German Shepherd Puppy Biting – 14 Kind Ways to Teach Them Well

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

And teaching your puppy how to use their mouth appropriately is up there with potty training as a vital skill.

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.

Keep in mind that your German Shepherd puppy will be a strong and muscular dog one day.

Adult males can weigh anywhere between 30 – 40 kg (66 – 88 lbs) and females between 22 – 32 kg (49 – 71 lbs).

According to the National Geographic television show “Dangerous Encounters,” their powerful scissor-like bite exerts more than 1060 Newtons or 238 lbs of force.

So trying to control an adult Shepherd’s bite could end in disaster for you and your dog, and really is not an option.

While teaching bite inhibition (also known as a soft mouth) from puppyhood is a much more reliable option.

And as a professional dog trainer, I’ll share all my best tips here for teaching inhibition using positive reinforcement methods to German Shepherds.

4 Fun Games to Curb Puppy Biting

Advice on Bite-Inhibition Methods from a Professional Dog Trainer

In this article, you’ll learn the four games I use to teach appropriate mouth use for this powerful breed.

But before you dive in, I’d like to touch on why it’s vital to use positive, reward-based training to teach your puppy bite inhibition.

It’s all about influencing the environment so you can reward good behavior.

Your puppy is a fearless breed. And considering their work function, they are bred with an innate persistence in the face of unruly sheep.

Your puppy is also a courageous breed, so they are used in police and military work.

The German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada’s statement rings true…

The breed has a distinct personality marked by a direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, and self-confidence and a certain aloofness, which does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The Shepherd Dog is not one that fawns upon every new acquaintance. At the same time, it should be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and a willingness to meet overtures without itself making them.

All that being said, this breed is also very sensitive.

And so, my recommendation as a professional dog trainer is to educate this breed with positivity.

Reward good choices and redirect or manage the biting behavior you don’t want to reinforce.

Further down in this article, I’ll share some of the outdated advice on teaching this and why these methods should never be used.

And now, let’s dive into everything you need to know about how to help your GSD puppy use their mouth appropriately…

Why Do German Shepherd Puppies Bite So Much?

These pups are often referred to as land sharks because they tend to nip and bite. So what is it that makes GSD puppies particularly nippy?

There are a handful of reasons which we’ll dive into next…

Puppy Biting is in The Genes

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

And you’d be right…

You might even have seen a meme like the one below depicting the “Evolution of the German Shepherd Puppy” and how it pertains to soft mouth training.

The Evolution of the GSD Puppy

And it’s a funny meme for sure. But so much of the nipping and biting is linked to their breed and genetics.

They Have a High Prey Drive

German Shepherds have a high drive for prey, and even the more chilled out Shepherds can kick into this drive in a split second. Meaning they love anything that moves fast!

Take some time to observe your puppy outside, and you’ll notice how they pick up on the slightest movement and sound.

And should any kind of critter or even a bug start to move fast, your puppy will spring into action and quickly pick up momentum to chase as their drive kicks in.

Anything from balls, and garden critters, to other puppies can flip that drive into action.

And unfortunately, your hands, feet, or even your pant legs or long flowing skirt can become a target.

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

That’s prey drive in action!

They are a Herding Breed

Your Shep is from strong herding stock, so chasing and ‘gathering’ moving objects is pre-programmed into their genes, known as “gripping” in herding lingo.

Being a herding breed, the GSD is explicitly known as a “tending” dog.

This means they act as a living fence and guide the flock to graze while keeping them from eating valuable crops.

Working as a living fence means their job is to ensure the flock is contained in the correct areas and deal with the wayward sheep by gripping them at the back of the neck, above the hocks, or the ribs.

Remembering the work your puppy was initially bred to do and understanding their herding instinct will be helpful as you work on this training.

Before we look at how to curb your German Shepherd puppy’s biting in a fun and positive way, we should first understand a few critical things about biting…

Is it Behavior or Temperament?

Is Puppy Biting due to Behavior or Temperament

You need to realize the difference between behavior and temperament…

Biting is a behavior, and it’s something all puppies do.

Biting, in general, regardless of age, is a behavior. And a natural one to boot.

The difference between a dog that’s much more prone to biting and nipping has a lot to do with temperament.

And the following two factors play a significant role in temperament…

They Were Raised in a Poor Environment

In some instances, over-the-top nipping can indicate that a puppy has been raised in a poor breeding environment.

And in a nutshell, this means the puppy didn’t get the opportunity to learn vital soft mouth skills from mom and littermates.

And the humans did a terrible job of ensuring that puppies gain the necessary skills from birth until they are sent off to their forever homes.

A lack of vital skills is worst in puppies who have been removed from their litter too early and in a single puppy litter.

GSD’s bred in a good breeding program by ethical breeders rarely miss out on these skills.

This speaks to the importance of working with an ethical breeder when looking for a new puppy.

They Were Bred for Looks Rather Than Temperament

Unfortunately, more and more backyard breeders and puppy mills are springing up.

And since the German Shepherd is such a popular breed, many are bearing the brunt of poor breeding practices.

It’s no longer unusual for me to see German Shepherds who fall entirely out of breed standard in every way.

And too often, these dogs are relinquished to shelters because along with poor breeding practices come poor temperament and weak nerves.

A sure recipe for disaster for both the dog and their human.

