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 Post subject: Stopping a heeler dog from heeling baby??
PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:47 am 
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I have two eight-year-old cattle dogs- heelers. They are bread to nip at the heels of farmed animals to herd them. They nip at each others heels. When I am holding the baby within their reach (like walking around the house with her in a carrier) they jump up and nip at her heels and pull her socks right off. So far they have not hurt her but I am really afraid they will on accident.

Im trying give the command "off" when I walk in the room with the baby. I wonder if I could give them a command like "sit" They really really like the baby and I think they just want to play- its how they play with one another. I want to encourage them to interact with her but to interact gently. Humm....

Oh and the baby is only 7 months old and totally not mobile yet.

Thanks in advance.

(oh and to clarify they are some sort of mixed breed (rescues) but this heeling instinct seems so strong in them)


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 Post subject: Re: Stopping a heeler dog from heeling baby??
PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:05 pm 
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This wins an award of some sort for either most confusing/misread or strangest ppk topic title ever.

Have you looked into clicker training? I don't have a book to recommend since mine are all geared towards parrots, but it might do the trick if you can implement it consistently.

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 Post subject: Re: Stopping a heeler dog from heeling baby??
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:29 am 
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I'm no help, but I'm sure they are smart enough to be trained to not nip the baby.
We have a nipper/herding dog, but we got her when my sis and I were old enough to not need herding. The dog kept my little cousins in line when they came over (she tended to herd kids to wherever my mom was). Usually nipping at their bums, which scared them more than hurt them and we all found hilarious. She never nipped harder than a medium pinch level and it rarely left a mark so we didn't worry about it since there weren't herdable kids around too often. If she got too excited about it, then we'd tell her no and make her go sit or lay down.


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 Post subject: Re: Stopping a heeler dog from heeling baby??
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:56 pm 
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I would start wearing a fanny pack/pouch around the house with kibble in it and ask the dogs to perform trucks or do commands while walking around - refocusing the nipping to actual heeling, sits, "watch"/"focus" commands while walking around would probably be beneficial. Putting the focus on you and not the baby. Also putting dishes of treats around the house so any moment can become a training opportunity is good.

That said, if their herding instincts are that incredibly strong I would seek the advice of a trainer before the baby starts walking. Toddlers getting on two feet can be a triggering issue for a number of dogs and will probably exacerbate the issue significantly.

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 Post subject: Re: Stopping a heeler dog from heeling baby??
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:19 pm 
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Oh good suggestions! Moon, I especially think you have some great ideas for how to keep training easy to work into the daily routine!

I think I will try to work with them with the clicker again. Hmmm.

I strongly prefer positive training. I think giving them a task TO DO will help.


I might consider a pro trainer too. I had not thought of that. They lived with my friend for a year while I was in a living situation where I couln't keep them with me and she had her little toddler/preschool cousins in the house all the time and never mentioned them trying to herd them. Ill talk to her about it and see if it was an issue. They really do like kids.

I asked this question elsewhere and got replies saying to spray the dogs in the face and to knee them in the chest. :O NO WAY I would do that do my dogs. Im not just being overly sensitive, right? How would I find a pro trainer who wouldnt do those things?


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 Post subject: Re: Stopping a heeler dog from heeling baby??
PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:21 pm 
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VegHeadZealia wrote:
I asked this question elsewhere and got replies saying to spray the dogs in the face and to knee them in the chest. :O NO WAY I would do that do my dogs. Im not just being overly sensitive, right? How would I find a pro trainer who wouldnt do those things?


If you interview trainers and emphasize that you're only interested in positive training techniques, you shouldn't have too much trouble weeding the ones who use punishments. You should only need a couple consultations to help you with coping mechanisms for when the kid starts walking. Check out the facebook pages for trainers in your area and see what sort of articles they share, most will share lots of pro-positive articles if that's what they believe in. At least, the ones I know do!

I agree that giving them an outlet will be hugely beneficial. I think your instinct on giving them the "sit" command instead of "off" is a good one, since most dogs have "sit" ingrained pretty strongly. Just make sure you're prepared to praise/treat appropriately.

With a baby it's obviously difficult but maybe a friend or family member or your partner can take them to agility classes or even set up a small course in the yard or something? A basic agility course with a pause box, weave poles (used ski poles jammed in the ground work), a couple pylons, a broom stick over a chair, etc can be fun and give them a break from the every day stuff. Also, food puzzles/toys might help. They might be feeling a little under stimulated intellectually, especially if the baby coming has meant a major change in their schedules/exercise levels/whatever. If they haven't done the herding aplactions to kids in the past, there might be a jealousy/resource aspect to them doing it to the baby, either in that they're jealous that the baby is getting your attention OR that they want to interact with the baby and don't understand why you always get it to yourself! That's something that would be more easily recognized by a behaviourist seeing the behaviour in action but it's something to keep in mind when watching other patterns where the baby is involved.

I'm not sure about your personal situation but I always recommend this book to first time parents with dogs: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Kids-Dogs- ... 1933562129 I saw Colleen Pelar speak at a seminar and she was excellent.

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