How to Train an Australian Cattle Dog to Not Bite

Medium
1-3 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Olivia is a tenacious little canine, always looking for a playmate. She enjoys long walks, cuddles on the couch and anything remotely edible. However, your Australian Cattle Dog also seems to enjoy biting. It may have started with gentle nibbles when you were playing, but now it has become an aggressive and persistent habit. It means you’re on edge whenever a guest reaches down to stroke your pup. It also means even you, as their owner, don’t want to get in between them and their food. 

So it’s got to a stage now where training your Australian Cattle dog to not bite is essential. You know it’s just a matter of time before someone or another pet is seriously injured. If that does happen, you could be landed with steep vet bills and Olivia may even have to be put down. Fortunately, training her not to bite will give you a well-behaved, controllable canine.

Defining Tasks

Training your Australian Cattle Dog to not bite won’t necessarily be easy, but it is definitely achievable. Firstly, you will need to introduce a number of deterrence measures to remove the temptation. You will also need to look for triggers so you can tackle them head-on. At the same time, you will need to use positive reinforcements to encourage them to play gently. 

If your Australian Cattle Dog is just a puppy, then the habit should be relatively new and you could break it in just a few weeks. But if your dog is older and the habit has developed over a number of years, then you may need months. Stick to your new training regime and you’ll no longer need to worry when you see a new dog approaching on the horizon. It also means you can start them back on the path of being a calm, friendly dog.

Getting Started

Before you get to work, you’ll need to tick off a few things on your checklist. A water spray bottle, muzzle, and a deterrence collar will be needed for one of the methods. You will also need a decent supply of treats or the pup's favorite food for positive reinforcements. 

Toys, a body harness, and food puzzles will also be required for one of the methods. Set aside around 15 minutes each day for training. Try and train when you both won’t be distracted.  

Apart from all that, you just need patience and enthusiasm, then training can commence!

The Environment Change Method

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Step
1
Exercise
Your dog may be biting because they are brimming with excitement and energy. Australian Cattle Dogs do need a generous walk each day. So start taking them for a long walk and throwing things for them to fetch as you go. If they’re tired and sleeping, they won’t get worked up and start biting so easily.
Step
2
Food puzzles
Start leaving your dog food puzzles to get through, especially when you leave the house. Not only should this keep them entertained, but if they are a puppy and the biting is to relieve teething pain, then chewing the toys will help.
Step
3
Privacy
Make sure they have a secure space they can escape to, such as a bed or crate. The biting may be because they are being pestered by young children and feel like they have nowhere to run to.
Step
4
Tug of war
Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war with a favorite toy. This game is great for blowing off steam and giving your Australian Cattle Dog a safe avenue to release some of that tension.
Step
5
House rules
Sit everyone in the house down so you can agree on how to react when your dog bites. There is simply no use in you acting stern if someone else giggles or laughs it off. This will only confuse your Australian Cattle dog. So make sure you all respond in the same calm, but disapproving manner.
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The Deterrence Method

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Step
1
‘NO’
The first step to take when your Australian Cattle dog bites is to issue a firm ‘NO’. This will clearly let them know this is the wrong behavior. However, be careful not to shout too loudly as you don’t want to antagonize them further.
Step
2
Water spray
If the ‘NO’ doesn’t seem to have the desired effect, upgrade to the water bottle. Give a quick spray near the face whenever your dog nips or bites. This will further get across your disapproval, while also getting them to associate biting with negative consequences.
Step
3
Deterrence collar
If the dog is still biting, then consider using a deterrence collar. They can be bought both online and in shops, for a relatively low price. You simply hit a button whenever they bite and an unpleasant spray of citronella will be emitted.
Step
4
Muzzle
Until your Australian Cattle Dog’s biting is under control, you may want to fit them in a muzzle, especially when you are out in public. This will prevent any accidents or biting taking place until training yields results.
Step
5
Body harness
Australian Cattle Dogs can be fairly strong. So you may want to fit them in a body harness when you’re out the house. This will give you much greater control to pull them away from a situation if they turn aggressive, preventing any biting taking place.
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The Time Out Method

