New Aussie puppy - nipping/biting/growling, etc.


Barked: Wed Dec 2, '09 11:42am PST 
Hi - we have a new Aussie puppy, Roger. He's 12 weeks old, and is very smart - already knows basic commands - sit, stay, down, give the paw, etc. He's generally very sweet - loves people and absolutely loves playing with other dogs!

The one issue my husband and I are trying to deal with is that he has these little "bursts" where he literally goes berserk. I have tried to identify when they happen, and these seem to be the main times:

1) we have ended a walk and have just stepped onto our own property/going up our driveway
2) he has just gotten up or just eaten and is ready to go nuts and play
3) he wants something - and I'm not always sure what it is

Anyway, these "episodes" include him diving up at me, biting onto my clothing, grabbing my pant leg and tugging very forcefully, and he often growls when he's doing all of this. Over the past two weeks, he's obviously growing quickly, and it's no longer cute/funny - his teeth hurt and I have scratches on my arms and legs, holes in my pants, coats, etc. When I pull him off of me or gently push him away and/or try to use commands like "sit" to break his concentration, he gets even more riled up. He's very defiant - if I look him in the eye and say "No" firmly, he will stare right back at me and do it again.

All that said, at other times, he's very sweet and obedient and again, he doesn't show aggression toward people or dogs, but this happens mainly with me and at certain times. Is he playing, is he trying to herd me? I've also noticed he does it when we're going to walk back up to our 2nd floor condo. He will go halfway up the stairs, then look back down at me - I'm behind him - and he'll run back down to me and start tugging at me and diving at me and he does this until we get to the top.

We do have a trainer - her whole theory is based on the "ignore/act like a tree" approach where the "punishment" is simply the removal of my attention. So, if he puts his mouth on my skin, I remove my hands or whatever, or my entire self, from the situation until he calms down. The problem is that we're often somewhere where I can't do this - like on a walk. In our house, I have been picking him up when he does this and putting him on the other side of a baby gate (as he acts like a tasmanian devil in my arms) - then I let him back to the other side with me after a few seconds if he's calmed down. I will say that this does sometimes work, but I'm not sure that it's really making a difference overall. At times when I can't get away from him, I've had to resort to stepping toward him quickly and clapping my hands loudly and saying "No!" When I do this, he does stop - but again, it's not stopping him from doing it again later on that day, etc.

I'm very confused because every trainer seems to have a different approach and belief system. I don't know what I should be doing, what kind of trainer I should be using and is this behavior at all typical of the Aussie breed in general?

Sorry so long - it's my first time here!


Look at them- feet ! God love- him.
Barked: Fri Jan 8, '10 7:45pm PST 
My Blue is half bassett/half aussie shephard. He goes "berserk" on us too. OMG! I can leave the room and come back 2 seconds later and he acts like I have been gone for a year. He will jump and push me and nip at me. I hate the nipping. I have so many purple bruises under my arm where he nips. I have found that a pop on the nose and a firm NO helps that. When we first got Blue, we took him over to a friend's house. They have a little poodle dog. We laughed our butts off because Blue started "hurding" their dog. He would hunker down and wait for him to move and then Blue would chase him around till he went where Blue wanted. Funniest thing I'd ever seen. But, that's the nature of the breed. Oh, and Blue went thru doggie classes. Passed with flying colors. We get home, he acts like he has no freakin brain in his head. LOL He's way too smart. LOL Everyday is a new adventure with him. LOL Hang in there. They are just like little kids. smile

Barked: Tue Apr 27, '10 5:36pm PST 
Mariah I am wondering how you made out or if you got more help?

Tuscaroras- Bella Bleu- RN CGC

Rock'n the- Rally-O World!
Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 6:17pm PST 
Hello! I don't think ignoring this behavior is the way to go, as thus far it hasn't worked. Aussies while extremely intelligent can also be masters as getting what they want through manipulation! I would tell the pup NO in a stern voice. Still if he is in berserk mode, firmly grab him by the scruff as a mother dog would do. This will not hurt the pup, and should bring back memories of respecting the mother dog. Don't make a big deal of it. Go on like nothing ever happened. Good luck! Have fun with your dog!
I know you can ask ten different trainers, and get ten different answers, none of them particularly wrong! When I had my girls in 'class' I made sure the trainer had experience with herding dog breeds!

Barked: Wed Mar 27, '13 10:25pm PST 
I know this is late, but I'm hoping it will help others who look at this thread as this is a COMMON problem with Aussie puppies. I agree that ignoring the nipping is NOT good. Aussies need a firm command and you have the let them know it's not okay. Do this any number of ways: like squirt them with a water bottle when they nip or grab them by the scruff of neck and say "NO" in a low voice, only once and then let go--never yell/hit. Also I saw that the original post said it would happen "at the end of the walk" or near the property. I have another two possible explanations for this: first, the puppy was tired. My aussie puppy would only nip at the end of the walk and it was because it he was tired. People forget that puppies need QUALITY sleep--this means in the crate, for 1.5-2 hours, with a thin blanket over the top. Seriously, trick to a calmer, happier dog! Second, I notice my dog is more disobedient on our property. Won't come when called, runs around like a wild man. I don't know what causes this, maybe they are more comfortable there and are testing their boundaries in a familiar location?

Anyways, you're not alone! I also want you to know I kept up with my discipline for this behavior and my puppy stopped around 4 months old. He's now 5 months and only tries to bite my ankles/growl very occasionally when I run next to him quickly. He's learning to go for runs with us without doing this behavior. Stay consistent and they will change, it doesn't happen over night.

Edited by author Wed Mar 27, '13 10:28pm PST