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My Bro's Aussie is a biter

June 6th, 2005, 03:09 PM
Just wondering if anyone has any advise on this matter.

My older bro has a beautiful 2 yr old aussie shepard (chocolate & Tan) named Helix. Last winter while sledding Helix bit my nephew resulting in 5 stitches just above the eye. I was there and at first I was so upset I couldn't even look at the dog, I mean a few mm lower and it would have been his eye! After calming down and thinking about what happened we all realised that Helix was playing - he snapped the boys hat off of his head.
After this incident I had a talk with my brother and told him he needs to do some traing with the pooch and teach him not to play with his mouth. Anyway, a few months later some neighbourhood kids were teasing the dog through the fence, well the dog got out and bit a young girl. He did not break the skin but that's not the point.
A couple of weeks ago while my 16yr old bro was walking helix, a older man stopped to pet him and Helix bit his hand.
That's 3 now, and I think this a real problem.

So, this past weekend my brother had to go out of town so he left the dog with a family friend. This friend has a dog of their own and 2 young girls. Helix had only been there a few hours when the grils came home. As they walked in the house Helix lunged at the girls and bit the youngest in the leg. I don't mean one bite, the dog continued to bite her leg. The older girl tried to protect her younger sister and he bit her on the hand. Once again he did not draw blood but at this point I don't think it matters.

Now my bro is returning today and I'd like to have a talk with him about his dog, but I have to b careful - he has a HUGE temper!

Personally I think he should give the dog to someone who can train it and spend more time with him before he is ordered to be destroyed.


June 6th, 2005, 03:37 PM
OMG, what a huge problem. I don't think I can be of any help but I'll ask the usual questions anyway.
Did I understand correctly that this aussie has not had any training?? Has Helix been neutered?
My friend rescued an aussie and she was told that they have the tendancy to bond to one person and may get tempermental (snappy) with other people - esp. starngers.
Is it possible that this is this fear biting? Or is it play? Or is the dog just being aggressive? Is he protecting somebody/something? Helix obviously doesn't have a problem biting either a child or adult - which kinda worries me.
I'm not sure if there is much you can do about it, aside from suggesting a behaviourists and training - but it doesn't sound like your brother will listen :confused: !?

My friend's english springer spaniel started biting her when she would give it bath. He did it 3 times and she still has the scars. He was put to sleep because nobody in the family was willing to work with him. I loved this dog, he had so much potential but because he wasn't trained, didn't go for walks and wasn't socialized he was put down. He was only 4 years old.

Working with Helix is gonna take a huge time investment and it will probably cost some money. I wouldn't support giving this dog to anybody unless the person has the skills/training/background to handle this aggression/biting.

Good luck!

June 6th, 2005, 03:56 PM
Right, I forgot - he is not neutered, and there is no plan to stud him (think god).
Helix has had basic training but that's all.

I think the real issue is that my bro plays too rough with him.

The biting seems to mostly kids (4 kids - 1 adult).

June 6th, 2005, 04:00 PM
Honestly, there is no "easy fix" for this. I have an Aussie Shepherd mix, and she too is very mouthy. The dog is going to have to get into training to avoid this. (Although, I must say that the children taunting him through the gate was only the children's fault, and as my mother always said, 'Don't dish it out if you can't take it.')

June 6th, 2005, 04:33 PM
My grand-father plays rough and wrestles with my dog and it had me worried for a while because Dodger got very mouthy. When excited he would bite hard and nip, so no more play wrestling! Although my grand-father still does it with him and complains that he bits too hard - to me that's his fault. It's something that I can't change if he is basically going to encourage Dodger to do it. At least Dodger has learned that its unacceptable with me and other people.
I'm sure the rough play/wrestling hasn't helped with Helix's biting but just stopping the play wrestling isn't going to make it go away. Both your brother and Helix need training to resolve this!
P.S - although I think it would be wise to neuter Helix, it's definately NOT a guarantee that it will fix the problem. Only training will do that!

June 6th, 2005, 04:46 PM
A troubling problem, especially as it sounds like your brother is not going to be receptive.
If the dog isnt to be used for stud... the first thing he should do is have him netuered. This may help, and is better for the dog at any rate.
More training should begin at once to work at preventing further epsisodes of agression.This is the most important factor.
Surely your brother doesnt want to see an escalating of this frightening behaviour. He will be held responsible if the dog seriously harms a child, and the dog pays the price.
The rough play should stop while more more postive behaviours are reinforced.
Also, if the fence is an open type - measures to close it off from view would be advisable, so that the dog cannot be seen, less likely to be teased and taunted by children passing by. And - as he got out once under these circumstances - to ensure he cant ever get loose again.

I hope your brother will listen to your concerns.. they are very valid ones.
I wish you good luck.

June 6th, 2005, 04:55 PM
Helix has never drawn blood, correct? Australian Shepherds are prone to nip and herd people into position. It's a natural instinct. The child on the sled was a moving target that he was most likely trying to stop or encouraging onwards. The girls walking into the house, he was trying to place where he wanted them to be. Their natural prey drive and herding instinct is the result of this behaviour. We own one ourselves who was extremely nippy as a puppy. We worked on this with her from day one as she would nip my girls in the hind legs, etc... Because Helix is older it will take more time to correct. I would suggest that when anyone has Helix and company is expected, that a leash be placed on him. When he darts to approach and organize guests, you grab the leash, give a tug and give him a firm no. Put him in a sit and relax the leash. If he goes again, repeat the process. As far as the kids teasing him through the fence, I would suggest speaking with the neighbours to make the adults aware of this. It is going to lead to him becoming more nippy. Politely explain that you are working on his behaviour and would appreciate the kids leaving him alone when he is in your back yard. As for strangers approaching, I would politely say "Please don't touch the dog, he is in training". I'm sure others will come along with suggestions but this is what has worked in our home for my aussie.

June 6th, 2005, 09:06 PM
Thank you.
You have all been very helpful.

I have been trying to get him to fix Helix for some time now. I have even told him that Helix is not welcome at my home until he is fixed (I have 2 males - both fixed). The last time Helix came for a visit he was spraying in the house. Also, my Boston Terrier just hates him?

I am hoping that when my bro returns from his trip and learns of the incident with the two girls that he will seriously concider additional training for him and the pup.

The fenced yard was fixed so he cannot escape immediatly after the incident.

I really hope that my brother can work through this with Helix as he is a beautiful well behaved (except for this little habit of his) puppy.

I was aware of the shepards herding instinct and I'm hoping that is the root of this behaviour amd not something else, though the fact that he is not drawing blood is a good sign.

June 6th, 2005, 09:07 PM
He did draw blood - my nephew on the sled required 5 stitches across his eyebrow. Other than that no, no blood.

doggy lover
June 7th, 2005, 09:00 AM
I think this dog needs training soon, fixing will help a little but the nipping is a trait not an agressive issue. My BC is allowed to play rough but no teeth is allowed and if he starts to nip or mouth he is told this and he stops, as for the herding if I think he is going to herd something that I don't want him too I tell him to leave it (like my cats). These simple basic training tips might help.