Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Is A Muzzle OK To Use On A 7 Month Old Aussie That Bites?

My 7 month old female Aussie is in classes. Her teething process is over. About once per week I get a bad bite while walking her. Last night, I was about 5 blocks from home when she turned on me and attacked me. Do you think a muzzle or gentle leader will be beneficial in training her? Firm "No's", putting the leash in her mouth, even holding her down, do not teach this dog dominance! For some reason she challenges me constantly.

I have some pretty bad bruises on my arm, chest, and legs from her little "frenzies". It is a tad bit more than "puppy nipping", more like unprovoked herding or aggression. What triggers this? And is a muzzle helpful? Thanks for your help!! Training classes teach positive reinforcement, but that does not protect you from getting bitten. I love her, but I am very frustrated. I am the only one in the home she challenges like this. I am also the one who spends the most time with her. She is a great exercise partner, but can be unpredictable without warning. :(

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Comments for Is A Muzzle OK To Use On A 7 Month Old Aussie That Bites?

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by: Anonymous

Funny, my mini aussie is also 7 months and challenges me constantly.
Normally the walks are good as I have her on a haltie but when she plays she seems to get over excited with toys and when I go to stop she barks and bites at me. Also if she wants attention she gets aggressive. This may sound funny but I was told to try startling her with a spray bottle when this behaviour starts.
I did this a couple of times and she backed right down. Now all I have to do is show her the bottle and she settles. Still a work in progress but you may want to try this.

Good luck as I know how frustrating this can be.

Re: Biting
by: Anonymous

I have also recommended the ever so mighty spray bottle! Use this with a stern "NO BITE!'and a quick spray in the face. This should get her attention quickly. Some aussies like water and you will get no response except for maybe a fluttering of the eyes. If this is the case, you can add a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar to your water, increasing small amounts as needed. This will not hurt your dog. She may smell but it will not hurt her. You can also use this for other training as well. Using a 'Leave it' command, 'no barking' or 'quiet' 'no jump' or 'off' and showing her the spray bottle. Pretty soon, you will not have to spray her but just show her the bottle. She will catch on and I have not seen this not work. GOOD LUCK!

by: Anne

Do you know or have a clue when she starts this
biting? Is she in an excited state when she starts biting?
It sounds like the way you describe the situation,
that she is challenging you as Alpha dog, "Pack Leader". You have to establish that you are the Alpha dog and the dominate one not her. A good exercise for this is, sit on the floor and lay your aussie on its back and massage & rub the tummy. Do not let the puppy get up until YOU say so. The pup may fight, wiggle kick, and even try to bite. Hold them on their back, until they calm down and then let your aussie up. They HAVE to be relaxed (submissive) before you let them up and then lots of praise and treats. Repeat this as often as you like.
The other issue is the pup's energy level. Find a dog park or a person in your area that teaches herding lessons. Your local dog club is a good start or ask your obedience class instructor. Agility is also a good exercise relief or if your dog can catch a frisbee.
You also have to remember, that your aussie IS still a puppy. Short fun training sessions.
Don't get frustrated when you train, if you do,
quit and trya gain later after both of you have had some time a part to settle down.
Hope this helps. If you have more questions, please e-mil me at

Anne Calmes
Gold Ring Aussies
Louisiana, USA

by: Gayle-- Big Run Aussies

The head collar is the best solution for your baby girl. I also think the spray bottle is great. You can also add a little lemon juice for more of a kick if you think it is necessary.

I know you walk her and that is great, but does she get enough running? She needs to get tired and you can do that also through brain games and tricks training. I also like to use the "puppy push-ups" -- sit, down, stand in rapid fire. Yelling usually makes things worse -- more stress for her and you. If you try to remain calm, she should calm down, too. You can also use "settle" -- picking up her front legs from behind to hobble her and saying "settle" in a calm manner. Things will get better. Believe me.

Stay below threshold
by: Anonymous

Please do not put the collar in her mouth or hold her down. Both of those actions are not simple displays of dominance; they are showing your puppy that you are reactive, aggressive, and could be a potential threat to her safety. If you have done these things at a particular point on your walks, she may already be associating that place or landmark as a trigger for an unpleasant experience.

I have never used a muzzle on a puppy that young, but if that is something that you choose to do, be sure to properly charge the muzzle as a good thing and not just throw it on. Another thing that you might consider, given the age of your dog, is that she may be getting overstimulated during the walk depending on how much is going on, how much of it is unfamiliar to your dog, etc. Try to keep your dog below threshold and slowly work your way up. Below is a useful website on understanding thresholds.

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