Border Collie biting out of control

Posted by dsapala
Jul 6, 2008
My wife and I just rescued a 3 month old stray border collie. He was fine for the first few days, but now he has taken to extreme biting. Any time we take him for a walk or want to play with him he starts to jump at us and bite at our pants, socks, shoes, hands or arms. Some times he wags his tail and some times he doesn't. He is biting us really hard and we've followed all the advice that we've seen including yelling "ouch" and "aaah", but he doesn't even notice. We definitely can't ignore him because he doesn't stop biting if we turn around and try to ignore him. Also, we can't walk away because that further fuels the fire. It's so bad that if we have him on leash and he starts doing it we have to shorten the leash and hold it away from us to avoid being hurt. He's so aggressive that he doesn't even care that the leash is tight on his neck. We've enrolled him in puppy classes starting on Monday, but I'm afraid he'll hurt the trainer or another dog.

Please help us. We don't know what to do.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 8, 2008
Hi there!

Your Border Collie puppy must be really cute when he is not biting you <g>.
It is a great idea that you enrolled him for a puppy training class.

I have rescued and fostered many dogs and they behave fairly well first 2-3 days because they are still not sure if this will be their permanent home or if you are a nice and trusty person, etc.

I call this period as "Bud" and they start "Blooming" as they get used to you and other animals in your household, etc. This is the time you really need to make sure your new dog understand various rules in your family.

Therefore, it sounds like your puppy is starting to bloom and trying to figure out how far he can go, as he is getting more and more comfortable with you. It is important time to start building trustworthy relationship with your new dog. Thus, the training class is a very good idea.

As for biting, I would tell him it is not acceptable from the very beginning. You can say "Ouch!" and give him something to bite right away (chew bones, Kongs, etc.). This will tell him what he can bite but what he cannot. Puppies like to play using mouth among siblings and learn how hard they can bite each other. However, we, human beings, don't have a furry skin so he should learn it is not acceptable to put his teech on our bare skin. If he does not listen to you, you might want to use a spray bottle (w/water) to get his attention.

Good luck!
Posted by katrina
Jul 16, 2008

I am the owner of now my third Australian cattle dog, who like Border Collies are bred to nip. This makes is a bit harder to stop the biting but I have had success with the method decribed by the previous answer. Always make a loud yip or no or and when all else fails I have used the spray bottle with great success. Make sure that you always have a suitable chew or play toy with you to give the pup. Make sure that you only give praise and attention when the pup stops biting you and transfers their attention to the toy. My current puppy is now 5.5 months old and he is now only bites or nips when he is really excited. Another thing to learn is how to calm you dog when over excited- puppy pre school will help with this and things will get better as the pup gets older. Remember "working dogs" tend to be puppies for longer than other breeds. It will be a lot of work and training for the first 6/12 months and then you will have the smartest and greatest companion for the rest of his life. All the best

Katrina (Australia)
Posted by STEVEPHS
Jul 16, 2008
We did all of the typical things mentioned in the previous two replies but this never had any affect on our border collie that was born last December! He would back off from water spray as he didn't like it, but it never stopped him biting! You could oooh and ahhhh at him whenever we liked, he never moved an eyelid! Collies require some special handling - I've had them for close to 20 years.

The pup is probably not aggressive - just nervous! Agressive behaviour normally involves attacking something and not letting go until they believe you have submitted, whereas nervous dogs will go in and nip, back off and then go back in and nip again. Some Collies are extremely nervous dogs and just rememeber they are bred to "nip" the cattle they herd, so its what they do naturally by instinct.

We spent over a £1,000 on training ours since March this year - the dog got worse not better and the vet told us last Friday that he posed a real risk to children in our neighbourhood and so we were advised to put the dog to sleep, which we did. It was a sad day but we knew it was the responsible thing to do. The vet is dead nuts against putting dogs to sleep but felt strongly in our case that it wasnt a case of "if" but "when" he would bite someone and do some serious damage.

Don't spend a penny on general training - spend good money on specialists, people who have had specific dealings with training border collies - they are a breed of their own!

Good luck and I hope you can resolve the problem with the right help
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 20, 2008
Hi STEVEPHS and dsapala,

I am so sorry to hear that you were forced to put your dog to sleep because of his aggressive behaviors.

I have 2 border collie mixes but fortunately they don't either nip or bite. They do have some breed specific behaviors, such as chasing fast moving animals and objects. It is true that border collies are bred to herd sheep and to nip too.

However, what I read in dsapala's original posting sounds more like a puppy biting. The problem is the puppy doesn't know how hard he can bite assuming he didn't have enough playing with his siblings or other puppies/dogs.

I personally believe that attending dog training classes is for YOU to learn how to train/handle your dog, more than the dog to learn how to behave. Unless your puppy has some medical problems (physical and/or mental), he should be able to be trained by you. General obedience and trainings are very important no matter what breed your dog is. It helps a lot in building a trustworthy relationship between you and your dog.

dsapala, please let us know how your puppy is coming along when you have a minute. I hope he is gradually settling down....