Nipping is part of an Australian Cattle Dog’s personality. These tough dogs were designed to drive livestock and nip to keep animals moving forward.
If you are wondering how to stop an Australian Cattle Dog from biting, the good news is that with consistent training and patience you can get your pet to stop biting.
Why do Australian Cattle Dogs bite so much?
Australian Cattle Dogs are working dogs bred to herd animals.
Have you ever seen a dog herding sheep, goats, cattle, or any other type of animal? You may have noticed how they use their body to form a moving barrier between the herd and the surrounding area.
If an animal strays from the herd the dog nips at its flanks or ankles to get it to return to the herd.
Nipping is in the DNA of the Australian Cattle Dog and is a key component of the dog’s herding strategy.
Bite first and ask questions later
In reality, Heeler is both a name for a Blue Heeler and a description of how this breed works.
These tough herders were raised to bite first and ask questions later.
If the Australian Cattle Dog feels that you, a child or another pet is heading in the wrong direction, he will nip.
Blue Heelers are not only excellent herders, but they are also protective and fearless.
This combination results in a dog who uses a hard nip to tell other animals or people to leave its protected zone. If the Australian Cattle Dog senses a legitimate threat, he may also bite hard.
While this action is instinctual and not typical of his personality, it can land him and his owner in hot water.
It is easier to break a puppy’s biting habit than an adult dog’s, so starting early is critical if your puppy is a biter.
Not easy but doable
It will not be easy to train your Australian Cattle Dog to stop biting, but it is doable.
First, you must put in place a few measures to deter the temptation to bite.
You’ll also need to identify triggers, so that you can deal with them upfront.
Also, use positive reinforcement to get your Australian Cattle Dog to play gently.
If you want to know more about the Australian Cattle Dog, check out our article Australian Cattle Dog: Discover what’s good and bad.
Duration of training
If your Australian Cattle Dog is still a puppy, the habit should be new, and you should be able to break it in a few weeks. But, if your dog is older and the habit has formed over time, you may need to wait a few months.
Before you start working, you’ll need to cross off a few items on your to-do list.
You will need the following items:
- A water spray bottle
- A muzzle
- A deterrence collar
- For positive reinforcement, you’ll also need treats or your dog’s favorite meal
- A body harness
- Food puzzles
Set aside approximately 15 minutes per day for training. Try to train when neither of you are likely to be distracted.
Aside from that, all you need is patience and enthusiasm, and then training may begin!
Below are tips to train your dog not to bite:
1. Exercise your dog
Make sure the dog gets enough exercise. Australian Cattle Dogs are high-activity breeds. An under-stimulated dog may resort to nipping as a way to release excess energy.
- Take the dog for frequent walks
- Let her run around the yard
- Throw her favorite toy for her to keep her mind and body stimulated
Start placing dog food puzzles for your dog to solve, especially when you leave the house. This should not only keep them busy but if they are a puppy and the biting is to relieve teething pain, chewing the toys will also assist.
Ensure that your Australian Cattle Dog has a safe place to hide, such as a bed or crate. They may bite because they are being harassed by small children and have nowhere to flee.
2. Ignore nipping
When the dog bites your ankles, ignore her. Many cattle dogs bite while playing, so remain still and turn your gaze away from the dog. Ignoring her takes the joy out of nipping, and she will switch her attention to something else.
3. Give your dog a time-out
Take your dog to an accessible room if he bites. The room should not contain any toys or other items that they like playing with. This will serve as their ‘time out’ area.
If your dog bites, take him by the collar and guide him to the time-out area. Then shut the door and leave them for 30 seconds. Don’t talk to them or agitate them.
When the 30 seconds are up, open the door and let them return to what they were doing. Keep a watch on them, though, so you can react quickly if the biting resumes.
4. Teach the “leave it” command
Teach your dog the command “leave it.”
Allow the dog to approach a favorite toy placed on the ground. When the dog reaches for the toy, tell her sternly, “leave it,” and hold a treat in front of her nose.
Give her the treat as soon as she moves her gaze away from the toy. When your dog bites your ankles, tell her to “leave it” and treat her when she quits biting your leg.
5. The deterrence strategy
When your Australian Cattle dog bites, the first thing you should do is say a firm ‘NO.’ This will show them that they are engaging in inappropriate behavior. But, don’t shout too loudly because you don’t want to annoy them even more.
Use a spray bottle
Upgrade to the water bottle if the ‘NO’ doesn’t seem to have the desired impact. When your dog nips or bites, provide a brief spritz near the face. This will emphasize your disapproval while also teaching that biting has negative consequences.
Employ a deterrent collar
If the dog continues to bite, consider employing a deterrent collar. They are reasonably priced and can be purchased both online and in stores. When they bite, you merely press a button, and an unpleasant spray of citronella is discharged.
Use a muzzle
You may want to put on the muzzle until your Australian Cattle Dog’s biting is under control, especially if you are out in public. This will prevent any accidents or biting from occurring until the training is completed.
Australian Cattle Dogs can be rather powerful. So, if you’re going out, you might want to put them in a body harness. This will offer you much more control over pulling them away from a situation if they become hostile, preventing any biting.