How to Stop a Dog From Nipping at Your Heels

Providing physical and mental outlets for your dog’s energy can also help decrease heel nipping. While any breed of dog may be a heel nipper, those with a herding background are more likely to exhibit this behavior. When herding dogs lack a job to do, their vigilance and motion sensitivity find other outlets, like chasing after bikes, cars or running children. These dogs need regular exercise and challenge. Otherwise they devise their own games to expend energy.


Walks around the block are often not enough for many of these dogs. Exercise for a high-energy breed may mean going for longer or faster walks, playing active games or enrolling in a doggy sport. You can also train your dog to herd in a controlled manner by enrolling in Treibball. Fetch, Frisbee and structured games of tug also allow your dog to release pent-up energy.

It’s also important to give your dog the opportunity to act out her predatory behavior in a safe manner. Tie a stuffed animal to the end of a rope or use a Chase-It toy for playtime.


Finally, fear, anxiety and conflict can also cause heel nipping. Some dogs heel nip when they become nervous with a situation or a person. If you suspect your canine’s heel nipping is caused by fear or anxiety, seek immediate professional help. Talk to your veterinarian, who may refer you to a veterinary behavior specialist or certified professional dog trainer to help put a stop to this behavior.

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