Max von Stephanitz would be genuinely disappointed to see what “breeding for looks” has done to his beloved breed.

Biting is Normal Behavior

Yes, biting is normal behavior for puppies and dogs. I mean, think about it…

If a dog is upset, he will not hire an attorney and sue you! No, he’s going to bite.

And it’s our responsibility to teach our dogs good bite inhibition through training.

Dogs Explore Their World With Their Mouths

All puppies, even adult dogs, go through life exploring with their mouths regardless of breed.

It’s a normal and natural behavior throughout their life.

My 9 and 7-year-old Shepherds still spend much of their days exploring with their mouths.

Sure they are much more “selective” about what they pick up into their mouths, but they still use their mouths and noses to investigate.

Everything from picking up random leaves to chewing on toys, playing bitey-face with each other, and even rough-housing with me.

So expecting our dogs to stop using their mouths to explore is like asking a human to stop using their hands in their daily life.

GSD Puppies Bite Because They’re Overstimulated

As you’ve already seen, German Shepherd puppies are likened to sharks and dinosaurs.

But often, their nipping is a manifestation of overstimulation and losing control of their bite force.

Sometimes, German shepherd puppies will get nippier and nippier when they are cranky and need a nap.

And considering they are a puppy with very little training in impulse control (including when it’s time for a rest), it’s up to you to teach bite inhibition in a kind and clear way.

Puppies SHOULD bite

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

Right now, you’re thinking:

Hang on, Gabriella! I thought you just said it’s my responsibility to teach my puppy NOT to bite…

But stay with me here…

Puppies should bite so that they CAN learn that biting hurts, and it’s the 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 many 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 family members, visitors, or even the postman.

Playing is very important for you and your puppy, and you should be able to play. But there must be boundaries.

You don’t want a puppy with a habit of mouthing that becomes harder and harder as your puppy grows stronger.

If at any point you feel as though you need the help of a professional for your puppy’s nipping and biting behavior, it’s vital that you reach out to a qualified trainer for assistance.


How do I get my German Shepherd puppy to Stop Biting?

I get this question in emails, comments, and my Facebook group a lot.

And the next 4 games will show you exactly how I teach my own puppies and clients’ puppies to stop biting and learn to have a Soft Mouth…

4 Games to Curb German Shepherd Puppy Biting

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

I suggest initiating these games with your puppy often. Not only to teach them solid soft mouth skills but also to build a strong bond of trust and a positive association with touch.

The Build-a-Bridge Game

It may look like some German Shepherd pups don’t like to be touched. I worked with a client in 2021 who told me, “I can’t touch my puppy at all – each time I try, she tries to nip my hand.”

This may be driven by fear or a playful gesture. Or even that her puppy didn’t have a positive association with being touched.

Regardless of the reason, I had my client work to turn the act of touch into a positive association for her puppy through my Build-a-Bridge game.

The idea was to help her puppy look forward to being touched.

Here’s how to play the game. I’ve included a quick demo video below also.

  1. Gear yourself up with treats and a clicker.
  2. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you (like a bridge).
  3. 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.
  4. As your pup crosses over your legs, gently touch their side flank.
  5. Then click just before they reach the treat.
  6. Now repeat starting from the other side.
  7. As your pup becomes more comfortable being touched on their side, you can raise the criteria by increasing the level and frequency of handling other body areas.
  8. Save working on touching their head last because most dogs need plenty of time to feel comfortable with this.
  9. If your pup reverts to nipping, take a few steps back and work from a place where your pup can choose not to nip.

Here’s that video of me playing this game with one of my dogs.

The Boop Your Snoot Game

Nose Targeting to Curb German Shepherd Puppy Biting

Nose Targeting Games are an Excellent Way to Teach Bite Inhibition

This nose-to-hand targeting game is a nifty little tool in your training box.

If your puppy tends to come mouth at you when you are chilling as a way to initiate play, teaching an alternate behavior to replace the nipping is super helpful!

And with this game, your puppy will focus on targeting your hand instead of nipping it.

And as an added benefit, it’s a great way to move a dog of any size into place without touching them.

Hand targeting (with the nose) builds confidence and will help your pup accept the approach of a human hand without feeling the need to nip at it.

  1. Gear yourself up with many treats and your already loaded marker word.
  2. Ideally, you want to use really high-value treats for this game.
  3. I use my verbal marker, “yes,” in the video. I recommend having a treat pouch, so your hands are free.
  4. In this game, you’ll extend your hand out to the side and mark and reward your dog for touching their nose to the palm of your hand.
  5. Ideally, you want to keep both of your hands behind your back.
  6. When your dog performs correctly in each phase, you’ll bring out your opposite hand to place a food reward into your extended palm and allow your dog to access the food.
  7. It’s essential to keep your extended hand in place as you drop the treat into it.
  8. Rinse and repeat.

This game is broken up into 2 phases.

Phase 1: extend your hand and mark and reward your dog for MOVING TOWARDS your hand. Once your dog is reliably moving towards your hand, you can raise the criteria to phase 2.

Phase 2: extend your hand and mark and reward your dog for touching their nose to your extended hand.

Once your pup is ‘fluid,’ you can add a cue if you want to. I use ‘touch,’ but you can use anything you like.

Next, increase the distance or height, but wait until your pup is reliably targeting your hand with their nose each time without any nipping.

