How to Train an Australian Shepherd Puppy to Not Bite

Medium
2-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Imagine playing with your adorable Aussie puppy. You are having a great time tossing toys around and enticing her with a favorite tug toy. You end the play session after thirty minutes, and then go get ready to go out for the evening. As you are washing your hands and getting dressed up you notice your hands. They look like you stuck them into a briar patch and then struggled to pull them back out again. They are covered in red scratches, look a bit puffy, and in a couple of places, there is even a bit of broken skin. You sigh and continue to get ready, wondering what to do about your puppy's biting.

If that scenario sounds familiar then you are not alone. Almost all puppies bite when they are young. It's called mouthing, and when your pup plays with another pup, if he bites too hard, the other puppy will let out a yelp and stop playing with your puppy. This teaches your puppy to be gentle and to control the pressure of his bite. Your puppy, like most puppies after eight weeks of age, probably does not live with a litter of puppies anymore though, so it becomes your job to teach him how to control his mouth. 

Defining Tasks

Training your Australian Shepherd not to bite you is important because biting hurts and can be annoying. It might also scare children and those who not used to it. One of the most important reasons to teach your puppy not to bite, though, is the fact that your puppy will not stay a puppy forever. Around five months of age, your puppy's jaws will begin to strengthen and he will have more adult teeth. At that point, the biting is no longer just annoying but can be dangerous if your pup bites hard.

If your pup is young still then you can help your puppy to learn to control the pressure of his mouth by taking him to play with other puppies. Make sure that the interactions are supervised though, that any attempts to bully each other are stopped, and that all of the puppies are having fun and not becoming frightened or too pushy. Puppies are great at giving one another feedback and helping to teach one another self-control. Although your puppy might learn how to be gentler with his mouth while playing with other puppies, he will still need for you to train him not to bite you.

If your puppy is young then using the 'Ouch! Method' can teach him to not only stop biting but also to be more aware of how he is using his mouth, and to have more control over the force of his bite. This might make him safer as an adult dog, in the event of a bite due to injury, fear, or the unexpected. This method is only appropriate for young puppies, though, because it can take time and you want your puppy to reach the point where he is not biting at all, or is extremely gentle with his mouth, by the time that he reaches five months of age.

If your puppy is young then you can work on the 'Ouch! Method' at the same time as the 'Leave It Method'. Doing both methods together can help your puppy to learn great self-control. You can go through the steps of the 'Ouch! Method' and then when you get to there point where you want to teach your puppy to not bite you at all, you can use the 'Leave It' command that you have been practicing with other objects while doing the 'Leave It Method'.

The simplest of all the methods is the 'Pressure Method'. If your puppy is sensitive or not very mouthy then this method is probably all that you will need in order to teach him not to bite. It is a relatively easy method to follow. It will require you to come into contact with your puppy's mouth though, so if your puppy is older and has his adult teeth and adult jaw strength, then the 'Leave It Method' might be a better choice. To save yourself from being scratched you can also perform this method while wearing a thick, leather type glove. You will need to keep the glove with you though, for unexpected bites.

Getting Started

To get started, if you are using the 'Leave It' method, then you will need small treats that your puppy loves. You will also need a glove or a sock, and other items that your pup loves to bite, to attach to yourself during the training. You will also need some of your puppy's favorite toys. If you are using the 'Ouch! Method' then you will need confidence, perseverance, patience, calmness, and the ability to say "Ouch!" in a loud and high pitched voice that sounds like a dog's yelp. If you are using the 'Pressure Method', you will need some of your puppy's favorite toys, a firm resolve, a confident attitude, patience, and persistence. If your hands are sensitive then you will also need a glove to practice this.

