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Why Do Border Collies Nip? 6 Effective Ways To Stop Nipping!

Why do Border Collies nip

A Border Collie is a breed of ‘sheepdog’ that originated in Scotland bred for herding animals. This breeding and intelligence can lead to nipping if they are not given proper socialization at an early age. In this article, we explore nipping behavior… and how to nip this in the bud!

Are Border Collies nippy? Yes, Border Collies have a tendency to nip if they are not properly socialized and trained, preferably from an early age. This arises from their breeding and herding instinct to nip the heels/hocks of sheep to encourage them to move. Nipping behavior can usually be resolved with a combination of attention, exercise and training including the use of command and rewards.

It’s important for any new owner to do their research on the breed and understand why they can have a tendency to nip a lot. While not all Border Collies are nippy, many dogs find it hard to adjust when encountering strangers or other animals in their territory. They also might nip at children if they become too excited or hyperactive while playing with them. Luckily there are several ways you can eliminate this behavior!

Why Do Border Collies Nip?

This section explores the three main reasons and factors why Border Collies have a reputation to be nippy: i) Their innate herding instincts resulting from centuries of breeding; ii) their need for high levels of physical and mental stimulation and iii) the importance of socialization. 

When to worry about nipping and at what age do they stop? Read on …

i) A Dog With Herding Instincts

Border collies have strong herding instincts and have a long history as sheepherders with their nips traditionally used to move the flock in one direction or another. The same breeding that made collies the most highly intelligent and trainable dogs in the world, also can mean that Border Collies have a tendency to nip.  

Nipping is a form of body language for dogs. It is not necessarily an act of aggression as such. An assertive dog will place its mouth on another with the intent of asserting dominance, similar to how humans might poke or push another with their palms open and fingers pointing down. To show submission, a dog may lick the other’s muzzle or carry out an action that makes them feel safe, such as sitting close to you and/or licking you from the face-up. 

Nipping is also a behavior that makes sense in the context of herding animals. Sheep, goats, and other animals are herded for various reasons (such as agricultural needs, to keep them safe from predators, etc.) so nipping is a behavior favored by the human animal breeders as it causes an animal to move. Border collies are expected to herd sheep either by barking or with their mouths.

ii) Physical and Mental Stimulation

Due to their innate high energy levels and intelligence, Collies need a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent them from getting frustrated or experiencing separation anxiety when their owners leave for extended periods of time.

If your Border Collie stays cooped up in the house all day with nothing but your company, he will naturally want to spend more time outdoors with you. And this may also increase the chances of nipping in frustration!

ii) The Importance of Socialization 

Sometimes border collies nip during play because they’re not sure how else to interact with people or other animals who don’t move away when they run after them. Socialization is important for these dogs so that they learn how humans and other pets expect them to behave around them.

An excited border collie might also nip more than usual.  A puppy should never be allowed to treat humans like chew toys because it will become more difficult to train him out of this behavior later on. Puppies need proper socialization so that they’ll grow up into well-behaved pets.

The last reason why your Border Collie might nip is that they are stressed about something. The dog might be feeling anxious in the presence of other people, animals, or objects and this might result in him nipping. If your dog is acting out defensively, you need to identify what’s making them feel threatened so that you can help them reduce their stress levels. The easiest way to combat anxiety is through training and exercise. 

What Age Will My Border Collie Puppy Stop Nipping?

Nipping is a natural and normal behavior with puppies when they’re trying to gain some control over their world.  But understandably this is an unwanted behavior in older family dogs with adult teeth. If proper direction is not given it could even go on to more aggressive behavior. Puppies that don’t get trained properly end up growing into dogs that can exhibit fear-based aggression and/or are very hard to handle because they won’t listen out of fear. If pet owners bring up their dogs in a secure, loving, environment where both their physical exercise and mental needs are met on a daily basis you should be able to achieve normal puppy behavior. 

What age will my Border Collie stip nipping? This nipping stage can last up to 6 months in certain cases but is usually around 4 months on average.  Past 6 months of age then it will be harder to train them out of this habit as when they are older it will be harder to gain that trust and bond that is needed between owner and pup. To solve this problem, you have to do is stay committed and keep working with the puppy until it learns what acceptable behaviors are. The best way to stop this nipping behavior is by using positive reinforcement methods, with lots of patience and love!

You will want the nipping to stop by about three months of age. Often with breeds that have been used for herding behaviors, the owners are encouraged not to reinforce this behavior because it could lead them down a path of more aggressive behaviors where they feel that it is appropriate to use their teeth on other dogs or people.  You could always teach your dog an alternate behavior to substitute for the nipping. 

Train your Border Collie not to nip here! And find out about Border Collie puppies and biting here.

How To Stop A Border Collie Nipping (Nip This In The Bud!)

The Border Collie is a herding dog that has been bred for centuries to control livestock. It’s an instinctual behavior for this type of breed to nip at the heels and the backsides of animals in order to move them from one place to another. And we know they can be stubborn! Border collies can be trained not to nip, but it takes patience and consistency on behalf of the owner.

They require high levels of physical and mental stimulation or else they may become destructive or nippy.

If your Border Collie does nip stay calm and don’t yell or scream. Here are six suggestions to try:

  1. Give your dog attention in other ways besides petting, like vocal praise or playtime.
  2. Distract your dog with toys.
  3. Give your Collie plenty of exercise to help him burn off some energy.
  4. Make sure you are the leader.
  5. Train your Border Collie early with positive reinforcement training.
  6. Remember physical punishment should never be used on any dog.

Border collies can also become nippy with children. A good way to prevent this is by getting the whole family involved in their training.  Teach your child not to touch or come near your Border Collie when he’s eating, sleeping, or playing independently with his toys by reminding them how they feel when they are undertaking each of these activities as just like their human counterparts furry companions need to be treated with the same respect.  It is important it is not interrupting another person or canine companion when they’re doing something important!

Should I Worry About My Border Collie Nipping?

Border Collie’s nips are a sign of affection, and rarely hurt or draw blood. But this combined with aggressive behavior can also be a sign that something is wrong.

If a Border Collie has always been healthy and active and then you suddenly notice a change in their behavior this could be their way of telling you that something is wrong such as a medical condition.  For example, if your usually well-behaved family pet starts to nip at you when you are playing or petting them there may be something wrong.  In this instance, it is important to seek professional advice such as taking them to the vet. 

If it is a medical condition such as arthritis that can cause a dog a lot of pain the vet prescribing some pain medication for them to take every day could, after a few weeks,  see the nipping stopping and allow them to get back to their old selves again!


If you have a Border Collie and want to minimize the risk of your dog being nippy, consider these tips:

First, it is important that they receive adequate mental stimulation and physical exercise from their environment. You can do this by making sure there are plenty of toys scattered around for them to play with or chew on when bored.

Here are 10 enjoyable activities to try.

Second, training sessions should be frequent so that they stay sharp mentally as well as physically.

Finally, make sure your pup sees other dogs regularly in order to maintain socialization skills it’s important to train the dog early on how it should behave. With these simple adjustments made over time, you should notice less nipping towards people or other pets in no time!

Find out more about dogs and nipping behavior here.