Using Freeshaping to Reward a Mini Aussie for Looking at Things Instead of Nipping

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 8, 2019

For this Omaha dog training session we teach 1 year-old Toy Australian Shepherd Tucker (pictured here on the left with his sibling Archer) to focus on things he dislikes to create a positive association.

There are many reasons dogs nip kids, but with herding breeds its often a combination of the kids movement and the dog’s perception they are in charge of the kids. We spent the first part of the session flipping the leader follower dynamic so the dogs see the kids and adults in the house as the leaders.

To stop the dog’s nipping habit, I decided to use some free shaping combined with what I call “click for looks” where we use a clicker to mark and reward the dog for looking at things its normally reactive to. Instead of seeing the thing as a target, it becomes the source of rewards and positive things.

The guardians will need to create situations with the kids around so they can practice this technique to stop dog nipping in progressively increasing levels of difficulty. The key will be to go at the dog’s pace so its not reacting (lunging, barking or nipping) while they practice. If they go slow and practice often, they should be able to get the dogs to sit nicely while kids run around instead of nipping the kid’s feet.

To help the guardians remember all the behavior tips we covered in this in home Omaha dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video so everyone can use these tips, even if they are not a professional Mini Australian Shepherd dog trainer.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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