Agressive Barking at Strangers plus Nipping

Posted by martinekj
Jan 11, 2010
I have an Australian Cattle Dog, as you are fully aware, are a very smart
dog and have a lot of energy. He's only two, so I believe this behavior can
be changed. My biggest problem right now is with his aggressive behavior
towards strangers that come on to the property. He will charge, bark and
nip at them. Will secrets of dog training address this behavior? If this
behavior continues, I may have to get rid of him.
Posted by kjd
Jan 11, 2010
I don't know Australian Cattle Dogs very well, but they are herders, right? Is he really being aggressive? The nipping sounds as if he is trying to herd them back where they belong -- how [I][B]do [/B][/I]ACDs control cattle?

You need more control over your dog, so you can call him to you when strangers arrive. (I have to admit, a strange dog charging me while barking, then nipping, is not going to make me feel confident of my safety.) Obedience training is going to help. [I]Secrets of dog training [/I]does address issues like this. However, I personally believe, good as books are, a group class is usually better. Unless your dog has major issues with other dogs or with people (and it doesn't sound like it), he will learn more than just obedience in a group class. You will be amazed at what you can learn watching other people in your class. You learn not only from your own mistakes, but from theirs. Your dog learns that he doesn't have the right to approach other dogs and people just because they are nearby. And the bond between you and your dog strengthens.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 11, 2010
Hi martinekj and kjd,

I think Australian Cattle Dogs are like blue heelers. They are bred to herd cattles. One of my dogs is a border colllie/ACD cross. Yes, they are very smart, active and tough. They nip cattles' heel to herd so nipping is their instict. They love to work so you will need to give them a lot of work, both mentally and physically.

How long have you had the dog? Have you given him any obedience trainings?
How big is your property?

If you are living in a suburban area and you wanted a nice mellow friendly dog, ACD is a not the breed. There are ACD rescue groups in the U.S. so you might want to contact them if you want to find a new home for him.

However, if you are really want to invest time and effort, you will be able to correct his nipping and barking behavior. I just want to warn you that you will really need to be patient and consistant. Please do some research about the breed. I am attaching a link for your reference:

[url=]Australian Cattle Dogs: What's Good About 'Em? What's Bad About 'Em?[/url]

If you have just adopted him recently without knowing the breed temperament, you will be better off finding a better suiting home for him. It will be better for him as well.
Posted by kjd
Jan 11, 2010
Thanks, Max,

As I mentioned, I suspected the nipping had to do with herding behavior. Different breeds move the herd/flock in different ways. That was also why I suspected the dog wasn't aggressive.

Good to know there is a website for people considering having one. I've alway known Border Collies were not for me; they are just too energetic. German Shepherds can be energetic, but they've been show dogs long enough that many lines have that strong working temperment bred out of them. I hope it never happens to the BCs; watching them work in obedience is a wonder.

Posted by swampyann
Jan 12, 2010
Hi max,

You gave me some ideas on my Border Collie by going the the web site you attached for martinekj.

Thank you

Posted by martinekj
Jan 14, 2010
Thanks Max for the link. I grew up on a farm with these breeds, so I'm very familiar with them, but they were working dogs we used on our ranch for herding cattle. I live on 1.5 acre in the rurual area of town. We have had him since he was a puppy. He has been to obedience training and has done very well. He has had some herding training as well. He's will be 2 in Jan. This behaviour just started about 6 months ago. He has been exposed to people in various situations. We take him with us every where (parks, off lease dog parks, doggie day care, our boat). The agression is only directed when we are at our house or our cabin property when someone approaches he's not familiar with or someone has entered the house and my sons dogs start barking which I think alerts him. I'm interested in changing this behaviour. Thanks.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 14, 2010
Hi martinekj,

I am sorry I didn't know that you were so familiar with the breed and you had had this dog since he was a puppy.

>The agression is only directed when we are at our house or our cabin property when someone approaches he's not familiar with or someone has entered the house and my sons dogs start barking which I think alerts him. I'm interested in changing this behaviour.

This explains everything. Your dog is protecting his territory (your property) and his gets more aggressive when your son's dogs are around. Aren't those dogs are more nerveous or fearful dogs? Their barking triggers your dog's protectiveness and aggression, doesn't it?

We have the same problem. The youngest dog of ours gets nerveous and sends this signal and all of a sudden all three dogs start barking like crazy.

The only thing I can suggest is that when he starts barking call him to you and have him sit and stay while you go meet with the visitor. Being obedient and so smart, it works better to redirect him from barking to put him in work (in this case, sit and stay). I know very well it's "Easy said than done"

Good luck
Posted by martinekj
Mar 22, 2010
I'm still having the same problems. He is really agressive to the UPS truck and guy. I can't get his attention, he is barking and biting at the tires. He will not let the guy out of the truck. Should I try using a can of coins or something else to get his attention? Once I get a hold of his collar, I can lead him away.

I have read several of the articles posted by others and your comments. I will try to punish him by making him go to a time out. I like that idea because he always wants to be around me.

I also had another instance where I was walking outside to leave and take him with me. The neighbor was outside with a stranger, he immediately seen them ran up to her and nipped her in the arm. Seems like I need to work with him in getting used to strangers, especially now that spring is on the way. More and more people are outdoors. Starts to worry me.
Posted by crazycrayonmom
Mar 29, 2010
You've gotten lots of great advice so far. But there's one thing you need to do right away, especially since he bit someone (even a little nip on the arm is a bite, sorry). Your guy needs to be on a leash when he's outside. Until you get him used to strangers and are confident in his recall and behavior he should not be unleashed. You don't want to lose him because of a biting incident! Sorry if this sounds harsh. Protecting him from doing something harmful right now will, in the long run, help you both.
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Mar 29, 2010
Hi there

Everything suggested has been really good so far. You are definitely on the right track when it comes to distracting him before he becomes so focused on the 'intruder'. You could try a can of coins, although he may not hear this if he is barking intently. Another idea would be to give him a squirt with a water bottle or a hose.
As said, he thinks that he is simply protecting his territory so it is necessary to change his mindset so that he realizes that it is not his responsibility to protect the pack. You will need to train him using the alpha dog principles so that he accepts that you are the leader of the pack and so it is your job to lead and defend the pack. Once he is comfortable in his new place in the hierarchy, you should find that not only will he be looking to you for direction and commands instead of taking matters into his own hands, especially in situations where he is unsure of how to react. He will also become a much more relaxed dog in general.

I hope this helps!