You are excited to start playing with your new German Shepherd puppy However, you soon find that your new puppy likes to bite and those sharp puppy teeth can hurt! Using puppy training techniques such as alternative play or finding professional help, you can get your new German Shepherd dog to stop biting and be a great family member.
Having a puppy that does not bite is important for their future as well as ensuring they will be a treasured member of your family.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know to stop your German Shepherd puppy from biting!
Why Do German Shepherd Puppies Bite So Much?
German Shepherd puppies do tend to bite a lot. Here are several common reasons why.
Puppy Was Weaned Too Early
Puppies that are weaned too early commonly show signs such as aggression, destruction, and biting.
This is because they did not have enough time to interact with their littermates to learn social cues. A puppy in this situation does not know when to stop playing or how to control his bite force when nipping.
Puppy is From a Small Litter
Though rarer due to average litter size (German Shepherds have eight puppies per litter on average!), your German Shepherd may come from a small litter.
If your German Shepherd puppy comes from a small litter (or is the only puppy in his litter), they may also be more prone to aggression and biting.
Because they don’t have enough littermates to interact with, they get less socialization than other puppies and don’t learn common social cues or communication skills.
Puppy Feeling Threatened or Overwhelmed
If you don’t socialize with your new furry friend early enough, they could end up with a biting habit due to nerves or feeling threatened by new situations.
Puppies that feel threatened by other people or animals can show aggressive dog behavior including biting and nipping.
Remember, this is normal behavior, especially for a dog that has been bred for military and police work.
They may even feel threatened by you if you don’t socialize with them enough at an early age!
German Shepherds are Easily Bored
German Shepherds are a high-energy dog breed. Because of this, they can get bored easily if not provided with a daily play session, regular exercise, and quality attention.
Dogs that are constantly bored will turn to destruction and biting to keep themselves entertained.
Medical Reasons Why German Shepherds Bite
All puppies will go through a teething phase in early development. German Shepherd puppies that are teething will seek to chew and bite to relieve discomfort and irritation in their gums.
Biting during the teething phase of life is normal behavior for a GSD puppy. Luckily, this discomfort will disappear once his teeth are grown and the biting stage ends.
Biting beyond this may be caused by chronic anxiety in your puppy. It is a good idea to talk to a veterinarian about this to determine whether your puppy’s biting is normal or abnormal development.
Solutions to Stop German Shepherd Puppy Biting
At Home Training for Puppies
Training your dog at home can give your German Shepherd puppy a good foundation for positive behavior. This can prevent your puppy from undesired behaviors like biting.
There are several different at-home training methods you can pursue with your puppy but they all should center around positive ‘rewards’ (physical and mental) and not physical punishment.
The common goal of any training process should employ effective ways to teach your puppy to have control of his bite force.
Training Reward System
German Shepherds like rewards just as much as any other dog. You can reward your puppy for not biting by giving him treats, pets, or toys.
If your puppy continues biting, do not give treats and take away any treats already in the puppy’s possession.
Another related solution is to remove a “reward” by removing yourself from the situation when your puppy bites.
When your puppy bites, simply walk away and do not give him any attention. He will soon learn that to get your attention, he will need to refrain from biting you.
You can also try verbal cues to help your puppy stop his biting habit. Whenever your puppy starts to bite, yell a phrase or sound such as “ouch!” or “ow!” and remove yourself from your puppy.
Do this every time your puppy tries to bite you until your pup stops. Soon, your puppy will learn that “ouch” is a signal for him to stop his behavior before you leave the room and stop playing with him.
Crate or Area Training
Some German Shepherd puppies who bite may need to be crate or area trained to keep them away from children and pets.
Giving puppies their own safe space can help reduce stress and keep them from biting more due to anxiety from loud noises or new homes.
Interacting with puppies gently in their safe space can also reduce biting over time.
German Shepherd puppies may feel territorial over their food. Dogs who feel threatened over their food may bite, especially larger breeds like German Shepherds.
Petting your puppy while they eat is a great way to get them used to you being around his food, and also shows them that you have no intention to take his food away.
As your puppy gets more comfortable with being petted while eating, you can also start handling the bowl gently while he eats.
Positive reinforcement is the key aspect to you having success with your pup. Give your puppy treats while you do this so they associate it with something pleasurable.
If your puppy growls, give them some space and comfort them before returning to the task.
You may want to do similar training with your puppy’s toys, especially if they can hold food. Teaching your puppy to willingly give or share a toy will reduce the chance that they will bite out of possessiveness.
New animals and people can make puppies nervous. By socializing German Shepherd puppies while they are still young, German Shepherds can learn which strangers are friends and will learn to not bite them.
Puppies that are not properly socialized will be nervous around others and will be more likely to bite as they get older.
Keeping puppies with their mother and littermates for enough time can also give them proper socialization. By being weaned too early, puppies don’t learn proper social play cues, which can lead to biting.
If at all possible, keep your puppy with its family until at least eight weeks of age before taking him home to give them this socialization.
Puppy Alternative Play Methods
Some puppies bite because they are bored. Finding new toys and games for puppies to play with can reduce biting by keeping them entertained and occupied.
Dog toys can be a simple solution to puppy biting. Since some puppies may be biting due to teething, getting your puppy a teething toy may solve the problem as they grow out of this phase.
German Shepherd puppies may also find a chew toy entertaining which keeps them from chewing and biting others as adults.
Destructive chewing of a toy is much better than your pup destroying your nice furniture or other parts of the house.
Tough toys such as Kongs or other hard rubber are a favorite of this breed, as they have strong jaws and sharp teeth that can easily chew through softer materials.
German Shepherds will also like toys such as tennis balls to chase around the yard or tug toys to play tug of war with.
