German Shepherd Corner

German Shepherd Puppy Biting? Take Charge Like This

German Shepherd puppy biting is one of the key behaviors you should take charge of as soon as possible.

Ignoring or encouraging biting behavior can lead to it spinning out of control.  And once your puppy is older biting could mean big problems…  Like puncture wounds, legal battles, confiscation or worse – euthanasia.

Take charge of German Shepherd puppy biting

Taking charge of your German Shepherd puppy biting habits means safety for everyone

Keep in mind that your German Shepherd puppy will one day be a strong and muscular dog.  Adult males can weigh anywhere between 30 – 40 kg (66 – 88 lbs) and  females between 22 – 32 kg (49 – 71 lbs).

And they have a powerful scissor-like bite exerting more than 1060 Newtons or 238 lbf of force.  Trying to control the strong bite of an adult dog could end in disaster for you and your dog.

German Shepherd Puppy Biting is in The Genes

If you’re already the lucky parent of a German Shepherd puppy, you’ve probably noticed that your GSD puppy is particularly nippy.

And’ you’d be right…

German Shepherds have extremely high prey drives, so they love anything that moves fast!  Anything from balls, garden critters, to other puppies and unfortunately your hands, feet or even your pants can become a target.

And the faster you try to move your hand, foot or something else away, the faster your puppy will move to catch it.

To top it off, your German Shepherd puppy is from strong herding stock so chasing and ‘gathering’ moving objects is pre-programed into their genes.

Being a herding breed their job is to ensure the flock is contained at all times, and to deal with the wayward sheep by gripping them at the back of the neck, above the hocks or the ribs.

Keeping in mind what your puppy was originally bred for will be really useful as you work on bite inhibition.

Before we look at how to take charge of your German Shepherd puppy biting we should first understand a few key things about biting…

Behavior or Temperament

It’s important for you to realize the difference between behavior and temperament…

  • Puppy biting is a behavior and it’s something all puppies do.
  • The reason for puppy biting is temperament.  Certain dog breeds are more prone to biting than others.

Biting is normal

Yes, biting is a normal behavior for puppies and dogs.  I mean think about it…  If a dog is upset, he’s not going to hire an attorney and sue you!  No, he’s going to bite.

It’s our responsibility to teach our dogs not to bite through training.

Exploring

Puppies explore their environment through their mouths, very much like human babies do.  Your puppy will put anything in his mouth, including your fingers and limbs!

Puppies SHOULD bite

Shock, horror!  You read that right, puppies should bite.

Right now you’re thinking:

Hang on Rosemary!  I thought you just said it’s my responsibility to teach my German Shepherd puppy NOT to bite…

But stay with me here…

Puppies should bite so that they CAN learn that biting hurts.  It’s the exact same way they’d learn that biting hurts if they were biting other puppies in a play session.

You should use your German Shepherd’s natural biting behavior as a training opportunity.

Before we get to the good stuff, I’d like to highlight the BIGGEST mistake I see a lot of owners make…

Don’t expect your puppy to know what you want him to do unless you teach him first!

For example: it’s unfair to yell at your puppy when he bites you during a play session if you’ve never taught him not to bite.

If you do, the result will be that your pup won’t bite YOU anymore.  But he’ll still bite other members of the family, visitors or even the postman.

Playing is very important for you and your puppy and you should be able to play.  But there have to be boundaries. What you don’t want is a puppy that has a habit of mouthing that becomes harder and harder as your puppy grows stronger.

Update:

Previously in this article I recommended mimicking a litter mate – or the ‘ouch’ method as a way to curb German Shepherd puppy biting. Over time, and from questions and emails I’ve received I’ve noticed that for the regular German Shepherd owner it’s not always clear whether this method is causing more arousal or not.  Therefore, I no longer recommend this method.

Help Stop German Shepherd Puppy Biting4 Games to Curb German Shepherd Puppy Biting

The best time to curb a German Shepherd puppy from biting is during a play session between you and your puppy.

I suggest initiating play sessions with your puppy as often as possible until you have taught your puppy to have a soft mouth.

I suggest using a clicker for these games.  If you don’t already know how, check out my article on clicker training before getting started.

Build-a-Bridge

  • Gear yourself up with treats and a clicker
  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you (like a bridge).
  • Start with your pup on your right side and toss a treat over to your left side.   You want your puppy to walk across your legs to retrieve the treat.
  • As your pup crosses over your legs gently touch her on her side.
  • Then click just before she gets the treat.
  • Now repeat starting from the other side.

As your pup becomes more comfortable with being touched you can raise the criteria by increasing the level and frequency of touch by moving from her neck to her sides and then her tail.

If at any point your pup turns to nip or bite, take a few steps back to the point where this was not happening and go forward from there again.

Nose Targeting

Nose targeting is a handy little tool to have in your training box.  Hand targeting builds confidence and will help your pup accept the approach of a human hand.  Without feeling the need to nip at it.

  • Extend your arm with your palm open and fingers facing the ground.
  • At the moment your German Shepherd touches your hand without nipping click and reward.
  • It’s important for your puppy to actually touch your hand with her nose.
  • Remove your target hand, offer it again in the same position and repeat as before.
  • Once your pup is ‘fluid’ you can add a cue.  I use ‘touch’ but you can use anything you like.

Now you can start raising the criteria by increasing distance or height.

During the initial stages, move your target hand slowly.  If you move too fast, it’ll arouse your pup into biting.

Help with German Shepherd Puppy Biting

How to use play to stop German Shepherd Puppy Biting

Go Fetch!

Teaching your German Shepherd puppy to play fetch is a super way to get her focus off biting human limbs.

This might take a day or so to teach but if yours is anything like mine, the faster something moves the better!

  • Toss a toy a short distance away and let your pup chase after it.
  • Once your pup has the toy, call her towards you.
  • When she returns to you, offer her a treat and she’ll drop the toy.
  • Toss the toy again and repeat as above.
  • When your pup is fluid in returning with and dropping the toy you can add a cue.

Need fetch toys for your puppy?  Check out the best tennis ball launcher for dogs.

Tug-o-War

The power of teaching your German Shepherd to play tug deserves an article all on its own.  But in short, it’s a great way to keep your German Shepherd’s mind off inappropriate nipping.

  • Choose a tug toy appropriate for your puppy’s age.
  • Make the toy as interesting as possible by moving it around with quick movements.
  • Let your pup grab one end of the toy and pull.
  • Allow your pup to pull for a few seconds and then reveal a treat
  • As soon as your pup drops her end of the toy click and reward.
  • Start again by making the toy super interesting and repeat as above.

Once your pup is fluid in dropping the toy you can add a cue.  I say ‘give’ but anything you feel comfortable with is fine.

If your pup is still very young I recommend only using a tug toy MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR PUPPIES.
Something like this Redline Puppy Bite Rag is ideal.

Looking for safe tug toys for your German Shepherd?  Check out the best tug of war toys for dogs!

What Kind of Toys to Use

Redirecting your puppy’s mouthing onto something more appropriate by using toys.  Some puppies will prefer soft toys while others will prefer something rubbery like a kong toy.  Other puppies might not like soft or rubbery toys but rather a rope toy.  Only by purchasing some of these toys will you learn which you puppy likes best.

Kong toys are great because you can fill one end with something delicious your puppy loves.  I use organic peanut butter.  But you can use treats or even a portion of your puppy’s meal.

It’s important to note here that your puppy should never be left unsupervised with toys.

Eureka!  The Soft Mouth

German Shepherd Puppy Biting Help

Play is the best way to teach your GSD puppy that biting humans is off-limits.

After a few sessions your puppy should have her ‘eureka’ moment and start being a lot more gentle.

This is called a ‘soft mouth’.

Mouthing means gentle play with the mouth and no hard biting or pressure.

With mouthing it’s important to remember that only you control mouthing.  You initiate mouthing and you decide when it stops.

Here are 4 rules to simplify the steps to German Shepherd puppy biting control…

4 Rules to German Shepherd puppy biting inhibition

#1 Only YOU initiate play

#2 No Hard Biting

#3 No Pressure Allowed

#4 Controlled Mouthing

The key take aways here are:

  • Your German Shepherd puppy’s natural instinct to bite sets the stage for the perfect training opportunity.
  • Your puppy won’t know what you want (or don’t) want him to do unless you teach him first.
  • Use play sessions to take charge of your German Shepherd puppy biting.
  • Always apply the 4 rules to puppy biting inhibition.

148 comments… add one

  • Maureen

    Just got a new gs puppy…he bitting alot …going to try this

    • Hi Maureen!

      Congrats on the new pup! I’m sure He’ll bring you years of joy! :)

      It’s pretty easy to teach bite inhibition, with the right methods and patience. Please feel free to come back here and post any questions you have. I’m happy to help.

      Rosemary

  • Gary C.

    I have two problems with my GSD puppy.
    1) puppy is 4 Mos. Old, there’s a dog next door and the puppy keeps digging to get to the other dog. 2) jumping up on people.
    I’ve heard a few different ways from trainers, one is softly step on back feet and firmly say “NO JUMP”. Next is to stick
    Out your knee and say the same command. Third, is to say the same command, turn away from the dog and ignore him/her. What do you suggest? Or are any of the three a good teaching method?

    • Hi Gary!

      Thanks for reaching out with your question.

      Digging is a very normal behavior for puppies, it’s usually something they do less and less as they grow older, but dogs of any age can and will dig from time to time. I’ve build a digging pit for my GSD’s which they love to play in and dig when they feel the need. You could consider something like that. In terms of your pup digging to get to the dog next door… I’d suggest stopping this as soon as possible. This could become an obsession and if it become ingrained in your GSD it’s going to become a difficult habit to break. Try to keep that area out of bounds for your pup for as long as you can or permanently if possible.

      Jumping is also a normal behavior for dogs. But as you’ve already noticed it’s a behavior that should be modified as soon as possible. In all honesty, none of the suggestions you were given by other people is the most effective in my opinion.

      Stepping back and saying “no jump” is only going to make your pup move forward and jump again. And sticking out your knee is only going to hurt the pup physically.

      Here’s what I do with my new pups and untrained older dogs…

      Set up training scenarios and have a bunch of treats handy.
      Walk around with your pup and drop treats around your feet as you go. What you’re doing here is treating your pup for having all 4 paws on the ground. If your pup’s paws lift off the ground – no treats.
      This should be done in every possible place in the house and also outside.
      It should also be done when you return home from somewhere and also while getting ready to leave home.
      It’s especially important to practice these scenarios when you have visitors come over. Ask anyone who comes over to use a few minutes of their time to follow these steps.
      The more scenarios and the more people your pup practices in/with the more reliable he/she will become at not jumping.

      Hope this helps!

      Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

      • Tannecia

        I’ve been having a similar problem with my 6month old Germen Shephard Lab mix. I wish I saw this method before. I hope it works

        • Hi Tannecia,

          I’m pleased you’ve found this useful. And the great thing about dog training is you can start something new right away. My recommendation is to start with the build-a-bridge game and take it from there.

          All the best!

  • Keith

    Hi I just have gsp we had her for about a 1month now, she is 3mths old but she only bites when shes have lots of energy is this a sign of bordem, she is great around people very pleasant but she keeps doing her buisness indoors how can i prevent that from happening? Thanks

    • Hi Keith!

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      It’s very natural for a pup of 3 months old to display biting behavior. Pups are high energy and also explore their world with their mouths. You can easily teach your pup not to bite using various techniques. Please get my email address from the contact form on my website. Send me an email and I’ll be more than happy to send you a few videos I made where I show different ways to teach a puppy not to bite.

      In terms of the potty training, I highly recommend the potty training guide I created. I’ve used it to potty train all my pups and dogs for over a decade and many of my blog readers have had great success using it too. You can find out more about it by following this link…

      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/ultimate-potty-training/

      Let me know if there’s anything else, I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon!
      Rosemary

      • Yash

        Hello,
        You have been a great help was trying the first method of building a bridge and it worked a small amount of time and sometimes it didn’t but ill keep trying to teach my pup that he is around 2 months old and he keeps on biting I tried to teach him alot and now whenever he sees our hands waving starts to bark please if you can share the videos with me I would love to get some help over this :)

      • Michelle Bulette

        Could you please send me some training videos for biting and nippy GSH please? Thank you.

        • Hi Michelle,

          The videos I had were of methods I no longer recommend. I’ve found these games are a great way to help curb biting.

          What kind of situations are you specifically struggling with?

      • Amy

        Hi please could you email me the videos about stopping biting in 3-4 month puppy?

        • Hi Amy,

          Thanks for your comment!

          The videos are of methods I no longer recommend and I’ve not had a chance to make new ones.

          But the games in this article will help you teach bite inhibition. Start with the build-a-bridge game. And if your pup is still teething leave the tug-o-war game out.

          Hope this helps.

