Nipping is a natural part of a cattle dog's behavior. These hardy dogs were bred to drive cattle and routinely nip to keep the cattle moving forward. Stopping unwanted biting behavior is necessary to prevent injuries and is simple to accomplish with a little training and positive reinforcement.
Give the dog plenty of exercise. Cattle dogs are high-energy breeds, and under-stimulated dogs may turn to nipping as an outlet for excessive energy. Take the dog for frequent walks, let the dog run in the yard and throw her favorite toy for her to stimulate her mind and body.
Ignore the dog when she bites your ankles. Many cattle dogs bite while playing, so stand still and look away from the dog. Ignoring her takes away the fun out of nipping, and she will direct her attention to another activity.
Remove yourself from the room. Nipping is a fun game for many cattle dogs, and ignoring may not be enough for an extremely excited dog. Walk out of the room, close the door and leave the dog alone for a few minutes. This shows the dog that biting means no human contact.
Teach the puppy a “leave it” command. Place a favorite toy on the ground near the dog, and allow the dog to approach the toy. When the dog reaches for the toy, tell her “leave it” in a stern voice and hold a treat in front of her nose. As soon as she turns away from the toy, reward her with the treat. When the dog attempts to bite your ankles, tell her to “leave it” and reward her when she stops biting your leg.
- Never hit your dog for nipping. Biting is instinctual in cattle dogs, and smacking her will only lead to fearful behavior.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.