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Step
1
Setting up
Make sure you have an easily accessible room that you can swiftly take the dog to whenever they bite. It needs to have no toys in it or other things they enjoy playing with. This will be their 'time out' space.
Step
2
Removal
As soon as your dog does bite, calmly take them by the collar and lead them to the time out space. Then close the door and leave them there for 30-seconds. Don’t speak to them or get them worked up.
Step
3
Release
Once the 30 seconds is up, open the door and let them return to whatever it is they were doing. However, keep a close eye on them so you can swiftly react again if the biting returns.
Step
4
Increase the duration
If your Australian Cattle Dog does bite again, lead them back to the time out space. But this time add an extra 30 seconds onto their sentence. Continue to do this each time they re-offend.
Step
5
Gentle play
While you use the above technique to react to their biting, you can also use positive reinforcements for good behavior. So spend a few minutes each evening playing gently and lying with each other. You can stroke them and whisper, rewarding them with odd treats and praise as you go. This combination of positive and negative reinforcements can promptly yield results.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Eva
Cattle dog
10 Weeks
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Question
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Eva
Cattle dog
10 Weeks

Potty training and biting.

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

Hello! I am sending you information on potty training and crate training if you decide to use a crate to help with potty training. You will want to spend a few weeks practicing the advice, and you should see a quick turnaround. I am also going to send you info on biting. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures. 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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hank
Australian Cattle Dog
5 Months
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hank
Australian Cattle Dog
5 Months

Sometimes when I try to take something away from my puppy he growls and shows his teeth. Are there anyways to train him to not do this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Keely, What you are describing is called resource guarding. I suggest building pups trust and respect for you calmly, while also desensitizing them to giving you things and being approached while eating or chewing. Work on teaching pup Drop It. Use a boring long toy, that you can hold onto while pup chews - not a bone at first. Tell pup "Take It" and let them chew one end while you hold the other. With your free hand, hold a treat against pup's nose and say "Drop It". When they drop the toy because of the treat, praise them and offer the treat. Practice this until you can say "Drop It" wait seven seconds to see if pup will obey without the treat there, then praise and immediately give a treat that was hidden behind your back. Expect this to take several days practice before pup can do it without seeing the treat. If pup doesn't drop the toy, practice with the treat for longer or simply keep the toy still and boring until pup drops it because they are bored, then reward to show them that dropping it is better. - This helps build trust because pup probably expects you to take everything they have now and have become defensive. Once pup knows this well and they trust you again, when pup gets something they shouldn't have, you can command drop it, offer a treat or toy substitute if they obey, and can keep a drag leash on pup while they are free and you are there to supervise (don't leave one on when away for safety reasons) and gently enforce your drop it command by picking up the end of the drag leash and moving pup away from the area and having them stay still - so they get bored, until they drop the item. 99% of the training should be proactive - where pup is frequently practicing drop it with treats and toys that are better than what they had at first, so that when you need the command in real life pup is used to obeying and it's not a fight that could make things worse. Also, work on getting puppy used to touch and handling to build general tolerance. Avoid methods that involve using your legs or hands roughly or can make things worse. Use puppy's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of puppy's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Work on hand feeding, and also practice feeding him his meals in sections. Feed 1/4 of his meal, practice making him wait before digging in by holding onto the bowl, pulling it back whenever he tries to dive in (without letting go of it first), and calmly saying Wait, then after a few repetitions of this, when he hesitates and doesn't dive in while your hand is still on it, let go of the bowl and say "Okay!" in an excited tone of voice, and let him begin eating as a reward for waiting. As he eats, when he isn't growling, toss treats next to his bowl as you walk past him. Practice this from a few feet away until he begins to look forward to you approaching. As he improves, decrease the distance that you pass from. When he finishes the first serving, toss a treat behind him and pick up the bowl while he is distracted eating the treat. Gve the next portion, have him practice waiting again, then do the treat tosses while he east again. Practice this until he has all of his meal kibble portions at that mealtime. Do this at every meal as often as you can. As he becomes relaxed and begins to like you approaching him during meals, get closer and closer, so that you are eventually placing treats into his bowl while he eats. Ease into this so that he stays relaxed during the process. When pup does great with your presence right by the bowl, you can give a gentle pet and feed a treat as you do so. Pet and feed a treat, then give space and go back to tossing the treats to avoid stressing him too much. Expect this progression to take weeks, not hours or days. Do NOT stick your hand in pup's food, take the food away while he is eating or chewing something like a bone, or pet him while he is eating without making the experience fun for him also - via giving better rewards in exchange each time. Messing with a dog while they are eating or chewing a toy as the normal without the right protocols and rewards to prevent stress around mealtimes, can actually cause food aggression, rather than prevent it. There are times when you will need to take things, but proactively train to build trust so that those times are not an issue for pup, keeping a drag leash on pup at this age while home, to calmly enforce boundaries. The goal is to build pup's trust with you when it comes to meals - so he doesn't feel the need to guard it, but learns that your approach and taking things like bones, results in something even better happening - like a treat or new bone. Only give treats when pup responds well - not while he is growling. If pup is growling still while you are doing all of this, you are probably being too rough or moving too fast, and there needs to be more space between you and pup while practicing at that point in the training. Check out this free PDF e-book download for other puppy raising tips as well: www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lady
Australian Cattle Dog
1 Year
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Lady
Australian Cattle Dog
1 Year