The Leave It Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
6 Votes
Step
1
Grab treats
To begin, grab some treats and place them where you can grab them during the training but your puppy cannot reach. Call your puppy over to you.
Step
2
Add command
When your puppy comes over, place several treats inside your hand and close your fingers around them. Allow your puppy to sniff your hand and tell him to "Leave it". When he stops sniffing your hand and trying to get the treats out, praise him and give him a treat from a different location. Do not let him have the treats in your hand at any point during the training. Always reward him with a treat from somewhere else.
Step
3
Repeat
Practice 'leave it' until your puppy will leave your hand alone as soon as you tell him to. When he will do that then place the treats on the floor and cover them with your hand. Practice with the treats on the floor until he has mastered that too. Continue to make 'leave it' harder as he improves. To make it harder, cover the treats with your foot instead of your hand, stand farther away from the treats while they are on the ground, and eventually tossing the treats onto the floor while telling your pup to 'leave it'. Be ready to block your pup or cover the treats though, in case he tries to get them.
Step
4
Add a glove
When your pup has mastered 'leave it' with treats then grab a glove or a sock and place it on your hand. Show your pup the glove or the sock on your hand and practice 'leave it' with the sock or the glove. Praise and reward him with a treat when he leaves your hand, wearing the glove or the sock, alone.
Step
5
Entice your pup
When your pup will leave the glove or the sock on your hand alone, then find other objects that your puppy likes to play with and bite, such as ribbons, clothing articles, or paper wads. Attach those articles to yourself, where your puppy can reach, and practice 'leave it' with those articles too. Do this until he will leave those articles alone also when told to.
Step
6
Redirect
After your puppy can leave the tempting objects attached to you alone, whenever your puppy begins to bite you freeze to remove any excitement from the situation, and tell him "leave it". When he does so then offer him one of his own toys, so that he will learn to grab his own toys when he gets excited, instead of biting you.
Recommend training method?

The Ouch! Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
4 Votes
Step
1
Say "Ouch!"
To begin, whenever your puppy bites you hard enough to cause pain, say "Ouch!" in a loud, high pitched voice, that mimics a yelp. When you do so, immediately stop playing with your puppy, stand up, cross your arms, and ignore him for five minutes.
Step
2
Call your puppy back
After five minutes, if he has left you alone, then call him over and resume playing with him. If he knows how to sit then tell him to sit when you call him over, before you resume playing with him again.
Step
3
Repeat
Practice yelping by saying "Ouch!" in a loud and high pitched voice whenever he bites you hard enough to cause pain. Do this for a couple of weeks, until he bites less hard.
Step
4
Require less pressure
When your puppy begins to control the force of his bite after a couple of weeks of practicing, then say "Ouch!" and ignore him if he applies any pressure when he bites you. When you ignore him this time, leave the room for five minutes to make the point more strongly. Return at the end of the five minutes, and call him over to you, so that you are the one to initiate the interaction again.
Step
5
Repeat "Ouch!"
Practice saying "Ouch!" in a loud and high pitched voice and leaving the room for five minutes whenever your puppy applies pressure when he bites you. Do this for at least a couple of weeks, until your puppy no longer applies pressure when he bites you, but uses his mouth more gently instead.
Step
6
Require no pressure
When your puppy does not apply pressure when he bites you, then say "Ouch!" whenever he presses his teeth into you at all, or does anything other than barely touching you with his mouth. When you say "Ouch!" ignore him for ten minutes this time. When you return, call him back over to you and tell him to sit if he knows how to, before resuming playing again.
Step
7
Repeat again
Practice saying "Ouch!" whenever your buddy puts his mouth on you in any way that is not extremely gentle. Also practice ignoring him or leaving the room for ten minutes if he is not gentle. If you stay in the room during the ten minutes, while you are ignoring him, and he tries to bite your leg or bark at you while you are ignoring him then leave the room.
Step
8
Require no biting
When your puppy has learned to be very gentle with his mouth then you can teach him to stop biting you completely. To teach him to no longer bite at all, whenever he tries to put his mouth on you, say "Ouch!" in a high pitched, loud voice, and ignore him for ten minutes, like you did in the past. Do this is to teach him that even touching you with his mouth hurts you, and that biting ends all of his fun.
Recommend training method?

The Pressure Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
4 Votes
Step
1
Play
To begin, grab some of your puppy's favorite toys. Call your puppy over to you and begin to play with him.
Step
2
Add pressure
Whenever your puppy bites your hand, tell him "Aha!" while pressing your flat hand into the back of his mouth, so that you are pressing onto the area where his jaws meet each other. Do this until he tries to spit your hand out.
Step
3
Repeat
If your puppy tries to grab your hand again as soon as you remove it, then repeat pressing your hand into the back of his mouth until he tries to spit it out again. Repeat this until he leaves your hand alone.
Step
4
Give a toy
When your puppy leaves your hand alone then praise him and hand him one of his own toys to bite on.
Step
5
Practice
Practice pressing your hand into the back of your puppy's mouth and telling him "Aha" whenever he bites you. Continue to praise him and offer him one of his own toys whenever he stops trying to bite you. If your puppy tries to bite an area of your body besides your hand, then block that area with your hand, tell him "Aha!", and then press your hand into his mouth if he bites your hand while you are blocking him. When he stops trying to get to the other part of your body to bite you, then praise him and give him a toy to bite instead.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Caitlin Crittenden

