16 Ways To Stop A German Shepherd Puppy From Biting
You might occasionally feel helpless in the face of a German Shepherd puppy’s persistent biting tendencies if you are fortunate enough to obtain one. You are not alone if you are feeling bad. The sharp puppy teeth hurt, and this breed is infamous for nipping. Suppose your arms are covered with teeth marks, bruises, and scratches. In that case, you’re undoubtedly annoyed about it and looking for a way to stop the nipping so that the wounds may finally heal.
What Brings About German Shepherd Puppy Bite?
What, then, causes German Shepherd puppies to be so hostile? There are numerous choices. Please be aware that the last two elements strongly depend on the environment in which your particular puppy is raised.
They Have an Effective Prey Drive.
First, German shepherds are naturally drawn to movement due to their propensity for hunting. If you watch your puppy in the yard, you might notice how rapidly he picks up even the slightest movement of an animal in the grass.
His vast ears will twitch to make the slightest sounds, and his body will be ready to jump into action instantly.
Soon, your arms, legs, ankles, and pant legs will become playthings for him to use as prey due to his prey drive, along with balls, small animals, and, tragically, your arms.
And to make matters worse, as your dog begins to nip, every motion you make with your hand fuels this desire and increases the danger of damage to your skin. That explains why your arms and legs have so many “tooth scratches.”
They belong to the Herder Breed.
Due to their herding breed heritage, the puppies also like chasing and retrieving moving objects, frequently using their mouths in the process (a behaviour known as gripping in herding lingo).
The majority of the German Shepherd herding strategy in the past involved flock containment or boundary patrol. These dogs ensured that the sheep were herded correctly and gripped the recalcitrant sheep by the top of the neck, the ribs, or the region right above the hocks.
Breeder and herding expert Ellen Nickelsberg shows how puppies are chosen for puppy herding trials based on their gripping method, which can include harmful and less damaging bites, full-mouth bites, and puppies who bite and hold on. These preliminary examinations are carried out when the pups are pretty tiny.
They’re Investigating With Their Mouth.
Puppies go through a time where they use their mouths to explore the world, regardless of their breed. Puppy nipping is an expected behaviour among puppies and is acceptable. It reminds me of the mouthing stage that teething babies go through. However, compared to other puppy breeds, German Shepherd puppies may exhibit this behaviour more pronouncedly and strongly.
They’ve been overstimulated too much.
For a good reason, many people like to call their German Shepherd puppies “land sharks.” The act of nipping is frequently an indication that a dog is overstimulated and has lost control over the severity of his bite.
German shepherd puppies will occasionally get more abrasive when they are cranky and in need of a nap. Ultimately, it is up to the owner to teach effective bite inhibition through rigid rules.
They were raised in a terrible environment.
In other cases, excessive nipping may be a symptom that a puppy was raised in a breeding environment that was less than optimal, where the puppy could not learn the ABCs of bite inhibition from his mother and littermates. The breeders did little to remedy the problem.
Some of the worst cases of poor bite inhibition typically occur in puppies who were prematurely removed from the litter or in singletons. In other cases, biting might be a genetic feature triggered by a negative temperament and weak nerves.
They were bred for appearance more than temperament.
Unfortunately, today’s German Shepherds are being bred incorrectly in increasing cases. I no longer find it shocking to see enormous German Shepherds much taller than typical.
I routinely observe many animals being given to shelters because they were incorrectly bred, with the breeders emphasizing looks over temperament.
Max von Stephanitz, who worked so hard to get that versatile, well-behaved ideal German Shepherd specimen, would be exceedingly dissatisfied if he were still alive.
Several Words on Bite-Inhibition Methods
Below is a list of the games I’ve used to train German Shepherd pups. I want to emphasize how important it is to exclusively use positive, reward-based training methods before engaging in these games with your pup.
The boldness of this breed is well known, and when challenged, it frequently refuses to back down. The German Shepherd was bred with the ability to persist and never give up while dealing with unruly sheep. Due to its bravery, this breed is regularly used in legal work.
According to the American Kennel Club standard, the breed has a distinct personality characterized by direct and bold, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence, and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, gently retaining its stance while exhibiting confidence and a readiness to accept approaches without making them first. But the breed is also susceptible.
It may be tempting to use coercive methods to show the puppy “who’s boss” if he nips, including aggressively squeezing his muzzle or roughly grabbing him by the scruff and keeping him down. Performing an “alpha roll” is never advisable unless you want the puppy to switch from fun to defensive biting.
Also, remember that coercive methods will damage the dog’s and the owner’s bond. The puppy is biting more now because he wants to defend himself from brutal handling and treatment.
This is the most effective way to train a puppy that hands are wrong and should never touch their bodies! Puppies may nip when you need to check their paws, brush their coat, check their ears, or brush their teeth.
Thankfully, several better ways to teach young pups reasonable bite restriction. The picture above shows a nippy German Shepherd nipping my arm before it underwent training and developed more “finesse.” This was his usual type to any touch.