  • I have a 13 week old german puppy that bites and bites hard to break skin I have been working with him daily, and have been following all of the advise. I work a lot and he gets mad when I leave . Bites me . Constantly, I’m going to continue to follow the training guild lines. I also have one more concerned he is very afraid of other dogs? I have tried to introduce him to other puppys and dogs he is still very timid? ??

    • Hi Jeff,

      Your pup is still a young one and will be timid. But the more you socialize him with other dogs and expose him to different situations the more his confidence will grow. Just take baby steps and introduce him to other dogs and situations at a pace comfortable for him.

      In terms of the biting, keep working with him. Because pups explore the world using their mouths it will take daily training sessions to teach the new behavior. When you go out to work, is your pup alone? Does he have company? Are there safe toys for him to play with and keep busy while you’re out?

      The answers to these questions will make it easier for me to give you more specific advise. Feel free to comment back and let’s see what we can do.

      Regards,
      Rosemary

      • Matthew Sweeney

        Hi Rosemary,

        I have a 10 week old German Shepard and he is my best friend and he shows me lots of love. But I am mostly the one who takes care of him and he recently has been biting my hands since I got him. It was fun at first but as his teeth are coming in, it began hurting. I try saying no and giving him a chew toy. But recently he has been trying to go for my nose. Today as I picked him up he bit my nose hard enough to leave a mark. I got a little angry. How do I get him to stop biting?

        • Hey Matthew!

          I can totally relate! I’ve had an accidental bite on the nose before, it’s no fun!

          Firstly, I recommend not saying ‘no’, your pup doesn’t know what that means. Help him to stop biting by using a language he understands. And the best way to do that is through games.

          You can use any of the games in this article, they all work. But just giving him a chew toy won’t do the trick, you need to use his biting behavior to teach him not to bite.

          Most people give up too soon. And there’s a reason for that. In dog training there’s a term called an extinction burst. It means the behavior gets worse before it goes away. It’s during this time that people think what they are doing is not working and give up.

          Just persevere and be patient with your boy. He’s still learning the rules of engagement. :)

    • Susan

      Yes my german shepherd is 2 months n wont stop bitting she bits on everything i told her no and stop n she wont listen how do i stop her..

      • Hi Susan,

        My advice is to start with the build-a-bridge game in this article. It’s the best way to get started with teaching your pup not to bite. Give it a try and persevere. It does work.

        Rosemary

  • Randy

    I have a 14 week old gsd who is biting an older dog on the legs during play or to start play time, the biting is overly hard causing the older dog to yelp and limp. The puppy does not bite me, and tug of war is not allowed as to not encourage biting, I read your article about puppy biting and was wondering how your method would apply to mouthing of other dogs? Is my gsd just a bully or is the older dog letting him get away with bad behavior? Thanks
    Randy

  • Craig

    Hello
    Just wondering if you can help. We have a 6 month old GSD and he’s got into the habit of biting us when he wants to play. He’ll nip and the run off to get us to chase him. We’ve tried putting him out in the hall everytime he does it as a time out but it doesn’t work. We have also tried the high pitched ouch but it just seems to get him more excited and wind him up even more.

    • Hi Craig!

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      As you already know mimicking a litter mate by using a loud ouch can increase the a pup’s excitement threshold. And in my experience time out’s don’t always work. You need to find what works best for your specific pup. I’ve got a few videos I made with my pup Lexi, I’ll pass them on to you using the email address you used to post this comment. You’ll see different ways to deal with nipping and biting.

      Let me know if you have any questions once you’ve watched them.

      • Craig

        Thank you. That would be very helpful :)

      • crista barnes

        Hi there,

        We also have a six month old german shepherd mix that we just adopted a couple weeks ago but might have to send her back which we don’t want to do, but her intense biting is an issue for our house that has a child, and our neighbourhood with lots of kids. BUT she is a great dog in every other way (except she goes through the biting phases when on walks too. we are trying a bridle for that) and we would love to keep her if we can stop the biting. can you please send me the videos you sent to the others about biting? We would really appreciate it. thanks a lot!

    • Susan

      My dog does the same thing she doesnt listen

  • Leah

    Hello!

    I have a 6month old gsd and he already weighs 80lbs! We are having issues with him biting us rather frequently, not to break the skin but I would love to get this under control. Since he is so big it’s rather hard to get him to stop and I am afraid that soon enough he will hurt us whether he means to or not. I was just wondering if you had any advice on other things we could try. We have tried the techniques you previously said are not the best (high pitched ‘ouch’, time out as soon as his teeth touch our skin, ignoring him, etc) as well, when we tried standing tall and giving a firm ‘no’ he resorts to barking and getting over excited/agitated.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you! :)

    • Hi Leah,

      I’m putting up a page with videos showing alternative ways to counter condition biting behavior. I actually tried emailing them to another reader who left a comment here but the file is too big. Will post here in a few days with the link to the videos.

      :)

      • Hi Rosemary

        Your web page is very informative. I have the same problem as Leah, only with the agitation he comes back in with mouthing / biting he is 14wks old.

        Any help would be a benefit. There isn’t a date on her and I’m unsure of when you were posting the video? Today is 13/5/16
        Many thanks
        Charlie

  • David shanley

    We have an 11 week old GSP and he bites a lot when he plays. He bites ankles and hands and nips at the face sometimes. Even when we destract him with toys. It’s more towards my wife and not so much at me especially when she’s alone at home with him. He just doesn’t want to listen to her as much when he’s hyper. I feel bad and it hurts her cause his teeth are sharp. He bites her hands and feet and nips at her face when she tries to play with him. Could I please get some advice on what to do

    • Hi David!

      You used the key word there ‘hyper’. When dogs are over their excitement threshold you could waive a piece of rare fillet steak at them and they wouldn’t even notice. I’m putting something up which will be ready by Sunday 3 July which will give you great insights into how and why this happens and also how you can help your pup to get it under control.

      I’ll drop you a comment here so you know it’s ready.

      R

  • Mike Lawler

    We have a 14 week old female Shepherd. She is very sweet, good with her commands, and has never shown any true aggression. I have even taught her the command “kiss” and she will give kisses. When it is play time however her biting is completely out of control. Play time also seems to be more and more often in her mind. We have tried ignoring her and stopping play time with no results. Any attempt to physically stop her biting only makes it worse but is necessary sometimes because her favorite toy seems to be my 6 year old daughter. She wakes my daughter up with kisses and protects her like a mother hen but when she is excited she will chase and bite her. My hands are chewed up from stopping her, and from being bitten myself. Forunatelly some bite inhibition has seemed to seep in. She has lots of positives but the biting must stop. Soon. It would break everyone’s heart to re home her but my human daughter comes first. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • Hi Mike,

      Yes, your human daughter will always come first as it should be. It sounds like playing is taking your pup way over her excitement threshold.

      I’m putting something up which will be ready by Sunday 3 July that will give you some great insights into how this happens and how to work with your pup and your family to bring it under control.

      I’ll drop you a comment here to let you know the link.

      R

  • Susan Mikes

    I have a 9 month old GSD when we go outside she becomes very excited and jumps on me and bites me. Like she thinks I’m her toy. Please help.

    • Hey Susan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m putting together something that’ll be ready by Sunday 3 July, I’ll drop you a comment here so you know it’s ready. It’ll help with curbing biting and give you some really useful advice about why dogs become over excited and how to work to fix this in a positive way.

      R

  • Denise Ohara

    My 19wks Gsd is great in most ways but he bites my feet and ankles drawing blood, I have tried yelping giving a toy instead walking away but he is attached! This is getting me down and my ankles don’t look good
    Please help
    Denise

    • Hi Denise,

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      I’ve had terrible iisues with my internet connection and was not able to email or upload the videos I have on biting. I’m adding a few new things too so they will be up and ready by Sunday 3 July. I’ll drop you a comment here to let you have the link.

      R

  • Hi,
    I am going to buy a german shephard pup of 3 4 months this weekend and i have never had a dog before basically i am planning to have to pups can you please guide me how to givr him proper trainings to keep in home not to poop not bite as there a 2 years kid in the house too and how to set his poop times when to play when to give food and etc thankyou

  • Kendra

    Hi Rosemary, we rescued a gsp about 2 months ago who was left on the side of the road with her sister. She is about 4 1/2 months old and has become more aggressive. She bites and when she does it’s hard and can break the skin. She jumps up and is a big chewer. As I write this (with her beside me) she is chewing on the wall. I’m to the point that I’m ready to get rid of her. She bombards my 4-year-old like he’s another puppy so I can’t let him play with her like he wants to. I would love to have access to and watch your biting training videos in hopes of getting this under control before it escalates any further. Thanks for your help and the great articles!

    • Hi Kendra,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’ve had some porblems with my internet connection for a while and was not able to upload or email anything, hence my late reply to your comment. I’ve got something that’s almost done and it’ll be ready on Sunday 3 July. I’ll drop you a comment here to let you know the link.

      Hope you haven’t said goodbye to your rescue yet?

      R

  • Amanda

    I have an 8 week old GS, he likes to bite, a lot! I’ve tried saying no, walking away and putting him in his kennel. When I say no, he barks. If I walk away, he runs after me. If I put him up, when I let him out he gets excited and starts to bite. I’m lost as to what to do. If I give him a toy instead, he throws it and goes back to biting me. Any suggestions to help me?

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      It sounds to me like a classic case of your pup hitting his threshold of excitement in a play situation. I’d like to explain in detail how this works and how to counter this situation. But my comment will end up being an essay. So I’m going to put together something that I’ll share here. It’ll be ready by Sunday 3 July. I hope you can hold out until then, I promise it’ll be worth it!

      I’ll drop you a comment here to let you know.

      R

  • Jenn

    Hi Rosemary,

    Im having similar problems with my gsd puppy. He is 15 weeks and we call him the land shark. He is starting to get better but for some reason right before bedtime he starts biting everything. He will act out and grab anything he can get his little teeth on. When we take it away and try to substitute one of his toys, he bites our hands, feet, everything. He actually punctured my boyfriends arm. I want to prepare him for meeting all my nieces and nephews but i’m worried that he will nip them. Im even having a hard time getting him to meet new people because he generally greets them with a friendly nip and people are taken back by it. Help!

    • Hi Jenn,

      Thanks for your comment. :)

      Your boy is still young and you don’t say how long you’ve been working on bite inhibition but because pups explore with their mouths biting is natural for them at such a young age. Some pups pick it up quickly and some take a little longer, as a puppy my boy was a little slower on the uptake than our female when it came to learning things – but he did eventually get it with time.

      It’s not uncommon for pups to have energy bursts like you describe. I found with my pups the later I fed them the higher their energy levels when it’s bedtime. Now I feed as early as possible. If it’s possible I’d suggest putting your pup in his crate of pen at least an hour before bedtime and remove all toys. Exposure to toys just before bedtime can ramp up his energy levels and that’s exactly what you want to avoid.

      In terms of meeting the little people in your life, I really recommend introducing them one at a time and if at all possible not all on the same day. Kiddies have high pitched voices and fast movements, these can and will increase your pups energy to way over his threshold and the next thing to happen will be nipping. Also, I suggest not leaving the kids alone with your pup, you’ll need to have complete control over the situation.

      Bite inhibition takes time since you’re teaching your pup to do something that’s counter intuitive but with patience your pup will have his AHA!! moment.

  • Thank you for the steps to stop puppy biting. But these steps haven’t worked. I have tried playing lessons and all that but my pup is still biting really hard and is always biting our ankles. The biting is gaining pressure and we are starting to bleed when he bites. Please reply and thank you for your time!

    • Hi Jazmin!

      You don’t say how old your pup is but it sounds like he’s still young and wants to explore. You’re on the right track to teach him that human bodies are off limits when it comes to his teeth. You said youve tried all the methods but it’s important that you pick only one method and stick to it. The methods are not interchangeable since this will confuse your pup and he won’t learn.

      If your pup is highly strung, I’d avoid the ‘ouch’ method since this will get his excitement levels way too high. The method that works best for me is to sustitute my hand for something more appropriate. I’d recommend a Kong toy with some yummy organic peanut butter (no salt, sugar or artificial sweetners) – no puppy alive can resist peanut butter.

      The bottom line is you’ve got to keep at it. Some pups snap the concept quickly and others take a little more time but from experience, I’ve never met a pup that didn’t eventually have an AHA moment.

  • Elly

    Hi,

    I have an 11 week old GSD. Her biting is becoming such a huge problem, we always have guests and children round so I am very worried. She bites all the time, has drawn blood a few times already.
    She seems to do it to play, but for instance the latest example is I took her for a walk around the yard, I walked over with her to a tree and she was walking very well then out of no where lunged for my foot and bit down drawing blood… How can I train her to not bite? I really don’t want her to go for one of the kids. She is already absolutely huge for a GSD already, she is gonna be a huge adult girl, am worried when her adult teeth come through if she’s already biting down so hard now

    Kind regards,
    Elly

    • Hi Elly,

      At 11 weeks, your girl is going to need some training for sure. Have you tried any of the methods in the article? You should try them all and find the one that works and then stick to only that method until your pup has learned.