Hi, Lady is a rescue I got about two months ago. She’s very smart, potty trained, knows sit, down, roll over and is working on Leave It. Lady will however sometimes bite people around her when we get too excited or there is too much activity or the voice level around us rises. She’s left marks on about three people now and I would like to know what measures I could be taking to help her train not to do this. The bites don’t happen frequently and it’s hard to tell when she is going to do it, because some days she does really well in big groups and will be around a person for hours and then the next day in the same situations she struggles. Would definitely appreciate any advice or tips you have!

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Nav
Australian Cattle Dog
8 Months
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Nav
Australian Cattle Dog
8 Months

He nips at us sometimes, i feel like he’s playing though. When he does it too hard we yell no and he stops. He has bit 2 people that have tried to pet him. He is a skittish dog so i feel that contributes to it. He can be aggressive to other dogs at first. He usually warms up to them after awhile. I play tug of war with him and rough play with him. He puts his mouth around my arm but doesn’t bite down. When he starts getting more aggressive i tell him no.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Pedro, As a Cattle dog, pup's biting may be partially related to him trying to control movement and behavior when highly aroused. When highly aroused pup may have a hard time managing his instincts to control movement. I suggest working on impulse control building commands. Pup also may need more mental stimulation - which teaching commands and having pup work more for what they get - via doing a command before you give them something, like sit before tossing a ball, wait before eating, Sit before going on a walk, heeling during the walk with periodic Down-Stays, "Attention" and freezing in the middle of games before continuing, ect... Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M 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 Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel For the biting of other people, the above commands can help manage that some, I would also desensitize him to touch and handling, and instruct guests how to interact with him differently. Have guests give him commands and toss treats instead of petting as the norm - to build his trust and respect for people, condition calmness, and move away from his expectation that it's going to be a bad interaction for him (to him being touched by strangers feels bad right now). At the same time, work on desensitizing him to touch so that he can handle the touches more easily when they happen unexpectedly. Use pup 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 his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. When they enjoy you doing it and are 100% comfortable, have others that pup knows and trusts practice this, adding in one person at a time. Gradually move to people pup knows less well as pup is visibly staying happy and relaxed with each touch and each new person. Progress through this slowly, staying at the current step until pup is 100% comfortable with that. Practice this with a basket muzzle on if you feel pup could bite during it. - treats can be passed through the muzzle's holes and the muzzle introduced with treats gradually so that wearing one isn't a negative experience. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Goose
Cattle dog and terrier
4 Years
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Goose
Cattle dog and terrier
4 Years

My dog Goose is a great dog, but when he gets really excited and around other people and dogs he tends to bite. I have no idea how to approach this problem and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Goose
Australian Cattle Dog
3 Years
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Goose
Australian Cattle Dog
3 Years

My dog his nipped three people however he isn’t normally a biter. We don’t know how to control or stop the biting since we don’t understand what triggers it. What should we do?

