How to Train Your Cattle Dog to Not Bite

Medium
2-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Developed in Australia, the Cattle dog has proven itself a worthy canine companion. They are loyal, obedient and protective. They are fantastic for herding livestock, making them a staple part of farms all over the world. However, your Cattle dog has developed a taste for biting. It started off as gentle nibbling, that was entertaining, but it has quickly got more serious. You don’t want him biting neighbors, guests, or other pets, for that matter. 

Training him not to bite is essential. If he bites another dog you could be liable for hefty vet bills. If he starts biting humans he may have to be put down. If he bites the livestock he’s supposed to herd then he could cost you a serious amount of money. Not to mention the fact you have young children around. It’s simply a worry you do not need on your plate right now.

Defining Tasks

Training any dog not to bite when they are in the habit of it is a challenge. Cattle dogs, in particular, are very protective, so if that is the underlying cause it will not be easy. Fortunately, all is not lost. With the right training, you can stamp out this behavior. You’ll need to use a number of deterrence measures to show him this behavior will not be tolerated. You’ll also need to channel his aggression into something more productive. 

If he’s a puppy this should be a relatively new habit. This means you may see results in just a couple of weeks. If he’s older and been biting for many years then you will need longer. It could take up to six weeks to fully to do the job. Succeed with this training though and you’ll never have to worry about guests coming over again!

Getting Started

Before you get to work you’ll need to collect a few bits. You’ll need a generous supply of treats or his favorite food broken into small chunks. You’ll also need a couple of toys and food puzzles. A deterrence collar, a water spray bottle, and a muzzle will also be needed.

Try to set aside 10 minutes each day for training over the next few weeks. The more consistent you are with training, the quicker you will see results.

The only other things you need are patience and an optimistic attitude. With all those boxes ticked, you’re ready to get to work!

The Deterrence Method

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Step
1
NO
Keep a close eye on him and react whenever he bites. Rush over and give a firm ‘NO’. You don’t want to terrify him, but you need him to know you mean business. You must react within a few seconds of the bite, otherwise he won’t associate the action with your reaction.
Step
2
Water spray bottle
If the ‘NO’ doesn’t deter him, upgrade to the water bottle. Carry one with you at all times and give him a quick spray near the face if he bites. He will soon start to associate biting with negative consequences.
Step
3
Deterrence collar
You can get remote controlled deterrence collars that emit an unpleasant spray of citronella. Whenever you see him bite, hit the button. This will soon make him think twice.
Step
4
Consistency
It is vital you react every single time. If you let him bite even a couple of times without consequences then you’ll set back the end result. You need to ensure everyone in the house is on board with the training.
Step
5
Reward
While you deter him with the above measures you can also reward him for gentle play. Encourage him to play quietly and give him the odd treat when he is calm. The combination of the positive and negative reinforcement will soon show him what is and isn’t allowed.
Recommend training method?

The Environment Method

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Step
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Exercise
Many Cattle dogs bite out of boredom. They are full of energy so if they don’t get enough exercise they can act out. So, make sure they get a long walk every day. Try throwing a ball for him as you walk. The short sprinting will quickly tire him out.
Step
2
Privacy
Make sure he has his own space he can escape to. This is particularly important if you have young children. Just like humans, dogs need their privacy. So, if he retreats to his bed, make sure he’s allowed to stay there.
Step
3
Food puzzles
Give him the odd food puzzle to play with. This is most effective in puppies, who may be biting because they are teething. They can keep him distracted for hours and satisfy that urge to bite down.
Step
4
Play time
Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war. You are channeling his aggression in a safe way. Plus, you are showing him what is allowed to be bitten and what isn’t. Make sure he gets a treat at the end of play.
Step
5
Know when to stop
Don’t get him too worked up. Cattle dogs often get into a heightened state of excitement and then bite. If you can see him on that path, turn around and give him a few minutes to calm down.
Recommend training method?

The Time Out Method

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Step
1
Lead him away
As soon as he bites, take him by the collar and lead him out of the room. Don’t shout at him, you don’t want to scare him. Simply remove him and take him to a room where there are no toys and shut the door.
Step
2
Time out
Leave him in there for 30 seconds. This is his time out period to let him know he has misbehaved. When the 30 seconds is up, you can open the door and allow him to rejoin you.
Step
3
Lengthen the sentence
If he returns and bites again, then follow the same procedure. Take him back into the room, but this time leave him there for an extra 30 seconds. Once that is up you can bring him back again. Continue adding 30 seconds to his sentence until he gets the message.
Step
4
Reward
While using the time out method, you can also reward him for gentle play too. Try and talk quietly and stroke him whilst you are playing. This will help him keep calm. If he does stay calm, you can give him the occasional treat to reinforce the behavior.
Step
5
Muzzle
Until this method has worked, it’s important you don’t put other people and pets in harm's way. That means when you are out on walks you fit him with a muzzle. This will protect others and yourself. When the biting subsides, you can remove the muzzle in public.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Molly
Labrador Retriever
7 Months
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Question
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Molly
Labrador Retriever
7 Months

