Jump to content
BC Boards

Border Collie Persistent Nipping and Biting


Recommended Posts

Desperate for some advice. 

We are a family of 4 with two girls who are 10 and 8. Our BC puppy is going to turn 5 months on 1st of April. He has been with us since December and what a journey it has been and a huge learning curve. He is incredibly bright and easy to train. However persistent nipping and biting of the girls is one major issue that I am finding very difficult to handle primarily because I already tried everything I heard of to stop it. We all follow basic principles of obedience training, tried to keep him busy with distractions, various commands, using the line, giving him time out, reinforcing the positive behaviours and so on and so forth. While he is incredibly quick in picking up everything else, the biting of the children is one thing that I do not seem to be able to get under control. 
Please advice if you had similar issues and found something that did work and stopped the biting. I am familiar with the theories of BC herding the children. I really need advice on stopping this because it is very hard to have a dog that children constantly need to be away from. 

Thank you so much in advance. 

MB25

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is simply puppy behavior, so don't worry too much. However, it does need to be changed, and immediately, because a dog needs to know that teeth on human being is never, ever acceptable.

I suggest that the next time he does this you make a sound as if you were hurt (a puppy yelp, for instance), or if you prefer, say "ah-ah", but never in an angry tome of voice, and then simply pick him up and pop him into the crate for a five minute time out. The crate needs to be in another room where he cannot see anyone. After five minutes let him out again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. He simply needs to learn that if he bites or mouths at all, all the fun stops and he can't be with people any more.

Now....this is the most important part. This has to be 100% consistent. He must never, ever get away with biting or mouthing, not even once, without this consequence. If it is not 100% consistent it will not work. this means that your children either have to be able to reinforce this themselves or (more likely) you will have to do it for them, and they cannot be around the pup without adult supervision until this is trained out of him. Every single person in your household has to be on board with this plan. If anyone lets him get away with it, all the hard work is for nothing.

This is not, by the way, herding behavior. Border collies don't herd children. Herding is a highly specialized behavior that is used only on stock and that requires extensive training. This is not that. Every puppy bites until they learn not to, because that's how dogs play. Remember that when you put him into the crate, it should be done without any anger or scolding. Just simply a consequence.

I suspect that you might have tried one thing and after a while decided it wasn't working and then tried another and another. The thing is, you have to stick with only one method and do it until the dog learns. Persistence is required, and patience. The method I give above has worked for me consistently, but nothing will work if you are not consistent in application of it.

I also recommend educating your kids in the ways that a dog should and should not be approached or touched or played with, in order to make sure they don't do things to cause the puppy to think he needs to bite. And, do not play wrestling games with this pup or any other game that mimics play between dogs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, this is not herding behavior, it is simply miss guided prey drive and/or bratty puppy behavior. While you say you have tried various things, maybe you didn't follow thru? I wouldn't distract, I would simply correct him. The kids are old enough to know how to say no to him. If they are not respected then they need to have supervision while he is growing up. I have a feeling their higher pitched sounds are setting him off? If they yelp/squeal when he bites them it's a vicious circle. You want a correction to matter, start high, then go lower as he begins to understand the poor choice (in this situation like life and death ones). Me, I would snatch him by his cheeks and verbally correct him as well, then place him on a down by your leg and let the kids carry on while he waits in a down. Impulse control. You may need to tie him to you for a few weeks, a 6' lead will be your best friend. I hate to say this is normal behavior but alas it is...too many want to say it's herding behavior, it isn't, it's generally first time owners that misconstrue nipping for herding. Stay positive, stay in charge, don't let your emotions run away. This too shall pass. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a puppy, slightly older, she will be 6 months in April. We also have 2 kids, younger than yours, just turned 3 and 5. We also had a lot of trouble with her nipping or pulling the kids clothes. Long after she stopped being mouthy with the adults she persisted with the kids. She also is very quick to earn new things, but not this! 

I have never had a herding breed before, but I agree it is not herding behaviour. I also read those articles before we got her and was concerned, but I would say our pup is more “motion activated” than herding. I think any breed could do this, she is just more sensitive maybe. My kids are young and while they don’t do anything directly to the dog and are considerate of her space, etc, they can be quite loud and do run around a lot which is what sets her off. Like how we adults might simply walk into the kitchen, they come down the hallway at a run and then go into the kitchen hopping, lol. So it has been tough.

your kids are older, does your pup listen to commands from them? Mine doesn’t listen to my kids great on all commands, but she is consistent with them with some of the simple commands which helps, like “sit” and “off”, sometimes “drop it” and I can back them up if needed. So that has helped. It would help more if the kids were older, so might work for you?

We asked for advice here in the winter, we were having a lot of trouble with her when outside pulling at their snow pants, mitts, etc. We received advice like yours above to pop her in the crate for 5 min., for the time out. Probably would have worked well, just I could not be 100% consistent with it, mostly my kids are small enough that I am not always comfortable depending the situation to leave them outside, come in, take her up to her crate, etc., is worth a shot if you can be consistent. 

I never leave them alone together, ever. I always have to watch quite attentively as well when interacting. If she looked like she was thinking of a nip, I call her to my side for a sit, relax a minute. If I missed the signs and she did grab clothes or nip, firm reprimand, I did grab her by the scruff couple times. If she went back to it, I would separate her, either my downing away from the kids, going to her crate, depending on where we were and if I could. With kids, you have to be a bit more flexible sometimes with your consistency unfortunately and that makes it harder for the dog to learn. 

