Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A: I can imagine how stressful this situation must be for you, especially when you're just trying to exchange friendly greetings with someone like a neighbor.
There are a few reasons your
dog could be displaying this behavior.
Instinct: Canines with herding backgrounds are notorious for nipping at the heels of other dogs, sheep, horses and even people.
Border Collies and
Australian Shepherds, for example, are known for exhibiting ankle- and heel-nipping behavior, which can show up in puppyhood.
The behavior is usually brought on by fast movements or walking away from a dog with your back facing him.
Anxiety: Your dog may also feel frustration or anxiety when people pass him on the street, either because he wants that person to pet him or he feels anxious about the individual.
Entertainment: For some dogs, heel nipping may actually be a fun game.
Regardless of the reason for the behavior, your dog knows that when he lunges or nips at a person’s ankles, they move away from him, which either relieves emotional stress or becomes the exciting end to a game. If your dog exhibits anxiety or
aggression when a person’s back is turned, it's likely because the individual poses less of a threat to him in that position than facing him head on.
To combat this habit, give your dog an alternative behavior to perform and reward it. One of my favorites: Ask him to sit and
stay when a person approaches. You may need to treat him multiple times when you first practice this technique as a person walks by, eventually working up to treating only
after the individual has passed.
By giving your
dog a default command, he'll be less able to lunge and more likely to relax in these situations. If you use a head harness, you'll also have greater control over your dog's unruly ankle-attacking behavior.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Whale-watching crews spotted the fourth
baby killer whale of the season in the
waters off Washington State.
It’s a scary thing to think about, but here’s
what you can do to prepare for choking,
seizures or other common…
You're not a bad pet owner if your dog
doesn't know sit, down or come. But
these commands can be really helpful.
Being overweight raises your feline’s risk
of serious problems like joint injuries,
diabetes and surgical…
Before you buy chicks or ducklings for
your kids' Easter baskets, make sure you
know what you're getting yourself…
Want to find out how well your cat or dog is digesting his food? Well, our vet says the proof is in your pet's poop.
The active and playful Devon Rex’s high cheekbones and slender build make her look like a top feline model.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.