Nipping is part of an Australian Cattle Dog’s personality. These tough dogs were designed to drive livestock and nip to keep animals moving forward.
If you are wondering how to stop an Australian Cattle Dog from biting, the good news is that with consistent training and patience you can get your pet to stop biting.
Is Your Heeler Puppy Biting Excessively?
If your heeler puppy wont stop biting, rest assured that you are not alone. Due to their ancestry, these puppies have a reputation for being quite a handful in the biting department.
Teaching a heeler puppy to stop biting requires lots of patience and determination. And, considering their high intelligence, you must also out-smart them. Fortunately, there are many strategies to use to redirect their behaviors and provide outlets for their natural, instinctive behaviors.
Blue heeler, red heeler (basically, heelers of different coat colors), Australian cattle dog and Queensland heeler: these are just several names used to depict the same breed. In order to better understand why a heeler puppy wont stop biting, you need to look back into this breeds history and what these dogs were selectively bred for.
As the name implies, an Australian cattle dogs country of origin is Australia, and more specifically, Queensland—Australias second-largest state, which is where these dogs were particularly popular.
These highly intelligent dogs are related to Australia’s famous wild dog, the Dingo. The history of the breed informs us that heelers were obtained by crossing imported herding dogs with Dingoes. Sometime along the way, other breeds may have been added into the bloodline (like the Kelpie and Dalmatian, as its been suggested). DNA analysis may be needed to have a clearer insight into this mixed bag of genes.
The term heeler, which is just another name for this breed, refers to this breeds working style. These dogs were selectively bred for controlling and herding herds of cattle with force, by nipping and biting stubborn cattles heels to get them to move.
The Australian Cattle Dog Club of America adds some further details: this is a breed that likes to think for itself. It was crafted to move stubborn cattle by “coming in low from behind, biting the hock of the weight-bearing leg, and ducking to avoid the kick that often follows. An uncooperative bovine doesn’t discourage the dog; rather, the Australian Cattle Dog just becomes more determined to get its job done.”
Personality-wise, the American Kennel Club describes these dogs as being “alert extremely intelligent, watchful, courageous and trustworthy, with an implicit devotion to duty. “
In a nutshell, cattle dogs have the potential for being ideal working dogs and may be quite an asset for those who have a farm. Indeed, still as of today, many heelers are employed on farms with lots of acreage where these dogs can work and romp to their hearts content.
Heelers thrive when provided a job to do.
Help, My Heeler Puppy Won’t Stop Biting!
It is not surprising, considering this breeds history as herding dogs, to see puppies that are extremely intelligent and seek interaction with their owners. The nipping in a heeler pup may be more than the average puppy due to this breeds instincts to herd and nip. Add on top of that their determination, and you have the perfect recipe for what dog owners nickname the “nippy puppy monster.”
For a good part, puppy nipping should be inhibited to a certain extent once puppies are heading to their new homes at 8 weeks of age. This is courtesy of the pups interactions with their littermates and mom which should have taught them the ABCs of puppy bite inhibition.
In the litter, every time a puppy plays and bites too hard, their littermates will yelp and withdraw from play, which should teach these rough pups to use their mouths more gently if they want to keep playing.
However, once puppies make their way into their new homes, further training is required to prevent these pups from nipping too hard considering that human skin is much softer. On top of learning to bite more softly, heeler puppies should also eventually learn to interact with humans in different ways.
When puppies play and a good percentage of that play involves rough mouthing that goes uncorrected, there is a big chance of the behavior gaining a strong rehearsal history with conditioned emotions. Soon, the puppy will seek out these interactions more and more as they feel good. The more aroused puppies are, the harder they will bite and the more those jaws develop, the more they are capable of inflicting pain. Excessive nipping should be “nipped in the bud” before it becomes an ingrained habit.
Its important to teach heelers to inhibit their bite, find productive ways to redirect the puppys biting, and teach that pleasure can be gained from alternate activities.
How do I train my Blue Heeler puppy NOT to bite?
The best way to train your Blue Heeler puppy NOT to bite is during the event itself.
If your Blue Heeler puppy bites, they should be told a firm NO BITE, and then the pet parent should remove themselves from the puppy for a time.
After a time, the puppy can be rewarded with the parent returning to play or snuggle time.
Should the event happen again, the training should continue in the same manner.
If your Blue Heeler puppy bites, it can be helpful also to give them something that they can bite.
This item can be a chew or teething toy or frozen rag if they are teething.
The puppy will learn what they can bite or nip and what they should not nip or bite with patience and time.
Each puppy will reach this time frame on its own, as they are all unique.
For this breed, since they need to bite is so ingrained, this may take a bit more persistence.
They naturally have an independent mind and determined nature, so more patience might need to be given.
Consistency is a must here for this breed.
That means the pet parents must be consistent and not let their Blue Heeler puppy bite or nip anything unacceptable, ever.
One slip up with a dog breed so independent, determined, and intelligent, and it can make the process take even longer.
Methods that are harsh or punishing to the puppy should NEVER be used as they are abusive and detrimental to its overall health.
These methods also wreak havoc on the loving bond the parents will want to form with their new Blue Heeler puppy.
It is also helpful for pet parents to infuse their behavior with emotion.
When the puppy bites their finger, they should express the pain that can be heard.
The puppy will learn from this as well.
In some instances with this breed, they may not learn and end up biting a little harder or more if the parent withdraws from play or expresses pain.
This breed was bred to work, and their occupation must be considered.
In this case, redirecting their behavior can be helpful.
This can include playing with a particular toy designed for them to bite or nip or something else entirely.
During the redirecting, they should also be praised and rewarded for their efforts.
This can take time and lots of tiny morsels of treats, so be prepared.
Possibilities for training will happen throughout the day.
The pet parent should be prepared physically, as well as have lots of tiny treats on hand.
Puppy training classes can be more helpful for those who can’t manage training their Blue Heeler puppy.
The financial price may be worth the reduction in stress of dealing with this behavior.
Are Blue Heelers easy to train?
How long does it take a Blue Heeler puppy to calm down?