He's Not A Nipper Any More

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by jacobite, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. jacobite Well-Known Member

    Charlie has been nipping at people's ankles as they leae. It's like he is saying please don't leae me. We hae been trying to correct him, but now he tried to bite someone in the ankle as they left. Any ideas?
    MaryK likes this.

  2. MaryK Honored Member

    Charlie is a herding breed, he's a BC isn't he? To him that's normal, keep the 'herd' together. But it's not so good for the person receiving the nip. My Blue Heeler also did that when he was a puppy. I stopped him by asking for 'sit' then click/treat. He stopped pretty quickly but it may take longer with Charlie as he's an adult dog. Correction doesn't work, you need to use Positive Reinforcement to get him to stop. He's got to know that his 'reward' is GREATER than the desire to do what comes naturally - nip people's heels. Make the reward something he REALLY LOVES and doesn't get too often, it's gotta be SPECIAL.

    Ask for sit then click/ treat. Give him loads of praise and keep click/treat as the people are leaving, not just one click/treat. Keep doing this for quite some time until he will just sit nicely, and even then reward him for his good manners.

    Others maybe able to help you more, with more suggestions, but this worked for me and I too had a 'heal nipper'.
    Dogster likes this.
  3. Dogster Honored Member

    This is a herding behaviour. As you probably know, border collies were bred to herd sheep. Charlie doesn't want his "sheep" to leave. You can try to stop this behaviour by making him sit and stay when others leave.:) You can also try to give him something to herd. If there aren't any places you can bring Charlie to practice, you can try treibball. This is a good video on the basics of treibball:
    MaryK likes this.
  4. jacobite Well-Known Member

    I hae neer used a clicker with Charlie because he was so afraid when we got him. It's a bit late now, he's 8 1/2 and somewhat more heroic, but will get him to sit when people leae. He is actually afraid of sheep and but herds cows and pigs. He has a smaller ball he pushs but will try to get a hold of the treibball. He has neer been much with toys, but will see.
    MaryK and Dogster like this.
  5. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Jacobite

    I'm sorry to hear that Charlie's behavior has escalated. I'm not as quick to say that it's "just" herding behavior as others. Many shy dogs, who are tense and nervous with visitors, will show aggression only when the visitors' back is turned. This can lead to dogs who 'ankle bite' or bark/nip as people turn to walk away. You mention that Charlie was very fearful when you got him, so that stands to reason that he might be so nervous that he shows aggression. If this is what is going on, Charlie isn't the only one with this problem, you can google and see how many others have asked this question about their dogs.

    How are you trying to correct him? This may have made the behavior worse; if he's truly doing this out of fear, and he's getting punished, it may just serve to convince him that visitors are even WORSE than he thought, and he had better get them out of the house as fast as possible. He may "blame" the visitors for the punishment rather than himself.

    The easiest thing to do would be to leash Charlie and take him out of the room before people say goodbye. You can even go to another room, where he can hear or even see the visitors from a distance, and give him some tasty treats to show him that Departure Time is yum-yum time for him. This trainer also has ideas:

    Ideally, you'd work with a local trainer who could evaluate Charlie and decide if this is a fear-based behavior (which I suspect it is) and create a plan for you. If you are interested, you can give your city/state/country and perhaps a member here might be able to give you a referral to someone they know.
  6. MaryK Honored Member

    I agree with A & C. Didn't know Charlie was afraid from the first posts. Nothing to add really, except it's NEVER to late to start with a clicker. Just make sure it's not a loud one, like the box clicker.
    Dogster likes this.
  7. jacobite Well-Known Member

    I grabbed his ruff and shook him a bit like his mother would shake him as a puppy, but I agree that is not a good idea. I think the best idea as you say is to put him in another room. I can put him behind the dog gate in the liing room. But I liin in Scotland, and am a full time carer. There is one trainer up here, but he is far too expensie for me.
  8. MaryK Honored Member

