How to Train Your Cattle Dog to Not Bite

How to Train Your Cattle Dog to Not Bite
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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!

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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!

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The Time Out Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Environment Method

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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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Know Commands Method

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The basics

A dog that has been through a first level obedience training class will be more apt to listen and take instruction.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By James Barra

Published: 01/03/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Bingo

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Australian Cattle Dog

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3 Months

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Question

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We are having a hard time dealing with all the puppy biting/nipping. Any advice?

Nov. 6, 2021

Bingo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kelsey, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Nov. 8, 2021

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otis

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Blue Heeler

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10 Months

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he is biting family and friends that enter my yard

June 17, 2021

otis's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 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

June 17, 2021


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