Here’s a video demo and explainer for you to follow.

The Go Fetch! Game

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.

Check out this video for a demo and explainer to follow.

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

The Tug-o-War Game

Help with German Shepherd Puppy Biting

How to use play to stop German Shepherd Puppy Biting

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 ‘drop it’ but anything you feel comfortable with is fine.

Below is a demo video with an explainer to help you play this game.

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

Redirect your puppy’s mouthing onto something more appropriate by using toys.

Overall, I recommend rubber chew toys for a couple of reasons.

  1. A reputable company will use non-toxic rubber that is safe for dogs.
  2. The rubber offers some “give” or bounce, encouraging your puppy to chew on the toy.
  3. This chewing will not only relieve the pain of teething but will also support natural ear development.
  4. Not only that but the act of chewing releases a cascade of feel-good calming hormones in your puppy’s brain, which serves as a way to teach them self-regulation skills.

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

Here are some reviews of chew toys that we love around here! Indestructible dog toys for German Shepherds, or these chew toy options for German Shepherds.

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, you’ll notice a difference in how your puppy uses their mouth.

You’ll notice a reduction in pressure before noticing a decrease in frequency.

But like with any training that involves a sentient being with feelings, drives, and needs that are changing as they grow and mature, it can feel like two steps forward and one step back.

But don’t lose hope!

I speak from experience when I say perseverance and compassion go a long way to teaching a powerful breed like your German Shepherd to have a soft mouth.

The games you learned above and the videos I’ve shared will help you reach your goal of a puppy with a soft mouth.

But what to do if your puppy is in the middle of a biting frenzy and nothing is working?

The Yelping Method

This is a method touted as the best way to teach inhibition. And as an amateur dog trainer many years ago, I believed this too.

It does serve as a way to interrupt a biting frenzy. But on its own, the yelping method is not enough.

Knowing when to use the yelping method and what to do afterward is the difference between actually teaching a soft mouth skill and merely ramping up excitement and increasing the likelihood of biting more frequently and harder.

And this is exactly what you’ll learn in my Acquired Bite Inhibition Protocol.

Acquired Bite Inhibition (ABI) Protocol

Acquired Bite Inhibition Protocol

In my ABI Protocol, I share my exact process for:

  • Using a positive interrupter when your puppy is in a biting frenzy.
  • Scanning and rating the bite in a matter of seconds.
  • Also running through a list of possible causes of the biting frenzy.
  • What to do after you’ve interrupted your puppy.
  • When to remove them from the situation and how to do this with kindness.

My tracking tool will help you collect data on your puppy’s biting behavior and follow improvements over time.

Click the blue button below to get instant access to my Acquired Bite Inhibition Protocol and much more.

I Want the Protocol Now!

4 Things You Should NEVER do to Teach Bite Inhibition

#1 – Yelling at Your Puppy

Yelling at your dog is never recommended. And especially when you’re working to help them control a natural behavior like nipping and biting.
It will only break down the dog-human relationship, breed mistrust, and instill fear in your puppy.

#2 – Alpha Rolls

Ugh, I dislike this so-called “training method”! And it may seem evident that alpha rolls should not be used in any circumstance.

In a nutshell, it’s physical punishment and has a fallout you don’t want to deal with.

But over the years, I’ve had many folks email me saying they’ve been advised by trainers, friends and dog-park buddies to alpha roll their nipping pups.

At best, alpha rolling will spur nipping on. At worst, it will cause aggressiveness to develop as your puppy attempts to defend themselves.

And at its saddest, alpha rolling will lead to a dog with issues of learned helplessness.

Learned helplessness looks like a shutdown dog who is too afraid to try something new – fearful of being forced into submission and punished.

#3 – Holding Your Puppy’s Mouth Closed

I have no idea why people think this is an appropriate way to change biting behavior.

No living creature will sit back and allow their mouth to be held closed, and it’s a natural reaction to struggle to break free from this grip.

Never mind that doing this to a puppy will cause life-long issues for human limbs near their face.

Think about how difficult this will make grooming and visits to the vet.

#4 – Putting Your Thumb Under Your Puppy’s Tongue

Yeah, I know – where is the logic in that? I mean, you’re basically setting your thumb up to be bitten and at the same time encouraging biting.

But you won’t believe how many folks have emailed me desperate to stop biting and detailing this method as something they have done frequently.

I’m not even sure what the idea behind this silly method is, so suffice to say – please don’t do this!

8 More Ways to Reduce German Shepherd Puppy Biting

The truth is, teaching a soft mouth is not an overnight skill!

And honestly, it’s a skill that will require much back and forth until your puppy is done teething.

But, you can intentionally influence the environment to help your puppy make the best choices and reduce biting behavior dramatically.

This training requires a multi-pronged approach. Considering your puppy’s natural needs and clever training approaches, as learned in this article.

The eight ways that follow below and what you’ve already learned will encourage alternate and more desirable behaviors.

And over time, you’ll notice that these outweigh the nipping behaviors.

#1 Prevent Rehearsal

All habits are formed by continuous rehearsal. And if you ever acted in a school play, played an instrument in the school band, or even played a team sport, you know that rehearsals made the play, band, or team really good.

And the same applies to the behaviors you do (and don’t want) your puppy to become habituated to.

The more your puppy rehearses biting (or any) behavior, the more ingrained it becomes.

