How to Train Your Cattle Dog to Not Bite

Medium
2-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

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.

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 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

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Step
1
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.
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. 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.
Step
5
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.
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The Environment Method

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Step
1
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. 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.
Step
2
Privacy
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.
Step
3
Food puzzles
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.
Step
4
Play time
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.
Step
5
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.
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The Know Commands Method

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Step
1
The basics
A dog that has been through a first level obedience training class will be more apt to listen and take instruction.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
4
Consistency
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.
Step
5
Reward
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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
otis
Blue Heeler
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
otis
Blue Heeler
10 Months

he is biting family and friends that enter my yard

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Laylah, I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer to help you in person with this. Look for a trainer who offers in-home private training, comes well recommended by their previous clients, and specializes in behavior issues like aggression and fear. Not all trainers work with aggression so be sure to ask about experience and how they train, as well as check into their previous client's opinion of them. You can also check out trainers like Thomas Davis on youtube to learn more about different types of aggression. For this particular training need, I highly recommend working in person with a trainer. Ideally the trainer should be part of a training team or staff, so there are multiple trainers to practice being "strangers" during the training, to help make progress more efficiently. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Midir
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Midir
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
10 Weeks

Ive only had him for about a week and i follow every instruction online i can find and hes learned about 10 tricks within the last 10 days but he only listens when on a leash or presented with a treat when can I expect him to consistently obey commands no matter what im doing

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Thomas, It sounds like you are making great progress with pup. The answer to your question depends a lot on your specific dog, how you train, and how often you train. The best trainer out there generally can't expect a reliable off-leash level of obedience until between 6-12 months. You will likely find pup gets to the point where they are doing really well around 3-4 months, then it will seem like pup forgot everything at times as pup hits doggie adolescence closer to 6 months and starts getting more distracted, more curious, more independent, and tests boundaries. Keep up with training, this period should pass with consistency in training until pup matures more mentally. Once you hit that mental maturity mark, if you have been super diligent about training, its at that point that obedience becomes more reliable. That mental maturity point varies between individual dogs - with certain breeds or temperaments hitting it earlier and others later. 9 months is the earliest I have seen it personally, with six months being the beginning of it for the rare dog. Two years is generally the latest. I find that for most dogs, around a year is when things begin to come together for the average dog. This doesn't mean pup won't be great at obedience before that point, it's a gradual improvement. Just that I wouldn't could on true reliability before then. Even the most reliable dog will also need obedience refreshers throughout their life from time to time too. My Border Collie knew around 100 commands, was fully off leash trained, and I could take him anywhere in public, but every 2-3 years we still spent a month refreshing training from time to time whenever he would begin ignoring commands and testing boundaries again. Those refreshers were always quick to get back on track, compared to the initial year plus of training I put in at the beginning though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Benji
Stubby tail cattle dog
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Benji
Stubby tail cattle dog
3 Years

I have 2 male undesexed dogs from the same litter that have always been together. Benji and Jackson.
Benji has become what seems very jealous of Jackson and gets in between when Jackson is receiving attention from anyone. Benji has now started attacking Jackson violently. It’s heartbreaking to a point that I now have to keep them separated which is challenging.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jodie, It sounds like pup may be possessive of you around the other dog. I would work on things that calmly build their respect and trust for you, giving a lot of boundaries around the home, like working up to a one hour Place command, a structured Heel and crate training, and having pup earn everything they get by doing something like Sit before petting, playing with, or feeding. I do recommend hiring a professional trainer who help with the other all respect building, and the specific counter conditioning that needs to happen around the second dog. There are safety concerns that should be addressed and the training done carefully, like the use of back tie leashes and a basket muzzle that pup is desensitized to wearing ahead of time using food rewards and a gradual process or getting pup familiar with it, so it's not stressful for pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chance
Blue Heeler
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chance
Blue Heeler
1 Year

How to stop him from nipping kids when they run and play?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, For the nipping, I recommend working on Leave It, Out, and Place to help pup build self-control and for you to be able to better manage pup's herding instinct. Once pup learns that well, I would have pup be on a long leash with a padded back clip harness so that when you give pup a command when they want to chase the kids, you can calmly enforce it, and pup learns to listen to your commands. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Jack
Red healer
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jack
Red healer
6 Years

He nipped our moms leg when she said no to be wanting to go ride in her Gator, which she sometimes takes him when she checks cattle.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Denise, It sounds like up was highly aroused expecting a trip to the cattle and trying to control behavior with the nipping. How is pup's respect toward you mom in general? Have there been any other signs of aggression? How does pup listen to her normally? When pup nipped did they make contact with her leg? Did they puncture or draw blood? If pup drew blood or bite multiple times in a row, it's time to hire a professional trainer to work with you in person. If there have been other signs of aggression in general, I also recommend hiring a professional. If pup normally listens well, the nip didn't do any damage, and this was a one time thing for pup, it's likely due to pup's over arousal and needing a bit more respect, trust, and self-control around your mom. To build pup's respect for her, check out the article I have linked below, especially the Working or Obedience method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you If pup begins to show additional sign of aggression, I would pause the training, add safety measures like a basket muzzle, and hire a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression to oversee the training and work with you in person. For the nipping, I recommend working on Leave It, Out, and Place to help pup build self-control and for you to be able to better manage pup's herding instinct. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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