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 Environment Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
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 Time Out Method

Effective
0 Votes
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 Know Commands Method

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0 Votes
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Lily
Australian Cattle Dog
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lily
Australian Cattle Dog
6 Months

extreme resource guarding

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, the first thing I would work on with Lily would be to have her sit before every event. Sit before getting her leash on for a walk, sit before her food bowl is placed down, sit before a treat, and sit before a toy is given. This will help her learn to respect you. Take a look here for excellent tips on obedience: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-be-obedient. These are two things that will help with the guarding tendencies. Also, the Troubleshooting Method may help here:https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-dog-with-guarding-issues. Read the entire guide for tips. I think that key to a well-behaved dog is obedience training and it also helps to develop a bond of respect. If the guarding issues guide that I recommended does not help, consider bringing in a trainer used to dealing with these types of problems. The one on one focus may take only one session and get Lily on her way to feeling more confident so that she does not guard so intensely. Good luck!

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Question
Bandit
Blue Heeler
2 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Bandit
Blue Heeler
2 Years

I want to be able to run or jog with my dog. Whenever we go on jogs, his herding instincts kick in and he tries nipping at my ankles. What intervention can I implement for consistent training in order for him not to do this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jasmine, I would start by teaching pup Leave It, then working up to practicing leave it with movement - like once pup can leave clothing wiggled on the ground alone (like the article linked below works up to), then practice jogging past pup at a slow pace inside and telling pup to leave it, then rewarding pup when they do. Start with slow movement, then work up to a full jog past pup. When they can handle inside short distance, practice somewhere like a fenced in yard with longer distance running past pup. Next, practice with pup beside you while you jog in the yard, until pup can do that in the fence - then take the training on your regular jog and practice there. 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
Max
Blue Heeler
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Max
Blue Heeler
7 Months

We just got this puppy and the previous owner had him tied up on a 8-10ft cord so he didn't have regular exercise or attention. He was fixed the day we brought him home and as he's gotten better he has had more energy but also more aggressive and we can't get him to stop biting when he gets excited and is playing. The word NO is like a game to him. I need tips and ideas on how to get him to stop biting and calm down.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
126 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Juniper
Cattle dog
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Juniper
Cattle dog
4 Years

When on my lap and my daughter lightly knocks on door of tv room to enter, she goes into full on protection mode, ready to attack and chew bite. I had hard time holding her and trying to calm her down. I am out of ideas, other than to per her down

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
126 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Question
Bleu
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bleu
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
7 Months

He is a very energetic puppy. He gets a 1-2 mile walk every evening. He is crate trained and knows basic commands suck as sit and lay down. We have a 5 year old in the house who moves fast and is quite noisy. Bleu has a tendency to bite him. He doesn’t typically bite any of the teenagers in the house or my mother. We are working on getting foster licensed and need to break his biting habit in order for both him and foster children to be in the home. We have a vibration/shock collar that we do training with and only use the lowest vibration setting and it works, except he is still biting. My mother is debating rehoming him but I really don’t want that. With his breed being a “person” dog he has attached to me so it sometimes makes it difficult with him sometimes being stubborn and not listening to others.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
126 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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