      In the situation you described while walking to the tree, it sounds like your foot caught her attention and she naturally lunged to explore this ‘object’.

      Just a few tips on having her around kids before she’s learned to have a soft mouth…

      Kids have high pitched voices and make fast movements so just like with your foot fascinating her, the kids could actually ramp up her excitement levels beyond what she can control as a young pup. Always be around when she’s with any young children. And if at all possible first teach her bite inhibition with you and any adults in your home before exposing her to children. This way you’ll be working with a pup that understands that human skin is out of bounds.

      Hope this helps.
      R

  • NSaavedra

    I would really like any help on teaching our 4 month old GSP not to bite. We recently adopted her and she’s a great pup in every other way. Any help is appreciated!!!

    • Hi There!

      Have you tried any of the methods in the article? You should try them all and then stick with the one that best works for you and your pup. If you try to use them all it’ll just confuse her.

      I meet so many people that chose a method and then after a few tries decide that it’s not working. You will need resolve and keep at it. I’ve never met a GSD that did not eventually learn that a human body is not for biting.

      It all starts with you though, you must find what works and commit to it.

  • Ramachandran E

    My 10 weeks old GSD puppy bites everything, even me. I tried ‘ouch’ method but effect is for time being. He is now weighing 5kgs. Advice me a suitable method? Thanks & Regards.

    • If the ouch method does not work then let it go. Some pups are easily excitable and using this method can make pups like that more excited and more likely to nip and bite.

      My favorite is the substitution with a more appropriate like her favorite toy.

  • Nick

    Hello Rosemary,

    I have a 4 month german shepherd mix that will walk up to us and bite our hands, feet, face while we are sitting on the couch. Sometimes he will go for someones leg as they walk through the room. I know he wants to herd since he’s a shepherd, but it seems like he is being an instigator instead. At first, we thought it was for attention, but when we try to redirect and play he keeps going back to our hands and feet even if he takes the toy. If we tell him “no” he starts to get more riled up and bites harder. He also barks and growls when I tell him no. We have tried ignoring, redirecting, time out, the “yelp” mehod and giving commands. It seems like he doesn’t want to listen when he gets this excited. He also doesn’t seem to have any fear. When he plays with other dogs he doesn’t seem to get bothered when another one snaps at him. Nothing spooks him or breaks his behavior to get him to obey a command. I have heard that making a loud noise to startle him can break his behavior to give him a command, but he keeps barking and nipping.

    • Hi Nick,

      Please, whatever you do, don’t use any loud noises to break behavior. This will only startle him and will have lasting negative repercussions.

      It sounds to me your pup is ‘exploring’ more than trying to herd. Pups always explore with their mouths but you’re absolutely right in wanting to teach him that skin and human limbs are out of bounds.

      Could you let me know how long you persisted with the methods you’ve tried? That way I can help more.

      Often we start a training method and then stop when we think it’s not working. But in fact, the results will show soon enough. Remember, just like we take time to learn things so do our German Shepherds.

      Also, trying too many different techniques will only confuse the situation.

  • Barbara Vargas

    Hello,
    My Sheperd is 4 month old female. She is continually biting me hard, breaking the skin. I have tried all, no success. Should I enroll her into a behavioral class, if so would a petco be a good place to train her. I love her but can’t take too many more bites. Thank you!

    • Hi Barbra!

      Thanks for your comment.

      At 4 months your pup is still exploring the world around her and she uses her mouth to do so. But breaking skin is a no-no. What have you tried? And for how long did you persist?

      Often we try a particular method and give up when we think it’s not working. But just like it takes time for us to learn things, it takes time for our German Shepherds too.

      If you want to go the route of training classes I’d advise you to find a private trainer. From the feedback I’ve gotten from people about Petco is varied. Some swear by it and others have experienced problems. If something is so hit and miss, I’d avoid it. You can find local trainers in your area that use only science based reward training. Be sure to confirm that they don’t use any corrections or punishment. And always be involved in your pup’s training. And also, avoid falling for those ‘puppy boot camp’ scams where you send your pup off for a week or 2. You must be eye and hands on with her training.

  • Kigen

    Got a 10 week old gs pup, and am very excited and so are the family members. The problem is everyone is giving her much love and am afraid it will be bad later. Please advice on what to do from scratch, since am not familiar in training a gs pup.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Kigen.

      Congrats on the new pup!

      Giving love is never a bad thing. But it’s always good to teach your pup from a young age that there’s a time and place for everything. If you don’t, your pup will grow up to understand that she can demand love, affection, play or food at any time.

      If you’re starting from scratch, I’d suggest reading this article first: germanshepherdcorner.com/dog-learning-lupos-guide-german-shepherd-learns/
      And then all the articles here: http://germanshepherdcorner.com/training-a-german-shepherd/

      • lucas

        Please help with my commentbelow urgently Please. I will donate to any cause you like for a full in depth reply and not just sending me to links and to reading thins other tha a one onone comment

  • Lucas

    Hi there. First of all I am very sorry to be writing this as i have had dogs, two of them, all my liufe. Usually from same litter but also many times we as a family growing up had dogs on their own but with holiday homes we had lots of family dogs to socialise with.

    My nine year old after i spent $11k on 3 hip replacements and then at nine years old i spen $7k on a tummor rupturing in her stomach that we didnt know about. Turned out to be agressive form of cancer, but we spent the 7k to remove the spleen, she died two weeks later after another tumor ruptured blood into her lungs. So we have spent alot on dogs which should show the people we are. When our girl died her brother from the same litter all the sudden had no dogs to talk with or whatever they do and he is nine but as we had a two month old child we thought we would get another dog to keep the other one happy.

    Now we figured a 13 month old is no longer a puppy and we were told he had some training. Hw willnot stop biting my other dogs ears and nexk and will not stop biting my hands. Obviously does not see me as a master and does not respect me.
    We took this german shepherd x labrador on because someone was trying to sell the dog because she could not look aftewr it. I said i am not paying you but i will give it a good home and i am prepared to work with it.
    However it is 13 months old and imhaving a lot of trouble after 2 or 4 days with stopping it from bitting on me and nipping on my sleeves.

    I am trying the method of putting my thumb under its tounge and finger under its chin but this encourages him once i have my hands out.

    I really do not want to send this dog back as we have him on a weeks basis that we would keep him so long as my other lab does not get scared to walk past him. He is not scared but he is annoyed.
    The dog understands sit, heel, lie down and is great on walks, but other than that its doing my head in at all hours of the night.
    I grew up as a child with a GS and loved him to bits. My other is a lab and love them so much. This one is a mix and is probably the most beautiful dog i have ever seen or had and i really want to be kind to him and give him a loving home with a friendly dog to play with as my other dog loves playing and fighting to an extent.
    I have a huge backyard too and i am prepared to put in the time to be a good master to this dog with a good home.

    We left him and my other dog outside with a door open to a rumpus room for 8 hours the ther night on the second day we had him and i was prepared to come home and find our built in couches destroyed and ripped to shreds. Nothing at all was damaged. Very amazing and very positive.

    the biting, the jumping and the nibbling on the clothes though is getting as bad as it could be. As he is a large dog with a puppy mindset, it is very hard to control.

    Someone says if the thumb under tounge does not work then try pinching the neck but all i get is puppy skin and dont know if he even feels it.

    I can give this dog back to a 19 year old girl who lives with her grandmother in a few days with hardly any outside to play and with a girl who works two jobs, does not get to see him much at all and lives outside. We like to let our dogs roam our house but for time being i let him roam a large rumpus room with a balcony and ramp and steps and back yard.

    I do not want to give him back as i know he would be my sons best friend in a couple of years and would be an exceptional dog.

    I have to get this under control now but i dont know how to. he is 13 months but still very much like a puppy. We take him on a 5km walk and that is nothing to him. We will take hime to off leash parks and in summer we will take him swimming all the time. We literally get houses to rent with pools just for the dogs as our last dog needed the pool to look after her severe athritis ad hip replacement. She loved it. So did the male dog.
    We are sure this one will too.

    I am starting to think i need to give it back but i dont think it is fair on the dog and i already love this dog and i am just in general a person who finds solace with dogs. None of them ever scare me and i feel i have the ability to connect with a dogs soul.
    Unfortunatley and i say this with regret but i also know people will be astonished me saying this but I had no choice than to give it half a valium to jus get him to stop so i could get a nights, or a couplf of hours sleep as i do have a baby. My partner is on maternity leave so we have agreed that we will work together on this but i dont know what to do. I gave it half a valium because i have had many dogs and my last dog had the best orthopeadic dog surgeon in the world i believe. He teaches at a amazing usa university and has a surgery here in Australia and my dog with a lighter weight was on valium the odd ocassion, and a higher dose than half of a 5mg tablet. So from experience I believe giving him half will not hurt him but it is a once off and i never want to do it again because doing it twice will just become a habit and thats not fair, probably not even humane. I tell you this so i can be transparent in asking for some advice and help and what to do next.

    Do i take him back to training? What do i do? I cant exercise him more than 5kms a day and playing with my other dog for a couple of hours is all we can do other than a couple of days a week where we will take him to the park off leash.

    Please help me out with some advice taking into account that his past year was probably lonely and that he has a great home here but help with biting and nipping and trying to tear ones clothes after such a long walk for us and him playing non stop. We have to keep him away from out other dog at a certain point and i try my best to not make him feel jealous but its hard to just let him roam fee in all rooms at this time.

    Please assist with advice. I will do whatever is told of me but i need to see some quick reults to give me hope that it will work as it would be the lowest point of my life to give any dog back to anyone.

    • Hi Lucas,

      Thanks for sharing your story here.

      It does sound like you have your hands full! So let’s try to break this down into smaller steps. This way you can help your dog and you won’t feel so overwhelmed.

      Let me just say first off that a week is a very short time for a dog to get used to new surroundings. And by the sounds of things, what he’s got now is far better than what he’s ever had. You said he hardly ever saw his previous owner and he lived outside. So it’s all new to him! Taking this into consideration, I think you should give your new boy and yourself more time.

      I say this because I have a GSD crossed with a Border Collie who came from a situation far worse than your boy and it took time to get her to function as a member of our family unit. I dealt with things like bullying and resource guarding. And it sounds like you’ve got a little of that in your situation too.

      If you make the decision to give it more time, the next thing is to take several steps back with your new family member. With dogs, small steps are better. Because this sets your dog (and you) up for success.

      I’ll give you a quick rundown of what’s going on in your boy’s head which is something to keep in mind as his owner and trainer. I shared this with Kelly in a comment on this thread too.

      All dog’s have a threshold, it’s their level of tolerance for certain things. Basically it’s the level between calm and relaxed and ‘crazy’ Crazy could be excitement, fear, aggression etc. If you think of threshold on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being asleep and 10 being totally crazy. The optimal threshold is somewhere between 2 and 4 or 5, that’s when most dogs are calm, relaxed and it’s easy to get their focus. 6 and up is total over stimulation.

      Triggers are the things that cause reactions in dogs and raise their threshold if it’s a strong reaction. Triggers can be things like other dogs, people, cars, motor bikes, sounds and general chaos etc. New surroundings will have many triggers for your new dog.

      To begin with you’ll need to find ways to limit the triggers in your boys surroundings and slowly (baby steps) get him used to them. The best way to do this is to temporarily limit his movement. I’m not suggesting leaving him outside or isolating him from your family. A good way to do this is to create a space inside your home where he can still see you, hear you and interact with you and your family. You can also allow him to interact with your other dog for limited time periods. The main focus is for you to bond with him.

      You could cordon off a section of a room where he’s still part of the family by using a barrier like a play pen for dogs. Amazon has a bunch of good ones – I’ll drop some links below. Since he’s a big boy, make sure it’s a sturdy one.

      Use the time he is in the playpen to start with reward based training. It’s a proven fact that correction-style training methods like for example pinching make dogs more aggressive, out of control and also lowers the self-esteem. If you are new to reward based training read this article first: germanshepherdcorner.com/dog-learning-lupos-guide-german-shepherd-learns/. And then follow up with this one: http://germanshepherdcorner.com/how-to-use-a-dog-clicker-to-train-your-german-shepherd/.

      That should give you a good foundation to build up from. Since he already knows the basics like sit, lie down and heel you already have a head start. Now, retrain him to do the same behaviors but using reward based training. It sounds counter-intuitive but there’s a good reason for it. The trick is to always set your dog up for success. And he’s already trained in these behaviors, so he can’t fail. When a dog feels good they are more calm and attentive.

      As a side note on training. My advice is always, only one person does the training. For example; only I train our dogs. Once the behaviors are learned, my husband will ask for them, but I teach them.

