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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Jack

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Red healer

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6 Years

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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.

May 19, 2021

Jack's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 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

May 20, 2021

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Rusty

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Red heeler

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3 Months

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Nipping and jumping up on people

April 26, 2021

Rusty's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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Hello! I am going to send you information on the nipping/biting, as well as jumping. Both of these behaviors are attention seeking/play engaging behaviors. The best you can do for both is to completely ignore. But I am sending information with much more detail than that! 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. Jumping: Teach your dog that they receive no attention for jumping on you or anyone else. Teach your dog to do something that is incompatible with jumping up, such as sitting. They can't sit and jump up at the same time. If they are not sitting, they get no attention. It is important to be consistent. Everyone in your family must follow the training program all the time. You can't let your dog jump on people in some circumstances, but not others. Training techniques: When your dog… Jumps on other people: Ask a family member or friend to assist with training. Your assistant must be someone your dog likes and wants to greet. Your dog should never be forced to greet someone who scares them. Give your dog the "sit" command. (This exercise assumes your dog already knows how to "sit.") The greeter approaches you and your dog. If your dog stands up, the greeter immediately turns and walks away. Ask your dog to "sit," and have the greeter approach again. Keep repeating until your dog remains seated as the greeter approaches. If your dog does remain seated, the greeter can give your dog a treat as a reward. When you encounter someone while out walking your dog, you must manage the situation and train your dog at the same time. Stop the person from approaching by telling them you don't want your dog to jump. Hand the person a treat. Ask your dog to "sit." Tell the person they can pet your dog and give them the treat as long as your dog remains seated. Some people will tell you they don't mind if your dog jumps on them, especially if your dog is small and fluffy or a puppy. But you should mind. Remember you need to be consistent in training. If you don't want your dog to jump on people, stick to your training and don't make exceptions. Jumps on you when you come in the door: Keep greetings quiet and low-key. If your dog jumps on you, ignore them. Turn and go out the door. Try again. You may have to come in and go out dozens of times before your dog learns they only gets your attention when they keep all four feet on the floor. Jumps on you when you're sitting: If you are sitting and your dog jumps up on you, stand up. Don't talk to your dog or push them away. Just ignore them until all four feet are on the ground. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

April 26, 2021


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