Contrary to popular belief, many puppy owners are still advised by veterinarians to alpha roll their puppies whenever they bite. Most modern dog trainers no longer recommend following this outdated guidance. This leads because owners can’t touch or enjoy petting their pups without getting teeth marks, as already said.
How to train German Shepherd Puppies to Refuse Bite Inhibition in Six Games
1. Basic Handling (also known as “The Car Wash Game”)
On a primal level, some German Shepherd pups may dread being touched. In my Yellow Creek Training Center, I recently overheard a German Shepherd owner lament, “I haven’t been able to pet my puppy for months!” When you touch them, they can try to nip your hand.
The pup can simply be attempting to play, or it might be a symptom of fear. Maybe they’re just not used to it. In any circumstance, you can try to make touching something your dog will appreciate. One day, I created this game on the spot while curling up on the floor next to a very nippy German shepherd. It almost mimics giving your puppy a gentle “scrub” when you stroll him through a car wash.
- As you sit on the floor, extend your legs.
2. Prepare a clicker and some tasty treats for yourself. (If your dog is not clicker-trained, simply using the word “yes” to indicate the desired behaviour will suffice.)
3. Toss a treat to the right side while your dog is curled up on your left side, causing him to cross your body to get to the treat.
4. As he passes your body to get the treat, pet him briefly on his sides. Then, just as you are going to give him the treat, click (or say “yes”).
5. Next, repeat the same touching and clicking while tossing the treat from the right side to the left and performing the same action from the opposite side.
6. You can adjust the threshold and increase the strength of the touch as the pup becomes accustomed to being touched. You can start by touching the neck, moving to the sides, and then touching the tail as he passes.
7. Most dogs are opposed to touching their heads. Therefore save touching the top of the head for last.
8. move your time. You move too quickly and need to take a few steps back by touching less firmly if your dog ever tries to nip you.
2. Kindness pays
To develop good bite inhibition, a puppy needs to learn how to learn treats gently.
Feeding your puppy from the bowl all at once wastes time. There are a lot of training opportunities there that were lost! To train your dog to accept food from your hands, carefully lay aside a piece of his dinner. Do this every day.
As you work to teach your dog how to mouth properly, gather a few treats and hold them in your closed fist. If your dog bites your hand, tell him “no bite” and don’t give him the treat. You can also use a negative marker or yell—see the note below about this—if you like. Once he stops nipping and begins to kiss your hand, praise your dog for being a good boy and release the treats.
3. Hand Targeting
Teaching your puppy an alternate behaviour to replace the nipping might be helpful if he repeatedly bites you while you are sitting close to the sofa. In this situation, try to play the hand target. In this way, the puppy will aim for the hand rather than focus on nipping it. The following is how to play it:
- Extend your hand out in front of you, palm up.
2. Reward your dog with a click (or a “yes”) when it sniffs your hand without biting.
3. Repeat several times.
4. As your dog becomes more fluid, add the cue “target,” and keep clicking and praising them.
5. Participate in ad challenges by putting your hand further away, lifting it, or lowering it.
Advice: Don’t move your hand too fast when presenting it as a target. Especially at the beginning of training, you don’t want to raise arousal levels and make your hands look like toys.
An excellent game for training your puppy to concentrate on a ball rather than your hand being fetched. I usually complete the workout in around a half-day because it’s so straightforward. If your dog has a predisposition for retrieving naturally, it will come naturally; otherwise, you can try to train it via back-chaining.
- Toss the ball.
2. Call something to your dog.
3. When he approaches you, show him a treat.
4. To get the treat, your dog will drop the ball.
5. Re-throw the ball after picking it up.
6. After dropping the ball becomes second nature, add the cue “drop it or give.”
7. Gradually stop giving treats because the new reinforcement should repeatedly toss the ball.
5. Tug of War
The game of tug of war is controversial. In my experience, it’s a fun strategy to stop a dog from nipping when taught in a structured and effective manner. This is a great way to release tension and stop using your hands to play with a toy. You tell it to behave in this way.
- To get your dog interested, get a tug toy and jiggle it.
2. Hold onto the opposite side of the toy once your pup has grabbed and pulled on it.
3. Freeze and display a reward at a specific point.
4. When your dog drops the other side to get the treat, say “good” or click.
5. Give the treat.
6. Repeat several times.
7. Once your dog is good at dropping the tug toy, add the cue “give” or “drop it.”
8. As a reward, start another tug of war with your dog.
Several methods teach your dog proper bite inhibition without resorting to coercion. If your puppy continues to nip or exhibit violent behaviour, find a local trainer who uses cutting-edge, scientifically supported strategies and positive training techniques. A good source is the Guild of Pet Professionals.
6. Touch and Treat
This game is touching since you may use your puppy in several fun games. We want to create positive associations. You must develop a friendly, positive, conditioned emotional response if you want your puppy to transition from hating or dreading being touched to looking forward to it because of all the beautiful connections.
- Start by touching your puppy a treat and giving him mild touches in areas where he won’t flinch. To evoke that adequate conditioned emotional response, repeat the process several times.
