Training & Behavior

Why Do Border Collies Nip? Various Reasons to Find Out!

The Border Collies are the smartest and active dog breeds in town. Yet, they may also develop some kind of negative behavioral issues, and one of them is the canine’s nipping. But, what are the real reasons why do Border Collies nip? Is it due to their natural instinct? Or, is it because of the lack of training or improper handling?

In this blog post, I listed some of the possible reasons behind the nipping behavior of the Border Collies. Aside from that, I also included here tips and guidelines on how to deal with such negative doggy behavior. Come and let’s find it out!

Why do Border Collies Nip: Reasons Behind the Puppies Biting

Border Collies, even as puppies are already susceptible to nipping and biting others and even their owners. Here are the possible reasons why do Border Collies nip especially around the ankles, legs, and arms areas of humans.

Play Nipping

Usually, most pet parents are introducing a new doggy family member during their puppyhood stage. All puppies including the Border Collie pups are highly susceptible to nipping. Well, as a puppy, the reason why Border Collies nip is because they want to interact with the other puppies in the litter. This is basically their way of engaging and establishing relationships with their parents and other pups.

Actually, the nipping behavior of the Border Collie pups is normal. Compared to children who usually play using their hands, the puppies are utilizing their mouth in exploring and playing around. The truth is, puppies are highly engaged with mobility. It is because of their desire to reminiscing their ancestral blood of being hunters in the past. Because of that, the Border Collie puppies are trained for executing hunting moves.

Keep in mind that for this dog breed, mobility is a triggering factor for them to run after and nip. Puppies usually target the legs or necks of others in the group for them to nip. But, when it comes to humans, Border Collies nip the ankles, arms, and legs. For these pups, these are human body parts that are highly irresistible to bite.

Why do Border Collies nip once they were welcomed as a new part of the family? This is actually due to the fact that they want to establish a connection with their new home through playing. Generally, this is called play nipping which may eventually result in growling but in a playful manner.

Yet, remember that this behavior of the Border Collie pups is not to dominate inside the house, instead, the Border Collie just only has the desire to play around. However, this rough playing is not a constructive way for the Border Collie puppies to interact with others.

Ancestral blood of being herding dogs

Why do border collies nip

Well, another possible explanation why do Border Collies nip especially during their puppyhood is due to the fact that they belong to the group of herding dogs. Like what we’ve mentioned above, the likelihood of the Border Collies’ attraction to any moving object is due to their herding instinct. Compared to lap dogs that are generally bred to provide companionship, herding dogs are specifically attached to movements to a higher degree.

Historically, herding dogs are bred for the purpose of controlling a flock of sheep. So, to be able to do that, the dog must have a strong personality in connection to its natural behavior of controlling movement. And, that’s actually an innate attitude of the Border Collies which greatly contributes to their nipping behavior.


Another reason why do Border Collies nip is due to teething. At around 6 to 8 months, the Border Collie puppies start to teeth up. So, on top of Border Collie nipping out of play, they are probably expecting to have new teeth coming out.

Border Collies Nipping People on their Adulthood

As they grow and graduated from being a puppy, adult Border Collies have also the tendency to nip or bite people as same as the other dogs around. In many situations, the nipping behavior of the Border Collies is generally an outcome of defense or a channel to request a distance. Well, the following contexts will help us to clearly understand the reason why do Border Collies nip people even when they are already an adult.

Resource guarding

All dogs including the Border Collies generally guard their toy, food bowl, bone, dog bed, or even their owner. This is actually called resource guarding which may eventually lead to canine’s aggression. For example, if you tend to get the object that they are guarding, like their empty food bowl to fill it with their food, the Collies may have the possibility to nip you.

Touching them

Is there a time that the Border Collies nip you once you touched them? If that’s the case, keep in mind that this is due to the fact that there are dogs that do not want to be caressed in their particular body parts. There are also instances that many dogs hate it the most when their paws are being tapped. Sometimes, Border Collies nipping once being touched is actually linked to underlying medical conditions.

Territorial aggression

Having a similar concept with resource guarding, territorial aggression on Border Collies usually occurs when they defend the parts of their territories. However, the difference is that nipping due to territorial aggression also involves some aspect of fear. The Border Collies actually have an attitude of shyness in which will eventually progress into aggression based on fear. So, if the Border Collies nip the guests approaching their property, the reason why do Border Collies nip would probably be due to territorial aggression.

Redirected aggression

Another type of aggression in dogs that may trigger the Border Collies to nip is the redirected aggression. Here, the Border Collies nip the moment he sees other dogs or people at the back of the window or fence. Another thing is when the Border Collies are held back on a leash while walking. Generally, this will result in the Border Collies not to chase making them frustrated thus the nipping behavior occurs.

Border Collies Behavior Towards Other Dogs

Why do border collies nip

Well, it is normal for the Border Collies to despise other pets around him. This is probably due to their natural territorial instinct. Because of that, the Collies have this attitude of rejecting other pooch to get close to their toys or food. In case they are already creating a threat such as growling or barking, chances are the coming dog may get a nip or bite from the Border Collies.

Again, this is highly accountable to their herding dog behavior. Although this kind of nipping is not actually a form of aggression, there are times that the Border Collies may get into trouble. This most likely happens once they mess up with the inappropriate dog.

Actually, some Border Collies are just intimidated by their herding behavior. But there are also instances that they do not really like other dogs to manage their actions. Moreover, Border Collies may also have this desire to play around with other dogs. And, with that, it will eventually end them up to be bullies in the area who have given the task to micromanage the actions of other dogs.

Different Ways Addressing Nipping Behavior

Based on our above discussion, there are several reasons why Border Collies do nip. Well, it’s good to know and have an idea about such causes since each reason generally requires various types of correction. Here are some tips and guidelines that you can do to deal with this Border Collies nipping behavior.

