My Dog Bites My Ankles - Help!

by Kelsey

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Teeth Are Really Sharp!

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.

Help please!

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hi Kelsey,

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.

Good luck!

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My dog is a Miniature Spaniel/Papillon
by: Pearls Mom

PEARL is an adorable Pappilon mix and is "ALPHA" and her Behaviour is a problem. She is constantly licking and biting, Lunging at ankles and toes, she loves big dogs and peoples toes! When people are wearing sandals OMG lookout it hurts! I've tried everything. She is only 19 months old. She's been handed off too many times, had too many owners in her short life, and now has abandonment issues and costs me 50 bucks for 4 hours to leave her at night. I've tried treats and behavior training, and I am at my wit's end. I Won't give her up I love her too much. Pearl is Smart but Sneaky! I don't think I trained her properly. She goes crazy in a CRATE...It's unbearable to hear her shriek and there is no letup. I know she may grow out of this behavior...but she and I are very frustrated.

Biting Puppy
by: Anonymous

He's just getting to know you. He doesn't know any better. Puppies explore with their mouths, which is fine except when they use it on us. Each time your puppy bites, a sharp short NO should do the trick.

Never run away from a puppy that's trying to bite your ankles - it will always think it's a game and run after you. It may become even more excited, thinking it's a game, and try to bite even harder!

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