And rehearsal of teeth on skin can quickly happen during play with your puppy.

So be aware and influence the environment so that your puppy puts their teeth on appropriate toys and not your skin during play, especially if you’re engaging in rough play.

#2 Encourage Independent Play


Dogs are social animals, and many of them enjoy playing and interacting with us. But as humans, we’re not always in a position to drop everything and play.

This, in turn, can lead to a puppy rehearsing, nipping, and biting for your attention and play.

A great and positive way to counter this is to encourage independent play with safe chew toys, food-filled toys, and even dog puzzle toys.

Other options such as lickimats and snuffle mats are lovely tools to encourage independent play and enrichment.

These activities should always be set up with some form of supervision which brings me to the following way to help your puppy bite less.

#3 Take Advantage of A Gated Community

A gated community can be created using playpens, ex-pens, baby gates, and crates. And the idea is to offer a safe space free from opportunities for your puppy to get up to mischief.

While offering them a place to practice some rest, relaxation, and self-regulation.

I use a mix of all of the above to provide a large enough space for large breed puppies like German Shepherds.

And I’ll offer opportunities for independent play and enrichment inside these spaces where I can still keep an eye on them without the need for constant, direct supervision.

These communities also work exceptionally well as a tool in my Acquired Bite Inhibition Protocol for when all a puppy’s needs are met. However, they are still in a biting frenzy.

And creating a positive association for your puppy’s gated community all starts with good crate training practices.

#4 Capture the Calmness Code

We tend to focus on capturing and rewarding our dogs for doing something in dog training.

And rarely do we focus on rewarding our dogs for just doing nothing. But it’s such a powerful way to instill a code of calmness in our dogs.

So, I always advise my clients to make it a habit of capturing their pup’s calm behaviors.

This can be as simple as a verbal reinforcer like “nice work” in a quiet tone of voice every time you find your pup doing nothing but being calm.

Or it may look like you calming delivering treats to your puppy as you walk past the gated community and find them just chilling.

#5 Encourage Nap Times Regularly

As you’ve discovered, puppies don’t yet have self-regulation skills. And when puppies don’t get enough rest, they can get cranky, which leads to an uptick in nipping behavior.

Their environment can also lead to overstimulation of their senses, creating a cycle of not resting enough.

This is where a gated community is convenient to encourage your puppy to catch regular naps.

This will reduce overstimulation and tiredness, but it’ll teach your puppy healthy and positive ways to self-regulate in the greater scheme of things.

#6 Invest in a Flirt Pole

A flirt pole has become a trusty friend in our home. And this handy tool has been a great help in raising my own pups into adults with excellent bite inhibition.

Here is an article all about flirt poles. And I’ve also included a video of me playing with a flirt pole in a very small space.

Some advice recommends using a flirt pole to redirect nipping. Which can work at a moment you have the flirt pole handy.

But it’s kind of impractical to walk around with one all day!

I prefer my clients use a flirt pole to meet their puppy’s natural needs to stalk, chase, catch and bite.

And with some structure to playing with this type of tool, you can easily teach your puppy to control their impulse, only engage on cue, and how to “let go” on cue.

The flirt pole truly is a versatile tool not only for training but also for relationship building and meeting the natural needs of your puppy.

#7 Play the Treat Toss Game

This game is a go-to for all positive reinforcement dog trainers. And it’s one that I teach all my clients and students too.

It does mean you’ll need to be armed with treats a lot of the time. But that’s the nature of creating new behaviors.

Once that’s done, the food rewards are replaced by real-life rewards. But that’s for another article.

Now back to the treat toss game…

As your puppy approaches with that “I’m looking to engage with my mouth” look on their face, quickly toss a treat a few feet away from you and let your pup go after the treat.

Once they eat the treat, they will naturally come back into you, at which point you can rinse and repeat.

This is not only a low-key way to redirect your puppy’s intentions positively, but you’ll be amazed at the power of this game as the foundation of a solid recall!

And the cool thing is you can actually use a portion of your puppy’s daily food allowance for this, so you’re not over-feeding them with extra treats.

And still, you’re really getting the value out of each piece of food.

#8 Play This Impulse Control Game

One of my dog training mentors took the standard way we teach a “leave it” behavior and pushed the envelope on this to create the It’s Yer Choice or IYC game.

This game is not only a powerful impulse control training tool but also teaches dogs of any age the power they have in making choices.

Here’s how to play it…

  1. Place treats in your hand and close it into a fist.
  2. Present your closed fist to your puppy.
  3. Observe and wait for a behavior that indicates impulse control.
  4. This can be anything from taking a step back to choosing a stationary behavior like sitting or down.
  5. Once you get an impulse-controlled choice, open your hand, pick up a treat and feed it to your puppy.
  6. If you open your hand and your pup goes in for the treats, just close your hand into a fist again.
  7. Then wait for another impulse-controlled behavior, rinse, and repeat.

Quickly your puppy will learn that choosing an impulse-controlled behavior and sticking to it even when your hand is open wins them reinforcement.

You have a toolbox filled with positive ways to help your puppy learn to use their mouth appropriately!

And before I sign off, here are 4 rules to simplify the steps…

4 Rules to German Shepherd Soft Mouth Skills

#1 – Only YOU initiate play.
#2 – No Hard Biting.
#3 – No Pressure Allowed.
#4 – Controlled Mouthing.

