Training a Herding Dog to Stop Nipping and Chasing the Kids

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: August 16, 2017

Gambini is a one-year-old Australian Shepherd who lives in Omaha with two-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Abby. Their guardians set up a dog behavior training session to help Gambini stop nipping and stop chasing the kids and their dog Abby.

After arriving I chatted with the guardians and learned that the dogs didn’t have any rules in place. When dogs don’t have many rules it can lead to them thinking that they can take on the leadership position in the house. I suggested a few rules: no furniture, having the dogs sit before going out the door, staying at least seven-feet away from anyone who is eating and waiting to come out of their crates with a release word.

One of their main dog behavior concerns was when Gambini would nip and chase the kids, their other dog Abby and their cat. One of their concerns was that Gambini could be an aggressive dog, but after watching him I recognized that he playing and at times using some of his herding instincts. Although Gambini wants to herd the people and animals in the house, this wasn’t a job that his family wanted him to do. So I taught his guardians how to disagree with his behavior using our Escalating Consequences and training him to gain self control using counterconditioning. I demonstrated how to use counterconditioning in the video below.

I want to emphasize to the guardians that they can use counterconditioning to help Gambini gain self control for other behavioral problems. They can use this method to help him stop chasing the cat or Abby when she is outside in the yard. Another important time to help Gambini gain self control is when he is coming out of his crate. When both dogs are in their crates work on opening the door slowly and closing it if they attempt to exit before their release word. If they have high energy in their crates they will bring that into the house, potentially leading to unwanted behaviors.

By the end of the session the dogs were gaining self control, respecting invisible boundaries that we set and stopped chasing the kids and cat. To keep up this good behavior the guardians will want to be consistent in their training and follow through using the escalating consequences. Remember to use our Petting with a Purpose technique to reward good behavior. We wrapped up this session with Gambini and Abby’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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