We were at a new Home Dog Training client in Woodstock last week working with his one year old Border Collie named Bernadette.  Bernadette was a great dog and was very attentive with our training.  Our client quickly picked up on the obedience commands and could get Bernadette to come, sit, stay, and walk.  We even got through all the behavior problems he had on his list.  As we were finishing up, he remembered one more thing. He said that every time he goes by Bernadette, she lets him just get around him, and then bites at his heals or pant legs.  This whole thing is really annoying and he said that his pants are becoming ruined.  Of course he didn’t want to do anything like knocking her away, but what should he do?

Many dogs that are overly playful or always demanding of attention will try to do whatever they can to have you pay attention to them.  Nipping at your heals surely gets your full attention.  When they do this, you stop what you are doing and turn to them. You are now giving them focus because they demanded it.  You have now responded to your dog’s demand for attention and have submitted to his authority.  He told YOU what to do.

The things you obviously can’t do are yell, hit, or scream in response to your dog’s nip.  These activities will always elevate the situation to where your dog will start to jump, bark, or even bite.  You must proactively identify the situation and address the issue before it takes place.  You must show leadership towards your dog in a consistent and resolute manner.  Our suggestion is as follows:

  • As you approach your dog and in preparation of passing him; stop and face him. Stay absolutely still and say “No” in a low, resolute, muffled voice.
  • Now, start to slowly pass around him.  It is important that you are always facing him as you pass.  When you are facing another person (or animal), that displays the body language characteristic of dominance or assertiveness.  If your dog starts to move towards you, stop, continue to face him, and say (in a very low tone) “No”.
  • Keep moving away away from him and don’t forget to still face him.  Yes, at this point you will be walking backwards.  Be careful of your surroundings so you don’t trip, fall, or bump into something.
  • Once you are about ten feet away from your dog and he is still calm and still, give him one more (in a low tone) “No”.  Now you can slowly turn around and continue walking.
  • Just to be sure that all is well, quickly glance back to make sure that he isn’t making his move to come after you and nip.  If he is, correct him again by facing him and giving him the low “No”.

Over the years we have found that this is one of those exercises that always works.  Practice it regularly and you will see great results in no time.

Feel free to call us at (770) 718-7704 with all your dog training questions.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Woodstock Georgia.