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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care
Guide To Australian Shepherd Training and Care

Anxious Aussie Has Nipped Countless People

by Ashley



Hello, My Aussie, Wrangler, is almost 8 years old now. He is my husband and my first baby! Since getting him we got another small breed of dog, have had our first son, and have another baby on the way due in August.

Wrangler nipped for the first when he was about 6 months old. We got him neutered shortly after that thinking it would calm him down. It did not... we also took him to obedience classes and even had a dog psychologist come to our home to help us understand him as best we could.

He has had anxiety as far back as I can remember regardless of exercise and training. He obeys my husband mostly, usually me as well but only when my husband isn’t around. Since his first nip he has nipped countless other people, including a Fedex driver which resulted in quarantining him. Most people have been friends and family which we feel terrible about but also lucky that we haven’t had more reported cases against him :(

He has nipped both me and my husband as well. We know that nipping happens when people run by him, are moving something large or noisy, or just doing something noisy in general. It has gotten to the point however, that he just seems to nip people he doesn’t feel good about.

Both of our grandfathers were not doing any of those things and have been nipped twice all on separate occasions. I am nervous about him around our human babies and not sure what to do.

I understand Aussies have a herding instinct and it’s a natural herding behavior, but it is resulting in us not being able to have people over and stress for my husband and I when he is around our noisy first born son.

We love Wrangler so much and are heartbroken by the situation so please go easy on me with responses! What do you recommend we do? Has anyone gone through this situation as well? Thanks.

Comments for Anxious Aussie Has Nipped Countless People

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Anxious aussie
by: Anonymous

It sounds like he is trying to control what he considers a chaotic situation, he sees people milling and nobody is in charge, so he’s going to take over.

I would give him a "job" when people come over. Whether it’s eating a frozen Kong in his crate or on a bed, using a treat toy, a treat puzzle. Give him something to occupy his mind and let him know that is his job and you will handle the people. If you are outside have him "herd" a ball. Ours loves her Jolly Pet soccer ball. That’s her "job" in the backyard, finding and playing with her ball otherwise she’s herding and pestering the other dogs,

I would also make sure he’s getting plenty of exercise especially prior to guests coming over, you could also try taking him for a walk with the guests so that people means something good for him as well.

Nipping problems
by: Anonymous

I immediately had the thought that your busy active household might be too much for him, especially if he is sensitive to noise and motion. Adding another person to your house may not be best for him either. My first suggestion would be to give him time outs where he would be able to rest in his crate, "off duty" and in a quiet corner. My second suggestion won't be popular - try to find him a new home with less active but loving circumstances.

Nipped people - hope this helps
by: James

It could be dog particular here. I hope he/she gets at least 2 hours of intense exercise a day . The first hour run in the morning ( or frisbee ) . They need huge amounts of exercise . sometimes a slight 'whack' with a nylon leash ( just to make a noise and boundary ) on the side of the body saying "NO" and "bad" when this happens right away has cured my problems with Aussies not listening or wanting to run up to strangers w/o permission . BUT nipping is unacceptable , although in their nature as a herder . Maybe he she needs a 'time-out' station as well after the even ( like a garage ? ) just a slight whack with the leash ( to make the noise not to harm) and a strong "NO" and a time-out should cure the problem. Also some food types have made dogs hyper and anxious too - try changing food types . Also talk to your vet informally about this as well ! Give hugs often to Aussies - they thrive on it ! :) . PLEASE - let us know how things work out !

Thanks!
by: Anonymous

Thank you guys for your thoughts! It sounds like a common idea is a mellow time out place, like his crate in the garage. He uses the crate when we travel and does fine so he is already familiar with it, we will just have to work with him while we are at home. He obviously just wants to be right by us when we are home but we will have to teach him that, that is his quiet place when we have guests over. We moved onto 30 acres and thought that it would be the most wonderful thing for him but he just seems to be getting more anxious and territorial as he gets older. As far as having noisy kids go, we can’t leave him crates all the time... so a "job" to distract him sounds like a good thing to try.

Thanks!
by: Anonymous

Thank you guys for your thoughts! It sounds like a common idea is a mellow time out place, like his crate in the garage. He uses the crate when we travel and does fine so he is already familiar with it, we will just have to work with him while we are at home. He obviously just wants to be right by us when we are home but we will have to teach him that, that is his quiet place when we have guests over. We moved onto 30 acres and thought that it would be the most wonderful thing for him but he just seems to be getting more anxious and territorial as he gets older. As far as having noisy kids go, we can’t leave him crates all the time... so a "job" to distract him sounds like a good thing to try.

Biter
by: Anonymous

My dog is six year old red Merle Australian Shepherd Aussie and he bites too, thought of giving him up or putting down in fear of him biting a small child by giving him up. He’s bitten my husband in the face blood everywhere. He’s bitten him two or three other times, bit my 12 year old and has come at me also if he gets hurt while playing. All together he has bitten about 9 times. Didn’t know this dog had such an aggressive side.

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