Either way, she is much better. It happened slowly, not suddenly. Just now, if I think to a couple months ago when she would be trying to play tug with my kids jacket, now she runs around the yard with them mostly without any contact, there is a huge improvement, Sometimes I see her think of it and she will go grab a ball or toy instead and run over to them, a better way of inviting play for sure. She has the odd slip up, usually when one of them is being especially chaotic, I admit they can be really a lot to take sometimes and I am their mum! But overall, like night and day, but didn’t happen overnight.

it is tough! I sympathize with you! For us, took a combination of methods and time and patience. It could be frustrating, especially as she picked up so many other things so easily and quickly, but then I look at my kids through the dogs eyes and I see how exciting they must be, she just needed to learn another way to get involved without using her teeth.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I also have a pup and 3 kids (6,8,10) and I found the easiest thing to do was to separate them when any of them (human or canine) started to get too overstimulated/hyper. It was a lot of work but more doable than the 100% consistent crating that was suggested (I simply could not do it). I imagine you remember when your kids were younger and there were signs that they were about to lose it? And you would quickly feed them or get them down for a nap or whatever your strategy was. The same goes for your pup, although they will have different tells. Try to avoid any of them going over threshold. Some of it is simply age/stage but management/training will definitely make it all move along faster and more smoothly. Good luck.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much to everyone who found the time and energy to respond to my post. I really do appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on this. Apologies I took so long to thank you all. Unfortunately I am extremely busy. Apart from the kids and pup (and having two cats) I am also studying at the moment. 

I have to say I tried all the methods mentioned, crating him, yelping as in pain, grabbing him by the cheek, telling him 'no' very firmly, separating, using the lead all the time even at home and so on. I think my major downfall is consistency (or lack of it). While I have generally been really good at crating following his naughty behaviour, the same thing does not apply to my husband and as D'Elle said unless everyone follows through all the hard work goes for nothing. He has never ever displayed any of these behaviours towards me. From the moment we got him he accepted me as the leader so he acts very differently with me and would never ever dream to jump and bite. While I love him to bits I am very firm with him when needed and he simply knows he can't mess around. It's unbelievable how smart these dogs are and quick at understanding what is in our core. He can be a bit mouthy with my husband at times although rarely but the kids are the real attraction for him. I completely agree that kids are just super exciting for puppies. My 10 year old one not so much but my younger who is 8 is his constant target (mainly because she does a lot of hopping and squeals a lot which triggers sets him off). 

Overall I try to teach them as much as the pup to correct their behaviour too. I have to say he is getting better. I am in no doubt we will stop the biting eventually. I guess I just need to consistently follow through which is not always the easiest depending on where we are. In response to Rosalee's question, he does follow commands and in fact when kids train him he does not bite them at all as he is too focuses on the training. It's sort of as if he had two 'brains'. When the cognitive is in charge he is really good and focused but once the cognitive switches off and the emotional kicks in he literally goes a bit wild. 

Otherwise he is an amazing dog, really smart and simply adorable and we love him to bits. I am positive that eventually we will get there and train the biting out of him. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You have put your finger on the problem -- lack of consistency. This is what you have to correct, and if you do, you will see results. If you don't, I don't know if you will ever have a dog who doesn't do this occasionally, because he will know he can get away with it. Knuckle down and get everyone on board. And it would help if you can forbid your 8 year old from jumping around and squealing when the dog is in the room. Or, if the child won't stop, or you don't want to forbid the playful activity,  remove the dog from the area while the child is doing that.

I respectfully disagree with the method of grabbing him by the cheeks or anywhere else. My opinion is that is overkill. I approach training by using the mildest correction I possibly can first, and only escalate that to something stronger if it is absolutely necessary. Most of the time, a mild consequence, such as being taken away from the people and the fun, is enough if it is done 100% of the time. 

By the way, what you say about cognitive brain and emotion is so very true, not only of dogs but of people as well, as I am sure you know. It goes double for young kids, teenagers, and young and teenage dogs are the same way. Just a time you have to get through while enjoying all the wonderful parts of that time at the same time. :D

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pick one technique and do that ONE as consistently as you can. You're giving him way too many signals for him to understand that when he nips, he gets an unpleasant consequence.  He's not getting a chance to understand that nipping causes something unpleasant. 

If possible, you could try putting him in his crate when you notice he's getting revved up and overly excited. Think of it as putting a fussy toddler down for a nap before the eruption of tears, protests, etc. He needs a break from the activity just the way that 3 year old would.

Best of luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

Link to post
Share on other sites

@MB25 we went through a very similar thing with Bailey, and like you tried so many different things but can admit we weren't consistent enough. Good news is that when his adult teeth came through at 5-6 months he just stopped! He is occasionally still a bit mouthy, or might give a little nip if he is overexcited, but now it's so rare if he does it's very easy to follow through on the consequences. We also toned down the excitement in our house that really helped!

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Meghan said:

@MB25 we went through a very similar thing with Bailey, and like you tried so many different things but can admit we weren't consistent enough. Good news is that when his adult teeth came through at 5-6 months he just stopped! He is occasionally still a bit mouthy, or might give a little nip if he is overexcited, but now it's so rare if he does it's very easy to follow through on the consequences. We also toned down the excitement in our house that really helped!

Having the problem more or less solve itself when teething is past is great.

However.......... I caution the OP not to expect that, and instead to take the proper steps to train the puppy out of this behavior. The longer that a dog of any age is successful with a behavior, the longer it will take to change that behavior, and it sounds as if that is what is happening. 

To Meghan.....if this is still a young dog, the training just isn't done yet. Keep being consistent and you will have success. :-)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...