      Once he’s comfortable and calm in the are where the playpen is you can move the playpen to another part of the room or house. And then start training him to do other things like hi-five, spinning in circles or anything else you’d like. And practice what he already knows. Doing this will keep his mind occupied and slowly become more comfortable.

      Also, give him some toys to play with while he’s in the playpen and you’re not working with him. I’m assuming he didn’t have access to toys at his previous home? Safe chew toys like Kongs are great. They are almost indestructible. You can also fill them with kibble which he’ll need to work to get out. Another way to keep him busy in his new surroundings. For the time being, I would avoid interacting with him using toys – just until he’s calmed down and this will also keep him from biting inadvertently.

      To get him used to your other dog might take some work because it sounds like he’s resource guarding. The resource is you and your family. Dogs that come from hard backgrounds often do this. It stems from fear, so go slowly here.

      Each time you’re with your boy and your other dog comes into the situation offer your boy some treats. He’s got to learn that when your other dog is around, good thing (rewards) happen. Check out the graphic on counter-conditioning and desensitizing in the article I suggested about how dogs learn.

      I suggest waiting on this before you start. First get him used to his surrounding so that he’s not so reactive.

      I know this answer is a mouthful, if you’ve got other questions feel free to comment here.

      Always remember to;
      Take baby steps
      Set your dog up for success in every situation
      Celebrate his victories – no matter how small.

      For a larger pup or dog this pen has high panels, it’s sturdy and it has a gate for easy access.

      This pen would work well if you have a section of a room you want to cordon off.

      This kong toy is for a large dog. Fill with appropriate sized kibble or even organic peanut butter).

      This is the organic peanut butter I use.

      All the best,
      Rosemary

  • Guylaine

    Hi Rosemary,
    Amazing reading to the start of my day .my puppy is now asleep after a long walk at the beach.she is 10 weeks old but she bites or rather nip at me constantly. I was reading your advice about playing with the puppy and walk away if she bites too strongly . I can’t do that with my puppy because if I move she then lash at my knee , feet , trousers etc… Basically every part of me is being the target , not my hand only. I have tried distraction by offering toys, rewarding with treats if she stops , look at me and sit .but as soon as I move again she start growling , barking and biting at me . any part of me!!!! She broke the skin several times and I feel it to be stressful that I can walk in the house, or the garden , without being dragged by my trousers!!!
    She is a beautiful blue long coat that weighs 6.5 kg.
    What to do ? I am desperate for advice.
    Please help
    Guylaine

    • Hi Guylaine,

      Thanks for commenting here to share your situation. Your girl sounds like a feisty one! And that’s great! Your pup sounds like she’s easily excitable and she has a high drive – this is great for playing and training. I know it doesn’t feel like it now but you’re going to have a ton of fun with her!

      You mentioned that you’ve tried everything and from what I can tell redirecting with toys is pushing her to cross her threshold. Read about this here when you have a moment.

      She seems to have figured out the redirection with treats too. So, she stops because she knows there are yummies on the way and just picks up where she left off after she’s had them.

      I think your choice of moving away from her when she starts nipping, biting and definitely when she is breaking skin is the best way forward. But because she’s highly prey driven she’s going after you. The most positive way to counter this is to have her in a playpen or a sectioned off part of the room when you’re interacting with her. The key is to move away from her even before she starts biting or nipping. Watch her facial expressions and body language. You’ll quickly catch on when she’s thinking about doing it.

      At that moment you remove yourself from her environment. If she yelps or barks just ignore the behavior. She will do this because she really wants you to come back. But be mindful not to isolate her. That’s punishment for a dog. So keep the playpen where she can see you. She’ll soon realize that each time she wants to put teeth to skin the game ends.

      Her playpen should be large enough for her and you to be inside together and interact with each other – so not in a crate because that’s too small. You can pick up some great dog playpens on Amazon. I really recommend having a look for a sturdy one with a gate for easy access.

      Get started with this as soon as possible, she’s already 6.5 kg and she’s going to grow larger and stronger. Please let me know how you get on and feel free to come back here with questions. I’m always happy to help.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Maria A Wilson

    Please help, our GSD is nipping but then when I say ouch or stop and try to stop to move away, she grabs on harder and bites harder and i can’t get her off. what can i do. she is 8wks. i understand she is still young, but i have small kids and she is going after them and i can’t get her to let go. they are starting to get scared.

    • Hi Maria,

      Thanks for your comment.

      At 8 weeks your pup still has a lot to learn. It’s good that your trying out the different ways to teach her to have a soft mouth. Human limbs are off limits!

      If the ‘ouch’ method is not working for you then let it go and try something else. Some pups get super excited when they hear the high pitched yelping sound.

      I have found that the redirection to appropriate toys works well. But I suggest using the method I detail in my comment first. The reason being that it will teach her to be calm around you. Once she’s calmer, it’ll be much easier to work with her.

      Another reader on GSC had a similar scenario to you. So instead of rewriting everything, I’ll leave a link to her question. You’ll find my comment just below it.

      In my opinion, the method is the best way to work with your pup in this scenario. Of course, the sooner you start, the better.

      If you go that route, you might want to check out these playpens. These are the best I have found so far.

      For a larger pup or dog this pen has high panels, it’s sturdy and it has a gate for easy access.

      This pen would work well if you have a section of a room you want to cordon off.

      If you decide to use the method I detail in my comment to Guylaine, make sure that when your little ones interact with your pup that they are outside the playpen and your pup inside. Just until she understands they are little people and their limbs are out of bounds too.

      When you’re interacting with your pup, you should be inside the playpen with her. The step by step method is in the comment I’ll refer you to.

      Also, when kiddies get excited their little voices can be a source of excitement for your pup. Of course they can’t help that, I mean, a puppy is just sooo exciting! You’ll need to be hands and eyes on when there’s any interaction between your little ones and your pup.

      This will be a trying time, but trust me when I tell you that your pup is going to be your children’s best friend in a very short time. So persevere!

      If you have any questions, come back here and leave them in the comments. I answer within 12 hours and I’m always happy to help.

      Here’s the link that will take you directly to the place you’ll find the method I suggest.

      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1369

      Chat soon,
      R

    • Maria A Wilson

      SORRY, I was trying to read thru all the posts from the others and the very last one is exactly what i am going thru. I am reading your response to how to stop biting.
      Also, when we go for walks, she won’t budge. she plops down and stays in the grass. Again, she is only 8 wks old. but is this normal? will she out grow this? I look forward to anything you can offer. (i have read so many books, i thought i had it all figured out?

      • Hi Maria,

        Yip, it’s totally normal for her to refuse to walk on a leash. Unless you train her to know that it’s okay and not a scary thing. We always have to teach our pups and dogs exactly what we want from them. This sets them up for success – always.

        Remember, she has no idea what a leash is or what a wonderful reward it will be for her to go walking in the wide world with you once she’s comfortable with it. That’s what you’re going to teach her.

        I’ll do a whole article on leash walking. But in a nut shell, you’ll need to take baby steps with the leash walking. I suggest high value treats for this. Check out how your pup can show you what her favorite treats are. The reason for high value treats is because you need something she sees as worth ‘working for’.

        Start in your back yard put the leash on the ground. Each time she goes near it, mark and reward her. Do a few 5 or 6 minute training sessions and then stop. On your next training session put the leash on but don’t hold it. Get her to walk with you and treat her intermittently while doing this. Only do this for 5 or 6 minutes in a few training sessions.

        Once she’s comfortable with that, pick up the leash and start walking with her. Treat her for walking calmly with you. If she’s still not having any of it, take a few steps back and redo the steps above.

        Once she is walking comfortably with you in your yard, you can venture outside onto the sidewalk. And so you go, to more and more challenging surroundings. All the while setting her up for success and teaching her that it’s all good.

        I hope this gives you a good idea of how to approach the leash walking. Any questions – I’m here to help.

        Chat soon,
        R

        • Maria A Wilson

          I AM SO THRILLED TO HAVE FOUND YOUR WEBSITE! I HAVE LEARNED MORE FROM YOU THAN I DID READING ALL THE BOOKS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PROMPT REPLIES AND AWESOME ADVICE!!

          • Hi Maria!

            Thanks so much for your compliment! It means I’m doing what I set out to do.

            Regards,
            R

  • Eva Cornelius

    My 6 month old GS is very smart and we have trained him at a early age with sit, potty, shake, crate and high five…but we are having the problem with the biting with play time…and we crate him while we go to work and we know he is excited to see us when we come home and I take him out to release alot of his energy. But he still does the biting and I know he is just playing but we can’t get him to stop…Ouch doesn’t work with him…help!

    • Hi Eva!

      Thank you for sharing your story here.

      A lot of people have had success with the ‘ouch’ method. But in my opinion, it works well only for pups that have a mellow character. If the method is not working let it go and try something else.

      I prefer using the redirection method. Either with treats or with appropriate toys, it depends on the situation.

      As you say, he’s super happy to see you and ready to release a bunch of energy. It seems like a problem now, but actually it’s the perfect scenario to teach your pup not to bite.

      I used this method with my dogs when they were pups to teach a soft mouth and it’s become part of our afternoon routine. And they learned a soft mouth in less than a week.

      I almost always go for redirection using toys. And this is what I did and still do…

      As soon as you get home, get a toy ready for play. Do this even before you let him out of his crate.

      The moment he’s out and before he even thinks about biting or nipping offer him the toy. It’s important to do this before he thinks about it. So be attentive. You know your pup best. So watch for body language and facial expressions.

      If you miss the cue and he gets the chance to think about biting, you’ll be rewarding him for biting. Which you don’t want.

      Offer the toy in a fun, playful way. But try not to allow your voice to go too high because it will push him over his threshhold.

      Just a note, it might be a good idea for you to read the article I wrote on why some dogs don’t listen in tricky or high energy situations. It will give you a good foundation as to what threshholds are an how you can work with them.

      Just keep directing to the toy and then start with your daily play session where ever you normally do. I go into out back yard and then it’s all about tugging or playing fetch.

      I alternate the toys to keep it interesting. You might want to avoid playing tug until your pup is 100% reliable in not nipping or biting. Once he’s had his a-ha moment you can incorporate tugging if he likes it.

      The reason I say this is because tugging might just encourage the behavior.

      So basically you’re going to use your pups high drive in play sessions to teach him to have a soft mouth and that human limbs are off limits.

      Informal training sessions like during play are very powerful in training. Always remember, you’re training your dog even when you think you’re not.

      Get started on this today, your pup is already 6 months old and in a short while he’s going to be a large, strong dog, with a very powerful bite.

      If you’ve got questions come back here and leave them in the comments. I answer within 12 hours and I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon,
      R

  • Jimmy

    Have a four month gsp lately he just has become very aggressive to everyone in the family bitting hard jumping you name it and when he starts it is no stopping him unless you put him in his kennel starting to hurt really bad. We tried everything, if you try and walk away he will jump on your back and bite you je don’t stop and it’s getting worse every day need help.

    • Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks for your comment.

      At 4 months (16 weeks) you still have a very young pup on your hands. Often we forget how much they still have to learn or that their minds are like sponges. What you put in it when they are puppies will reflect throughout their lives.

      The solution to the issue is also one of the keys to training your German Shepherd. When you reward good behavior, the negative behavior will become less and less. And eventually disappear.

      Your first step is to stop putting him in his kennel when this behavior happens. You’re only teaching him that the kennel is a punishment, but he has no idea why.

      Instead, show your GSD what you DO want. Not what you don’t want. We always have to show our dogs what we do want, not what we don’t want.

      Take the idea of the kennel and turn it into something better. Something that will positive, inclusive, fun and stimulating.

      You can easily teach him in a force-free, fun way that if certain rules are kept to he can have fun and games. If not, the game ends. But not in a bad way like being isolated in a kennel.

      In a nutshell…

      Section off a part of the room in which you and your family spend most evenings. Use this time to interact with your pup through appropriate toys and play.

      As soon as biting comes into play, you step away from the game. Your pup won’t be able to lunge like he is now because he’ll be in the sectioned off area.

      Again, don’t isolate him when you step away. He should still be able to see and hear you but not make contact with you. You should prepare yourself for some whining or barking. Just ignore that behavior. Don’t respond at all.

      Once your pup has calmed down you can go ahead and start interacting with him again.

      Rinse and repeat.

      He’ll quickly learn that biting ends the game. There’s no force or punishment involved. And it’s positive and fun.

      Before you know it your boy will a ‘soft mouth’. But only if your persevere, stay positive and encourage your puppy.

      I’ve shared this method in the comments to other readers with more detail so I’ll direct you them to read about it.

      Both of these have a ton of good information on how to successfully work with your pup in a no-force way.

      Read this comment first and the answer below it. http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1369
      Next. Read this comment and the answer below it. http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1413

      If you have any questions as you work on this with your puppy, just leave them in the comments. I usually answer within 12 hours.

