Welcoming a German Shepherd puppy into your life is a joyous time. Not only is a German Shepherd a wonderful addition to any family, but they can bring so much extra fun into your home.
While raising a Shepherd puppy is an incredible experience, there is one puppy habit that can be challenging to break; biting.
German Shepherd puppies bite mostly because they simply want to play. However, they do also bite for other reasons, such as curiosity and wanting your attention. Keep in mind that these dogs have a high prey drive and are instinctual herders, and these traits can also lead to biting.
So how do you stop your German Shepherd puppy from biting? Read along for a complete guide on banishing the behavior for good!
Before we dive into why your German Shepherd puppy may be biting you, it’s important to understand the biting behavior in itself. Since puppies lack the dexterity that you and I have, they use their mouths to explore the world around them.
Not only is it their method of exploration, but it’s also one of the main ways they communicate during play. By understanding the behavior of biting itself, you can begin to see just how normal biting is in German Shepherd puppies.
Just because biting is a normal behavior in a puppy does not mean we should tolerate it or promote it. To help you get to the bottom of your Shepherd pup’s biting, let’s dive into the main reasons why German Shepherd puppies bite.
Why Do German Shepherd Puppies Bite So Much?
So what makes German Shepherd puppies in particular so nippy? There are a few possibilities. Please Note: The last two reasons depend highly on the context of your particular puppy.
They Have a Strong Prey Drive
For starters, many German shepherds have a very strong prey drive, so they are very attracted to movement. If you watch your puppy in the yard, you may notice how readily he captures the slightest movement of some critter in the grass.
His big ears will twitch to capture the faintest sounds, and his body will be ready to pounce into action in a split second.
Balls, small critters, and unfortunately, your arms, legs, ankles and pant-legs will soon become targets of his prey drive and turn into objects for a fun game.
And to make things worse, any movement you make to move your hand away when your pup comes to nip will further increase this drive and risks damaging your skin. That explains all those “teeth scratches” you have on your arms and legs!
On top of that, this is a herding breed, so the pups like to chase and gather moving things and they often accomplish this by using their mouths (a behavior known as gripping in herding lingo).
In the old days, the herding style of German Shepherds encompassed for a good part what was known as boundary patrol, or flock containment. These dogs had to ensure the sheep were properly contained and the rebellious sheep were controlled by gripping the top of the neck, the ribs or just above the hocks.
Breeder and herding expert Ellen Nickelsberg explains how puppy herding trials are conducted and how puppies are selected based on gripping style which may range between damaging and less damaging bites, full-mouth bites and puppies who bite and hold on. These preliminary tests are done when the pups are very young.
All puppies, regardless of breed, go through a stage where they will explore the world with their mouths. Puppy nipping is completely normal behavior most puppies go through. Its similar to the mouthing period babies go through when teething. However, in German Shepherds, the behavior may be more pronounced and more intense than in some other breeds of puppies.
For a good reason, many like to call their German Shepherd puppies “land sharks.” Often, the nipping is a manifestation of a dog getting overstimulated and losing control of his bite force.
Sometimes, German shepherd puppies will get more and more nippy when they are cranky and in need of nap. It is ultimately up to the owner to teach proper bite inhibition through consistent rules.
8) Skip Yelping if it’s Not Working
You may have heard about yelping or saying ouch when a pup nips. However, this doesnt work with all dogs, and in my experience, some German shepherd pups will nip even more!
Why is it that some puppies get more hyper and excited after hearing people “yelp?” Most likely for the same reason they love squeaky toys: yelps and squeaks trigger a dogs predatory drive.
How fun is it to play with a live tug toy (you) which, on top of moving, emits squeaking and squawking noises too? Very fun! says a German Shepherd pup.
At what age do German Shepherd puppies stop biting?
- Use Special Toys for Play. …
- Say OUCH! …
- Use Puppy-Safe Partition Gates. …
- Offer Them Frozen Kongs. …
- Use Redirections. …
- Use Daily Leadership Skills. …
- Take the Quiet Approach. …
- Engage in Structured Exercise.