If you find your Border Collie nipping at people or dogs you need to first realise that this is a natural instinct in this breed. Border Collies are working dogs and they are best at herding livestock. Although they do not always need to nip at the animals they are rounding up, sometimes it is an extra tool they use if the sheep are misbehaving.
Even though it is natural for your dog, you need to curb Border Collie nipping before it gets out of hand or someone gets hurt or frightened by this behavior. Border Collie nipping is best dealt with as a puppy. Border Collie puppies are very open to training and thrive on pleasing their owner.
When is Border Collie Nipping Most Likely to Happen?
If you Border Collie gets overexcited and has excess energy it may resort to nipping. This may occur when you have been away from home for a long time and your dog is excited to see the family return. The children start playing with the dog and in its excitement your Border Collie starts to nip. Border Collie nipping should especially be discouraged if it involves children.
When a Border Collie has not had enough exercise it may start nipping. The more exercise it gets the better your chances at reducing nipping. Similarly, if your Border Collie has not had enough mental stimulation it will get overexcited at times and tend to nip more.
Of course, your Border Collie has a natural instinct to herd and nip so it can still occur despite good daily exercise. This is where you need to do some good training to stop Border Collie nipping.
The good thing about Border Collie nipping is that they tend to snap at the back of people’s heels in an attempt to nip so it is quite obvious that they are not actually trying to bite the person. Even though this can be frightening for a person who is unaware of the Border Collie’s instinct at least you, as owner, can recognise what the trouble behavior is and deal with it.
How to Stop Border Collie Nipping
Obviously start with good daily exercise and see how much this improves the situation. Ideally your Border Collie needs about 2 hours of exercise per day. This should comprise both walks and off-leash running and playing such as catching a frisbee or agility training.
When you see your Border Collie nipping, never yell or physically hit your Border Collie. This will only confuse your dog.
Start training your Border Collie as young as possible. While your Border Collie is still a young puppy, around 8 weeks of age, you should not let your dog bite or nip your fingers. Just say a serious ‘NO’ and give your puppy a chew toy instead. However, do not play dominance games like tug-of-war or wrestling with the chew toy because this may encourage your Border Collie to try and use its teeth as it grows up to assert dominance which will encourage actual biting rather than nipping.
If you see your Border Collie nipping up to the age of 6 months this is still a good time for training. They will still respond well to training so be patient. Always stay consistent and discourage the nipping behaviour. You can only correct the behaviour when you catch your dog in the act of nipping. If you know it tends to happen when your Border Collie is playing with the children be sure to go out there and be close to the action and give a firm ‘NO’ when the dog tries to nip and then use distraction and reward the dog for more appropriate play.
Try and involve the whole family in correcting the nipping behaviour. If your Border Collie hears a stern ‘NO’ every time he tries to nip he will eventually learn when it is inappropriate to herd.
It is important to stay consistent towards your Border Collie. Do not let your dog get away with nipping on one day, only to try and stop the behavior the next day. Consistency is key.