    As A & C have said, punishing him will only make him worse. Best idea is to put him in another room and treat/treat/treat like crazy.
  9. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Please re-read A & C's post and the link provided. Really good suggestions. Perhaps you could get a baby gate so right before your guests were ready to depart, you could remove him to behind the gated, so he could see your guests as they leave. And as they leave, they could toss him treats - and that way his training could begin -- he could begin associating departing guests with good things. At this point, after being scruffed for his "misdeeds", I'm sure he has lots of anxiety/arousal when it's time for guests to leave. The gate will take all the pressure off of him and altho it may sound strange, basically give him a feeling of safety - and give you a feeling of safety too (not to mention, your guests!:eek: ). It's never too late to start training dogs, no matter the age. Once he seems much more relaxed (after lots of people have come and gone, and he's used to treats being tossed from departing friends, and seems to look forward to people leaving cuz food flies from the sky, then maybe try just leashing him next to you, and asking for a "sit" with departing guests tossing treats and see if he does ok - or just stick with the gate.
    MaryK and Dogster like this.
  10. jacobite Well-Known Member

    He has a gate and I will try using that as well with food raining down from Heaen. I am worried about losing a clicker, can I use the click from a pen? That I could hae plenty of and not worry about losing. That is why I neer used a clicker and the fact that he was really really scared when we got him
  11. jackienmutts Honored Member

    You can use a pen, but right now I don't think the clicker is the important thing (as much as I love clickers). When people leave, make sure treats are being tossed in his direction from the departing guests - that is the important thing. His seeing those guests leaving, being rewarded by them, and feeling like them leaving is a wonderful thing - that should be the goal right now.
    Here's an article that may help you to understand the 'why' as far as the use of food:
    MaryK, Adrianna & Calvin and Dogster like this.
  12. Evie Experienced Member

    Oooo! Interesting post. Evie is starting to do this too :rolleyes: and it's because of what A&C said. She's scared and wants the strange people away from 'her people'. We had a friend who she hadn't met before help us move house just a couple of days ago and I caught her at one stage with her mouth around the bottom of his shorts and tugging on it trying to pull him away... (also caught her a few times considering nipping at his ankles - but she's not the most subtle dog lol so I distracted her before she had to opportunity to actually do it) She also gets VERY defensive when one of 'her people' is talking and standing too close to someone else...

    But I agree, moving Charlie to another room and heavily rewarding him as the people leave is probably the best way to tackle the problem since this behaviour only occurs when the people are leaving?

    Is Charlie ok with them in the house in the first place? Does he greet them at the door ok or is he reserved?
    MaryK likes this.
  13. jacobite Well-Known Member

    Ok, will stop worrying about the clicker at the moment. In the beginning if anyone spoke to us, it would be a time to really watch him because he would be snarling and trying to bite if they got near. He got corrected for this and learned it wasn't on, this was before I learned postie training, and he stopped but he is not keen on letting people in. Odd thing is there are some people he loes and will allow and some he will allow once and then that's it and some he deson't not like at all. A friend, slightly learning challenged, stayed with us for a month and he adored her, We put up the gate just in case and were so careful and he was fine, others watch out
    MaryK likes this.
  14. jacobite Well-Known Member

    Charlie tends to bark at the window cleaner, postie (mailman) and grass cutter. Is that making things worse? We tend to laugh as he follows the window cleaner's hand with his teeth on the other side of the glass. Should we teach him to settle down when the window cleaner and grass cutter are on the grounds and does that make him more fearful of strangers. Also put him behind the gate and treated him when someone came today
    MaryK likes this.
  15. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Yes, it is adding to his reactivity - basically, he's practicing (being reactive). He's probably 'biting' at the hand (the window cleaner), keeping it from coming in, doing his job - and finally, whew, that guy leaves. Job well done. And barking at the mailman and grass cutter - he barks enough, and they finally leave, right? Could you close the drapes or blinds when the window cleaner and yard guys are there? That way, he can't see them, and hopefully will get out of practice. He'll be less likely to bark at something he doesn't see. If he still barks because he hears them, then do practice at having him 'settle' someplace - and reward him heavily. If he's been barking for a long time (practicing this behavior for a long time, maybe years), this won't be something that will be solved quickly. Be patient. Lots of rewards, lots of praise - for being quiet. As for the mailman, not sure what to say there, not sure if you're home when mail comes, etc - that can be tough. But again, try to distract/redirect if you're around - and loads of rewards and praise.

    Good job putting him behind the gate and treating him when a visitor came today!! (y) Keep it up!!

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