There are several reasons your dog bites your feet when you get up and walk around. The dog could be bored and wants to play. If your dog is from a herding breed, nipping at moving feet is an instinct. It could also be part of their prey drive, a powerful instinct for hunting dogs.
It can be a bit frustrating when your dog constantly nibbles at your feet while you’re trying to walk. Although it’s more common in puppies, this behavior can extend into the adult years.
In this guide, we will discuss the reasons your dog is biting your feet while you’re walking. Once you know why they’re doing this, we will go over a few things you can do to put an end to this behavior.
What You'll Learn
Why Your Dog is Biting Your Feet
If your dog is of a herding breed, such as Border Collies, Sheep Dogs, Australian Shepherds, and so on, they’re probably nibbling at your feet because of instinct.
This is what herding breeds were initially bred to do. Collies, for example, are the most common sheepdog. If you observe how they chase animals, they run in a semi-circular motion, attempting to corral whatever animal or animals they’re herding.
While these dogs are running around doing their job (herding livestock), they’ll bite or nip at the ankles of the animals they’re herding.
The good news is you can correct this behavior—more on that below.
It’s normal for puppies to bite at your feet. This could be for a variety of reasons, including boredom and built-up energy. It could also be due to teething. Teething is painful for puppies, and chewing helps ease the pain. When they see your feet moving, they might view them as a great chew toy to relieve pain.
The good news is this stage shouldn’t last long. Puppies learn quickly. When they see your displeasure with this action, they’ll learn to cut it out within a few weeks.
Dogs love a moving target. Nearly all dogs have an instinct called prey drive. This instinct is why you’ll often see dogs chase cars into the street, or be completely uninterested in a tennis ball until you throw it. Once you throw the tennis ball, the dog has a sudden desire to chase it.
The same instinct could trigger your dog to bite your feet while you walk. They’re uninterested in your feet, but just like the tennis ball, the second you move, your feet suddenly become an irresistible target.
Dogs that have a strong prey drive usually require more mental stimulation than other dogs. Near the end of this article, we will go over various ways to provide mental stimulation for your dog.
Your dog could also be bored and wanting to play. When you stand up and walk, your dog could view the movement as your way of initiating playtime. They may also bite your feet as their way of asking you to play.
If this is why your dog is biting your feet, the best thing you can do is to prevent them from getting bored in the first place.
What if This Behavior Becomes Aggressive?
Feet biting is a problem that should be addressed regardless of whether or not there’s aggression. However, if your dog shows signs of aggression while nipping at the feet, this behavior needs to be corrected immediately.
If you aren’t sure if your dog is doing this out of aggression, pay attention to their body language. Are they growling? Barking? Is the hair on their back standing up? Is he showing teeth?
These are all signs of aggressive behavior. DO NOT let your dog continue with the aggression. The more a dog does something, the more likely they are to think it’s ok.
How To End Feet Biting
We will use three different methods to put an end to this behavior. The first is to distract them with chew toys, the second is using a training collar, and the third is through positive reinforcement.
Many dogs bite their owner’s feet because they’re looking for something to chew on. That’s where chew toys come in handy. Make sure you get a toy that’s durable enough to last a few weeks. If your dog chews through the toy in a few days, they’ll go right back to your feet.
For puppies, chew toys are great because they allow the puppy to chew on something that can relieve the pain and discomfort from teething. For dogs with an aggressive streak, these toys will provide a way for them to “get out there aggression.” It’s much better for aggression to be taken out on a toy than a person!
In addition to chew toys, you’ll need to purchase a remote training collar. People often assume that training collars are unethical because they shock the dog. However, the shock doesn’t hurt the dog. It makes them feel slightly uncomfortable for a moment, but there’s no pain.
These collars work by giving a warning sound before the shock. If the negative behavior continues, then the collar will give the dog a little shock.
It doesn’t take long for the dog to learn that when they hear the warning sound, they need to stop what they’re doing or else they’ll receive a shock. Eventually, your dog will learn that biting your feet is associated with getting shocked.
These collars won’t work on all dogs, and if you have an aggressive dog, we DO NOT recommend training collars. They can make aggression worse.
Positive reinforcement (praise, attention, and treats) is the best long-term way to change dog behavior. Every time you walk around and your dog doesn’t bite your feet, give him a treat and some praise.
When they bite your feet, completely ignore them. Many people want to scold their dog, but some dogs are so desperate for attention, they would rather have negative attention than no attention at all.
When your dog doesn’t bite your feet, reward them. When they bite your feet, ignore them.
Regardless of whether your dog is still a puppy or a full-grown adult, feet biting is a bad habit, and it’s your job as the owner to put an end to the behavior. Use the three steps mentioned above. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it works!
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