FAQ About GSD Puppies and Bite Inhibition

What age do German Shepherd puppies stop biting?

Most puppies will stop nipping and biting once they have completed their teething process. For German Shepherds, this is around 7 to 8 months.

Provided you have diligently taught your puppy to have a soft mouth, you’ll see a reduction in the level of the bite pressure soon.

The frequency will take longer to reduce, but it’s the change in the pressure of the nips and bites that indicates a move in the right direction.

Should I let my German Shepherd puppy bite me?

Helping your puppy not rehearse behaviors you’d prefer not to continue is vital for good training. So, although it’s fun to play rough with your puppy, it’s best not to let your puppy bite you, even during play.

How to get my German Shepherd puppy to stop biting my ankles?

It’s not uncommon for puppies to nip at ankles, legs, and even loose-fitting clothing. And frequently, this happens while you are walking.

So I like to keep treats handy and drop them as I walk. Almost like a modified version of the treat toss game above. This will prevent your puppy from rehearsing biting behavior.

And it’s also a great way to begin teaching your puppy that good things happen when they have all four paws on the ground – the foundation of teaching them not to jump on humans.

Final Thoughts

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 teach appropriate mouth use with kindness at the core.
  • Always apply the 4 rules to any interactions with your puppy during the soft mouth training.
  • Ditch the outdated training methods and teach your puppy how to use their mouth appropriately using fun, positive and kind training methods.

Do you know how to stay safe and still break up a dog fight? Check out my recommendations here.

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About the author: Gabriella is a certified professional dog trainer with the Victoria Stilwell Academy. She has a special passion for teaching GSD guardians to train their dogs with kindness and clarity using positive reinforcement methods without force, pain, or fear. Join “Dog Speak” for free dog training tips and advice from a professional dog trainer.

  • Kris

    Hi Gabriella,

    Fantastic article and I’ll definitely give your suggestions a try.
    We have a 7 month old 75# male German Shepherd. He is so large that I forget he is still a puppy with puppy brain.
    We picked up our boy at 9 weeks, and I didn’t do my homework with the breeder or ask the right questions. I recently found out through the breeder that both parents are stubborn and dominant. It’s our first male dog too and I heard that can be a different disposition to deal with also.
    My husband and I grew up with and personally raised a German Shepherd years ago when our kids were young and she was great from day one. Just a calm, obedient and sensitive dog yet protective in the best way. Never barred her teeth at anyone, greeted friends and family in the appropriate way.
    But our boy, though he loves everyone he meets, he is crazy jumping up on everyone and screeches with excitement. Also, he has always been a biter or mouther. We were told by the breeder that her sons would play with him a lot because he was the last of the litter and the runt. We feel that they may have been rough with him because he bites our hands if they move toward him, even to put the leash on and he was like this when we brought him home at 9 weeks old. At first it seems that he is using our hands as a soother (suckling)to him but as he has grown it has become more intense and hurts even more.
    He bites my hands very hard when I try clipping his nails.
    If I correct him with no or leave it and his mood is that he doesn’t want to listen to me he air snaps at me as if he wants to bite me.
    He also chases our cats and seems obsessed with one cats whereabouts constantly. This cat has figured out if she sashays up to him and head bumps him he will be gentle with her and sometimes it seems they may be developing a friendship but I’m thinking she is just trying to stay safe. My fear is that he could hurt one or worse if we can’t nip this obsession in the bud.
    My day consists of keeping him away from the cats, closing the cats off from him or crating him to give them some freedom from him.
    We do have him in a group obedience class training on focus. Other obedience trainers want 4-5k in my area so that’s out of the question for us unfortunately.
    We are in the process of fencing a third of an acre for him to roam and run on. I’ve been working on walking him for months but even with a prong collar he pulls so hard the first mile so it’s a physically difficult job for me to do as often as he obviously needs. So I do throw the ball for him and work on other commands that he knows as well as play “find” where I hide bits of kibble all over the house and his job is to find them. It’s his favorite game.
    Needless to say our lives at the moment feels chaotic and sadly feeling some regrets that we made a mistake with him because his behavior issues prevent us from having that loving, cuddly, trusting relationship we should feel for him and him with us. We’ve never in all of our years ever had a dog with these issues so I’m hoping that you can give us some words of wisdom and hope.

    • Hi Kris!

      Thank you for sharing your situation and reaching out to me.

      I have some thoughts that I think will be more efficiently shared via email. If you’d like that, reach out to me via email, and let’s chat some more about what you can do to improve your situation with your dog.

      Hope to chat with you soon! 🙂

  • Roy

    I forgot one thing. 🙂
    Another thing I am trying to teach him is, outside is for play, inside is for relaxing.

