The german shepherd puppy biting phase can be extremely testing, however, fortunately, it will also pass. If your dog is currently in this phase, then this article will teach you how to stop a german shepherd puppy from biting and nipping!
When Is The German Shepherd Puppy Biting Phase?
The german shepherd puppy biting phase generally occurs between 10-12 weeks and ends after about 7 months (normally at this point they’ve stopped teething.)
However, proper socialization and training can reduce the amount of time they teeth, whereas improper training can cause it to become prolonged.
(Find out more about a german shepherds growth stages and when they stop growing.)
Why Do German Shepherd Puppies Bite And Nip?
There are lots of reasons your german shepherd puppy may bite and nip. And of course, the most obvious one is their age. However, if you want a more in-depth explanation, then here are the main reasons.
Teething is one of the most common reasons your german shepherd will bite and nip. It’s also one of the most common reasons chewing occurs too.
When your puppies’ adult teeth are coming through, it’s going to be extremely uncomfortable for them. And the only way they’re going to get relief is from biting and nipping. This often starts at 16 weeks of age (so you may notice increased biting around this time).
They Haven’t Learnt Bite Inhibition
When your pup is growing up they’re going to learn how hard or soft to bite. This is called bite inhibition. However, in the early days, they’re not going to have this inhibition yet. That’s why their nips and bites can be quite painful.
Fortunately, though, as a puppy their jaw muscles are still going to be quite weak, so you don’t have to worry about the bite doing too much damage.
And lastly, they’ll normally figure out how hard to bite (like they would in a litter). But as you’re about to find out, there are ways you can help them along this path.
They’re Too Excited
This is one reason that’s extremely common, and one that most new puppy owners are to blame for.
When you have a new puppy, it’s fun to get them excited when they’re playing. However, once they become overstimulated, they’re more likely to bite, and of course, they don’t yet know how hard they should bite.
So make sure when you’re playing with your puppy, you don’t get them too overexcited. Becoming overstimulated and nipping is more likely to happen with puppies that weren’t raised properly.
They’re Learning And Exploring
When your german shepherd’s a puppy they’re still trying to figure out the world around them, just like a human baby. But while babies have the luxury of using their hands and mouth, puppies can only use their mouths.
The reason you may notice your german shepherd biting and nipping lots of different things is because they’re exploring.
So the key here is not to stop them from exploring but to make sure you’re teaching them proper bite inhibition.
They’re Trying To Herd
German shepherds are herding dogs, so it’s imprinted in them to bite and nip. If a german shepherd needed to move a sheep, then they’re not going to do it through sheer strength. They’d need to bite or nip their ankles to move them where they want them to go.
This is the most likely reason behind german shepherds who are constantly biting and nipping people’s ankles.
(Find out more about what to do when your german shepherd is biting and nipping ankles.)
A Strong Prey Drive
German shepherds also have a strong prey drive built into them as well. This means when they see quick movements, they instinctively want to bite.
So every time you move your body, your german shepherd is going to want to play and bite you. This is particularly true with your hands and feet. But that’s not the worst of it. If you move your hands or feet too quickly, then they’ll instinctively try to bite them again!
(Have you ever wondered how hard a german shepherd can bite?)
They Weren’t Bred With Temperament In Mind
Lastly, another reason that your german shepherd puppy may be biting, is because they weren’t bred with their temperament in mind.
A lot of bad breeders will just try to have as many puppies as possible so they can make more money. They don’t care about the lines they’re breeding from.
These puppies tend to have more behavioral problems and can often be more aggressive as well.
If this seems like your puppy, then it’s important to make sure you’re training them properly. And if necessary, speak to a professional.
(Check out these 11 ways to calm down a german shepherd!)
How To Stop A German Shepherd Puppy Biting And Nipping?
There are plenty of ways you can stop your german shepherd puppy biting and nipping. And below is a list of all the different things you can try.
Get A Good Training Program
If you haven’t got a training program for your puppy, then you should try to get one as soon as possible! Not only will it guide you on how to stop your puppy from biting, but a good one will also help you stop most problems before they even start!
The training program I’d recommend has to be Brain Training For Dogs. It’s based on positive reinforcement training rather than punishment. This is more fun for you and your puppy, and the best part is, your pup will respond better to this kind of training as well!
(Read an in-depth review of Brain Training For Dogs.)
Give Them Lots Of Toys And Things To Chew On
If your puppy is nipping because they’re teething, then giving them things to chew on is going to help massively. Every time you notice your pup biting something they shouldn’t try substituting it with something they can!
Rope toys are great for this, and KONG’s work great too!
To keep your german shepherd interested in toys, try rotating them. And if they are in pain because of teething, then freezing toys can help soothe their gums.
(Find out more about the best teething toys for german shepherd puppies.)
Redirect The Biting
Another great way to stop your german shepherd puppy from biting you is to redirect what they’re biting.
For example, every time they’re about to bite your hand, have a toy at the ready. The moment they bite down, let your hand go limp and then replace it with the toy.
Keep doing this, and your german shepherd should soon learn that they shouldn’t bite down on you, but they can bite on the toy.
Give Them Lots Of Exercise
German shepherds are extremely active dogs. Both the puppies and adults are going to need at least an hour of exercise a day.
If you’re giving your german shepherd enough exercise, then they’re not going to have a bored mind. And if they don’t have a bored mind and they’re tired, then they’re not going to want to play.
So obviously, if they’re not playing as much, it’s going to be a lot less likely they’ll bite you.
Deterrents can also be an effective way to stop your german shepherd nipping and biting. If you’re playing with your german shepherd and you know they’re going to bite you, place the deterrent in the areas they’ll bite.
