Australian Shepherd Nipping And Growling At My Son

by Bridgette
(Roseburg, Or)

We have a 3 1/2 year old Australian Shepherd. We've only had him three weeks. His last owners didn't have time to play with him. He is mainly my ten year old son's dog and seems to have really bonded with him more than anyone else. My son plays with him two to three hours a day everyday.

Lately he has been nipping my son but its weird because its not like he's being aggressive but today he nipped him three times pretty hard for no reason. The second he saw him he ran and knocked him over and nipped him. He also started growling at him today two times. The first time they were playing fetch and my son was walking up to him to get the ball and he growled. The second time he was extremely happy to see my son like he always is and they were loving on each other and he growled again.

I'm so confused because he loves my son but he's only doing this to my son. There is no reason for any of it. He's always excited to see my son and sad the entire time my son is gone. We aren't sure what to do. We don't believe in smacking him but we aren't sure what to do.

Comments for Australian Shepherd Nipping And Growling At My Son

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by: Anonymous

Sounds like the dog is going "alpha" on your son. He (your son) needs to learn to be the alpha. I would recommend finding an obedience course that your son could take the dog to. He would learn the correct way to discipline the dog himself, plus it would give the two of them something to do together. Once the dog sees your son as the alpha, i bet you won't see any more problems.

Nipping and Growling
by: jcrply

Here are some suggestions:

Obedience Class - with your son as the trainer.

Food - Your son should take over all the feeding. It might be a good idea for him to feed directly from his hand instead of a bowl and ask the dog to sit (or do some other sort of work) before the dog can have any food.

Distract Him
by: Jean

I also have an aussie who nips, growls and runs circles around me sometimes... it's almost like a switch goes off in his head and his personality changes. If I say "where's your toy" in a playful way, he stops what he is doing and finds a toy that we play with instead.

It took a while but I figured out it is his way of playing with me. He does not mean to hurt me and the growls, barks and nips are playful (although to someone else, they do not sound playful) but sometimes the nips catch skin. He never does this with my husband or son and is definitely my dog and never leaves my side.

It may be difficult with a child to really understand what is going on but your son needs to find a way to distract him when he starts this behavior. Find something that works and stick to it.

Best of luck!

Your son and training classes
by: Suzan

In your dog's point of view, your son and him are the same ranking in the home. He is starting to challenge your son for a higher ranking. I highly recommend taking a basic obedient class but have your son be the handler or have a trainer come to your home and work with your son and your dog. This will be beneficial for your son and your dog. Make sure the training class or private trainer teaches positive reinforcement. Your son will learn how to correct your dog in a positive way and your dog will see your son as a leader. This will also strengthen their bond and trust. Around the home, your son should be the one to feed him, this will raise his ranking in your dog's point of view.

by: Mike

This definitely sounds like a leadership issue. The Aussie wants to take over the Alpha position. My Blue Merle was with me 24/7 for 10 years. Never had a problem with him until one evening I fell from a ladder and severely injured myself when there was no one else around. I had to crawl back to the house through the bark and the plants in the rain and the darkness. My Aussie went crazy... ran around me in circles, nipped at my heels, went underneath me and came up nipping at my face. Apparently he thought I was lowering myself to be an average dog in the pack and it was his opportunity to take over. Once I made it back to the house and got up on my feet his behavior went back to normal. You have to show them who's boss. Your son should set aside some time to do some serious training as well as the time for having fun. That will help to maintain his position as the Alpha male whereas the dog is simply a member of the pack.

by: gayle--big run aussies

Everyone who suggested your son train and take care of the dog totally by himself are correct. The dog thinks of your son as a total playmate and not his human. He needs to show respect to your son. Clicker training is a great way to train obedience and trick training. Kyra Sundance's book,"101 Dog Tricks". Your son will have so much teaching tricks and showing off to his friends. He will have his very own "Lassie".

My bone to pick is with Mike. Mike's dog was not "trying to be ALPHA". Mike's dog was worried about him and was trying to help him get up. Aussies are herding dogs and will try to restore normalcy in abnormal situations. Dogs know we are humans and they are not trying to take over the world. You will never see a dog running for president. This "alpha" thing is from people who think they are trainers, but don't really train. They use it as an excuse for abuse.

by: suzan

I agree with Gayle. I bought this book and I love it. This book gives easy to follow instructions and it really makes training fun.

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