2. Gradually move your way to areas of your puppy’s body that might feel uneasy being touched, such as the top of the head, the ears, or the paws. Always give the treat to encourage positive associations. If your puppy tries to nip during the exercise, split it into smaller steps. For instance, if your puppy tries to bite you when you pet the top of his head, start by gently petting the sides of his head or nose and giving him treats when he tolerates it. After that, you should move to the top of the head.
Ten Additional Tips to Reduce German Shepherd Puppy Biting
Puppy nipping won’t end overnight, and that is the painful truth. Not even in a few days or weeks. But you can take steps to reduce its frequency drastically.
The truth is that while dealing with nippy puppies, it’s essential to have a diversified plan. Or, to put it another way, attend to all of their demands at various levels while implementing some ingenious training strategies that reinforce various preferable behaviours. Over time, these actions should start to take precedence over nipping.
1) Avoid Practice
Since reinforcement is a constant factor in play, many puppy activities become habits. The more a puppy engages in harmful behaviour, the more ingrained and established it gets. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes.
Because of this, nipping can quickly get out of hand and become your German Shepherd puppy’s preferred means of communication.
Lessening your dog’s reliance on mouth play is essential. Never wrestle or engage in rough physical activity with your puppy. Make making suggestive movements like tapping your puppy’s nose.
2) Encourage solo play
Dogs who experience boredom often start to rely on people for play. Even though we keep them occupied, they may still long for the “physical play” that has been ingrained in them and that they often engage in while playing with other dogs.
More independent play might be encouraged by interactive toys and food puzzles. To give your puppy a longer-lasting treat, add a Kong that you can fill with kibble and water and freeze.
Find fun treasure hunts in the yard for your German shepherd puppy’s kibble, and then let him go in search of it.
Rotate a variety of food puzzles and toys to keep your pup engaged and occupied.
Use puppy teething toys if your puppy is going through a teething phase. Do your best to make that all chew toys are safe for puppies. Despite claims to the contrary, whenever your puppy is chewing on a toy, always watch them!
3) Purchase a Flirt Pole.
A flirt pole can be your best friend and the primary replacement for most of the nipping. Most pups find it to be alluring!
When your German shepherd puppy approaches, you intend to bite (I can tell by the expression on his face), dangle the flirt pole in front of his face and let him play with it. I advise training your puppy to leave it and drop it to add the game some structure.
Please take note that it’s essential to capture your German shepherd puppy *before* he bites. Hold your puppy *before* he grabs you and starts pulling. It may be easier to divert him than if he is aggressively nipping and pulling on your clothing.
4) Oppositely toss a ball.
As your puppy draws near, you can choose to toss the ball oppositely. I like to be well-organized when training a young German shepherd puppy. While strolling, I’ll keep a ball in my pocket (gotta love cargo pants!) and keep other balls around but out of the dog’s reach (such as on a tall shelf).
5) Play in the “Kibble Toss” game.
While working with a very nippy German shepherd puppy last fall, I created this game. Tell your puppy to sit just as he starts to bite you severely, and then reward him by tossing one kibble across the room.
Why not put the kibble that dogs must eat during the day suitable? While you work on your site, your German Shepherd puppy can get some exercise, let off some steam, and go scavenging for food. Think about how many repetitions you could complete with only a small handful of kibble.
6) Make the most of baby gates.
I commonly utilize high baby gates and pet fences while working with dogs. They allow you to take a break when things become too wild. Instead of placing your dog in timeout, which runs the danger of making him nip more and make him fear being restrained by the collar, place yourself in timeout by walking through the baby gate and locking it as soon as you notice your dog starting to growl.
However, give your dog something to do before you leave. Before I leave, I’ll get the pup to sit, and then I’ll toss him a chew toy or frozen Kong to play with.
7) Training games for impulse control
Your puppy can learn better impulse control and a higher capacity for frustration with the help of these games. If your puppy is still very young, exercise patience because it will take them some time to learn this.
8) If Yelping isn’t working, avoid using it.
You may be aware that people frequently yell or exclaim, “Ouch,” when a pup nips. Because it doesn’t work with all dogs, in my experience, some German shepherd pups will nip even more if you try it.
Why do some puppies get even more excitable and hyper when they hear people “yelp”? Yelps and squeaks are said to awaken a dog’s hunting drive, which is why they like squeaky toys.
How amusing is it to play tug-of-war with a living tug-of-war (you) that moves and quacks and squeaks? A lot of fun, The pup German Shepherd says.
9) Record the Silence
Make it a habit to reward your dog when he relaxes peacefully on his mat by saying “good boy” calmly every time he does so. You can even give him some kibble when he is this relaxed. Avoid giving him treats because they can fascinate him too much and jolt him out of his relaxed state.
10) Encourage naps
Puppies who don’t get enough sleep may get cranky and begin constant biting. Numerous puppies and dogs are too overstimulated by their things to fall asleep. Giving them a tranquil place to sit can help them unwind.