All dogs bite when they are puppies. Luckily, they tend to grow out of it with toys and training. Proper training is vital to have a healthy and well-adjusted German shepherd. The training process may take a while, but with some patience you’ll soon see your new puppy begin to catch on.
The good news is that its normal for GSD puppies to go through a teeth period. It won’t last forever and before you know it, you’ll have a fully grown adult German shepherd to contend with.
Need help training your dog to stop biting?
This post will go through some of the best tactics. Used the correct way, these tips will help you learn how to redirect your GSD puppy and stop that high-level biting.
Keep reading. This post will help you make it through their biting phase and turn your little land sharks into pawfect puppies.
Why German Shepherd Puppies Bite So Much
The German Shepherd dog is a large breed that is naturally mouthy because its purpose is to herd livestock. In more modern times, German shepherds have successfully been used for police work.
They have large, muscular bodies and are a breed in need of a job. If you think young puppies are active, just wait until your dog is fully grown.
German Shepherd puppies bite just like any other dog breed when they are still growing. This breed is large and strong, though, so their sharp teeth hurt more. For reference: A human’s bite force is 162 psi and the German Shepherd’s is 238psi.
German shepherd puppies start teething around 3 or 4 months of age. From there, it’s going to take your puppy another few months before he has his full set of adult teeth. In the meantime, he’s going to want to explore the world with his mouth.
Like human babies, this is how they learn about the world around them.
Unfortunately, this is also how they learn that biting you can get an interesting response. You’ll know that teeth is the problem because your dog will likely drool more often, not want to eat their normal food, or may seem “cranky”.
GSD puppies want to play all the time and they want to play hard. But those sharp puppy teeth hurt! This is when it’s important to start redirecting your dog to something more appropriate, like a chew toy.
Biting during puppyhood is normal but can become worse as the dog develops adult teeth. Hence, you’ll want to nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem.
The following tips will help tame the biting beastie and help them not become an aggressive dog as an adult.
How to Survive the German Shepherd Biting Phase
The following 19 ideas are designed to give you the tools you need to help your dog stop biting. It may not be easy, but it’s an important step in the process of teaching your dog that you are the pack leader. Young dogs learn this very quickly, so now is the time.
1. Get Chew Toys for Aggressive Chewers
German Shepherd puppies often bite because they’re playful. You need to give yours some toys to bite instead of you or your belongings.
Have appropriate chew toys nearby and use them to redirect your dog. The next time your German shepherd clamps down on your fingertips, gently remove your hand and offer your dog a chew toy.
Make sure you get chew toys for your puppy’s age. Giving some variety, such as teething rings and toys with rope and/or bones is also good. Chew toys are a good distraction while someone else is trying to interact with your puppy (like a veterinarian, friend, or family member).
2. Thwart Biting Behavior
Your puppy doesn’t know that biting hurts you unless you tell them. Saying “ouch!” will get their attention and let them know you don’t like it. Dogs respond to voice commands, but sometimes it takes a sudden sharp noise to get them to pay attention.
Keep in mind that this won’t always work. Some dogs will see this as a fun game and may get even more excited.
3. Play Games
Grab toys and turn them into a play session. Fetch and tug-of-war games are great stimulation so that your puppy doesn’t always have to play by themselves.
In fact, regularly playing with your puppy will do a lot to help tame their biting. Doing so will deter them from seeing your belongings as toys, which they’re likely to do when they’re alone and bored.
German Shepherds are very smart and love to learn new things. Include games with mental stimulation or agility, such as:
- Seek and find
- Food puzzles
- Dog tunnels
- Weave poles
- Magic cups
- Name that toy
4. Use Voice Commands
Obedience training is the most important type of training. You’ll want to start getting your puppy used to commands as soon as possible. If you’re not confident about training your own dog, a certified dog trainer will be able to help.
Obedience training teaches your puppy acceptable behavior. It also gives them mental and physical stimulation. Start with basic commands like stop and sit.
5. Reward Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is the most effective training method. It teaches your puppy that good things happen when they don’t bite or do other unwanted behaviors.
Praise and affection are the most important. Reward your puppy with these first. Never yell at or hit your puppy.
Treats are also good, but there’s a caveat. You should not allow your puppy to see the treats before training. Otherwise, they won’t obey you without them.
6. Be Gentle When Puppy Nips
Do not use negativity to discipline your GSD puppy. Don’t lose your cool. If you do, your dog will know your weak spots and will outsmart you every time.
Patience and consistency is key. Once the puppy is used to one training method, they will have a hard time adjusting to a different one.
Only change training methods if your current one is wrong. Ideally, you can use different training methods together.
7. Involve Other Pets
If you have other pets in the household, you have more playmates for your puppy. Introduce them to each other carefully and encourage them to play together.
Once you do so, you will find that your puppy will bite less and less. They will learn to be gentler or not bite people and things at all once they learn their playmates can nip back.
8. Socialize Them
Your puppy sees the home as their territory to defend. If they see new people and animals as a threat, they will bite them.
It’s not that big of a big deal during puppyhood, but this behavior can make it an aggressive dog without socialization. Introducing new people and other dogs is a good way to encourage good behavior.
Always start socialization by having new people and animals at your home first. This way, you can keep unnecessary defensiveness under control.
Puppies start socialization as soon as you take them home around 8 weeks. The critical period is from 12 to 16 weeks.
9. Expose Them to Different Situations
New scents and loud noises can make your puppy excited or feel threatened. A different kind of socialization is exposure to a variety of different places and situations.
This means taking your puppy outside. As they learn to adapt, they will show good behavior and not become an aggressive dog as an adult.
