It’s a commercial break during the baseball game, 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 the game 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 your dog 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 your four-legged companion. 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 your dog's 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 spray bottle to give your pooch a gentle reminder to behave.
Your pup's favorite 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, 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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She needs daily grooming she panics when brushed and will even nip when clipping her she doesn't break skin she is only 3lbs and high string I would like to help her be calm and happier her sister Ruby is the same age 6lbs calm happy and always friendly they are both sweet affectionate dogs we don't punish or frightened our girls into behaving Lily has been high strung about grooming since we got them at 12 weeks old
Hello Angela, Start with desensitizing her to touch in general, without the grooming tools present. Use pup's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold her collar and give a treat. Touch her tail gently and give a treat. Touch her belly, her other paws, her chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Do this for several days or weeks at every meal as often as you can - until pup enjoys the touch process. When pup can be totally relaxed about just touch, introduce a grooming tool and practice the touch exercises with the tool sitting next to you on the ground. Give pup a treat for each touch but also for calmness around the tool, investigating the tool, and other positive interactions with the tool. Practice this with each grooming tool, until pup is comfortable with their presence while still. Once pup can handle touches and the grooming tools sitting there, move the tool toward pup, give a treat, then lay back down. Practice this over and over until pup begins to look forward to the tool moving toward them because a treat comes after. As pup improves, add in gentle brief touches with the grooming tool - where the tool actually touches their fur or paw briefly while they get a treat. Go slow enough for pup to stay calmer and adjust to this process. Overtime, increase how long the tool touches pup for, while feeding treats while the tool is in contact with them. This will take time and lots of practice, but eventually you should be able to actually brush and begin clipping small bits of the nail while you feed treats. I suggest keeping treats or kibble as a regular incentive during grooming (but rewards spaced further apart) each time you groom going forward, to keep the grooming process pleasant long term. The key here is to start with touch desensitization, progress to just the presence of the tools, then ease into grooming - opposed to starting a full grooming process with treats, where pup will probably already be too anxious to even care about the treats. Pup needs to be eased into grooming again, starting with the basics. You can certainly use small treats, but feeding pup most of their meals, one piece at a time during handling and grooming exercises is a great way to help this process along without overfeeding pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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