Australian Shepherd dogs are a breed of herding dogs. As such, it is in their nature to snap or nip at the heels of livestock members to keep them in the group. Biting comes naturally to them. They tend to bite or nip at your heels when you’re not moving fast enough during your daily walks or you’re holding something they like such as their favorite toy. For furparents, this can easily be overlooked as an affectionate graze but for others, this can be a frightening behavior especially with kids or those unfamiliar with your pet. Furparents of this breed need to address this issue early on so that they can stop biting. With proper training starting when they’re still pups, Aussies will learn how to control this behavior and become well-mannered doggos.
Training your Australian Shepherd not to bite is not easy. It requires dedication and consistency to be able to instill discipline on your Aussie. There are different training techniques that you can follow like redirecting their biting behavior, ignoring them after they nip at you, or through the intervention method. When your Aussie puppy nips at your heels, stop moving and pull your feet away from him. Firmly and calmly say No then put your hand around his snout while saying No again. Distract him with his favorite toy so that he can latch onto the toy instead of your heels. You should keep his favorite toy inside your pocket so that you can always use it to redirect his biting behavior to his toy whenever he tries to nip at you. You’re redirecting his energy and natural tendency to nip at an acceptable object.
You’ve got to continue reinforcing this behavior through the use of rewards. If he tries to bite you again, distance yourself from him and ignore him for about 15 to 30 seconds then turn to him again and present his favorite toy. Praise him when he puts the toy in his mouth for him to know that it’s good behavior and reward him with belly rubs or yummy treats after. Remember to be careful about the timing of your reward. Give it to him once he completely stops biting or nipping to properly address this behavior.
Another technique in training your Aussie pup not to bite is through intervention. First, you’ve got to observe your pet’s behavior to determine what triggers his biting behavior and identify the signs that he’s about to start biting or nipping. Using a long lead, take your Aussie in a controlled environment and ask a friend or family member to do what triggers your dog to bite. Watch your Aussie carefully. Before they begin to chase or bite, command your dog to come to you. If he doesn’t, give him a gentle tug so that you can get his attention. Continue doing this for about 20 minutes a day for several weeks so that you can instill this behavior.
Furparents may not be able to stop the nipping or biting behavior altogether since it is part of an Aussie’s instinct. But with proper training, your beloved pets will know how to control this behavior and turn to you for guidance so that they can either stop biting or be gentle in their nipping instead.