?

Posted on October 5th, 2022

Dog behavior is a complex topic, but an important one to understand if you welcome these animals into your family. Dogs, especially puppies, interact with the world around them by using their mouths. However, it can be difficult to tell if a dog’s actions are playful and curious or constitute something much more serious.

There are significant differences between mouthing, nipping, and biting. While these behaviors may be normal, a dog can cause severe and sometimes devastating injuries if it bites a person. Dogs must receive proper training to learn how to control their bites and avoid behavioral issues in the future.


A dog may use its mouth to perform certain jobs, carry objects, or explore its surroundings. This behavior is known as mouthing and is very common among puppies. Mouthing is unlikely to cause serious injuries, but it can be annoying and become more dangerous as the dog grows older and larger. 


Nipping involves a small and sudden bite from a dog. Compared to mouthing, nipping usually causes a bit more pain, but the bite is not severe enough to break the skin. Although it is painful, nipping is not an aggressive behavior and is often a sign that the dog wants attention. Both mouthing and nipping can be corrected by giving small yelps or saying no to the animal when it commits these acts.


A dog bite is a hard, forceful act that can break the skin and draw blood. Biting can lead to serious complications and could put the dog’s owner at risk of liability. Mouthing and nipping can escalate to biting in the future, which is why training is so important.

What To Do If You Are Bitten By A Dog In Washington

What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog in Washington

A dog bite can be extremely serious for several reasons. These injuries can be painful and leave permanent scars. Without prompt treatment, dangerous bacteria from the dog’s saliva can pass into your bloodstream, leading to infections. Significant emotional trauma is common after dangerous dog encounters, which can be difficult to live with.

If you are bitten by a dog in Washington state, you have the right to hold the owner accountable. Through a dog bite lawsuit, you can recover financial compensation to help pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. What you do after the dog attack is essential for your future case, so it is critical to take the following steps:

  • If you are in immediate danger or suffering from severe injuries, call 911 to bring law enforcement and emergency medical services to the scene.
  • Seek medical treatment immediately after the bite, even if you do not feel hurt. The faster that you get treatment, the lower the risk of infection.
  • Get to a safe location away from the animal as soon as possible. Try to identify the dog’s owner if you do not know him or her already.
  • If you can, try to perform first aid on your wound. Wash the bite with warm soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and wrap it in clean bandages.
  • Collect evidence at the scene by taking pictures and videos and speaking to witnesses.
  • Report the incident to your local animal control authorities.

Once you have taken these steps, contact a Washington dog bite attorney who can represent your lawsuit. Your attorney can evaluate your case and help you take your first steps toward financial recovery.