My herding breed dog likes to “herd” our guests and nips at their feet. Is there a way to make her quit doing this?
It is not a surprise to hear that a Welsh Corgi may nip at someone’s heels, just like hearing that someone’s German Shepherd was barking at a stranger. We absolutely must understand that dogs were bred specifically for doing certain types of jobs for 1000s of years. So, I do realize your annoyance and worry about this.
Okay, firstly, you must understand it is a natural and instinctive reaction. Plus if people keep reacting to a dog trying to herd them via yelling or running away, it’s more likely a dog is going to think you are playing a fun game. Therefore, firstly you must see the way people are acting when the dog tries to herd them. They could be seemingly encouraging the action.
Next, preventing and managing is crucial. Until your dog learns they can’t do it in that context, i.e. herding people instead of sheep, you’ll need to stop putting your pup into scenarios in which they are likely to do it. Then they will gradually understand what they should or shouldn’t do.
Finally, provide a lot of situations where your pup can do the instinctive things like nipping, mouthing, herding orbiting. For instance, tug of war is the perfect game for teaching your pup so have some self-control when it comes to their mouth. I do not think there is any type of herding dog who wouldn’t enjoy a game of tug of war.
Additionally question yourself: What type of activity is my pup getting? Expanding enrichment as well as giving more exercise, plus providing dogs (especially herding type dogs and working dogs) with things that are mentally satisfying, is crucial to them being successful in your home. You can download e-books which will provide you a lot of good ideas for entertaining and providing enrichment for your dog.
And certainly, you must provide training. What should you do? I would try managing the dog by putting a leash on him, then teaching him to have more self-control. Essentially, if you understand that your pup is conditioned to wish to chase moving things, that’s great.
- Whenever we play with a ball or do some sort of action where our pup can join in, then make the dog work for it. Wait until they respond calmly, i.e. by lying down, sitting, or standing patiently prior to throwing the ball when you play fetch, as well as doing so in-between throws. This helps to teach the dog some self-control.
- Create a foundation: Do some attention work. That means getting your pup to pay attention to you instead of something that moves. You can do it by putting your pup on a leash, then throwing a ball or something really far from you. After that, call out your pup’s name, then say “Look at me!” Then whenever your pup looks at you, and sure, it could take a minute or two, you give them praise and a reward. After that, start to expose your pup at a quite low level to the things they get aroused over. This could include bicycles, running people, balls, cars or anything else. Make certain they’re set up to be successful via practicing this while at a safe distance so they are still interested, but won’t “lose it.”
If you are able to initiate a lot of games that help their self-control, as well as create enrichment, and work in several skills you want them to learn, while managing your pup at the same time, then you’re on track to decrease their desire to herd people!
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