Guidelines in dealing with Border Collies play nipping:

  • Verbalize the ouch, stop, or ow in a sharp and high-pitched tone. Afterward, say “no bite in a lower voice or in a manner not intimidating to the Border Collies.
  • Leave the Border Collies alone right away without saying anything to them or touching them.
  • In case the Border Collie doesn’t stop nipping even after giving the “no bite” command, consider placing some pennies or marbles inside a tin can. Immediately shake the can in front of the Border Collie after saying the “no bite” command. This action will make the dog startle and will generally help in reinforcing the verbal instruction.
  • If the nipping of the Border Collies happened once a game is started, stop it right away. Do not attempt to continue the game until such time that the dog is already calm and in control. Give them the proper attention that they need and praise them once the Border Collies get back in a calm state.

What to do with the Border Collies nipping behavior due to fear-based aggression?

Actually, dealing with the Border Collies nipping behavior because of aggression based on anxiety turns out to be really different. Always keep in mind that anxious Border Collies require additional socialization and not isolation.  Normally, a part of dog training is socialization during their puppyhood stage. This should continue throughout their lifetime.

It is generally crucial to remember that Border Collies kept and isolated from other dogs are those who are more fearful. They also tend to become more self-protective when new things are introduced to them. With this, Border Collies do nip as part of their natural defense.

Enrolling your Border Collie in an obedience class is the best way to deal with dogs that nip due to anxiety. Discuss with the trainer about this doggy behavior. Moreover, don’t forget to follow the instructions of the trainer once you bring home your Border Collie from the training.

Taking your Border Collie into different places is also essential here. Watching for signs when he is becoming fearful is also worth noting. Better to check for the following behaviors of nervousness:

  • Low or tucked tails in the hind legs
  • Excessive panting
  • Growling
  • Pacing

Once those symptoms are being exhibited by the Border Collies, remove him to the place right away. Consider putting him in a more relaxed or comfortable place like the crate or inside the car when you’re outside.

The moment they become comfortable with the new situation, praise your Border Collie and pay your attention to them. Try to deal with the level of your dog’s comfort and trust. The moment the Border Collies are already familiar with the world outside and starting to be more confident and socialized, eventually, extend your time with your dog outside.

General Tips to Stop the Border Collies from Doing So

Now, we already have an idea that Border Collies nip because of various reasons. Aside from the specific ways of preventing Border Collies nipping due to playing and fear-based aggression, there are also other tips to prevent the nipping behavior in general.

1-Give them plenty of exercise

Generally, two hours a day is the ideal time for the Border Collies to spend in exercising activity. That period will help your dog in releasing their energy and switch their attention from the nipping behavior. Walking around the park is actually enough for the Collies to release some energy. Use a leash in doing this and don’t forget to have an assertive stance. This will allow your Border Collies to consider you as their pack leader.

Moreover, try to put up some obstacle courses so that both you and the Border Collies may enjoy the activity. Look around your surroundings and utilize whatever you can in setting up the obstacle course. You can basically use ropes, steel rods, old tires, wood, and water basins. Treats are also helpful in encouraging your dog to follow you.

Why do border collies nip

Playing fetch is one of the games that can make your Border Collies preoccupied. The use of ball can actually achieve the purpose of this game as you can throw it on a long distance. The fetch game is basically a great collie exercise and, at the same time, a good channel for your dog to have fun. Aside from that, this game can be easily done through the park, open field, or even in your backyard.

Another thing is to let your Border Collie use the treadmill. Basically, let your dog be familiar with the running treadmill. Begin by setting the speed to the lowest level. Using a leash is allowable provided that it is not tied to the exercising equipment. Moreover, make use of treats in encouraging the Border Collies to stay within the treadmill.

2-Allow your dog to join canine sport

Since the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed, they generally need physical and mental stimulation. And, most often than not, engaging them in dog sport will provide them this kind of needs. From agility, freestyle, rally, obedience, and tracking, you can choose from any of this kind of canine sport that the Border Collies are able to join.

In canine freestyle, the dogs should have to elicit movements such as jumping, bowing, rolling, spinning, weaving, forward and backward movements, diagonal movement, and pivots. This canine sport is actually a combination of dog tricks and dance moves.

Moreover, the agility of the dog primarily needs the cooperation of the dog and pet owner. Through the utilization of the Border Collie’s accuracy and speed, you can actually maneuver an obstacle course. Hoop, wing, single jump, tunnel, wing jump, and go are some of the training included here.

Obedience training, on the other hand, pertains to the Border Collie’s compliance to a certain command provided by their handler. Sit, down, stay, and come are the basic commands involve here. This is also an important training if the reason for Border Collies nipping is due to anxiety. The key here is actually the establishment of trust between the dog and the handler.

3-Avoid providing them aggressive games

Actually, outdoor games are doggy activities that can help in the physical stimulation of canines. However, there are some games that are aggressive enough in triggering their predatory instincts. One good example of this is the tug-of-war. Allowing your Border Collies to play this kind of games might rather encourage their nipping behavior a little bit more instead of solving it.

Hide and seek is a game that is good for your Border Collies to avoid their nipping problems. This is also a type of doggy game that is highly enjoyable and helps in sharpening the senses of your Collies. You can also consider the “find the treat” games. This will generally bring out the goodness of your Collies in finding things out.

Final Thoughts

There are actually several reasons why do Border Collies nip. And, depending on the cause of their nipping behavior also involves particular ways in order to deal with it. Basically, knowing the ways in preventing Border Collies nipping is highly necessary to achieve an enjoyable relationship with them.   

Have you observed this nipping behavior to your Border Collie? What did you do in order to stop them from doing this kind of doggy behavior? Please share your thoughts with us!

Leave a Comment