  • Roy

    Hi Gabriella and all fellow GSD owners
    I also have a wonderful, beautiful and bitey 4½ month old. I’ve had two adult GSD’s before which were very gentle and the perfect companion. Koda is my first puppy. Boy oh boy, I didn’t kn0w what I was getting in to.
    Reading these posts feels like I’ve written them myself. 🙂 I’ve had the same doubts and frustrations as many of you had/have and still they persist to some degree. One thing I’ve noticed that is important is controlling his energy level. Using a scale from 1 to 10. 1 being loving and 10 being frantic. I try never to let him go over energy level 6 -7. Over level 7 and it’s hard to get their attention. One way control this is by controlling play.
    For example the rope toy or any tug toy works great for me. I start by letting him tug and shake all he wants for 5 minutes, then I stop, make him sit and heel for 1 minute, and the another 5 minute round. This time he is less energetic, pulling more gently. Pause for a minute by telling him to sit and heel again, and then a third round, by now he usually lays on the floor just mouthing it. 5 more minutes and the game is over. Many times he goes and lays down or is calm enough to do some treat training. This can work before receiving guests, before going to bed or gardening.
    By all means, this is a work in progress. I still have cuts and scrapes, but things are slowwwly getting better. Finding the right balance between exercise, rest, socializing and expanding or limiting his world can do my head in some times. If you get frustrated, scale things down a bit or start again with easy things like rewarding the dog to sit, heel or better yet, get them to maintain eye contact with you using treats (hold the treat in the line of sight between the dogs eyes and yours. Give verbal praise upon eye contact then a treat. When the dog gets better and better, extend the time between treats). If the dog seems more obedient, take another step in training. Baby steps for a baby.
    I tried to teach Koda too much too fast and my expectations rose in accordance. Big mistake. If they’re not a year old yet, they’ll have plenty of time for advanced training. Sit, heel, recall (important) and crate training seem to curb his sharkiness, having everyone in the family participate in these simple training steps will increase the dogs respect for you. This is my experience and practice and it will do for the next 1½ months before I start young dog obedience training at 6 months of age.

    • Hi Roy!

      You’ve shared some excellent tips here! Although I’d say that tug is not an endurance behavior and shorter tug sessions that are more intentional in terms of using them as a reward is the way I prefer to use them now. Although many years ago I didn’t have the kind of insight I have now in terms of tug.

      Love your statement – “baby steps for a baby.” – Brilliant!

  • Karen

    I’m beginning to lose hope, though I will never give up on my puppy!!!

    We got our german shepherd pit bull mix when he was about 6-8 weeks old, and this is our first puppy ever (my fiance and I)

    At the start, my fiance (who can be very stubborn and thinks he knows everything…) was playing rather aggressively with our puppy. By aggressively I mean playing with leather gloves and encouraging him to bite them, allowing him to growl, snap, etc. etc.

    Now that he is nearly 4 months old, we have a very VERY big problem with bite inhibition. We’ve tried nearly everything to get him to learn how to soft-mouth and he just doesn’t get it!

    We tried the yelping at first, which absolutely did NOTHING, it only egged him on more, we’ve tried getting up as quietly as possible and removing ourselves only to have him repeat the same behavior every time we come back. I’ve played the touching game with his nose, hand fed him and said “gentle” anytime he uses teeth..

    We live in southeast Texas near the coast and it’s getting very hot and humid here and I can’t even wear shorts because my puppy wants to nip and bite at my knees and thighs while I’m walking around, sitting, standing, anything!

    I have mental health problems that I’m trying to get squared away with medication and exercise, and my fiance originally said that this puppy could be an ESA for me, but now I’m afraid he’s completely ruined that for me…

    If ANYONE has any advice on how to teach an AGGRESSIVE puppy bite inhibition, I would be eternally grateful… My soon to be husbands disciplining methods bother me and I don’t want him putting fear and anxiety or distrust into our little man!!

    Please help! Anyone!

    • Hi Karen,

      Thank you for your questions here. Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time with bite inhibition training.

      You’re on the right track that the way your fiance is playing with your pup is making it difficult for him to learn bite inhibition. So my first recommendation is to quit the rough play for now.

      Then work on the bite inhibition games detailed in this article.

      At the same time, I do need to say also that if at any time you feel like the biting and nipping is getting dangerously out of hand, the best thing you can do is get in touch with a trainer to help you work with your puppy – face-to-face is best in cases where there’s a biting concern.

      If you’d like I can recommend a few trainers, just let me know where you are based.

  • Lori

    We just adopted a Male GSD Puppy he is now 1 yr. we brought him home about 3 months ago. He was given up 2 times and sheltered for 3months until now. We also have two other GSD that he is getting along fairly well with. 🙂 We are getting thru the bitting and nipping. He is learning commands. Not quite listening to his name. (understandable) I believe he had many. BUT, enjoying life as he has it now. We live on a Acre, lots of things to explore. Problem though… He has become quite aggressive towards anyone that is not in our pack. NOT GOOD. He is quite the “Stinker”! We are very social people, and our Dogs are too. But, this pup won’t have anything to do with it. And this Pup is growing Fast and Strong. This is our 11th Shepherd and he definitely has attitude. I am walking, but with a muzzle, I just don’t trust him. Trying to socialize him. At first he was great, we could have ppl over, but as time has past he is more possessive. Any advise? Thanks

    • Hi Lori,

      Thank you for your question.

      Considering the past of your boy, it does sound like your young boy never had the socializing he needed during the critical period which ends at around 16 weeks.

      With rescues and adoptee dogs, it’s not uncommon for a “Honeymoon” period when they first arrive at their forever homes. After about 2 weeks humans begin to see changes in the new dog’s behavior as they settle in and become more comfortable.

      His aggressiveness towards anyone that’s not part of your household could very well stem from fear, being moved around a lot, or even some bad experiences with humans. I think you made a good choice to go with a muzzle for now, while you work with him.