      Cheers,
      R

  • Jimmy

    Thanks I’ll give it a try he is extremely intelligent can learn anything just like that hopefully this to

  • Christina

    I have a 14 week female German Shepard who is biting a lot. I defiantly will try the ouch and walking away when she bites my hands or fingers but what about feet? There will be times I’ll be walking and she will go to bite my feet. What do I do then? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Christina,

      If your pup is going after your feet when you move away from the game the best option is to work with your pup in a sectioned off area or a play pen.

      The other benefit of using this kind of method is you’ll find it much easier to redirect your pup to something more appropriate like a toy. And you won’t have to keep dodging those sharp teeth.

      I’m going to direct you to the exact method with links to similar questions and my answers.

      Read this comment first and the answer below it. http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1369

      Next. Read this comment and the answer below it. http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1413

      Let me know of you have any questions, I usually answer within 12 hours. And I’m happy to help.

      Chat Soon,
      R

  • I have a 14 week old female GSD. She constantly bite and is leaving marks and drawling blood. My youngest child is afraid of her and doesn’t spend much time near her. He is afraid she will nip/bite him. As she once has before. Please help!!

  • Donny

    We recently brought a new GSD into our home – she’s 14 weeks old. We’ve really been having a hard time teaching her not to bite.

    Luckliy my brother suggested I might like your blog and find some advice that will help. He was totally right! This post actually made my day. You can’t imagine how much time I spent looking for this info until I found your website!

    I’m going to get our puppy a playpen today and follow the method you shared with other owners in the comments.

    We love her so much and will do anything to have a well-behaved pup. You’ve been a great help to get us on the right road.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi Donny,

      Thanks for your lovely compliment!

      At 14 weeks your little girl is very much like a new born baby. We often forget how young they still are at this age.

      I’m please you’re going with the force-free method I’ve detailed. You won’t regret it!

      And before you know it your pup with have her ‘soft mouth’ and only bite on appropriate things like toys.

      If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments. I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon,
      R

  • Andrew

    Great advice. I feel like I am trying all of the above tactics but my German Shepherd puppy continues to bite hard. Sometimes no matter what kind of toy I give him he still continues to come after me. In regards to playing and biting when I stop playing and walk away for a second it seems like it makes him more aggressive.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      What you’re experiencing is not uncommon. I get emails and questions about this kind of situation a lot.

      Just a few pointers before I direct you to the solutions I’ve suggested to others in your situation.

      Please read this article about triggers and thresholds, it’ll give you a clear view of what’s going on inside your pup in the situation you describe.

      Very often it’s easy to forget that we’re working with a young mind that still has a lot to learn. Giving our pup’s time is essential.

      Trying many different methods in quick succession means our pups don’t actually have the time to figure out what we’re trying to teach them.

      The links below will take you to comments from other readers describing the same situation you’re in at the moment. Below these comments you’ll find my suggestions on how to better work with a pup that’s physically moving after you when you’re working on bite inhibition.

      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1369

      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-puppy-biting/#comment-1413

      If you decide to follow the route I describe in the comments above and you have any other questions, leave them in the comments – I usually answer within 12 hours.

      Chat soon,
      R

  • Rae

    So my bf and I got a two year old rescue german shepherd who was abused. He has had no training what so ever and he is SLOWLY getting better. However, every time I put on my boots or have them on he always bites down hard and tears at them and has ripped tears in the leather in every pair of my expensive boots and and has ruined countless sweaters of mine by pulling the threads. Bitter apple spray doesn’t work at all and he does not like to listen. I have no idea what else to do. We have been trying to keep him from biting and nibbling but disciplining him isn’t working, not even putting him in time out doesn’t work. Please help. I cannot keep buying new clothes since he’s ruining all my expensive ones.

    • Hi Rae,

      Thanks for sharing where you’re at with your GSD.

      Firstly, your new pup is lucky to have 2 such dedicated guardians like you and your bf! I know he’s 2 years old but like you said he was abused and had no training so he’s a little behind on development. But you’re working with an intelligent breed so it won’t take long before he learns the rules.

      I always advocate no punishment when training dogs. This is especially important to avoid with a previously abused dog. Since you don’t know what kind of abuse he endured any kind of corrections or negativity can trigger memories. You want your boy to always feel safe so avoid ‘discipline’. I know this might sound wacky but there are more positive ways to teach your boy what you want and don’t want.

      He sounds like a really playful character so in your case you can use this to your advantage…

      I suggest using the ‘build a bridge’ here and get him used to one pair of boots, sandals, shoes at a time. If his attention is drawn to your feet, gently call his attention back to you. Once he’s focus is on you again, toss a treat on the opposite side of you. If he prefers toys, then use a toy instead of a treat. Start with one pair and work with your pup using this method until he’s not interested in that particular pair. Then move on to the next pair.

      If he’s grabbing hold of sweaters when you’re not wearing them then your best bet is to store them out of his reach and give him plenty of toys. If he’s grabbing them while you’re wearing them you can use the build-a-bridge’ method or you can teach him nose targeting. That way, if you see him coming for a sleeve you can ask him to target your hand with his nose.

      You have some work ahead with your young boy so go slow, persevere and be patient. It’ll pay off in the end and the rewards for all 3 of you will be so worth it.

      If you have any other questions as you start this work with him, just leave them here in the comments. I usually reply in 12 hours.

      Chat Soon,
      R

  • Zee

    I have 3 months old GSD and he bites a lot, I have tried many techniques but none are working, I even got mad at him a few times but he just keeps biting . really need help here.

    • Hi Zee,

      Thanks for sharing where you’re at.

      I understand that when a puppy constantly bites it can become frustrating, but avoid getting mad at your puppy. He’s only 12 weeks old which means he still has a lot of growing up to do. And he’s a large breed which means they mature much slower than a smaller breed dog. Also, getting mad will most likely rev him up more.

      It’s very easy for us humans to feel we’ve tried everything and nothing works. What have you tried? How long did you try each method for? It takes time to teach a puppy that human limbs are off limits.

      My youngest Lexi, to a long time to learn bite inhibition. Longer than the other 2 but I kept at it. My favorite method is redirecting with toys. It’s the safest for you and the most motivating for pups. Toy’s are amazing tools to use for training.

      Read through this article again and start using the redirection method. But don’t give up too soon. There’s no timeline. Just be patient and kind.

      Remember, in baby terms your pup is still newborn, keep that in mind and don’t get mad at him.

      Hope this helps,
      Cheers,
      Rosemary

  • Normandie Chubra-Smith

    Please may we also have copies of your “no-biting” training video. Our 11 week old shepherd is now breaking skin, causing bleeding. She greets family members with an enthusiastic approach and wagging tail and tries to restrain herself with all her might from jumping up, so she then mouths your hand and in a split second, chomps down hard. We have tried extended hand method, toy distraction, fetch, ouch, rolling her onto her back, and time out. Nothing seems to work for more than one or two times, then her biting behavior returns, and now it is getting worse. Any rejection or admonishment of her biting behavior causes her retaliate with even more forceful biting. We must be doing something wrong, so would appreciate seeing what you do in action! Please….

    • Hi Normandie,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately I no longer have those videos. I lost some files on my pc – I guess I should have saved them in the cloud. LOL.

      But, from what I’m reading here, I think it’s something you can fix by teaching your pup to stop jumping up. You’ll start by teaching her an actual sit, so she has at least one behavior she can offer. Make sure she has a solid sit.

      Now practice leaving home for 5 minutes and then returning just so she’s super excited to see you. If she jumps, just ignore the behavior. If you react to it you’ll be reinforcing the jumping.

      If she’s snapping at hands, don’t lift them over your head, it’ll rev her excitement levels. Keep hands and arms close to the body. If she jumps up at your chest, back or sides, turn your upper body and face in the opposite direction. This way you’re giving no reinforcement at all. Not even eye contact. She’ll quickly realize her attempts at attention are futile and decide to try something else. Jumping isn’t working, she can’t get a grip on flailing hands for biting. So what will work? Aha, I’ll sit.

      As soon as her bum hits the ground you click to mark that’s what you want and reward her.

      Keep at it until she has it down with you. Then start inviting other people, one at a time to do exactly what you did. And once she can demonstrate to you that she’s solid on the sit/no jump when meeting people in your yard. Start exposing her to the outside environment. The dog park is a great place, and people are always willing to help if you tell them what you’re working to achieve. You’ll see this will go quickly.

      Does this help?

      Let me know how things go here in the comments.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Jamie M Ernsdorff

    I have a 4 month old white German Shepherd female puppy, she likes to nip alot when playing with myself husband and 2 year old. How do I stop her from this? TIA

    • Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for your question.

      My first suggestion is to keep your pup from playing with your little one until she’s learned that human limbs are off limits. Those puppy teeth are razor sharp and your 2 year old has soft skin – not a good combination right now. Also, little kiddies can have high pitched voices when they get excited and this usually revs puppies up because to them this sound equals fun.

      What you can do is keep your pup in a playpen and then allow interaction with the playpen as a barrier, and always under adult supervision. The playpen will also help to avoid your pup lunging at your little one.

      I’d suggest using toys are a redirection to teach your pup bite inhibition. A playpen works well for this method too because if your pup continues to try and bite you can end the game by getting up and walking away. The playpen keeps your pup from following you or grabbing onto your leg or foot – which happens often during bite inhibition training.

      You can read more about the redirection with toys method in this article above.

      The key with this training is to keep at it. It’s going to take some time because puppies explore their worlds with their mouths, it’s a natural behavior you’re working on changing.

      I hope this helps, any other questions, feel free to ask.

  • Nass

    Hi Rosmary…

    I love dogs in general, GS is my favorite.
    It’s really difficult where I am living right now to get a quality GS, so I bought a puppy from Eourpe and shipped it to where I am , it cost me a fortune and I hate to see it go to waste .
    First I was afraid for the dog to travel while he was eight weeks old , so I decided to buy the puppy and then have him wait where he was until he gets four months old so he is not as scared as he could’ve if I shipped him earlier .
    Puppy is here now and he has been in his new home for two weeks and counting. He is smart , playful , he loves me and I love him so much, my entire family dose. Lately we have been facing a problem, biting. So I seeked help, one guy who claims to be a trainer suggested that whenever the dog bites, to close his mouth and apply pressure not to much to hurt him but enough to bather him and teach him that what he did was wrong. I really didn’t like that because I don’t wanna hurt my puppy, but I thought if it works then I don’t have to worry about the dog biting one of the kids in the house . So I used that method. It worked at first , Bolt “name of the dog ” stopped biting. But then it got ten times worst , now the bites are stronger , he was afraid of me for a while ” got that fixed ” , and he growls and jumps left and right and some times barks . I of course stooped that method , he got better with not being afraid of me , but what should I do ?
    I don’t want to give him away because I want him to be in a house where he is loved , at the same time , this is a strong dog, and I don’t want him to get big and bites someone , a kid or a visitor or even me
    Please help me with what to do ?

    • Hi Nass!

      Thanks for your question.

      You’ve made the right choice not to continue following the advice of that person who told you to hold Bolt’s mouth shut. And as you’ve experienced that doesn’t work.

      It’s a good thing you managed to get Bolt to trust you again, the GS is highly intelligent and sensitive. You’ve gone to great lengths to invite Bolt into your life. Training him the right way will deepen the bond you’ve already made, and that bond is made up of trust. Using to force-free, kind methods is the best way develop trust. And Bolt will respond positively which speeds training up.

      Lots of people jump from one method to another because they think the results should be quick. But teaching a dog to control something as natural as biting takes time and commitment.

      You can train this new behavior using different methods so first you need to find out which one works the best for you and Bolt. Try out each of the methods in this article a couple of times. Then decide on the best one based on how Bolt performed with each one and then stick to that method.

      It’s not always easy to gauge how long it will take because each puppy is different but a lot depends on regular practicing and patience. I suggest at least 4 to 5 sessions a day, of no more than 5 to 10 minutes. Frequent but short sessions work better than fewer, longer sessions.

      Also, I suggest not allowing Bolt to play with your kiddies unless they are supervised all the time. Kids have skins that are much softer than ours and very young kids can have high pitched voices when they are excited. This can arouse Bolt and make him more inclined to nip because he wants to play.

      I hope this helps, if you have any other questions just drop them here in the comments.

  • Jen

    Hello. I was wondering if you could please email me a few example videos of how to do these games. Also I plan on using my ounce instead of clicking. Am I rewarding with the noise I am making? In the bridge game what exactly do you mean by go back to the previous point where he didn’t nip? Does that mean take the treat away?

    • Hi Jen!

      Unfortunately I lost some data and the videos were part of that.

      Your voice is only to mark the behavior, so in other words you’ll be using it to let your dog know you like what he/she just did. The reward will be the food treat you give.