Toys that can involve you as the owner excite your puppy and helps you two form a closer bond while also keeping him entertained.
German Shepherds are high-energy dogs, which means they will need lots of exercise to get that energy out.
German Shepherds that do not get frequent exercise can be depressed, restless, and destructive. This can lead to biting.
Fenced-in yards are best for this breed, but they will still enjoy regular walks and runs around the yard and neighborhood.
Playing with toys and playing games with your puppy can also help him get energy out.
German Shepherds enjoy games such as fetch and tug of war. These games give them a chance to get their energy out by either running or wrestling.
Tug of war in particular gives them a chance to chew a rope which may reduce their desire to bite or chew anything (or anyone) else.
Playing games also gives you a chance to interact with your puppy and help them get to know you better.
As you form a close bond with your German Shepherd puppy, he will feel less anxious around you and may reduce his biting.
Playing games with other dogs can help your puppy burn off energy. When dogs are in multiples, they will often play or chase one another which can help them get exercise. It also helps with socialization.
Professional Training for German Shepherd Puppies
Sometimes, at-home obedience training and alternative play methods aren’t enough for your puppy to stop his biting habit.
For German Shepherd puppies like these, professional training may be the best way to train your puppy. Take a look at the options below before picking the best fit for your and your puppy’s needs.
Types of Puppy Training
Group Puppy Training
Some owners may turn to group training for their puppy. Group training is training in which a small group of dogs is all trained together.
This training is normally cheaper due to group rates which makes it attractive for some owners.
Group training may also be a good choice as it is an opportunity for you to socialize with your German Shepherd puppy.
Since your puppy is still young, this will get them used to being around other people and animals without becoming aggressive.
Individual Puppy Training
If you are interested in a more personalized training experience, you may want to look at individual training.
Individual training will give you and your pup one-on-one time with a certified dog trainer.
Though your dog may not get the socialization he would get in group training, he will get training that is personally tailored to his needs.
This training can help identify the cause(s) of biting and find the best solution for your puppy.
Training Availability and Common Locations
Obedience and Behavioral Training can be found in most residential regions in both public and private forms. Private training will be in the form of a personal dog trainer you hire independently.
Public training will take place at a public pet location such as a pet shop or veterinary office.
Private German Shepherd Training
You may be able to find private German Shepherd puppy classes near you. This training will be from a private behavioral specialist that focuses specifically on the German Shepherd Breed.
This can help further tailor your training to your puppy’s specific needs.
Check local job listings for available private dog trainers. In addition, professional trainers may have personal websites or Facebook pages dedicated to their business. They may also list their availability on sites such as Craigslist or LinkedIn.
Make sure to check reviews on any trainer before hiring them. You should also ask them for three references and then actually call the reference and ask their opinion of the dog trainer.
Public German Shepherd Training
Public German Shepherd training may be found at a number of locations including pet shops, veterinary offices, or dog training centers.
Inquire about training opportunities the next time you’re at one of these places for your special pup.
Always ask about the trainers’ familiarity with the German Shepherd breed before signing your puppy up to give you a better feel for their expertise.
Why Do German Shepherd Puppies Bite?
German Shepherd puppies may bite because they are teething, bored, the natural prey drive, or feeling anxious and territorial.
Puppies that are trained, kept busy, and provided a safe environment will likely learn not to bite over time.
When Will My German Shepherd Puppy Stop Biting?
If you simply just try to wait for your GSD puppy to stop biting on their own it may not happen. Hoping they will just stop is not a good idea. Invest the time in your new puppy to train them.
How Long Do German Shepherds Live?
German Shepherds live between 7 to 10 years according to the American Kennel Club. The oldest German Shepherd that ever lived reached eighteen years of age!
Are German Shepherds Good With Children and Other Pets?
German Shepherds are very loyal to their families and can form strong bonds with young children in the home. They can also be good with other pets when introduced at a young age.
Are Older Adult German Shepherd Dogs More Likely to Bite?
That is a great question! It all depends on if they had proper training when they were young and also their health. Health issues can play a role if your dog starts the bad habit of biting.
It is true that aging adult dogs also suffer from mental decline as they get older and this may result in unexpected bites.
Dog owners need to be aware that as gentle dog ages they may start exhibiting unwanted biting behavior.
In addition to mental decline, your dog could be in pain from a health issue that negatively changes its personality and behavior.
If you begin to see unusual behavior from your adult dog take them to your vet right away to determine the problem. Don’t just scold your dog or punish them. Get them some help.
Introductions with older German Shepherds should be done with caution as German Shepherds can sometimes become protective and territorial, making them aggressive to other animals.
What if I Adopt an Aggressive German Shepherd?
Most professionally operate dog shelters will not let someone adopt an aggressive dog. However, this does not mean your adopted dog won’t become aggressive after you take them home.
If your adoption is very recent and your German Shepherd is exhibiting unwanted behavior that is beyond your ability as a pet owner to handle call the shelter and discuss returning the dog.
What are German Shepherds Bred For?
German Shepherds are good at guarding, tracking, and working under stress. They are also loyal and easily trained. This makes them a top choice in work dogs for the police and military.
As we mention above, biting can be natural for a German Shepherd due to their breeding so don’t be surprised if your GSD puppy bites.
The key point to remember though is that with proper care and training this should not be a problem.
How Many German Shepherd Police Dogs are in the USA?
There are approximately 50,000 police dogs active in the US at any given time. Most of those are German Shepherds.
German Shepherds are incredible, loyal dogs that will bring you much joy as a member of your family. Preventing them from biting does not have to be a difficult process but it is a necessary step in proper dog training.
Following the tips and suggestions above, and rewarding good behavior while discouraging aggressive behavior can help your German Shepherd puppy stop bad habits and become a happy, healthy member of your family.