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

Hi! I wish I was able to ask you some follow up questions, as I believe what is going on is your dog was trying to herd those people. His natural instinct is to herd. And many do so by nipping. The Australian Cattle Dog, also called a Blue or Red Heeler, originally was bred to drive cattle over long distances. These highly energetic, intelligent working dogs need a job to do, and if they lack animals to herd, Australian Cattle Dogs may try to herd people and other pets. Their efforts to herd may go as far as biting at heels and growling to corral their subjects. These medium-sized, muscular dogs must be properly trained to abstain from such behavior and must be given outlets for their high energy levels. SOCIALIZATION Australian Cattle Dogs are naturally protective of and loyal to their owners, but they often are wary of strangers and other dogs. If Australian Cattle Dogs are exposed to people at a very early age, especially by the time they are weaned, they can learn that strangers are acceptable. Australian Cattle Dogs generally have a high prey drive, and they should also be socialized to other pets at a young age to prevent attacks later in life. TOYS Provide your Australian Cattle Dog with a variety of safe toys to chew on. Australian Cattle Dogs tend to use their mouths to inspect the world around them. Puppies will chew and mouth on people if they don't have more appropriate outlets for this behavior and if they are not taught from the first that chewing on or mouthing people is not acceptable. Teach your Australian Cattle Dog to play with the toys, and allow the dog to herd the toys as well, providing a way for the dog to safely express this behavior. Large plastic or rubber balls that the dog can push around can make good herding substitutes. EXERCISE AND GAMES Owners of Australian Cattle Dogs must be dedicated to seeing that their dogs have sufficient ways to expend their considerable energy throughout their lives. If these highly intelligent dogs do not have things to do to exhaust their energy, they will create things to do. Exercise your dog regularly with energetic games such as fetch, agility training, flyball and obedience competitions. A well-exercised Australian Cattle Dog will be less likely to develop destructive or aggressive-seeming behaviors. OBEDIENCE TRAINING Australian Cattle Dogs are highly intelligent, and can learn obedience commands quickly. Use verbal and hand commands to control your dog. On a leash, teach your dog commands such as "Sit," "Stay," and "Leave it." The "Leave it" command can be put to good use if your dog shows aggression toward another person or animal, as you teach the dog literally to leave the person or object on command. Use toys at first to teach your dog the command. Reward and praise desirable behaviors, ignoring unwanted behaviors such as growling or attempts to nip you. If your dog doesn't try to growl or nip, give plenty of praise and treats. CONSIDERATIONS Never use negative training methods such as yelling at or hitting the Australian Cattle Dog. Such training methods are not only cruel, but they can heighten your dog's level of aggression. These dogs bond closely with their owners and look to them for leadership. Always be calm in the presence of other people to promote a similar attitude in your dog. Use treats to reinforce positive, non-aggressive behaviors. I hope this gives you some insight into what is going on. Thank you for writing in!

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Atlas
Australian Cattle Dog
13 Weeks
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Atlas
Australian Cattle Dog
13 Weeks

I got my Atlas when he was 7 weeks, and was really sweet in the beginning. He has a great relationship with my boyfriend, and they play a lot. We walk him everyday, and he hardly nips at the ankles at home. However when we walk him he bites my leg pretty hard to where I begin to bleed. He only does this to me, and not my boyfriend. He yelps when I begin to walk in front and really pulls on the leash to get to me. I know it could be something to do with him trying to herd me, but I don’t understand why it’s just me and no one else? We just got a muzzle and and a gentle leader. I just want to seek out whether there’s anything I’m doing unconsciously to trigger him in doing that.

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

Hello. This is a tricky one. I also don't like to assume that a dog is displaying dominant characteristics without me being able to see what's going on with my own eyes. But it sounds like that is what is going on. Him putting contact on your skin and breaking this skin is unacceptable. He also shouldn't be concerned where you are walking. So I am going to give you some tips on how to regain your position in the "pack" so to speak. Dogs will immediately size up a household as soon as they enter. Since he is a working breed and not a toy breed (as an example of an opposite type of dog) all of your love and affection, meal feeding, etc puts you below him. And while you're out in the world, walking (which is working to him) that's his time to display how he feels, so to speak. A good starting point is the gentle leader. So continue to utilize that if you have started. That was a great choice. And from now on, I want you to utilize these next two suggestions until you see a change in behavior. 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 or nips. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what she wants. You ignore everything else. These two items really help turn these behaviors around. I know they seem a bit remedial, but you should start to see improvements over the next few weeks. Consistency is key with this type of behavior modification. He may seem to regress as you do this, and that is normal. Push through that period of time and he will get it. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Zephyr
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
5 Years
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Zephyr
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
5 Years