      So basically it will look something like this…

      Behavior >> Marker word >> Food Reward

      If you haven’t already, check out my article on how to start clicker training.

      For your question on the bridge game here’s what it means…

      In dog training small steps are the best way to train. It’s about progressing slowly with the challenge. So if you’re using the bridge game and at some point during the training your pup nips, just go back one step in the training to the point where your pup is not nipping. This help to set your pup up for success.

      Of course at the point where your pup nips, you will be withholding the treat and going back to the point in training where your pup did not nip. Then work forward from there. The only time you withhold treats when teaching something is if your pup got it wrong.

      I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Misty

    I just got a 18 month old German shepherd mix she nipes a lot and drew blood on my husband is this something that can still be fixed?

    • Hi Misty,

      Yes, bite inhibition can be taught to a dog of any age. If they are already through their puppy stage like your girl, the trainer will need to be extra careful because the GSD has a powerful bite force. I volunteer at a local shelter and we train the basics before adopting out dogs, so it is doable.

      My advice is to try the methods in this article and then pick the one that works the best for you and your dog. The key is to persevere once you’ve decided on the method. It’s going to take time, especially since she’s already 18 months old. Wherever she was before, she most likely didn’t learn that human limbs are off limits.

      I also want to mention that once you start teaching bite inhibition you’ll notice at some point that things start getting worse and then the behavior will drop off. When this happens most people lose hope and give up but just keep at it. This is called extinction. And it’s a well known phenomenon in dog training and when it happens, don’t worry, it’s actually a good thing because it means that soon the biting will come to an end.

      Hope this answers your question. Just drop any other questions you have in the comments below.

      Chat soon.

  • Raymond

    We followed your above methods and they have worked extremely well. Our GSD was born on May 11th 2016, and we have had him since 8 weeks old. He is learning more & more everyday. Thank you.

    • Hi Raymond!

      Thanks so much for your feedback! I’m so pleased that these methods have worked for you and your boy. I’m sure you’ll agree that perseverance is the key.

      All the best to you and your boy!

      Any other questions, feel free to ask.

      Chat soon.

  • Dutch

    Hello, I just got a GS for my family for Christmas after much research, prayer and family voting! We had a family dog that we had to put down in April because of old age (11) and suffering and my entire family was very upset and swore off family pets forever because none could live up to our beloved Emma. As the months went on we missed having that friend always excited to see us when we got home and the kids having a friend to go back in the woods with them and companion for me. (I’m disabled and home all the time)

    We took a vote on the breed of dog we wanted and a German Shepherd won first in all 4 votes so we were all excited and set forth on our adventure of finding the right pup for us. We found Arya and fell in love right away she was the runt of the litter which I have always loved because they seem to have a better temper and she was excited to see us but also wanted to play around without being clingy which for a puppy I thought was a good thing. We have had her for 3 weeks now and everything is going along great except for the biting/nipping.

    I know that puppy’s learn and explore with their mouths and do not like to punish her for this but I am at a loss on what to do. She does not nip at me because I am the one doing the training and I guess you could say the alpha or sorts. But she does this to my kids 11&12 constantly. She is so excited to see them that as soon as they come across the gate (she is not allowed in the hallway or rooms until she is potty trained and not chewing on things) she nips their feet and legs and when they sit down to pet her she bites their hands. Normally it isn’t a hard bit and she has done it with me where she basically gets our finger or hand in her mouth and holds it, but I need help because the kids panic and pull their hand out which does leave marks or the feet biting is actually a bite.

    What would be best for me to teach the kids to work on with her to establish their position as someone or something not to be herded or bit. We have goats that I could let her chase and do that with but is there any help you can give me to help my children to learn? They have done the grabbing her snout and saying no, sticking their thumbs in her mouth and other fingers on bottom kinda like holding a fish which freaks her out and telling her no and other things that I have done with other dogs throughout my life that has worked but they do not seem to slow Arya down at all with the kids.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Dutch!

      I’m sorry to hear that Emma crossed over the rainbow bridge, it’s always sad to lose a best friend. It’s great that you’ve invited Arya into your lives!

      You’re right in your thinking that Arya is not nipping or biting at you because you’re doing the training. And kids are very exciting for young puppies. Their voices can be exhilarating and they have quick movements. All this spells out fun in a puppy’s mind, hence the reason Arya likes to interact with your kids using her mouth. But I also have to say that dogs do not see humans as alphas. They have a pecking order among themselves but that does not include us humans.

      The methods you’ve described like grabbing her snout, sticking thumbs in her mouth will freak Arya out. If there are fingers in her mouth, she will bite, so actually the biting behavior is being reinforced. In my opinion these methods should be avoided and replaced with force-free methods that will change the biting behavior rather than encouraging it.

      I recommend starting with the build a bridge method in this article, just to get Arya used to being touched and handled without her feeling the need to nip and bite hands. Because Arya is mouthing your kids, I really encourage you to allow your kids to play this game with her once she’s mastered it with you. Nose targeting is also a great method but if Arya is high energy, you might find the go fetch game a good step forward after the build a bridge game.

      In fact you could train one of these games until Arya has mastered it and then teach the next game and then the next. They are all great force-free ways to teach bite inhibition.

      I suggest you start teaching the games first and once she’s got a game mastered with you, then allow your kids to get involved.

      I hope this helps. If you’ve got other questions as you work with Arya, feel free to drop them in the comments.

  • Sarah

    Hello!
    I have a 9 week old male GSD and his biting is out of control. He will also throw temper tantrums where he’ll bite and latch on to whatever body part is closest. He’s learning to stop play biting when I firmly tell him “no” but when I stop him from doing something he wants and has a biting fit there’s no stopping him. Any advice??

    • Hi Sarah,

      He sounds like a feisty fella!

      First I’d suggest using other methods to teach bite inhibition. Firmly telling him no is not working because he’s still biting when he wants something. Start with the build a bridge method in this article and once he’s mastered that then move on to something like go fetch or tug-o-war. All the games in this article are great for teaching bite inhibition.

      As for the tantrums, I always like to keep my pups in a playpen or a sectioned off area while they’re still very young like yours. This helps to keep a close watch over them, helps me train bite inhibition in a controlled space and if they get up to mischief or I need to take something away from them I don’t run the risk of nipping or biting while they are still learning.

      The best advice I can give though, is to let go of the ‘firm no’ and give the games in this article a go. If you keep at it, you’ll see results and you won’t regret it.

      As you go along, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments, I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon.

  • Cheris Hubbard

    Hi, we have a gsd puppy he’s about 14 weeks old. We are having a major problem with bitting. I also have small children who are being bit. I have raised a gsd puppy before he is now 10 yrs old.

    I have tried a few methods and nothing seems to be working so far. He bites very hard with pressure and shakes his head. We would love some advice for a more dominant puppy?

    • Hi Cheris,

      At 14 weeks your pup is still a baby and biting is totally normal. But bite inhibition mus be taught especially if you have young kiddies around. I recommend keeping your pup in an enclosed area like a playpen until he’s learned that human limbs are off limits, for the sake of your kids.

      But don’t isolate him, so make an enclosed area in a high traffic area inside your home. Any of the games in this article will help you teach bite inhibition. Try them all out and pick one that works the best for you. Although, if he’s shaking his head when biting, I’d avoid the tug-o-war game for now, it’ll just increase his drive for biting.

      Also, keep in mind that dogs aren’t dominant towards humans, that’s a myth. They are dominant towards each other. What you’re experiencing is a puppy with a different personality, he might be easily excitable or more playful and even feisty, but it’s not dominance.

  • Niwantha

    Hi !!!

    I recently bought a female German Shepherd puppy who is two months old. She has this really bad biting behavior and it hurts alot. We tried sevaral things in the internet including “ouch” method and nothing seems to be working. If you have any videos on other effective methods mentioned in this article can you please share it with me. Thank you in advance :-)

    • Hi Niwantha,

      I don’t recommend the ouch method anymore because it tends to make puppies more excited which increases biting.

      Please check out any of the 4 games in this article, any one of them are a great way to teach bite inhibition.

  • Jessica smith

    Hello I have a just under seven month old German Shepherd lab mix her name is Luna. We are still mastering her bitting durring play when indoors . The main two concerns I have, I thought maybe you could give me some new tips or advice with.First and largest problem being when we go to bring her inside from a walk or play she begins to bite very hard aggressively at our feet and also jumps up to bite arm. She does this as though she is angry we are going back inside and outside playtime is up? That is our largest hurdle as of now. Second issue is we also have two cats in which she pounces on sometimes way to rough for the cat and I need to pull her off. Any suggestions in which I can curb her from being too rough with the kitties??? I know she is following her natural herding and attacking prey instincts but thought maybe there was some way to tone it down. Teach her to not be to hard on the two cats in fear of them getting harmed or scrathcing back at her … Thanks …Jessica

    • Hey Jessica!

      Helping you here in the comments is going to take a long time. I’ve written a guide for another reader on how to work with kitties and German Shepherds.

      I’m really swamped at the moment but I want to help. So give me a few days and I’ll email you the guide.

      Just confirm here in a comment that you’re okay with me using your email address to email you outside of the comments.

  • Christa

    Our GSD is almost 2yrs old has never had no biteing training
    I want to teach him it’s not ok to bite the other doggies and to be gentle
    How can I train him
    Please help

    • Hi Christa,

      At 2 years your boy is already a powerful dog. But it’s never too late to teach bite inhibition. I really recommend using the games described in this article to teach your boy that biting humans is not cool.

      Remember, that dogs will always play with each other using their mouths. So you’ll never get that out of him. But teaching him bite inhibition using these games, will also spill over into how he engages with other dogs. And should help him be more gentle.

  • Shannon

    Hello,
    We have a 4 month old male GSD, he is usually pretty good at not biting, he knows he’s not allowed and is generally pretty good (unless he becomes overly lost in the moment in playtime he may grab a hand instead of a toy by accident), however if we get down to his level (even if not playing) he will immediately move to grab my hands / my arm (in particular) and puts it in his mouth and begins to hold or chew. I’ve tried standing up and walking away after saying ‘no’ but he persists with this behavior… how can I get down to his level without him having the urge to grab onto my arm? Thank you!

    • Hi Shannon,

      Standing up and walking away is s short-term solution to the behavior. In your case I think starting off with the Build-a-Bridge game described in this article will work perfectly. If you boy is already pretty good at not biting it shouldn’t take too long for him to figure out not to use his mouth when you’re at his level.

      I hope this helps!

      Rosemary

  • Ashley

    Hello,
    I have a 6 month old male GSD and I can’t walk him with my toddler because he tries to herd him. he nips and lunges and will lay down and wait if he goes to far behind us. Our trainer said to not walk them together but now he isn’t getting as many walks as I would like him to. She gave us an exercise that has him in the house on a leash and he gets a treat for ignoring my son walking by but he is still doing it. (he is only leashed for the exercise) He also knows “off” but doesn’t listen. Will he grow out of this? Please help!

    • Hi Ashley,

      This must be stressful for you! But anything can be fixed. :)

      I totally agree with your trainer. Don’t walk your kiddie and your pup together until he’s learned that he doesn’t need to herd your little one. And I’m sure you know that your pup is only doing it because it’s in his nature to protect. He thinks he’s protecting your child from straying and getting into a fix.

      Is it possible that you can take 2 walks? One with your toddler and then one with your pup? I know it’s doing everything double, but that will make sure your routine with both of them stays intact.

      How long have you been teaching him on leash like the trainer suggested? I ask because there’s this thing in dog training called an extinction burst. It happens just before the behavior goes away. So basically a dog will increase the behavior and when they see they are not getting the desired effect they stop. It might not be this yet, but it will happen if you keep on with the training.

      Also, if I was in your shoes, I’d keep your pup on leash in the house at all times until he’s learned not to herd your son. I suggest this because if he’s leashed while doing the exercise and then off leash at other times, he’ll just go back to the herding behavior when off leash. So the work you’re putting in is disappearing. It’s not cruel to keep a pup tethered while they are still learning the ropes. As long as they are not isolated. They are always in family company and can see you folks.

      If you decide to follow this advice, please remember the extinction burst I mentioned. Most people give up on whatever it is they are trying to teach during this time because it looks like things aren’t working. Just keep at it. Also remember you’re asking your pup to stop doing something that is in his nature, so it might take longer than teaching a sit or high five or something like that.

      When you say he’s ignoring the off command, is that when he’s trying to herd your son? Or in general? If it’s when he’s trying to herd, I’d stop giving any command until you see he’s reliably NOT herding. Then add a command. And make it different to the command you’d give to get off something like furniture.

      If it’s not around your son but rather him ignoring the off command when on furniture, I’d work on this more until he gets it. Also generalize the training by teaching it with beds, chairs, sofas and anywhere else you don’t want him on.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

      Chat soon.

