I got my dog at a far too young age. I don't blame her problems on that but I would recommend that anyone getting a puppy should only get him/her from a breeder who only lets them go to their new home at eight weeks and definitely no earlier than 6. Storm is half border collie, half spaniel/staff and she's amazing, but if I hadn't invested the time near the beginning she would have been a nightmare. She's really clever and I've taught her countless tricks. She's great at obedience class and is progressing really well at agility.

However she has some problems which I'd be hugely grateful for any advice on. There is a collie at agility who is her absolute best friend, they roll around together, nipping each other and being hugely "aggressive" but in a playful way, my dog is only 10 months and he's only coming up to a year and as they've known each other since puppyhood they always play like that. There are a couple other collies that I've met that do similarly so I'm not sure if it's a breed thing. The problem is when she tries all that on other dogs, particularly small ones. She actually has a very good recall when playing on the beach with other dogs which is a blessing and she loves chasing dogs and being chased. However, some owners see it as aggression and more than anything I wondered the root of that sort of behavior.

Now to the question I posted above. Storm is a highly confident dog who's afraid of NOTHING, I know that her biting isn't fear based, more "get off me and let me do what I want", she isn't spoiled, I've always made sure she gets equal discipline and affection, but sometimes (not always) when I take her collar and lead her somewhere with it she whips her head around and snaps at my hand. She does it with other people too and it's really beginning to worry me. I'm not afraid of her and I don't let go if she bites me. I've tried rewarding her the instant she stops but it's not working. I got a harness in the hope that she'd respond better to that, but no. She doesn't do it on lead and she only does it when I'm pulling her away from something she'd rather be doing (e.g. playing with another dog rather than practicing contact points). How can I teach her not to bite when I hold her collar/harness?

Also I wondered if anyone else experienced this - when she was very little she had a perfect stay and I could walk for half a mile and she'd sit stay perfectly but around the time she hit 6 months she refused to do it. She just gets up and wonders around and just won't stay, not in a stand sit or down. This is becoming a problem in agility and I wondered any advice on teaching a dog that has learned stay but won't do it anymore. Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks so much, sorry for the long question!

  • I presume you've already checked that there isn't a medical problem which makes pulling on the collar painful...
    – keshlam
    May 14, 2015 at 21:23
  • I don't seem to be able to post a reply Thanks for your answer! No she has no medical reason for not liking being touched on the neck and we thought even if she was sensitive about her neck the harness would have helped. The problem is that 80% of the time she's fine with me holding her collar or harness and leading her with it. I think it's probably a slight dominance issue because she only bites when being led somewhere she doesn't want to go or being led away from something more fun, she's fine the rest of the time. She can be a little snappy at other times as well when she's overly exited
    – Leoni
    May 15, 2015 at 14:42
  • This will be converted into a comment by one of the mods. What do you think about my answer and how this could help with your problem ? Qualifying the behavior as a "dominance issue" is of no interest. Focus on he behaviors you want and train them with positive reinforcement.
    – Cedric H.
    May 15, 2015 at 15:06
  • I mean my dog does that. And it hurts more Since I have a husky but what did was get it's favourite toy or get him a treat and he would sit there and let me put its collar on. I hope it helps though Nov 12, 2021 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


I'm answering the main question: what should I do when my dog bites/snaps when I hold her collar?

First thing to do is to check with your vet that your dog doesn't have a medical reason to do that.

Next thing: if it is a real bite and not a snap, then you have a real bitting problem and it is not only about the collar.

That being said, the exact reason why your dog snaps when you hold his collar is of little importance, the thing to do is counter-conditioning.

To do that you have to train your dog to enjoy his collar being hold or gently tugged on.

Take a bunch of treats, give one to the dog and at the same time touch his collar, or just move your hand close to the collar. Progress very slowly, touching the collar for a longer period of time, and progressively move on to touch the collar first and treat after.

Don't make it too difficult too quickly and don't hesitate to go back a step if it isn't successful anymore. The more time you spend on these first steps, the more successful and fast it will be for the more difficult steps.

The whole process can possibly take a full week with 2-3 short sessions per day.

I also found this Youtube video explaining the process.

  • Not a full answer, just a tip to add to the above. Once you start to see some progress with the above training, get into the habit of moving your hand close to (and eventually touching) your dog's collar every single time you give him a treat until you do it automatically. That way, your dog will not just get used to having his collar held but will start to expect it. Also, your dog might have to be handled by you or other people (vets, groomers, etc.) in more places than just his collar. So work on getting your dog being comfortable with being handled all over. It'll save you a lot of grief
    – ThomasH
    May 18, 2015 at 12:18
  • My dog Toffee is a Blrder Collie too and she did this. I am going to try these techniques with her. She actually also is a agility dog and snaps when I go near or even hold her collar. I am so worried so I am hoping these tips will work! ;)
    – user6470
    Jan 12, 2016 at 2:31
  • She actually grew out of this behaviour with a combination of rewarding being held by the collar and age. she unfortunately has now develpoed other problems which we're seeing a behaviourist about. Best of luck with your own collie!!! :)
    – Leoni
    Jan 12, 2016 at 21:48

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