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Developed in Australia, the Cattle Dog has proven to be 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.
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!
Before you get to work you’ll need to collect a few items. You’ll need a generous supply of treats or your dog's favorite food broken into small chunks. You’ll also need a couple of toys and food puzzles.
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 Time Out Method
Lead him away
As soon as your pooch 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.
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.
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.
While using the time out method, you can also reward him for gentle play. Try and talk quietly and stroke him while 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.
Where to go
Until you are confident that your pup will not bite, refrain from going to dog parks or other areas where a mishap will occur. When you are ready, take your pooch on a group walk with a trainer that has experience with dogs that have bitten in the past.
The Environment Method
Many Cattle Dogs bite out of boredom. They are full of energy, so if they don’t get enough exercise they can act out. Make sure your keen dog gets a long walk every day. Try throwing a ball for him as you walk. The short sprinting will quickly tire him out.
Make sure your furry companion has his own space to 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.
Give your dog 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.
Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war. You are channeling your dog's 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.
Know when to stop
Don’t get your dog 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.
The Know Commands Method
A dog that has been through a first level obedience training class will be more apt to listen and take instruction.
Brush up on the beginning
If it's been a while since you have practiced commands like down, leave it, and heel with your Cattle Dog, start with the basics of sit and down, and then move along to the more tricky ones.
The next level
Practice the commands leave it and down. Knowing what it means to leave it, for example, may discourage a dog from attempting to bite when you see that the action is about to take place.
It is vital you react every single time with a command that will change your dog's mindset from "bite" to "obey command". Get the commands so ingrained in your dog's head that it will be a natural reaction to obey. You need to ensure everyone in the house is on board with the training.
While you deter him with the above measures you can also reward him for gentle play. Encourage your pooch to play quietly and give him the odd treat when he is calm. A treat and praise are two things that dogs thrive on, so be sure to combine them with the commands.
By James Barra
Published: 01/03/2018, edited: 01/08/2021