  • Coco

    Hi! I’m Coco, I have 3 stepchildren and a Persian kitty living with me in Dubai. Since 3 weeks we also have a German Shepherd Puppy named Rex with us. He is the cutest Dog ever! Unfortunately I don’t know much about raising a puppy so we let him roam in the Garden quit freely and sleep in the kitchen at night were he pooped and peed everywhere. Of course! After a lot of reading, espeacially your articles which are really great!!!!!!, I have started crate training him now since a week. He’s doing great! No accidents in the crate and peeing/ pooping every time he’s supposed to! But as many people who wrote here to you before we have the puppy biting problem! According to the breeder Rex will be a very large dog and for his 3 months he is already very large and it hurts a lot when he bites! He doesn’t only bite my hands but anything he can get hold of (shoes, nose, pants,sleeves,my ponytail) always playful but it hurts. I have read all your suggestions about training him to stop biting with the games and I will try all of them. I want him to become a family dog and a great companion for the kids! But I have two questions:

    1) I have read on other blogs about teaching dogs to bite gently first before teaching them to bite less and stop in order to prevent them biting hard later on when adult. What can you tell me about that? Every blog revommends the yelping method which you don’t recommend and also I’ve tried and it doesn’t work with Rex. I can help as loud as I wand he’ll not let go:(

    2) I’ve tried the first game you recommended with tossing the food over my legs. He won’t go after the food at all but bite my hands or pants instead. Should I try the fetching game first to get all his energy out?

    And one more question: is it important to teach him to stop biting fist and then teach him commands like sit etc? Or can that go alongside? I have thought him to sit everytime he poops and pees to receive his treat afterwards. And he listens to that although he won’t stay strayed long and when I put his leach in tries to bite me or the leach. Is it actually helpful to teach him more so he is occupied more with thinking about commands and less about biting?

    Sorry so many questions! But I really appreciate all help and suggestions I can get to make Rex a well raised, non biting family dog!!!

    • Hi Coco!

      You’re welcome to ask questions! I’m happy to help. :)

      Biting is a tricky behavior to stop because it’s so natural. But it’s possible and you’re on the right track!

      So here we go…

      1) Yes, that is correct. Bite less and less until they know how much pressure they are allowed to apply. Using these games will do this too. I don’t teach my dogs total bite inhibition. So they are still allowed to bite but with the appropriate pressure. I do this firstly, because I do bite work with my dogs, teaching them how to bite an intruder. I do this training with a professional through. I also allow biting because we like to play tug of war with our dogs.

      The yelping method does not work in my opinion because it just revs a puppy up and the result is more biting.

      2) You can try using the food as a lure to begin with for this game. So keep the food reward close to his nose and lure him over your legs. Once he gets the picture you can go to tossing the treats. You might need high value treats if he’s not interested in the ones you have. your idea of using another more physical game first like fetch is a brilliant one. A tried pup is easier to work with. So go ahead with that.

      3) You can go ahead and teach other behaviors right away. Teaching bite inhibition just goes along with other training. You might also find at his bite inhibition training plays in on the other basic obedience training like sit, stay, down etc.

      The more mental stimulation the better!

      For the leash training. Start slowly, so put the collar on then give rewards then take it off. Then repeat 3 times or so. Then leave it until the next session. Once he’s comfortable with the collar, do the same with the leash. Once he’s comfortable with both, you can use the luring technique I described above to get him to walk. But just let the leash drag on the ground. When he’s okay with that, then pick up the leash and lure him with food. You’ll soon see he’s totally comfortable and then you can start teaching him to heel on leash.

      I hope this helps.

      Oh, and well done on the potty training!!!

      Drop any other questions in the comments below.

      Speak soon.
      Rosemary

      P.S. You might find these articles interesting:
      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/dog-learning-lupos-guide-german-shepherd-learns/
      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-not-listening-p-1/

  • Meagan Stephenson

    Hi Rosemary!

    I have been reading on your site and I feel like you could potentially help me. My husband and I just got a 3 month old German Shepherd/Lab mix from the rescue. He was born on a farm with his litter mates and mom and they were all taken to the shelter. He was then adopted for a short time (under a month) and was then returned to the shelter as the owner said she was not ready for a puppy and he was too “mouthy”. He was then put into a foster home by the shelter and then we adopted him after that. He is a BEAUTIFUL pup and going to make an incredible dog – but needs some help. He came to us already potty trained, crate trained, sit, stay, come, lay down, etc. His biggest down fall is getting too excited about playing and wanting to bite. He doesn’t bite out of nowhere – it’s usually enticed by boredom. However, we give him TONS of toys – take him on 3 walks a day and have a quarter-acre yard for him to run around in. His problem outside is that he doesn’t get himself running, even if we throw a ball he is only half interested and would rather chew the grass. If we run with him, he acts like we are puppies and nips at us. Whenever he has these biting tangents, he also barks A LOT. And very loudly. He will start biting and barking (while wagging his tail so I dont think it’s aggressive) and if I put my hand down to grab his nose (which I have been told to do?) he thinks its a game of catch and then he’s chasing me and biting my ankles. I cannot get him stop. I have also had a long time fear of dogs and I think my anxiety is being felt by him. I’m not sure what to do and feel on the verge of tears on a daily basis. He is the light of our lives and we are willing to do ANYTHING to help make him the best boy he can be. We are starting puppy classes in a week as well. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! I read your article but I have tried those methods and they don’t work – the barking just getting excessive and so does the biting. I saw you had mentioned to someone on here that you had videos showing how to handle it – I would LOVE to see some of those. This mama needs help!!! Thank you Rosemary!

    Meagan

    • Hi Meagan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Okay, there’s a lot going on so let’s tackle things one at a time…

      Firstly, you’re lucky to have him already trained in the basics and also potty trained. That’s a load off your shoulders!

      It’s natural for him to get excited, but you can work with him to help him control his impulses and level out his excitement. But first you need to understand what’s going on in his head. Please check out this article: http://germanshepherdcorner.com/german-shepherd-not-listening-p-1/

      It’ll give you a good foundation of understanding his triggers and thresholds.

      The videos I made recommended methods I no longer suggest for bite inhibition. The games in this article really do work. How long have you been working with him using these games? And have you picked one game or are you changing from one to another?

      I ask this because it’s important to pick one that feels comfortable for you and stick to it. The reason I ask how long you’ve been working with him is because there’s a term in dog training called ‘extinction burst’ it’s when a behavior gets worse before it disappears. It’s during this time that most people think what they are doing is not working, but in fact they are virtually at the point of success. So the owners stop and the behavior continues.

      Extinction bursts happen because a dog will try harder to act out the behavior because the result was rewarding. Results like the owner saying ‘no’, saying his name, waving arms and grabbing his mouth. Dogs don’t make a distinction between negative and positive attention. It’s all the same for them and it’s rewarding. So avoid grabbing his nose. The build-a-bridge game might be more successful if toys are pushing him over his threshold. And don’t run with him for now, until he knows human limbs are off limits.

      Now for his lack of drive…

      Each dog is different and some have higher drives than others. Also, different things trigger drive in different dogs.

      I recommend having a couple of toys that your pup has no access to unless he’s interacting with you. My dogs have toys they have access to all the time but when it comes to fetch or tug, there are special toys for us to play with. When the toys come out they go into high drive and will offer all the behaviors they know to get me to play with them. I didn’t teach them this, it’s a natural response. So again, don’t run with him to ignite his drive.

      The barking thing is great because you can use it to your advantage. I know this sounds crazy but hear me out…

      It’s very rare that dogs will bark at their owners. But when they do it’s super easy to teach them a trick that will get them to stop barking on command. Check out this article and use the first method where you teach him an opposite cue.

      http://germanshepherdcorner.com/stop-german-shepherd-barking-problems/

      You’re doing well with the physical stimulation by walking him! But I recommend bringing in mental stimulation too. Training is part of this but there are other great ways to build his mental agility. I recommend mental stimulation because it’s actually more work (for him) than the physical. And there’s a saying that a ‘tired dog is a well-behaved dog’. But that’s not why I recommend it. Your boy is highly intelligent and needs mental stimulation to function optimally

      Check out how I work my 3 year of male, Zè with a puzzle game here: http://germanshepherdcorner.com/trixie-game-bone-puzzle/

      But you don’t need to buy mentally stimulating games, there are so many you can set up with things you have around the house. What I do recommend is checking out this Brain Training for Dogs program. I’ve reviewed it extensively and use it for my own pooches to beat boredom and keep them mentally agile. Check my review out to see if it’s something you’re interested in and so that you can make an informed decision.

      I think I’ve covered everything, if I’ve missed something or you have other questions, just drop them here in the comments. I usually answer in 12 hours. I’m sorry that this reply took longer. I’ve been focused on rehab for Charley, my 10 year old GSD who just had hip surgery. But I’m always around to help.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Luis

    Rosemary

    My 3 month old GSD female keeps biting hands when petted and leach training is impossible she bites the leach and then grabs onto our ankles. We have tried redirection with a toy and even sprayed bitter stay on our pants and it does not affect her. We have even tried time outs with no luck she goes right back to ankle biting. Please help. Thank you.

    • Hi Luis,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Your pup sounds like a feisty little girl!

      What you’re experiencing is very common and an easy fix with some smart planning.

      So first I suggest taking a few steps back and getting her used to being petted and touched. It’ll probably take her only a few sessions before she’s comfortable. The build-a-bridge game is perfect for teaching puppies how to be cool with petting, touching and stroking. It’s still a game and it’s fun but you can go really slowly which will keep her arousal low.

      Because she’s biting at the leash and your ankles I might suggest teaching the nose target game instead of redirecting to a toy. The nose touch will also be a huge help when you’re leash training to redirect her from biting it and even to draw her attention away from another distraction.

      One tip is to go really slow with these games. The faster you move your hands the more inclined she’ll be to nip or bite them. She’s a pup and anything that’s fast moving will get her excited. So slow is better to begin with.

      I noticed you’re following my Flawless Potty Training guide to train your pup. If you’ve got questions or you’re stuck with something, remember you can email me directly for support.

      And if you’re new to clicker training, check out my article on how to get started. There’s also a cool video where I show you the 3 steps to teaching your dog what a clicker means.

      Chat soon.
      Rosemary

  • Tammbra

    I have rescued an 2 year old, gs he was tied up outside all the time, my son is a trainer and everything is working great, except the being mouthy, i actually put my hand in his mouth and say easy, he does pretty good with me, but my 30 year old and girlfriend is actually taking him, he is alittle more mouthy and sometimes a little to harder, do you recommend the samething as a smaller puppy, or should they do what i am doing.

    • Hi Tammbra,

      If I may suggest, I think you folks should avoid the method of putting your hands in his mouth. It doesn’t send through any message excetp to revv him up more.

      The games in this article are great for a dog of any age. My advice is to start with the build-a-bridge game. It’ll quickly teach him to enjoy touch without wanting to nip or bite. I also suggest not using the other games until he’s mastered the bridge game. I say thins because the toys and play might excite him more which increases biting and nipping.

      Also check out my article on triggers and thresholds. This will give you a good idea of what’s going on in your boy’s head and also a great method you can use to teach him how to stay under his threshold and keep calm.

      Let me know how you get on. If you have other questions drop them in the comments below. I’m happy to help.

  • Jo G

    Hi, I have a 3 month old German shepherd puppy that we got at six weeks old. This is the toughest puppy I have ever had, she does not know a soft bite, when she bites it’s hard and if you yelp, she bites harder. My arms are beginning to look like hamburger and now she is starting to jump and attempt to bite me in my stomach, upper arms, and back sides also. Got me on my bottom the other day and I have a bruise on my stomach where she caught me off guard. Any suggestions? I really love my puppy and I have her first private training lesson coming up this weekend. Thanks for your comments.

    • Hi Jo!

      She sounds like a feisty little girl!

      I would recommend all the games in this article to teach your pup bite inhibition. Except for the tug game because she’s still too young and her teeth could get damaged.

      My favorite is to start with the build-a-bridge game and take things from there. This will teach her to be comfortable with touching and petting and with moving human limbs around her without feeling the need to nip or bite.

      I hope you have a great training session this weekend!

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • SANDY

    I have been given a 7 month old GSD. The previous owner had arthritic hands. He pulls to the extreme and when a vehicle comes near or anyone! “leaves” him he becomes extremely upset, jumping, screaming like he is being hurt, (he is not being hurt) and trying to bite the fence if you are outside it. He is uncontrollable on walks to say the least. I won’t even mention the biting. Where do I start?

    • Hi Sandy!

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I think the first place to start is to begin with clicker training immediately. You need to start training him and clicker training is science-based and force-free so there’s no stress on your pup or you. It’s the most effective way to communicate with your dog.

      He’s obviously stressed and might never have been taught anything so, training him is the best way to build his confidence.