      At this point, it’s more about desensitizing him to new things and less a case of socialization since that window has already closed. And then teaching some alternative behavior that you’d prefer him to practice instead of displaying the ones he is now. Something like choosing to go to a boundary (bed, crate) when people come over. I like this one in particular (even for well-socialized dogs) because it gives a dog that’s overwhelmed a place to go where they can just chill and get away from whatever is making them uncomfortable.

      It’ll be a long process to desensitize him to all novelty, and you should also be prepared that there may be some things he’ll never like or be comfortable with. However, if you can teach him to go to his safe place when people are around, you may even be able to start roping your visitors in to help teach your boy that good things happen when visitors arrive. Of course always with his muzzle on until you know for sure when and whether you can trust him around all humans and other dogs.

      You are welcome to reach out to me via email and we can chat further about a plan to implement to help your boy. You can find my email address here.

  • Addison Naylor


    We have an 8 week old German Shepherd pup who is a SHARK lol. I will utilize the training you have listed above for prevention, but I’m not sure what to do in the moment of her shark attacks. They hurt, and it’s always my feet when I’m walking. I’ve tried substituting with a toy, but it doesn’t seem like she’s getting it. We have also only had her for a week so I know she has to learn these commands, I would just like to curb the biting as soon as possible.

    • Hi Addison,

      Thanks for your question.

      Something that works well in those shark attack moments when feet, shoes, and pant legs are the target is a soft toy attached to a rope. You can dangle it just above her head to get her attention or drop and drag it across the floor. It’s an excellent way to distract and redirect her natural biting behavior to something appropriate.

      Also, sometimes their biting frenzies become some hyped up that the only remedy is to gently lead them to their crate or exercise pen and place them inside with an entertaining and appropriate chew toy or a food stuffed toy. This is not a punishment but rather a way for them to take a breather and chill out or enjoy some enrichment. It’s not about isolation so it’s good if she’s still able to see, hear and be a part of the situation, but in a safe zone where she can’t practice her biting frenzy.

      And definitely begin playing the build-a-bridge and nose touch games. These are excellent ways to teach the concept of bite inhibition.

      Feel free to reach back out with any other questions, happy to help! 🙂

  • Hailey

    Hey! Do these apply to older puppies too? I’ve had my dog Onyx since she was two months old, and now she is going on nine months. Her biting is very bad. We used the ‘ouch’ method, seeing it worked for other dogs before we realized that GSD’s were just egged on by that. So now she bites a lot, and sometimes very hard. Do these tactics work for older pups?

    • Gabriella

      Hi Hailey,

      Good question, and thank you for asking it here.

      Yes, these games can absolutely be used to teach older dogs bite inhibition. The only thing I’d advise is if you’re going to play the build-a-bridge game, try sitting on a low stool or chair with your legs stretched out in front of you and not on the floor.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Rachel

    I am having serious biting issues with my GSD/Golden mix. I hand fed him and taught him take it from the day we got him, have been doing build a bridge and touch and redirecting his biting with toys and giving him time outs to calm down when he is too overstimulated for me to expect him to have impulse control.

    He is still biting. Hard. He doesn’t bite my husband because he followed old fashioned advice from his father against my wishes. But he bites me. He bites my feet and I have a really hard time staying still so he doesn’t think it’s a game because it hurts (he only really nips at my feet)….but where he really bites is my arms. My husband likes to roughhouse (again to ruin my enforcement of calm behavior and all of the training I worked really hard on) and prefers for the puppy to bite his arm rather than his hand because his arm didn’t fit in
    His mouth. Well my arm does, and Bites down hard and he shakes it. He only breaks skin if he catches a tooth, but he is seriously hurting me and I am really worried his training has been undermined. I obviously need to work on training/educating my husband, he thinks because his parents untrained Golden turned out calm with his father’s barbaric methods our German Shepard will too, but since my puppy is already doing so well at the games and is a little young to start some of the others, is there any suggestions you have to prevent him from injuring me?

    • Gabriella

      Hi Rachel,

      Thank you for your questions.

      It sounds like your approach and the approach your husband is taking is giving your pup mixed signals. I think roughhousing is totally fine once a puppy has passed the biting phase and also learned to have a soft mouth. My dogs are quite happy to roughhouse within our rules of engagement.

      If I was in this situation I’d politely ask hubby to put roughhousing on the back burner until your pup is through the biting phase and learned a soft mouth. And going forward, continue with the bite inhibition games and short time outs if he gets too aroused.

      I know this might be difficult, it usually is much more difficult to teach people about positive training methods than it is to train canines. One way I’ve found to do this is by showing people what potential this training has. So if you’re up for it, check out an online dog training program that uses games to tap into the natural intelligence of dogs and teaches them how we want them to behave. It’s also an excellent way to teach problem-solving skills and build on more complex behaviors.

      I’ve written about my experiences with the program in an article which you can read here. I also had the privilege of interviewing the dog trainer who developed the program and you might get some motivation from Adrienne’s answers.

      Happy training!

  • Donna Chance

    We just got a two month old gsp that is wearing our nerves. Coco is so aggressive she has blood dripping down my arms. She bites my feet my ankles their is no affection between us at all. We are ready to give her up.

    • Gabriella

      Hi Donna,

      Thank you for sharing your experience here.