Published: 04/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
George
Australian Shepherd
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
George
Australian Shepherd
4 Months

My Aussie bites my Golden Retriever on the neck (only when people are around). They are fine when left alone. My Golden is very sweet and doesn't usually do anything but let him chew on her, but occasionally gets rough with him. She has several scabs on her head and neck. We have been saying 'Leave It' and giving treats when my Aussie let's go, but it isn't working. He is hurting my sweet girl!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jayne, Check out the article I have linked below on teaching Out. First, use the section on how to teach Out, to help the puppy understand what that command means. Next, once pup understands what it means essentially, then use the section on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce the command on behalf of your older dog, when pup is pestering, using your own body language to ask pup to give space to the older dog. Out command (which means leave the area): https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I would also utilize an exercise pen, crate, and/or hands free leash to give you Golden a break. Be especially aware of when pup is over tired or hasn't had enough mental stimulation that day, because either of those things will decrease pup's level of self-control. Puppies tend to get overly rough when over-tired, and often need a forced quiet time with a dog food stuffed chew toy to calmly focus on instead, somewhere like a crate or exercise pen. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Binnie
Australian Shepherd (Standard, Toy or Miniature)
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Binnie
Australian Shepherd (Standard, Toy or Miniature)
2 Months

My puppy won’t stop biting me no matter what I do and whining at night in her cage.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hannah, Check out this free PDF E-book download at the link below, After You Get Your Puppy. It will cover those issues and more. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Also, check out these articles for the specific topics you would like help with. Barking in the crate- follow the Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Biting - Start with the Bite Inhibition method and Leave It method. Leave It will take time to teach, but once pup knows it well, use Leave It to deal with the biting. Use the Bite Inhibition method until pup learns Leave It. Once pup knows Leave It really well, the Pressure method can be used to gentle enforce the rule if pup bites even after being Leave It. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chloe
Australian Shepherd
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chloe
Australian Shepherd
7 Months

How do I break her of biting me? She has actually brought the blood a few times. I know she just does it playing but when I try to correct her she just keeps doing it; and she will also tug at my clothes when she is biting me and wants me to get up and play with her. She has actually tore a few articles of my clothing up trying to play with me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rachael, For the biting, I recommend teaching pup the Leave It command. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I also recommend teaching pup Out - which means leave the area. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Loki
Australian Shepherd
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Loki
Australian Shepherd
2 Months

Biting/nipping
Obeisance
Leash

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

Hello! Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. 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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Question
Dakota
Australian Shepherd
11 Weeks
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Question
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Dakota
Australian Shepherd
11 Weeks

He loves to bite everything. I know he is a puppy but he keep biting my other dog in the neck and also his private part. I am scared letting him play with my other dog Woody is going to cause Dakota to be aggressive. And when I try to calm him down and grab him, he goes even more crazy and I can’t control him. He also loves to eat everything he finds on the floor. He started choking on a small stick today and it scared me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary, For the biting, I recommend teaching pup the Leave It command. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I also recommend teaching pup Out - which means leave the area, and using the section on how to use out to deal with pushy behavior, and you enforce Out on behalf of the older dog so they don't have to deal with pup. This helps pup learn respect for them as an extension of pup respecting you, and takes the pressure off the older dog to handle things. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Finally, when you aren't supervising pup with the older dog, I also recommend confining pup to an exercise pen or crate with a dog food stuffed chew toy, to give the older dogs a break and keep pup out of trouble, like chewing. The Surprise method can be used to teach pup to handle some alone time. When you are home, you can also tether pup to yourself with a hands free leash (add a carabiner to a normal leash for a cheap option), to keep pup closer to you and not bothering the older dogs as needed too. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate/ For the chewing, check out the article I have linked below: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ When you are supervising I would also keep a drag leash on pup so that you can lead them away from things they are chewing and your older dog when they are having a hard time listening and over-excited. Only leave it on when you are there in case it catches on anything though. Finally, check out the free PDF Ebook download After You Get Your Puppy, at the link below for more general tips and management at this age. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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