      You’ll also need to educate yourself on how dogs learn.

      So here are some articles I recommend…

      Here is an article I wrote on clicker training. It’s how I started training my dogs back in 2005. You’ll also see a quick video of how to teach your dog to understand what the clicker means.

      How to Use a Dog Clicker.

      You might find this article on how dogs learn helpful. It also goes into a lot of detail about why food is so powerful in dog training and how to use food as rewards.

      Dog Learning.

      Once he’s got the clicker mastered (which won’t take long) you should start with the build-a-bridge game in this article. If his previous owner had arthritic hands he’s probably not used to much touching and so he’ll bite and nip and maybe even flinch or shy away from human touch. So this game will help with all of those issues.

      Also, I recommend following a training program. I’ve reviewed a bunch but the one I recommend is 100% force-free and it’s unique because it focuses on mental stimulation to cement good manners like sit, down, stay etc. Check out my review of Brain Training for Dogs so that you can have an idea ofwhat it’s about and decide whether you like it.

      You’ve got a lot on you hands here, so if you have other questions, just drop them in the comments, I’ll help as much as possible.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Lillian Quinonez

    our 2 month old puppy is biting my daughter’s hands and ankles to the point of bleeding, please help, she is getting frustrated with him, and sad because she has waited for him for a long time.

    • Hi Lillian,

      I’ll bet your daughter is so excited to have her new pup! I know right now she’s sad because it sounds like petting him is getting him all excited and then he starts biting.

      If I was in your shoes, I’d start working on the build-a-bridge game with your pup. My advice is that you start the same and see it through to the point where your pup is calm and not chasing hands and fingers when someone goes to touch him. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use this game first to get your pup used to hands, feet and arms in close proximity without wanting to nip at them.

      Until then, I would suggest not allowing interaction between your daughter and your pup without strict supervision and control of the environment. It might help to get a playpen where your pup can hang out when you can supervise interactions.

  • Jennifer Mejia

    I have a 5 months old GS she likes to bite a lot Im going to try this.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      These games really work. Start with the build-a-bridge-game and take it from there. I do advise to avoid the tug-o-war game until teething is over.

      Happy Training!

  • Kimberly Richesin

    Just got my GS puppy he is 9 weeks old today, we’ve had him a week. His play bitting is very aggressive. Your right the whole ouch thing doesn’t work along with the lip pinch thing the breeded told us to do, it just makes him go even harder. I have an arrangement of toys his plays with them for short periods of time, then finds his way back on to my hands, feet, legs and shoes. Worse with my daughter. I take him out side walk him. We I let him back in the house again he finds away to keep going for my hands. I will try the things you mention in your article. I keep reminding myself its only been a week. But I myself hope i am doing him right.

    • Hi Kimberly,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You’re spot on when you say it’s only been a week. And it sounds like you’re on the right track and know what you’re doing which is fantastic.

      You might like to start with the build-a-bridge game. It’s a great way to get pups used to having human limbs in close proximity without wanting to bite and nip at them.

      Also, I highly recommends starting with clicker training if you haven’t already. Here’s an article I wrote on getting started. There’s also a short video where my boy and I show how easy it is to teach a dog what a clicker means.

      If you’ve got questions, just drop them in the comments.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Pat DePrez

    I use to breed, raise, obedience train and show German Shepherd’s but my grandson (who lives with me) got a GS puppy who is 12 weeks old now and he loves to bite, with all the shepherd’s and training I have done I have never had one bite. This guy loves to go after my grandson pant leg, my arms and legs are filled up with Band-Aids. I have tried everything you had mentioned which has not helped, throwing a treat or toy when he goes after pant legs I believe is rewarding him so he comes back for more, which I started when we got him at 8 weeks, without giving up. I put him in a crate only had night and let him out to go potty before going to bed myself, every morning I find that he has peeped in the crate which I believe is out of spite. I know he is only a baby and will probably grow out of’ but I and getting tied of my Band-Aid’s. He knows sit, down and come. Sometimes when I take him out and he doesn’t have to go he likes biting the leash. I also have a smaller older dog who I have to keep them separated because the pup is so big and wants to play but the older dog is afraid so they fight, they can see each other but that is it. I have never came across a shepherd like this one. Also I don’t have a computer every day and if you could please email me at patdeprez@yahoo, you can post my question and answer in case someone else has the same problem. I would appreciate any and all help.

    • Hi Pat,

      It sounds like you have a high energy pup on your hands.

      When it comes to potty training I know it can seem like pups or dogs do their business wherever they like when we think they know it’s wrong. And our immediate reaction is that they do it out of spite. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dogs don’t have the ability to do anything out of spite.

      There are many reasons a pup could mess in their crate. Things like the size of the crate, too much water before bed or a medical reason like a UTI. If he’s messing in the crate it’ll be a process of elimination to figure out why and fix that problem. And it’s also important to remember that like human babies, sometimes pups really need to ‘go’ during the night. So for a short while, during potty training we might have broken sleep.

      You might be interested in the guide I wrote on flawlessly potty training a German Shepherd puppy. You can find out more about it here. You’ll get direct access to me for all the support you need during the potty training process.

      In terms of the biting, I can just picture your hands covered in band-aid’s and I agree it’s no fun!

      How long have you tried one of the techniques in this article? It’s so easy for us to expect too much too soon from our pups. And if we’re trying too many things at the same time it gets confusing. I always recommend starting with the build-a-bridge game. It’s excellent for getting pups used to hands reaching out to them without them wanting to nip or bite. And it conditions them that other fast moving limbs like feet and legs aren’t for biting.

      If what you’re doing now does not work then let it go. Start with the bridge game and keep at it. Yes it will take time and you’ll need a couple more band-aid’s but he will learn. And keep in mind the extinction burst too. It’s going to get worse before the behavior fades because he’s going to try harder to get the reward he wants before he realizes that it’s not working anymore.

      I hope this helps.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Cathy Siegmund

    My neighbor has a 5 month old GSD who is now biting. She actually applies all of your suggestions I have read in your posts. Do you have an email address where we could talk to you one-on-one? You said you had a “Bridge Building” video that helps with biting issue? Is that free? Can we view it online?

    • Hi Cathy,

      Yup, German Shepherd’s are known as land sharks!

      I think the issue is your neighbor is applying all of the techniques. It’s counter intuitive to use them all together because her pup is not learning anything through practice.

      I suggest using the build-a-bridge game which I’ve detailed extensively in the post. It’s the first step to teaching her pup that human limbs are out of bounds. After that’s mastered she can move on to one of the other games. I would avoid the tug-o-war for now since her pup is still teething.

      The videos I have are of methods I no longer recommend or support and I’ve not made new ones as yet.

      Hope this helps.

  • suzanne

    I have a 10 mo old GSD who is very protective and when we have a guest in our home, he barks, jumps on them and tries to “nip” them. Very disturbing to say the least. Help! I tell him “down!”, “Bed!” but the damage is pretty much already done. I don’t want people to fear my pup. Thanks for any advice!

    • Hi Suzanne,

      It sounds like your pup is getting over excited. When you say protective what kind of body and facial signals is he giving to show he’s being protective?

      Are his teeth showing? Are his heckles (hair on his back) raised? Is his tail high and stiff or relaxed an wagging? Those would be signs of him wanting to warn that he’s protecting his territory. But jumping, barking and nipping could also be a dog that’s way over excited about meeting new people and hasn’t learned the proper manners yet of sitting quietly until he’s told otherwise.

      So when you’re telling him ‘bed’ or ‘down’, either he doesn’t know what those things mean, or he’s way over something we call a threshold. Here’s an article you might find useful on how these thresholds work, how they are triggered and one thing you can do to help your dog calm down.

      At 10 months, it would be a good idea to get him to understand what manners he needs to have when people are visiting. He’s going to be a big boy soon, if he isn’t already and you don’t want an 80 lbs GSD doing what he’s doing now at 10 months. I highly recommend you start using some form of an online dog training course. I recommend Brain Training for Dogs. It’s the one I use for my dogs and still do today. But it’s more than just learning manners, it about developing their minds and that makes for a very well-behaved dog.

      Check out my review of the program here.

      If you’ve got any questions about the program or anything else, just drop them in the comments.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Ameen

    I’ve a 7 weeks GS puppy. He bites a lot when people are around. Can I start using games like “fetch” with him at this age?

    • Hi Ameen,

      That’s a very good question!

      I would avoid playing fetch with any pup that’s still so young, unless the throwing distance is literally a few puppy steps. And not more than 3 throws per day. At this young age their bodies can’t handle too much.

      What I’d recommend to curb biting is to start with the build-a-bridge game.

      Let me know if you have other questions.

      Rosemary

  • alicia

    Hi

    I have a 9 month old German Shepherd. We love her so much but she is terrible with her biting. Now she does not do this to my boyfriend. She will tear me apart. She is crazy at night especially during bed time. She does not chew or damage anything in the house so she is no longer crated. Though we do still have the crate for her “time outs”. She gets in a frenzy and she will just constantly bite me. She does not draw blood she is not biting down that hard yet but it is constant my arms, hands and legs. She has me bruised. I will pull her off the bed and put her in her cage for time out for between 5-10 minutes. I have been told put my hands down, get up away from her and pull her off the bed. I do these things and it seems to make her worse. he can come out and tell her right away and she will stop. I will hold her nose, tell her no bite and that makes her more nuts. And when we go out to walk her and try to put her leash on her color she will tear me up then too. I do not know why. I swear she is head shy. We did take her to a trainer for walking only as she was just spayed so we had to give her time to heal. She is finally over that and we can start taking her out and socializing her with other dogs and people and properly train her with walking and the treat method. We were told we did her wrong by not socializing her with other dogs and people and that is our fault. I have 2 step children, and his mom and dad live with us. She is very protective of all of us especially my step daughter with autism. It is amazing I swear she knows something is going on and that she needs her. I have to admit that originally yes we wanted a dog but I wanted a dog to protect the kids and house especially my step-daughter and she does… So my issue is two fold the constant biting of me, I believe she is trying to be the alpha female – yeah NO not going to work with me. I get so frustrated with her – she is hurting me and it is so annoying! I love this puppy but we need help! Also how do we stop her from biting and flipping out when putting on her leash. We did buy a shock collar as well to try and help me with the biting. What are you thoughts on that as well?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Alicia,

      Thanks for sharing your situation. Boy, it sounds like you have your hands full there!

      So when you’ve described the pulling her off her bed advice and holding her nose you answered your question by saying it makes her worse. So you’ve figured that’s only going to make her bite harder. These kinds of methods are negative and aversive. And the shock collar falls in the same category.

      Now I want to plead with you to chuck that shock collar away. The problem with shock collars in general is they are for punishment based training. And I’m guessing if you were confident the collar would work you wouldn’t have shared your story here.

      In terms of using the collar to somehow teach her not to bite you could backfire. There’s a big possibility she will start to associate the shocking sensation (which is a negative sensation) directly to you. And this could end up making things a whole lot worse. It could actually cause full on aggression towards you.

      I suggest you and you pup take some time together, with on one else around and start to play the build-a-bridge game. Make sure there are no kids, no TV, no phone, no distractions. Just a calm, peaceful environment.

      You’re going to need some high value treats. So something she doesn’t get often.

      Sit yourself on the floor and just start by gently coaxing her towards you with some treats. Once she’s at your side, drop the treats on the opposite side of you sh she’s actually got to climb over your legs to get to them. While she’s climbing over your legs towards the treats, use your hands to gently stroke her on her body. Only do the body for now. Later you can upgrade and stroke her head.

      I’m being honest with you now, you’re going to have to spend real time on this. You must be committed and do this everyday for at least 2 sessions. I can’t tell you how long this will take, only she can tell you. But I promise you if you work with her every day, you will see a change.

      As soon as you begin to feel frustrated, end the session. She’ll feel your frustration and she’ll react.

      This exercise will help her be comfortable with your hands and arms without feeling the need to bite them.

      Also, no, she’s not trying to alpha female you. Dog’s don’t see humans as dogs. They only have a pecking order among themselves, not between themselves and humans. In her mind, you’re a human (non-dog) and she’s a dog – period.

      Also, here are a few articles I urge you to read. They’ll help you see a new positive way to train your girl. It’ll build a deep bond and boost self-confidence in both of you.

      How Dogs Learn.
      My German Shepherd is not Listening.
      How to use a Dog Clicker.

      Any other questions, please drop them in the comments.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Min

    My gsp is 4 1/2 months old and the biting is getting out of control and suggestions ???
    Just worried have small children

    • Hi Min,

      The games in this article work very well. I recommend starting with the build-a-bridge game and taking it from there.

  • Simona

    Our GS 12 weeks old Gs puppy is nipping and biting excessively. Any advice? Thank you

    • Hi Simona,

      I really recommend the games in this article. A good one to start puppies with is the build-a-bridge game.

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