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I was just thinking today about how my aussies will nip at little kids when they run.

But what if The parent didn't know your dog, or you, and your dog niped the child and the child told the parent, and the parent accused your dog of being Aggressive. Would you try and explain to the parent that it was a herding Instinct and that no harm was ment?

When is the line between herding instinct and aggression crossed? or can they be considered one in the same?

Luckly this hasn't happened to me yet and I hope it never does.
 

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When is the line between herding instinct and aggression crossed? or can they be considered one in the same?
The point becomes moot when the dog "bites" a child. If it were my kid, the dog would likely be forgiven (assuming it was a herding "nip"), but you can't count on that being the case. If it leaves a mark, assume it will be considered a bite.
 

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I for one try and keep my dogs away from running children simply because I am aware that the instinct is there and sometimes the temptation can become too much to resist no matter how much training there is. Just to clear anything up ;)
 

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I wouldn't think herding would have anything to do with aggression. My Australian Shepherd is not a big "herder". He has however bitten someone. At the time, I was standing on the front porch visiting with the guy he bit. x.x Sounds like your dogs aren't doing anything like that...

That being said, a bite is a bite and I agree with Marsh. I would see it for what it was, just play. Oh, and I understand that you manage their environment. At this point, I do the same thing for Cain.
 

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I was just thinking today about how my aussies will nip at little kids when they run.

But what if The parent didn't know your dog, or you, and your dog niped the child and the child told the parent, and the parent accused your dog of being Aggressive. Would you try and explain to the parent that it was a herding Instinct and that no harm was ment?

When is the line between herding instinct and aggression crossed? or can they be considered one in the same?

Luckly this hasn't happened to me yet and I hope it never does.
I think I would be explaining it to a judge. :(

I certainly hope it NEVER happens to me, with my dogs or any other.
 

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Our first Corgi had a high herding drive. I still have a scar on the side of my knee. I was young at the time, and if any small children ran he would nip to herd them. But, he would never bite someone out of aggression. Ever. It was only when someone was running. Everyone loved this dog and knew it was his herding instinct so it was never an issue. Bailey does not nip but will bark to herd someone.
 

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My husbands childhood collie was a heel nipper....I've heard many stories about how he herded DH and his brothers, and was allowed to do it. He chased the kids around the yard and everyone thought it was cute. One day he chased down a neighbor and bit him on the leg, sent the guy to the hospital, my husbands family was sued, and the collie, DH was told, was sent to live on a farm. Sounds like this was probably prey drive/motion sensitivity/herding instinct/whatever you want to call it, and not all out aggression, but most people aren't going to care about whether this was aggression or herding instinct, a bite is a bite. I am firmly in the camp of dogs are not allowed to herd people, period. Without specialized training, herding instinct is just prey drive. I have two that would engage in this behavior if I let them, "leave it" works well for me, but I also manage situations my dogs are in, like not allowing my dogs to be out in the yard when my kids have friends inside the fence, leashing them if there are going to be strange kids around, and teaching my own kids how to not react and "be a tree" if the dogs get nippy.
 

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Agression is when they are defending food and like meaning to harm it VERY much. Instinct is what ever the dog was trained to do. I say maybe you should "untrain" your dogs unless you are using them for herding.
You can't untrain a herding instinct, The dog is eather born with it or not it's not something you train. although you can try and controle it.

but yes I do use my dogs for herding
 

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I have a friend who likes to jog with her heeler. This is a very well trained dog but the dog has nipped her when they're running, leaving a huge bruise. So maybe not so well trained?? In the end, though, a nip is a nip. I don't think intent matters.
 

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I was just thinking today about how my aussies will nip at little kids when they run.

But what if The parent didn't know your dog, or you, and your dog niped the child and the child told the parent, and the parent accused your dog of being Aggressive. Would you try and explain to the parent that it was a herding Instinct and that no harm was ment?

When is the line between herding instinct and aggression crossed? or can they be considered one in the same?

Luckly this hasn't happened to me yet and I hope it never does.
Its something you have to be mindful of owning a herding breed. I am on my second Australian Cattle Dog. Which tend to be the kings of heeling.

I have never had a problem with someone outside the home. I have suffered sore ankles personally during the training process.

Because I like to herd with my dogs, I never want to supress the herding behavior. Just channel and control it.

It really had nothing to do with aggression. It is actually not a bite but rather a pinch. But someone that is not dog savvy and breed savvy is probably not going to see it that way. The dog uses its teeth, it is going to be viewed as a bite,.

Agression is when they are defending food and like meaning to harm it VERY much. Instinct is what ever the dog was trained to do. I say maybe you should "untrain" your dogs unless you are using them for herding.
You can't untrain a breed that naturally heels. You can channel it and control it with training and patience. But it is always there.
 

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Instinct can lead to aggression, some dogs instinct is to react aggressively to certain situations or stimuli.

I don't think your dog is being aggressive or "mean" but it can still be called such because it is a "bite". The dog could be labeled dangerous or aggressive. Herding dogs have a modified prey drive, they have been selectively bred to have the attack/kill/eat bred out of them and only the chase and some nipping. Other breeds with prey drive might chase, kill and eat (or not eat) a small animal. Some would say that is aggressive, but it is also just their instinct. Such a coyote will catch and eat small prey animals. Yotes do this as a means of survival. Pet dogs don't have to do this to survive but it doesn't mean they no longer have the instinct.

"aggression" is a term that has different meaning to different people when it comes to dogs. there is also different types/reasons for aggression.

