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Thread: Nipping issue

  1. #1
    AuCaDo Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2018

    Default Nipping issue

    Hi all! I just joined this group... I'm so happy to have found you all. I'm hoping I'm posting this in the right place. We had a red cattledog for 12 years. We got her when she was about 6 months old. She was a wonderful dog. She passed away in 2007. We have finally got another dog (we had a baby in that time). We just got a rescue dog... another red heeler.... "Ginny." We got her 10 days ago. She is around a year and four months old. She is super sweet... not aggressive at all. No food issues. No real anxiety issues. She is an amazing frisbee dog! The only issue she has is with me... and only me. She cannot stand when I sit at my computer (I work from home). She will come in to my office and start panting. Then she'll bark at me (she's normally not a big barker). Then she'll throw herself on to me and start nipping... it's almost like she's in a trance. She nips my hands, my feet, my clothes... even my face if I get too close. It's not aggressive. It's almost like she's trying to play with me. But obviously it's not ok. I did research online (our previous cattledog didn't do this at all, so it's all new to me). I try giving her a toy to chew on. She's not interested at that point. I stand up and tell her to sit.... which DOES calm her for a moment. But then she's right back at me. She does not do this to my husband. In fact, when he comes in to my office, she quiets right down. So is it a pack hierarchy thing? I walk her. I feed her. I don't know how she'd think we were equals in the pack that is our family. But my husband thinks that's the issue.
    Anyway, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I thought working from home would be a great thing for a dog... they'd always have someone around. But in this case, I'm not able to work!

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  3. #2
    AuCaDo Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2016


    Hi DigitalChick,

    It sounds like frustration and over-arousal mostly. Hard to say why she'd be targeting you specifically. Maybe she's bored and understimulated and you're just usually who's there to protest to (many 16 m.o.'s still need multiple shorter exercise/training/play sessions per day); maybe she sees you as "The Fun One" who's always supposed to be up for playtime if she just provokes you enough; maybe something about the way you behave in your office freaks her out for some reason. It's not necessarily "typical ACD behavior," although the fixated nipping as an expression of spiraling agitation could certainly be considered typical.

    Mat relaxation exercises would probably be the first thing I'd try with her. Initially you might need to crate (in a quiet separate room) or use a baby gate as backup so you can get some work done.

    Pack hierarchy stuff is TBH mostly pseudo-science you won't hear from any credentialed behaviorist. While dogs are opportunists and may well attempt whatever you let them get away with, their actual natural packs (as studied in free-ranging pariah/village dogs) have no higher hierarchical social structures; they're just a few unrelated breeding pairs banding together for convenience, and don't involve all the ritual status-affirming behavior seen in wolf packs, which are tight nuclear family units. There aren't any "alpha males," and different individuals take the lead at different times depending on context.

  4. #3
    StinkwadMod littleroads's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    East-central Wisconsin

    Default Re: Nipping issue

    I'll second Zelig's comments. The "pack" stuff...kinda overrated.

    Make sure that she's getting enough exercise, maybe a 10 or 15 minute workout playing frisbee with you, or even some kind of "mind games" (see the "101 Things To Do With a Recovering Dog" in the Health and Well-being section - it's a sticky there, and is wonderful even if your dog isn't recovering!) BEFORE you start work, and put her in her crate the minute she starts pestering you. No scolding, no "punishment" as such, she just has to learn that she needs to go to her mat or her crate when you tell her to, and it won't hurt her to stay in it for a while, while you are working. At breaktime, if she has been quiet, then a few more minutes of games and a treat, then back in her crate (or mat, if she'll stay there), and be consistent about it until she gets the routine down.

    She's still on a brand-new "planet" at your house, and she has to learn how things work. So start a new, good ROUTINE right off the bat...she'll test your boundaries, so don't let her get away with pestering you. Likely she has chosen you as "her person" - and she wants YOU to play with her.
    Rody Jane, the Bionic Flying Stinkwad (Cattledog/Stinkwad mix)
    Allentine Valentine Porky-pine Hooverstein (Sir Barks-a-Lot) (ACD) (at the Bridge♥)
    George P-Dog (Perfect Dog) (Great Pyrador)
    Miss Dixie Two-Minute Moonpie - Official Foster Failure (Polka-Dot Dog) (Australian-American Rattledog)
    Carpe Ossium - "Seize the Bone"

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