It’s a commercial break during Keeping Up With The Kardashians so you slump onto the floor to play around with your dog. You mess around with one of his toys and tease him with it. But as soon as Kendall is back on the screen you go back to watching the TV. He doesn’t like that though, and he starts to bite and nip at your arms and legs. Alternatively, when you do carry on playing with him, he gets so excited that he starts nipping at you then too.
Training this behavior out of him is essential. Dogs that start with nipping often progress to serious biting and you don’t want him hurting you or anyone else in your household, like the kids. He could also end up biting someone else’s dog and you don’t want those hefty vet bills to deal with.
Training your dog to stop nipping isn’t always straightforward. You need to address why he’s nipping in the first place. You also need to divert this aggressive behavior towards a safer channel. Training will consist of asserting your position of control and cutting out any biting triggers. If he’s just a puppy, this behavior won’t have developed into a habit for life yet and you may be able to cut it out in just a week or two. If he’s been nipping at people for many years, then be willing to put a month or two into training.
It’s important you get this training right, not just for your health but also for his. If he ends up biting somebody or another dog and doing them serious harm, he may be court ordered to be put down. You don’t want to lose him further down the line when you could have nipped the problem in the bud now.
Before you can wage war on his nipping you’ll need a few things. Some toys he can play tug of war with and to re-direct his aggressive attention will be needed. You may also want to invest in a deterrent spray, a citronella collar, and a muzzle.
Treats or some tasty food will be required to motivate and reward him. Then you just need to commit to spending some time on training each day.
Once you’ve got all of those bits together, just bring an optimistic attitude and you’ll be ready to get to work.
He nips if you step on him
Hello Richard, Does he break the skin when he nips or simply touches you? When a dog is stepped on, especially a sensitive breed like a Border collie, he will react instinctively out of pain. That reaction is often ingrained and a trait of both personality and socialization and handling while young. You may not be able to completely change that response. What you can do to potentially help it, in case it is a more deliberate nip, is practice handling him gently. Gently touch various areas of his body and every time that you do so, give him a treat. For example, touch his ear and give a treat, touch his tail and give a treat, and touch his paw and give a treat. When he is comfortable with that, then practice adding a little, gentle pressure and give him a treat whenever you do. Do not press so hard that he is uncomfortable at any point though, that could make things worse. Simply squeeze his paw a bit and give him a treat, push on his side a bit and give a treat, and press on his back a little and give him a treat. When you do this, do it with an open palm, and again, do it gently. You want to rebuild his trust for your touching him and help him be more accepting of it, in case the nipping is fear related. This should become a fun exercise for him. If he seems stressed, then go slower and work on just touch for longer. What you are wanting to teach is typically taught to young puppies during socialization through handling exercises, like I described above, and puppy to puppy socialization through play, where puppies learn how to control their mouths instinctively during play, this is called bite inhibition. That window for learning bite inhibition closes by six months of age unless a puppy has been taught that up to that point. If you suspect anything else is going on, causing the biting, then I suggest hiring a professional trainer, who can evaluate the situation in person and be able to read Murphy's body language to gauge his responses. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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