Blog, Behavior

How Do I Stop My Border Collie From Nipping?

Natalie Kyra

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Bringing a Border Collie into your life is like inviting boundless energy and intelligence to share your every moment. These extraordinary dogs are known for their herding instincts and playful nature, but sometimes, their natural behaviors, like nipping, can pose challenges. How do I stop my border collie from nipping?

To stop your Border Collie from nipping, practice bite inhibition by yelping and withdrawing attention when they nip too hard. Offer chew toys, socialize them early, use obedience commands, and more.

In this article, I’ll explore why Border Collies nip, how you can gently guide them to stop this behavior, and more. So let’s start!

What Are the Root Causes of Border Collie Nipping?

What Are the Root Causes of Border Collie Nipping

Before we can address nipping, it’s vital to grasp why Border Collies do it in the first place. Nipping is rooted in their instincts and communication:

Herding Instinct:

Border Collies are renowned for their exceptional herding abilities. Historically, they worked alongside shepherds to control livestock by nipping at their heels.

This innate behavior is deeply ingrained in their genetics. And it’s crucial to acknowledge that nipping is, to some extent, a natural instinct.


Border Collies have an abundant sense of playfulness and often use their mouths to engage in playful interactions. This behavior can manifest during playtime when they become overly excited.


In puppies, nipping can be particularly prevalent during the teething phase. And it typically occurs between three and six months of age. Much like human babies, puppies experience discomfort and pain as their new teeth emerge. Nipping helps alleviate this discomfort by providing relief to their sore gums.


Dogs use their mouths to communicate with their owners, other dogs, and the world around them. Nipping can be a way for Border Collies to convey their emotions, whether it’s excitement, curiosity, or even affection. Understanding the context and cues associated with their nipping is crucial in addressing this behavior.

What Are The Challenges of Nipping Behavior?

While nipping might seem harmless, it can present several challenges:

Painful Bites:

Border Collies, with their sharp teeth, can deliver painful nips, even if they don’t intend to harm. This can be particularly uncomfortable, especially for children or individuals with sensitive skin.


Nipping behaviors, if left unchecked, can escalate into more severe issues, such as aggressive biting. It’s essential to address nipping during its early stages to prevent further problems.

Social Interactions:

Nipping can lead to awkward or unpleasant social interactions. Strangers, especially those who are not familiar with Border Collies, may find nipping unsettling or even frightening. This can affect your dog’s ability to interact positively with others.

How Do I Stop My Border Collie From Nipping?

After understanding the reason, you need to take steps to stop it. So, let’s explore strategies to help them stop this behavior and become gentle companions:

Bite Inhibition Training:

During play, if your Border Collie nips too forcefully, emit a yelp that mimics the sound of a hurt puppy. This high-pitched noise serves as a universal canine signal that something is amiss.

Simultaneously, withdraw your attention by ceasing play immediately and turning away from your dog. The purpose of this training is to teach your Border Collie the concept of bite inhibition.

It means they must learn to control the force of their bites. Over time, they’ll understand that gentle play is rewarded with continued play, while rough play results in the end of the game.

Provide Appropriate Chew Toys:

To redirect your Border Collie’s nipping tendencies, offer a variety of safe and durable chew toys. Whenever your dog starts to nip, quickly replace your hand or clothing with one of these toys.

This strategy helps your Border Collie distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable biting targets.


Begin socializing your Border Collie from an early age by exposing them to various people, environments, and situations.

Positive socialization experiences can help reduce nipping tendencies stemming from fear or anxiety around unfamiliar people or situations.

Obedience Training:

Basic obedience commands like “leave it” or “gentle” are valuable tools in managing and redirecting nipping behavior.

During play, use these commands to communicate your expectations. For example, if your dog becomes too exuberant and starts nipping, issue a command like “gentle” to remind them to play more softly.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation:

Border Collies possess an extraordinary amount of energy and intellect. Ensure they receive both physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Engage in activities such as fetch, obedience training, puzzle toys, and agility exercises to tire them out physically and mentally. A tired Border Collie is less likely to engage in excessive nipping.

Positive Reinforcement:

Utilize positive reinforcement techniques consistently. Whenever your Border Collie exhibits the desired behavior—such as playing gently or refraining from nipping—offer immediate praise, treats, and affection. Positive reinforcement encourages your dog to repeat these behaviors.

Consistency and Patience:

Maintain consistency in your training methods and expectations. All family members and anyone interacting with your Border Collie should follow the same rules to avoid confusion. Be patient and persistent in your approach, as it may take time for your dog to fully grasp the concept of gentle play.

Avoid Punishment:

Avoid using punishment-based methods or physical force to correct nipping behavior. These tactics can lead to fear, anxiety, and aggression in your dog. Positive reinforcement and gentle redirection are more effective and humane.

Seek Professional Help if Needed:

If your Border Collie’s nipping behavior is severe, persistent, or shows signs of aggression, consider consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide specialized guidance and tailored solutions to address your dog’s specific needs.

By following these steps you can help your Border Collie overcome nipping tendencies. And you’ll build a strong bond based on trust and positive interactions.

You may also read

Best Way to Stop A Border Collie Puppy Biting


When should I start training my Border Collie to stop nipping?

Try to start training your Border Collie to stop nipping as early as possible, ideally during puppyhood. Puppies are more receptive to learning and behavior modification.

How long does it take to stop nipping behavior in Border Collies?

Time may vary from dog to dog. It depends on factors such as the dog’s age, temperament, and the consistency of training. Be patient and persistent in your efforts, as progress may take some time.


Border Collies are exceptional companions, known for their intelligence, loyalty, and boundless energy. Nipping is a behavior that can be managed and redirected with the right training, love, and understanding.

But how do I stop my border collie from nipping?  By teaching bite inhibition, providing toys, and socializing, you can guide your Border Collie toward becoming a gentle.

This journey not only ensures a deeper bond but also enriches both your lives with a harmonious relationship founded on trust and positive interactions.


Natalie Kyra

Natalie is a Chief Editor and Lead Author with over 8 years of experience, She graduated from the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She has one Border Collie (Pez) puppy & one French Bulldog (Lerry) in her house. She spends most of her time with the Border Collie puppy. Also, she loves to write content about pets, especially border collie puppies. 🐶

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