10. Stop Playing
As soon as your puppy starts biting, it’s time to stop playing. This lets your puppy know it’s unwanted behavior and you won’t reward their biting by continuing to play.
Reinforce this training method by turning away and ignoring the puppy. Leave the area if it continues. When they stop biting you, you can resume playing again.
11. Use Teething Remedies
German Shepherd puppies often bite from teething, which is painful and makes them cranky. Their baby teeth start coming in between 2 to 3 weeks of age. Adult teeth come in at 3 to 4 months.
Luckily, you can soothe the teething tornado using either one of several methods. Using gel, giving frozen teething rings, frozen veggies or fruits, or ice-pops are all very good.
If you don’t have either of these, you can soak a clean rag in cold water, wring it out, and then soak it in chicken broth. Freezing it while it’s soaked in chicken broth works, too.
There are also some alternatives. You can give a weak concoction of boiled chamomile, sunflower, aloe vera, or lavender in your puppy’s food. Use chicken broth to hide the flavor.
You can also massage your puppy’s gums with a finger toothbrush. It is gentle and flexible.
12. Get On Their Level
Often, a GSD puppy will jump up on people while nipping or biting them at the same time. So discouraging them from biting won’t stick unless you discourage other behaviors such as jumping.
Dogs that aren’t disciplined against jumping still have the urge to bite whenever they perceive a threat, You don’t want that, either.
One of the most common reasons for doing both is to grab food out of people’s hands. You need to get on the pup’s level.
To do so, start by ignoring your puppy when they start biting you. When they’ve stopped, face them and stoop down.
If your puppy knows “sit,” command them before stooping down. Play with the puppy only when you’re at their level.
13. Deal with Food Aggression
Food aggression is a big deal in dogs, and it starts during puppyhood. You’ll notice food aggression when your puppy growls and bites to protect their food or acts aggressively towards anyone near their food.
Food aggression does not only happen while your puppy is eating. Just being near the food bowl is enough, and some puppies even sleep beside their food bowls.
Food aggression can extend to biting when giving treats or biting when getting things out of your puppy’s mouth. Once your puppy is unlearning food aggression, you can pet them while they’re eating. The following tips will help you recondition your puppy:
- Using separate bowls for each dog
- Hand feeding
- Feeding after walks or playing
- Feeding at the same times every day
- Putting treats into the bowl
- Humans eat first as pack leaders
- Training the puppy to work for the food
- Standing near the food bowl
14. Prepare Children
Learning proper behavior is important. Your children need to know how to deal with your puppy the right way. Ensure the children do not engage in overly rough play with the puppy. This could hurt the dog and/or could amp up his excitement to the point where he starts biting.
15. Supervise Them Around Children
You don’t want to leave your children unsupervised around your puppy. It’s risky and can get either of them hurt.
Teach your children how to play gently with the puppy. Grabbing their ears and tail or picking them up under the front elbows is painful and the puppy may bite in self-defense.
16. Exercise Your Puppy
A big part of why a gsd puppy bites is because they have extra energy they need to burn off. In this case, the biting is an expression of being overstimulated.
Walking is always a good way to tire out your puppy. You can jog or run with your puppy as they get older.
With any exercise, a general rule of thumb is 5 minutes per every month of age, twice a day. You’ll know when your puppy has had enough because it will refuse to move, grab the leash, jump and bite at you.
Over-exercising your puppy can lead to joint problems later in life. It’s best to exercise them in short bursts several times a day rather than one long play session.
17. Let Them Rest
Your puppy may also bite when they’re cranky and needs a nap. Learn to recognize when they’ve had enough playtime or they’re overstimulated by people or the environment.
When they are, they will become what’s nicknamed a “land shark.” As soon as your puppy becomes cranky, allow them to go to bed. Crate training is a great way for them to learn they have a refuge.
You can use crate training by first getting a good-sized, durable, comfortable, and flexible crate that’s right for your puppy. An enclosed crate is for a puppy that prefers to sleep in the dark, while wire crates are the standard.
Bring your puppy into the crate when they’re tired and calm. Use treats to reward your puppy going into the crate. Sometimes a puppy is simply in need of a nap.
18. Use a Deterrent
Anti-chew sprays are harmless but bitter and awful tasting to puppies and dogs. They are effective in deterring them from chewing wherever you spray them.
If you want a more direct and active approach, you might want to try ultrasound. It works with a handheld ultrasonic device and some work up to 20 feet away. Use it along with “no” or “stop” commands.
19. Recognize When Biting Is a Problem
A gsd puppy may seem aggressive when biting, but normal biting is rather rough for a large breed. You can train it to have a “soft mouth” and be much gentler so you don’t feel their sharp teeth.
Many people think their German Shepherd puppy is supposed to have calm behavior. It’s a naturally energetic breed that is often hyper and playful and may come off as aggressive.
But if your gsd puppy bites too hard, then it’s a problem. You should limit them being around people and other animals until you get their behavior under control.
If all else fails, see a professional. A dog trainer can help you with what you’re missing with training your gsd puppy, while a behavioral therapist can help if they are developing adult teeth and becoming an aggressive dog.
It is normal for a gsd puppy to bite and play rough. However, it doesn’t mean people and belongings have to be their target. You can teach the puppy to divert their biting, the earlier you start, the better.
What’s the Difference Between Female vs Male German Shepherds?
If you’ve ever wondered why some people prefer male German shepherds over females, here’s your chance to learn more. The post at the link below will give you some insight into what makes these two dogs different.
Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd – How to Make an Informed Choice.
Here’s another one people question all of the time. What IS the difference between these two dogs? Are they the same breed? How can you tell one from the other? If you are interested in answers to these questions, read the following post:
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