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Why Does My Dog Chatter Their Teeth? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Dogs are usually quite expressive and will let us know when they are excited, happy, unhappy, uncomfortable, hurt, or afraid. But sometimes, they display actions that do not make it clear how they are feeling. One behavior that dogs display that can be confusing to us humans is teeth chattering.

Dogs, as well as many other mammals, can chatter their teeth, just like humans do. But why do they do it? Let’s explore this behavior now! Here are a few reasons that your dog might chatter their teeth.divider-dog

They are Excited

One reason a dog might chatter their teeth is that they are excited. When a dog cannot share their excitement in any other way, such as running, jumping, playing, or licking, they may retreat from the situation and start to chatter their teeth. On the other hand, they could try to impose themselves into a situation while chattering their teeth. Chattering due to excitement is usually subtle and only noticeable by sound when you are next to your dog.

However, the chattering can become obvious to everyone in the room if the dog’s excitement is not managed in some way. You can usually tell when a dog is chattering their teeth due to excitement based on the environment around them at the time. If things are going on, such as kids playing, a visitor showing up, or a new item being put in the room that they cannot access, chances are that their chattering is due to excitement.

To relieve the chattering, let your dog join in on the action, even if just minimally. Talk to your dog, offer them a toy, and introduce them to others in your group so they feel like part of the activity that everyone else is partaking in. You can also put your dog in another room with a toy and bedding to help them relax and get away from the excitement altogether.

They Are Anxious or Emotional

clean-dog-teeth-rope-toy
Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

Becoming emotional or anxious can result in a dog chattering their teeth. This is especially true when the dog in question feels threatened, afraid, or uncomfortable in a social setting, and they have no other recourse for taking care of the situation. Loud children that the dog is not used to, bright lights and loud noises in a community setting, and arguing within the household are all things that can make a dog anxious or emotional.

An anxious or emotional dog could show other signs of distress, such as shivering, hiding, and shying away from touch. The dog might even show aggression by nipping and growling. Taking your dog out of the environment immediately should help calm their nerves and allow them to relax. A bit of time outside of an emotional or anxious situation should result in the reduction, if not complete elimination, of chattering teeth.

They Are Cold

Brittany dog in snow
Image Credit: doloresa burd, Pixabay

An obvious reason for dogs to chatter their teeth would be coldness. However, it does not have to be obviously cold for your dog to get chilled and start to chatter their teeth. Even when the weather seems comfortable inside and out, your dog could start chattering their teeth due to being cold. Anytime a dog gets out of a swimming pool, lake, river, or ocean (even when the sun is out and it is hot outside), they could become chilly and chatter their teeth until the sun warms them up.

Dogs with thinner and shorter coats can feel the cold quicker than other dogs. But any dog that gets cold and chatters their teeth can get comfort from a sweater. Dog sweaters are available for any size dog, so they all can benefit from one, even German Shepherds and Great Pyrenees. Alternatively, a blanket or cuddling should help warm a dog up unless it is literally freezing outside.

They Are in Pain


Sometimes, dogs will chatter their teeth because they are in pain of some kind. Whether it is an infected tooth, an injured toe, a headache, a bellyache, or even hurt feelings, teeth chattering is occasionally a symptom of the problem. The way to know if your dog is chattering their teeth due to pain is to first rule out any other possible reason for the teeth chattering.

If nothing else seems to be the instigator, gently check your dog’s body with your hands to see if any part hurts during touch. Keep an eye on your dog’s gait. Take note of whether your pooch is interested in the activities that they normally like to participate in. If anything seems off, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to find out whether the pain is causing the teeth chattering.

They Are Displaying Signs of Health Problems

angry dog
Image Credit: zoosnow, Pixabay

Unfortunately, some dogs chatter their teeth because they are having health problems that are making them uncomfortable or feeling sick. These health problems can range anything from a urinary tract infection to cancer. Any kind of illness can make a dog uncomfortable enough to start chattering their teeth, even a small cold. It all depends on the illness, the type of dog, their age, and their health as the ailment progresses.

If you cannot figure out any other reason for your dog’s teeth chattering, it is a good idea to assume that a health condition is at play and to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet can perform tests to determine whether your dog is dealing with a health problem and then create a treatment plan that will not only get rid of the health problem but also the teeth chattering, once and for all.

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Final Thoughts

Dogs may chatter their teeth for a variety of different reasons. It is our job as dog owners to determine what the cause is and to minimize the situations and circumstances that can lead to this behavior. However, a dog that only chatters their teeth once in a while is no reason for alarm. Sometimes, a situation is simply overwhelming, and chattering teeth is just a way for them to handle the pressure.


Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.