Robin and I were in Alpharetta last Wednesday with a new Home Dog Training client and his Border Collie named Lasso.  Lasso was just a little hyperactive, but that is nothing unusual for herding dogs.  The lesson went very well and we were able to get Lasso to focus and obey our client rather quickly.  One of the big issues that we were able to resolve was Lasso’s continuous nipping at our client’s pants.  This was just annoying and nothing he did would stop Lasso from nipping.  Whatever he did just made it worse.  We were very successful in resolving the problem and I thought it would be great if I shared the solution with all of you.

In resolving this problem, the first thing we do with our clients is to explain why their dog is nipping their pants.  Next they need to clearly communicate that this is wrong and that their dog must stop.  

Your dog is always trying to understand what what you want them to do and what your group rules are.  He tries to accomplish this communication and insight through the use and observance of body language. Dogs do not have words and sentences, so their main form of communication are the nuances of stance and movement from body language they can see around them.  Now, let’s take a look of what your dog really understands from watching you walk down the hall…

As you approach your dog, you are facing him.  Facing another animal is a natural act of dominance.  At this point you are telling your dog “I am the leader.  I make the rules and you must obey me.”  Your dog understands this and is subservient.  

As you walk by your dog and continue down the hall, he now sees your back.  Any animal’s back is always their submissive or weak side.  (When wolves attack other animals, they always try and come at them from behind.)  You have unknowingly changed your message to our dog from “I am your leader, obey” to “I am not the boss. I am not in charge of you. Do what you like”.  This communicates to your dog that he can be in charge.  He just might want to play “tag” with you.  We all know what happens next.

What is the answer?  You must appropriately use your body language send a clear signal to your dog that he is not the leader and that you aren’t playing “tag with my pants”.  Here is what you do:

  • As you approach your dog, say “No” using a low, stern, guttural tone as you are about to pass him.  
  • As you pass, turn so that you are always facing him. If needed, repeat the low toned “No” several more times.
  • Continue to walk backwards down the hall so that you continue to face him. (Make sure you don’t trip!)
  • If your dog starts to move towards you, repeat the low, stern “No”.
  • As you move away, you become less of a “playful” distraction and your dog will quickly become uninterested in you.
  • You can now turn around and keep walking. Just be sure you are still passively watching him in case he decides to try and take charge and play tag.

Do this for the next few days every time you pass your dog.  Pass your dog even though you don’t need to, just to reinforce this behavior.  Through your consistent and repeated acts of clearly explaining to your dog (through body language) that you won’t accept his nipping, he will learn that it is not right and will stop.  

Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Alpharetta Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Alpharetta Georgia.