Having a dog that bites is a terrible experience. Australian Shepherds, particularly, are known for being friendly dogs. But a lot of people are still unsure of their real behavior. So… do Australian Shepherds bite?
Australian Shepherds can bite people. Since they were originally herding dogs, this is part of their natural instinct. However, there are many variables that determine if an Australian Shepherd will bite humans.
If you plan to have an Australian Shepherd, in this article I will show you the information you need to know about their biting behavior. If you are already an Australian Shepherd owner, keep reading to get some tips about how to train him and change his bad behavior.
Why an Australian Shepherd Bites?
Some of the main reasons for an Australian Shepherd to bite are:
- Herding Instinct: As I just mentioned, they were originally bred to be herding dogs. Since their primary purpose was to move animals in a particular direction in farms, biting and nipping were useful resources to perform this task. That spirit remains until today. Australian Shepherds may still trigger their “herding mode” and take an offensive position. Obviously, that’s an undesirable behavior as a pet.
- Fear: If an Australian Shepherd is afraid of something, he may nip his owner. That’s their defensive mode. It’s a way to ask for help. Although it may seem kind of aggressive, it’s a desperate way to call some attention.
- Anger: This one is pretty easy to understand. Just as humans, Aussies will also get angry sometimes. If those feelings are strong enough, he may even bite people.
- Guarding behavior: Due to their essence, Australian Shepherds are protective dogs. In fact, when they think someone is going to harm him or their owner, they may bite this person.
In some real cases, this can be a good thing. However, the problem is when the dog starts to behave aggressively in unnecessary situations by mistake. Of course, that’s an unpleasant situation for both his owners and the person affected.
Identify the Types of Bites
Before judging an Australian Shepherd’s attitude, we need to differentiate each type of bite. Depending on the case, it can be either good or bad. This is something significant if you are an owner.
Unneeded bites are the ones owners should really try to combat. They aren’t valuable neither for them nor for the dog. These bites can actually put dog owners in an uncomfortable situation.
For example, imagine an Australian Shepherd randomly biting someone in a public place who isn’t dangerous at all. If an Australian Shepherd behaves like that, it will create an awkward environment. The person may also get angry with the pet’s owners.
On the other hand, there are also acceptable bites. Imagine a stranger in the yard’s entrance. If the person is known to the owner, a bite may be weird. However, that’s the dog’s spirit of protection. If the person is, in fact, an intruder, an Aussie is very helpful in these situations.
Another case in which a bite is forgivable is when the dog is playing. He actually may not have any bad intentions. His main goal must be only to play with the person. He may want to use his mouth a bit. However, if the nip is too strong, it can really hurt.
Depending on the type of bite, you can judge if it is necessary to start training him not to bite.
Considerations Before Training an Australian Shepherd
If you really want your Australian Shepherd not to bite, you need to train him properly. Although it may seem complicated at first, training an Aussie is very easy.
This is due to their incredible intelligence. Many people consider them one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They always want to satisfy their owners as well. Merge this with their ease to learn and you have a perfect combination.
The best period to train your Australian Shepherd is when he is still a puppy. At this age, he will absorb information much faster.
If your dog isn’t still this small, no problem. You just need to start right away. Not being young does not mean you can’t train him at all. The sooner you are available to teach him, the better.
You should also consider teaching your basic dog commands first. Does he already recognize instructions such as “sit,” “follow me” or “stop”? If not, well, definitely teach him now.
As the name suggests, those are basic commands. They should be the first things any dog learns. They are the most useful for you and easiest for him to understand. Always start from the beginning. Then, you can teach him slightly more complicated lessons and get evolving.
To be successful, you need to be persistent. Don’t think since he is intelligent, he is going to learn anything in one day. Of course, you need to maintain regularity and establish a routine to practice with him.
Training Your Australian Shepherd Not To Bite
After you studied everything you need before training your Australian Shepherd, now it’s time to do so.
First of all, you need to break this habit. Yes, biting people is a habit for him. Trying to break it may be challenging, mainly because he is a herding dog. However, challenging doesn’t mean impossible.
With quality training, you can easily replace this bad practice with a good one. Now, I’m going to show you some tips on how you can effectively make your Aussie stop biting people.
Make the training attractive: Right, this is an aspect many owners forget but it is crucial. You need to make your dog want to stick to your classes and forget his old bad habits.
For that, the training needs to be more interesting than the desire to bite, run and do other bad things. Otherwise, your pet will feel like he is at school in a boring class! That way, obviously he is going to learn badly.
Exercise a lot with him: Go to parks, play with him, do some running or any other exercise. Since Australian Shepherds are extremely active dogs, your friend will never be happy staying long periods at home.
Practicing physical tasks is one of the funniest things for Aussies. It’s part of their original farm spirit! Due to that, provide him with long periods of this kind of task. He needs these moments to relieve stress and make his mind work better.
Encourage him to use toys: You don’t want him to bite your family, right? However, he still needs to use his mouth for fun. The best solution to this problem is specially-made dog toys.
Give his favorite dolls, flirt poles, and other funny objects to him to bite. As the training goes on, he will start to identify he is supposed to bite these items rather than people. It’s also a way to show him what is the right attitude to take.
Use leads outside: Since you’re just starting to train your furry friend, always use a lead on the street. You definitely want to avoid problems in agitated moments.
If you want to walk him without the help of a lead, leave this for the future. As I said, you need to be patient with his abilities. Walking alone is a more advanced task. First, go through the basic steps. Once he learns them, you can go a bit further.
Try not to trigger chases: The last thing you want when training your Aussie not to bite is having him chasing you. You should avoid running around the dog too much. This may encourage your friend to copy your actions and chase you. This can eventually end up in bites.
Hide him from the kids: Children running around your dog may activate his “herding mode.” Aussies are also known for trying to herd small kids sometimes. Until he isn’t mature enough, keep him away from children.
If you’re planning to have an Australian Shepherd, think about it first. Aussies are fantastic dogs. However, you need to ensure you will be able to provide him with an adequate quality of life.
Before getting angry with your Australian Shepherd, noting that his intention to bite might not be to hurt. A wide variety of factors may lead him to bite you or other people. You have to judge his attitude first.
After analyzing this, check if it is adequate to train him. If so, this may not be a problem. Aussies are lovely and really easy to be trained!
My Australian Shepherd is biting the kids in their ankle. What should I do?
This is quite common. Due to their herding background, Aussies sometimes do this with children. They may identify them as “animals to be herd.” You can fix this behavior via regular training. As he grows up and learns the lesson, he will stop doing this.
How much time does it take to train my Australian Shepherd?
Each dog is different, but Australian Shepherds generally take around 2-6 weeks to stop them from biting randomly. It is not a hard task. If you still have issues, however, remember professional dog trainers are always available to help you!