Dog’s Nipping May Be Related to Breed

Though the Australian Cattle Dog will naturally nip livestock, nipping children is unacceptable.

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Q. I have a 15-month-old Australian Cattle Dog. She has "nipped" a 2 year old in the thigh and recently went for a 3-year-old child’s hands. She looks very aggressive when she does this but we are confused because breed information says it’s instinctive not aggressive. We just had a baby (4 months now) and we are concerned about her hurting him. What can we do to train or curb this instinct? Is she a danger to our child? Thank you very much for your help.

A. For the sake of your new baby and to save yourselves from a very likely law suit as well as the euthanasia of your dog, please find a dog trainer who can help you set limits on your dog's behavior.

Yes, Australian Cattle Dogs, like other Herding breeds, will naturally nip cattle and other livestock – and they'll try nipping children too, if you allow it. However, being mouthy and nipping humans is totally unacceptable. You must intervene, give the dog other outlets for his energy and break him of his nipping.

Australian Cattle Dogs can be pig-headed but this behavior cannot continue. If the parent of a child your dog nipped called the authorities they could seize your dog and have it euthanized.

Dogs can demonstrate many socially unacceptable behaviors, from chewing to nipping to knocking young children over in their exuberance. Aggression may not be at the core of the behavior but the behavior still cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.


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Sharon   San Jose, California

7/27/2013 2:22:28 AM

I forgot to say when I made a comment that they are very jealous dogs, and want all the attention. I am sure some of you have notice this with this breed! I think if I had very young children this would not be the type of dog I would pick for the family. Now, with a child above 12yrs and up.....great dog! Would protect the kids to the death....If you already have an Australian Cattle Dog....yes, they can be trained not to nip! You just can't let them get to excited when playing, and so forth. Love this breed, and they will protect you no matter what if you are in need! I notice with my dog she never was really keen on meeting people on the the outside of the house. When someone would come in, and she knew them she was just so happy to see them! Good luck with the baby, and your dog! Don't give up on your dog....that dog will become that baby's protector and good friend growing up! Just watch him while training him. He will get it, and make sure he gets attention too!

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Sharon   San Jose, California

7/27/2013 2:11:09 AM

Well, my female Australian Cattle Dog as a puppy would nip, and that is for sure the time to train them not to nip especially children! It took her maybe four times me telling her she should not, and she listened.....she always wanted to please us, and loved the praise! That is how I would get her to listen to what I would say.....she lived for that praise, she was doing the right thing! My daughter, and nephew when she was a pup played rough with her too. I caught them always teasing her, and that made things worse. I don't know if you all having this breed notice that when you play rough with these dogs they tend to go into a frenzy.....that is what I call it! Sadie would get so over excited that it was like she would not think about what she was really doing at the time. I knew never to get her to that point, but my daughter would play with her like that, and they called her crazy girl! She was not, but that is something I did watch with her around other kids, and people.

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angela - 258884   

8/9/2012 10:22:28 PM

i have 4, one 6yrs, two 3 yrs and a 12 week old. i would everytime they went to nip i would snap and point and in a sturn voice said no it took the older ones 4 to 6 times as puppies to get it, now my 12 week old is very pig headed but he is learning after 3 trys now

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sandie   vero beach, FL

6/1/2012 6:32:49 PM

G yes,they do nop at children and my cats

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