I've had my cattle dog, Zephyr, since he was 5 weeks old. He's always gotten anxious when people leave, but he's decided to taking up biting at my room mate's feet when he leaves for work in the morning. My dog really likes my room mate and gets excited when he's home, but he primarily stays in his room with the door shut. Today he actually caused pain versus just being a tripping hazard to him, and I don't know what to do. When I leave, we have a whole deal where i give him affection and talk to him and he gives it back without barking before I shut the door. What do you think causes my dog to be so obsessed with biting at his feet when he leaves?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, As a herding breed, Cattle dogs will use nipping and bite holds to control the movement of livestock - especially stubborn livestock that won't go where the dog wants. It sounds like Zephyr might be trying to control your roommate's movement and prevent him from leaving. The bite may have progressed to a firmer bite because Zephyr decided that your roommate was being stubborn and needed a more forceful approach to stop him from leaving. Zephyr likely does not respect your roommate - this is fairly common with dogs and family children that the dog views as equal to them. Work on teaching Zephyr a "Leave It" or an "Out" command. When he tries to follow your roommate to the door - before biting him, tell him to "Leave It" (which means leave something alone) or "Out" (which means leave the area). If he disobeys, correct him by getting between him and your roommate and firmly walking toward him until he is at least ten feet away from the roommate. Block him from getting past you to your roommate until he acts submissive, leaves the area completely or lays down. If he is very stubborn you can also keep a drag leash on him in the morning, which you can grab to keep him from slipping past you as needed - focus primarily on enforcing the command with your presence and body language though because you want him to choose to obey because of your consistency and not just force him to stay back with the leash. Choosing obedience requires submission and respect, being forced to stay back while he strains against the leash does not require a mental change from him. There are a number of ways to address this, but using Out and Leave It are some of the gentlest. You can also have your roommate work on teaching him respect through obedience work, consistency, and structured focused heel work, but you enforcing Zephyr leaving your roommate alone is easier for your roommate and it still asks for respect from him - what you are communicating is that your dog should leave your roommate alone because of his respect for you and your rules. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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annie
Australian Cattle Dog
2 Months
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annie
Australian Cattle Dog
2 Months

How can I stop my Australian Cattle Dog from biting me and inappropriate things?

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

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 any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Moonya
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
11 Years
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Moonya
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
11 Years

Hello, I’ve had my dog Moonya since she was.. I think a year old! She is a rescue and we got her at a Shelter and she’s been with us since that... She’s made us cost a few thousands from biting dogs and even breaking a dogs leg.. As she’s getting older my family and I want to give her a good social happy life before she dies.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello August, At this age most dogs don't really enjoy playing rough and interacting with other dogs the same way they used to, they mostly just enjoy calm coexistence. Because your dog has a strong history of dog aggression and is older I do NOT recommend trying to get her around other dogs again at this point. It will increase stress, be dangerous if not done very carefully, and not necessarily make her life anymore pleasant in the long run. The only reason I would recommend pursuing this is for the sake of the people she lives with if you need her to be able to be around other dogs for your own sake. If you do pursue this, because of her dangerous bite history you need to hire a trainer who specializes in aggression to work with you. I do NOT recommend working in this on your own because of the potential danger to other animals, your pup, and any people involved who aggression could be redirected toward. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cooper
Australian Cattle Dog
3 Months
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Cooper
Australian Cattle Dog
3 Months

Nipping and peeing on rugs. We have gotten Cooper to only poop outside, but not to pee all the time. We have started using bells at the door for about a week but he has yet to grasp that he can use the bell to let us know he has to go out. As far as nipping, we have been using chew toys as a replacement when he starts, and also time outs in our laundry room when necessary. We noticed that he was using the room in the evening as his own wind down spot. It does seem to help calm him, but like a light switch, he can just start biting out of the blue. Classic Kong also seem to help him calm, and redirect his energy, as well as rope tug, and long walks. Any other advice would be great. One thing you have to understand, my family will refuse to crate, or muzzle Cooper. He has a calm room, and I believe a muzzle will only lead to more aggression. He is not totally out of hand, but just needs to learn.

Thanks,

Kurt Heidel

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

Hello! I am going to send you information on nipping, as well as potty training. For his extra energy, he will need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. You seem to understand that already, so just keep doing what you are doing, and he will slow down a bit as he approaches 6 months old. 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. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Holly
Blue Heeler
2 Years
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Holly
Blue Heeler
2 Years

To get her to stop biting peoples ankles of feet / stop biting people

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Catie, Is the biting aggressive - due to fear or aggression, or triggered by movement and a herding nip? If the behavior is herding and movement related and not true aggression, I suggest the following. 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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Bella
Australian Cattle Dog
5 Years
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Bella
Australian Cattle Dog
5 Years

Our dog has bit or tried to bite the kids and my wife wants me to remove it. Help please

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

Hello, Bella has natural herding tendencies and may be trying to herd the kids. She is also a working dog and needs tons of mental stimulation along with physical exercise on a daily basis. Take her on long walks (and runs) and enroll her in training classes to teach her boundaries of behavior. Bella will thrive on the classes and you will find that she is a completely changed dog as a result. I've seen unmanageable dogs become very well-behaved after one course. Perhaps if you agree to courses, you can keep your dog. There are also many training tips in these guides. Read them all through and start working with Bella every day for 10-20 minutes: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-bite-3 and https://wagwalking.com/training/not-bite-2. Try the Leave It command as well: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite. Good luck!

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