How do I get my Mini Aussie to stop nipping at our cats?
She will let the cats walk by her sometimes, while other times she will run up to them and bite their sides. It isn't the back of their legs like a herding instinct would be but their sides. She shows her teeth while doing it too. The cat was just walking by and not even bugging her. Why would she do that?
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She's doing it because she has been allowed to get away with it AND it gets a rise from you.
It sounds like she needs more basic behavioral training such as sit and stay and leave it and those types of behaviors.
Until such time as she is responsive to these commands, especially leave it, I would not allow her freedom to be near these cats. Particularly with the showing of the teeth and her breed, this may not end well at all!!!
I would only allow her house freedom when she was tethered to me so I could be proactive and stop this type of reaction BEFORE it starts. Use a toy or a treat to interrupt her attention on the cat and you will make the cats less interesting to her. I have heard of way, way too many dogs who suddenly grabbed and shook a cat to death, even at her small size she is capable of this so until she has a solid "leave it" command she needs to be kept away from them.
Toto, CD, RN, CGC answered on Dec 15th.