Now, whenever they bite you, they’re going to get a foul taste in their mouths. Over time they’ll begin to associate biting and nipping with the foul taste and they should stop doing it.
A great deterrent that you can use is Grannick Bitter Apple.
Refuse To Play With Them
Another thing you can do is refuse to play with them every time they bite.
Next time they bite you when you’re playing, wait a few seconds before playing again and make sure you don’t give them any attention during this time.
If they carry on biting and nipping when you start playing again, this time get up and turn away from them. Wait a few more seconds before you continue playing.
And finally, if they still keep biting and nipping after this, get up, walk away and refuse to play with them again.
When you keep doing this, they’ll soon learn that when they bite and nip they’re not going to be rewarded with play.
Let Them Play With Other Dogs
One of the best things you can do is let your german shepherd play with other dogs (As long as they’ve been vaccinated). Socialization is one of the most important things for your german shepherd’s development, so it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
When they play with other dogs, they’re going to learn what they can and can’t do, and they’ll soon realize that nipping and biting won’t give them positive results.
(Find out more about socializing your german shepherd.)
Consult A Professional
Lastly, while nipping and biting are perfectly normal, sometimes the behavior can get out of control. If you find that no matter what you do, you can’t get your pup to stop biting then it’s time to consult a professional.
You should speak to your vet who can guide you in the right direction.
(If your German shepherd pup is barking, then here’s a more in-depth guide on how to stop it!)
Different Training Methods
You can also try a few different training methods to get your german shepherd pup to stop biting as well! If you want completely in-depth and easy to follow guides, then check out Brain Training For Dogs, otherwise here are the main training methods that are utilized.
Getting Them Used To Touch
One of the easiest methods to stop your pup from biting is to get them used to being touched. How many times have you touched your german shepherd, and they’ve instinctively turned around and tried to nip you?
If this sounds like your dog, then this is the training method for you. Here’s what to do:
- Get your pups attention with a treat and call them over to you.
- Now touch them and poke them (not hard). If they don’t respond by biting, the give them a treat. However, if they do bite then don’t give them a treat.
- If your puppy always tries to bite, then move your hand away and give them a treat every time they let you get your hand close without biting.
- Keep doing this and they’ll soon learn that biting doesn’t get them rewarded, but not biting does.
- The more comfortable they become the more you can raise the stakes. Start touching around their mouth, especially under their chin. If they don’t bite, give them a treat again, but if they do, then keep repeating until they get the hang of it.
Let Out A Yelp
This is one of the easiest ways you can stop your german shepherd from biting and nipping. And it’s most effective when your pup is biting because they’re getting overexcited.
- Start playing with your puppy and let them get excited.
- The more excited they become the more likely they are to begin biting and nipping.
- Eventually, when they do bite you let out a large yelp and stop playing immediately.
- (Make sure you don’t pull your hand away too quickly or they may chase it.)
- Keep doing this and eventually, they’ll realize they’re hurting you and stop biting.
- If your puppy continues to bite after 3 or 4 times, stop playing completely, walk away from them and ignore them.
What Should You Avoid Doing?
While there are lots of ways you can stop your pup from biting, one of the best things you can do is prevent it in the first place. Here are some of the things you shouldn’t do that encourage your german shepherd to bite. As well as some things that can make the issue worse.
Don’t Play Rough With Them
When you play rough with your german shepherd, you’re going to encourage them to start biting and nipping. Playtime should be noncontact at first, and as they begin to learn bite inhibition, you can gradually start to play rougher with them.
Also, make sure you never use your hands in a way to hurt them. You want your hands to be associated with positivity such as stroking.
Also, don’t shout at them either. There are times your german shepherd is going to bite and nip without being aware of it. Remember, they’re still learning how to control their jaw.
By shouting at them, you’re only going to make them fear you, and could end up causing them to bite through fear and aggression.
So be patient with your puppy and give them time to learn.
Never Hurt Them
Most importantly, never ever hurt your dog on purpose. Don’t hit, kick, slap or hurt them in any way.
When you hurt them, you’re going to fill them with fear and mistrust. And while it may stop the biting initially, it will cause the negative behavior to manifest itself in different and often worse ways.
Don’t Wave Your Hands/Feet In Front Of Them
You shouldn’t wave your hands/feet in front of your german shepherd or move them around quickly. Remember, german shepherds have a real prey drive and by moving your hands/feet around their face, they’re instinctively going to want to chase.
Don’t Stop Playing
Remember, stopping your pup from biting and nipping isn’t the same as not playing with them. It’s important to play with your puppy as it helps them bond with you and shows them you love them.
Just play with them gently, and stop when they get overexcited.
As you can see the german shepherd puppy biting phase can be easily remedied when you have the right knowledge. Once again, the best thing you can do to stop your german shepherd biting is follow a good training program.
However, here’s a quick recap of some of the other things you need to remember.
- Your german shepherd may be biting and nipping because they’re teething, haven’t learned bite inhibition, they’re excited, they’re learning and exploring, they’re trying to herd, they have a strong prey drive, and they’ve been bred without temperament in mind.
- You can stop your german shepherd biting and nipping by giving them lots of toys, redirecting the biting, giving them lots of exercise, using deterrents, refusing to play with them, letting them play with other dogs, and in more severe circumstances consulting a professional.
- You should avoid playing rough with them, shouting at them, hurting them, waving your hands and feet in front of them, and not playing with them.
If you do all of this you’re going to have a puppy that eventually learns not to bite!
And if you liked this article be sure to check out the rest of the website. Otherwise have a great day!