Agression is when they are defending food and like meaning to harm it VERY much. Instinct is what ever the dog was trained to do. I say maybe you should "untrain" your dogs unless you are using them for herding.
That is totally the opposite of what instinct is "trained to do" instinct is inborn, not trained, otherwise it would be learned behavior and not instinct.
 

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herding instinct and training: everyone of my Border Collies are trained from the start that people are off limits (even if i get them past puppy stage and it has "been allowed" w/ the previous owners)....they will work/herd livestock, chase geese, try the ducks when we go goosing....but, they have never tried to chase bunnies, squirrels, etc past the puppy age of being taught that those are off limits....

the instinct to herd/chase is strong in them but the training has become even stronger and they know the boundaries.....

to me, it becomes aggression when that instinct has taken hold to the point of no control (either self control or your control) and drawing blood/causing tears in the flesh....and, you can see a change in the "attitude" when "herding"...

yes, i would be explaining the difference, but i would also be assuring that the incident will not happen again as i will be training the dog this is unacceptable behavior.....
 

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I have no idea if it's correct or not, but I'm always thought of instinct as that which the dog was bred to do and aggression involves the express, emotional intent to harm, outside of instinct.

For example, a dog who chases, catches and eats a bunny is acting out of instinct and it's the owner's responsibility to prevent the dog from exercising his instinct in inappropriate situations (like with cats or children). A dog exercising his instinct has no "emotional" intent to harm.

On the other hand, snarling and biting or not letting people near his food or acting out of fear by growling and/or biting are all acts of aggression. It's when a dog acts outside of instinct from an emotional cause, with the express intent to control or harm.

In my opinion, when a dog barks, snarls and lunges on a leash, it might be out of aggression or it might not. What dicides is how they act when let off the leash. If they run away or run and play with the other dogs, then it's just a matter of the leash introducing an element that makes them act unnaturally.
 

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My husbands childhood collie was a heel nipper....I've heard many stories about how he herded DH and his brothers, and was allowed to do it. He chased the kids around the yard and everyone thought it was cute. One day he chased down a neighbor and bit him on the leg, sent the guy to the hospital, my husbands family was sued, and the collie, DH was told, was sent to live on a farm. Sounds like this was probably prey drive/motion sensitivity/herding instinct/whatever you want to call it, and not all out aggression, but most people aren't going to care about whether this was aggression or herding instinct, a bite is a bite. I am firmly in the camp of dogs are not allowed to herd people, period. Without specialized training, herding instinct is just prey drive. I have two that would engage in this behavior if I let them, "leave it" works well for me, but I also manage situations my dogs are in, like not allowing my dogs to be out in the yard when my kids have friends inside the fence, leashing them if there are going to be strange kids around, and teaching my own kids how to not react and "be a tree" if the dogs get nippy.
Just curious, which two are your heel nippers?

I agree completely. You have to control and let the dog know it's not okay to nip people. My shelties have all been pretty big heelers, especially Trey. Since Trey is a bit.... abnormal.... though, the training never completely stopped him from biting people and other dogs. The other two with patience and persistence learned soon it is NOT appropriate to nip people. We used to take Nikki jogging no problem. We had a soccer ball Nikki was free to nip around and we had lots of fun with that.

Managing Trey's mouthiness is different. He did eventually learn not to even try with the vacuum cleaner. But he is very motion sensitive. I still can't move wrong in front of him, even though he's at 13 years and very slow. I know how to stop the nipping once it's started, but he does get me off guard sometimes. If he's running DON'T cross in front of him. If he starts mouthing, stop and be completely still. Every now and then I'll ask the crew if they want a treat and Trey will get worked up and sneak in a nip.

I know he means no harm, but when he was younger he wasn't allowed to go outside when there were kids in the yard that weren't us. We learned the rules pretty quick, but both me and my sister got nipped a few times.
 

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On the other hand, snarling and biting or not letting people near his food or acting out of fear by growling and/or biting are all acts of aggression. It's when a dog acts outside of instinct from an emotional cause, with the express intent to control or harm.
Guarding important resources is among the most primal of instincts. Humans have successfully bred that out of most domesticated dog breeds, but it's always in there somewhere. Of the "lap" breeds most intensively subjected to selective breeding, you may see comparatively little predatory/hunting behavior. You will still see resource guarding in a fair number of individuals, however.

It's not exactly unknown in humans, either.
 

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Would you try and explain to the parent that it was a herding Instinct and that no harm was ment?
I'm not sure how explaining the dog's genotype would sooth the bitten child or comfort the parent. As a topic of discussion over a cup of coffee, I can see this discussion having value...as an excuse, not so much.

When is the line between herding instinct and aggression crossed? or can they be considered one in the same?
Phenotype (the outward, physical manifestation of the animal)(aggression) and Genotype (internally coded, inheritable information within the animal)(instinct) are not the same but absolutely correlated.

Now I would say the line between the two is defined by the offended, which may not be the same definition used by the dog's guardian. Nevertheless, it is the dog's guardian who is responsible for NOT testing the limits of their definition.
 

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Just curious, which two are your heel nippers?
Scarlett and Frosty....with Scarlett it's a chase and grab the pant leg/ankle thing, with Frosty it's more motion sensitivity...he got me hard on the back of the leg once while I was vacuuming and he also jumped up and bit my hand when I was spraying air freshener one time. I know at this point what gets him worked up, some really weird stuff, so we haven't had any issues in a while. Shiner leg grabs with other dogs alot, but never has with a person.
 
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