Our dog is mixed with blue heeler.Our dog has begun to jump at us and bite us like she might be trying to herd us, I think. the biting hurts and it takes awhile to get her to stop doing this behavior. we would appreciate any advice on how to get her to stop this behavior. We have had to carry a stick with us in our backyard to try to give her to get her to stop this behabior, redirecting. does not always work. can't ignore for fear of being bit.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Wendy, First, teach Molly the "Leave It" command and practice it until she can obey you with clothing during training sessions. Check out the article that I have linked below to teach it, and follow the "Leave It" method from that article. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite That will teach her what to do instead of biting and practicing it will increase her self-control. After she can obey that command, then when she tries to bite you, tell her to "Leave It" and firmly step toward her with your arms crossed across your chest. Be calm and firm with her. If you move around a bunch or make a lot of noise or back away she will want to bite you more. Don't be afraid to step into her. If she comes at you again when you first step toward her, then step into her again. Repeat that until she calms down. When she backs away to avoid being stepped on, stand perfectly still and be serious but calm until she gives up and walks away. Have every member of the family do this and stand in front of any kids who can't do it themselves and give the leave it command and stepping for them. Try that for a couple of weeks and if you do not see any improvement, then fit a prong collar on her with a one foot leash on it and hire a trainer to show you how to correct her with a prong collar for the jumping. Expect the training to take a couple of months before the jumping completely stops, but you should see some improvement within the first two weeks if she is responding to the stepping toward her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tilly
Australian Cattle
6 Months
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Question
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Tilly
Australian Cattle
6 Months

Tilly bites at my oldest son who is 6, she will bite his arms and legs I think she associates him as rough play as since we got tilly at 8 weeks old my son has found it necessary to hug her tightly to make her growl so since then she has been like this with him. We have tried to tell my son not to do this, sometimes he listens!! What can we do to stop this.

Thanks Kelly

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kelly, The issue will not improve until your son stops being rough with him. Your son's roughness has likely caused an aggressive fear response in Tilly. She does not trust him to be near her so she takes matters into her own paws so to speak. You need to show your dog that she can trust him again by having him respect her space. You need to practice handling exercises to help her get over her fear of being touched. You need to work on building her respect and trust for the members of your family. To do handling exercises with her gently touch an area of her body, like her ear, and give her a treat at the same time. Practice this with each ear, each paw, her tail, her muzzle, her back, her belly, her legs, and everywhere else. Be gentle and give her a treat for every gentle touch. You want to build her trust. Start by doing this exercise yourself. Once she will tolerate all of your touches, then have your son practice it with her while you control the interaction. If you believe she will bite him at that point in the training, then you need to get her comfortable wearing a soft, silicone, basket muzzle ahead of time. Once she is used to wearing the muzzle, then your son can practice the exercise with her while she is wearing the muzzle, and he can poke the treats through the muzzle holes to reward her. He needs to be extremely gentle and go slow. To get Tilly used to wearing a muzzle feed her pieces of her dinner every time that she sniffs the muzzle, touches it, lets you hold it on her, and eventually, let's you put it on her. Gradually work up to her wearing it and once she is wearing it, feed her treats every minute while she has it on until you take it off again. Expect this process to take a couple of weeks. Practice until she seems completely relaxed and happy while she is wearing the muzzle before moving onto your son doing handling exercises with her. Finally, work on building her respect and trust for you by following at least one of the methods from the article that I have linked below. Focus on the "Obedience" method or the "Consistency" method the most. You also need to advocate for her by keeping your son away from her when she wants to rest, and by not letting him be too rough with her. She needs to feel like you will handle situations so that she does not have to. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Because your dog is at a critical age and aggression is already a problem, I would very highly recommend finding a professional trainer in your area with experience with aggression and high drive breeds to come to your home and help you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Obi
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
2 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Obi
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
2 Years

We got our cattle dog from a shelter. We have had him for three weeks. He is already very protective of me and my son and growls when ever someone he doesn't know comes close to us. He has even nipped at a couple people. These people are our extended family members or friends. How do we train him to stop this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lisa, The first thing I would suggest is working on his respect for you and your son. Bellow I have linked an article that can help you to build his respect for you. Working on the training from the three methods in that article should help him to build his respect for you. Have your son participate in "The Obedience Method" and "The Working Method" with you. Make sure that your son is not being too physical with your dog though. The idea is to build his respect by addressing his mind by pinning him to the floor or being overly harsh with him physically. Here is that article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you The second thing that I would recommend is extensive socialization. Take him with you to places and get him around a lot of people. Have people give him treats when you tell him to "Say Hi", and work on his obedience around other people, so that he will generally get used to the presence of other people and become bored and relaxed around them. If you believe that he would bite someone, then get him used to wearing a basket muzzle before taking him out, and have him wear that while you are out just in case. Also instruct people to interact with him calmly and to toss him treats from a distance, rather than overwhelming him by getting into his space. You can also purchase a vest that says "In Training" to indicate to people that he should not be petted unless you give someone permission. That way you can control the interactions and have the person who wants to greet him toss him treats rather than rush over to him. Third, I would strongly recommend hiring a local trainer with experience in aggression, high drive working and protection breeds, and fear and reactivity. Obi likely needs a lot of structure and needs to have his aggression interrupted and to learn that it is not acceptable, but he also needs to have the underlying lack of socialization, fear, rude, controlling behavior, or negative association with people addressed. For this reason I would recommend using a trainer who uses Positive Reinforcement and fair discipline and boundaries implementation, opposed to just one or the other. Many of these types of trainers call themselves balanced trainers, but anyone can call themselves anything, so ask questions to find out what a trainer's philosophy, goals, experience, and methods in training are. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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