My Dog Bites My Ankles - Help!
Cocker Spaniel Puppy Teeth Are Really Sharp!
My cocker spaniel is two years old now and he still bites my ankles. It isn't aggressive by any means but he'll follow me around and bite me.
What is he doing? Is he testing my authority, could it be a gesture of love? I'm not sure but he's been doing it for about a year and a half now.
I've tried ignoring him, putting him in his kennel and any scolding seems to be an invitation to keep doing it.
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
It's fairly natural for puppies to chase and bite or nip, however, they usually either grow out of it or are taught that it's not acceptable, long before it becomes a habit.
It sounds like your Cocker's behavior has become a habit now and it's going to be pretty tough to break it, although not impossible.
Is there a pattern to his behavior?
For example, does he do it all the time or just some of the time? And if so, when? What triggers it?
For example, does he do it when has too much energy or is he bored and is this simply attention seeking behaviour?
If he does it when he's got way too much energy, make sure he's taken for lots of walks and runs so that he's too tired to bother.
If he's bored, stimulate him with some games or toys or a bit of training.
To stop his biting, you might like to try the 'yelping' method explained here in our article on how to stop your puppy biting.
If that doesn't work, you might like to try clicker training. Just as your dog goes for your ankles, say 'No' or 'Ah Ah' - whichever works for you. If your dog hesitates, use the clicker immediately and give him a treat.
Your Cocker needs to learn that if he stops when you say 'No' he will be rewarded. The next step is to prolong the time before you give him his treat, only by a few seconds, and then gradually extend the time you wait.
This way, you should, eventually, be able to stop this behavior, thus breaking the habit.
If your dog fails to obey you, stand still, don't walk any further. Chasing and biting are natural behaviors for dogs and the very fact that you move may stimulate him to 'chase' and bite or nip.
If he releases you when you stop, use the clicker and reward, as above.
You could also try turning your back on him and ignoring him - that also means no eye contact. Dogs hate to be ignored! Your actions (or lack of them) will probably confuse him (mommy's not playing?) and he may sit down. As soon as he does, reward him.
Another thing you could try is to teach him to walk to heel, by your side. Teach him that it can be just as fun walking with you rather than snapping at your ankles.
I think you've probably got enough to be going on with for now, hopefully one (if not all) of these will work for you.
If you enjoyed this page, please click on the 'Like' button below and tell your friends about us. Thank you.