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Aussie and herding instincts

Tasha BuffinTasha Buffin Midway/booniesPosts: 2Member
edited 16 September, 2009 in Australian Shepherd
We have had Freckles since she was approx. 6 months old (she is about 3 now). She is reserved around strangers or tends to bark and get her hackles up. She never bites or attacks. So we ignore the barking, she calms down, and all is well. We have family in WV consisting of smaller children (3 & 5)that we visit about 4 times a year. We aren\'t around them for long periods of time for me to train her properly (I am a diligent trainer). She has nipped at them and caused minor skin injuries. What are some suggestions of how to handle this situation? Its not an option to leave her behind at home..she travels well and loves the mountain atmosphere..


  • edited 8 September, 2009
    First, that isn't "herding instincts" that is a training issues. Aussies were not bred to herd humans. Sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine when people want to blame it on "instincts". I own 2 Aussies and been around many and none of them nip and/or herd people because they are trained properly and not bored (other dogs or animals is another story). If they are bored or under stimulated I could see them doing it, but it's not there "instinct" to herd us. Aussies were bred to work with humans and herd sheep.. not both. Of course, that is just my opinion, I'm sure people will disagree and say that it's in an Aussie to go around herding humans because "they were bred to herd", who cares if it's a human? And, where is she nipping them? If it was her herding them, she would only do it if they were running and by the feet. This seems to go beyond instincts and a bored Aussie, but a problem with children all together. Best advice? You need to socialize her with children if it's safe. And if that isn't an option and not leaving her at home isn't an option for the safety of the kids I'd crate her while around them.
  • Philip BantaPhilip Banta Posts: 25Member
    edited 10 September, 2009
    I agree with chase completely. If she was herding them it she would nip by the heals. If the nips are hand/arms it could be the children are scared when coming up to her and pulling hands/arms away and she thinks it's a game. Before she goes to meet the kids next time, take her for a very long walk. Tire her out completely and bring treats and keep her attention on you with the treats as the kids come up to her slowly. Do this a few times and things should improve. If they don't improve, you can work on a command called "leave it" and it is to leave anything alone. To work on this have the kids walk by her and when she goes to bark or nip and quick jerk of the chain (like that slap in the back of the head you got as a kid for doing something stupid) and say leave it. I mostly believe this is caused because she is hyper and has to much energy when meeting the kids. I would definitely tire her out as much as possible before meeting them next time.
  • Tasha BuffinTasha Buffin Midway/booniesPosts: 2Member
    edited 16 September, 2009
    I did research under the australian shepherds on numerous websites and it specifically states that they do have tendencies to nip at children. This being said Ive noticed that when she does nip them it is when the chidren are running or moving quickly which shows me this is a hearding instinct. When we got her as a puppy she nipped at adults when running as well but this was stopped through training. Boredom isn't an issue with her as she is not as high strung as many aussies i have met, she has lots of other dogs she plays with and we take her when we go fourwheeling for hours (with water), and we play with her on a regular basis. So, now that you know more about her, are there any more suggestions?? I will try the "leave it" tactic with leash as she does know that command. Thanks for your responses so far!
  • Caitlin JonesCaitlin Jones Posts: 1,317Member
    edited 16 September, 2009
    My situation may be a little different, and may not even apply at all, but I also had a horrible time with Angel nipping. He never really seemed to "herd" per se, but his nipping seemed more of a "hey, I'm trying to get you to pay attention to me" type of thing. He also seemed to nip out of frustration, like when I would not give him table scraps or when I told him "no" to playing with Rocket roughly or giving him a command he did not seem to understand. For him, since I have to use hand signals/touch commands, "no" and "leave it" have become sort of synonymous, in the sense that his reactions are always the desired response I want when I tell him "no." But like the above posters said, "leave it" may do well for your aussie. I simply taught Angel that teeth-to-human contact is never acceptable. Even when he's being gentle or just bumps my hand in the morning with an open mouth, I tell him "no," and refuse to do whatever he is trying to get me to do at the time, whether thats a petting, cuddle, letting him out the door or a treat. When he either a) gives paw or b) bumps me with his nose or c) sits patiently, I reward him with whatever he is looking for, assuming its not something like my dinner or a bottle that is still full of something. And while sometimes he slips up and nips while frustrated, he has improved VASTLY. He nips 1/10th of the amount he used to and he no longer breaks skin or gives bruises when he slips and does. Don't know if this helped at all, but there's my .02.
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