      I’m sorry to hear it’s a little tough going now. But please rest assured, this is only temporary, and with some careful management and positive training you will be able to teach Coco that human limbs are out of bounds.

      The very first thing is to set up some kind of management system. It sounds like Coco is getting super aroused and excited and that’s when she’s drawing blood with those sharp puppy teeth. And this is where a management system can be very handy and also saving for human skin and clothes.

      I like either a crate (if she’s already used to a crate). If not then an exercise or (ex-pen) is a great option. But you can even use a baby gate to section off a piece of a room.

      The idea with management is to have a place where you can calmly place Coco when she’s so over-aroused that she’s in a frenzy and going for human limbs. As I mentioned this will not only save your skin and clothes but it will also prevent Coco from practicing the behavior you’d prefer her not to do.

      It’s also a great tool to facilitate redirecting her to chew on something more appropriate like the many safe chew toys available for pups. And it’s like a time-out to help her slow her roll so she’s not in a puppy frenzy anymore. Usually, a few minutes is enough time with a chew toy to calm them down.

      The idea is not to punish her, so she should still be able to see, hear, and interact with what’s going on around her, just not get to anything with her teeth.

      Alongside management, you can begin with training. I highly recommend the build-a-bridge game and the nose touch games I detailed in this article. 4 or 5 sessions no more than a minute or 2 each throughout the day will help her learn that even when human limbs are in the vicinity of her mouth, they are not for nipping and biting. These are fun and force-free ways to teach this concept.

      Then I also recommend looking into a training program that uses games to teach our dogs the behaviors we want more of. It’s unique because these game-based training methods tap into our dog’s natural intelligence, keeps them engaged, and turns on their problem-solving skills.

      I have used this program for several years to train all my pups and rescues of all ages. I’ve written about my experience and opinions about the program. And I had the privilege of interviewing the trainer who developed this program.

      I hope this helps!

      Happy Training! 🙂

  • Lucy K

    Hi Gabriella,

    I’ve found the info on this website to be really helpful. Thank you!

    I have read through the above article and many of the comments here, but didn’t find an answer to our specific struggle, so I thought to write.

    We have 5 month old male GSD, Cosmo, who bites/mouths when he plays or gets excited. He often follows us around the house biting and growling at our ankles. When we see people we know outside, or they come to the house, he also gets excited and charges at them, and starts mouthing (and they get scared). If we hold him back from people, he starts pulling on the lead and barking instead (this also scares people). I never feel he’s being aggressive, just easily excitable.

    We have tried so many methods to curb this behaviour, but mostly the’ve been ineffective. We have resorted to just pulling hands away and saying NO, or tapping him on the nose when he won’t let go, but it’s not very effective and it’s not how I want to train him, it’s purely out of desperation.

    I have two main questions in relation to this:

    1. I read though the games above, and we will definitely start incorporating them into our daily routine. But what Im unclear on is what to do between these games?

    For example, when we take him to the beach or park, my teenage son loves to run around with him and splash in the water, Cosmo loves this, but can’t do it without also biting. Should my son not play with him at the beach? Or only play the games you have mentioned?

    2. What do we do when Cosmo has his teeth on us? (Like when he’s following me from room to room nipping my ankles). Do I ignore him? Or pull away and say no? Or…..?

    Thank you so much for your time and energy, your advice is eagerly awaited 🙂


    • Gabriella

      Hi Lucy,

      Thank you for reaching out here with your questions.

      The first step is to try and prevent the behavior from being practiced. So for instance when you’re at home with Cosmo and you see he’s getting into a puppy frenzy that’s going to lead to chasing ankles, nipping, and biting, you could gently place him in his crate or exercise pen with a safe enrichment toy to keep him busy and help redirect that natural biting behavior onto something appropriate.

      The idea is that he can still see, hear, and be part of the family but his area of movement is restricted by the crate or exercise pen so he doesn’t keep practicing those behaviors.

      When your son is playing with Cosmo, he can redirect that nipping and mouthing by asking for a few nose touches and then reward with an appropriate toy for Cosmo to chew on. Nose touch is really quick and easy to teach and once Cosmo knows this behavior is a great way to redirect nipping behavior on the fly.

      I hope this helps answer your questions. Feel free to reach out if you need more clarity while you’re working on this. 🙂

    • Lucy K

      Thank you so much Gabriella!

      We will try both of these tips you have shared and see how we go 🙂


    • Gabriella

      Hi Lucy,

      Happy to help! I’m always around if you need to reach out again!

      Happy Training! 🙂

  • cecylia

    I have an around 8 year old gsd and because we got him near the start of lockdown he isn’t sociolised well and barks and attacks other dogs and people we pass on walks. Recently he has been barking and trying to bite other dogs and people and when he is on leash he pulls ALOT. We have been socialising him a lot with people and other dogs by coming close to other dogs on walks and every now and again visiting our friends, but he is just getting more aggressive and stronger and I am not able to hold him and Im coming back home with sore hands and wrists. Please help

    • Hi Cecylia,

      Thanks for your question!

      In dog training, after roughly 16 weeks the window of opportunity to socialize a dog has closed. what this means is the dog is no longer as open to new experiences, people, objects, and situations as they would have been before that. But that does not mean that a dog cannot be taught through positive experiences and training to accept new experiences, people, objects, and situations. Teaching an older dog to be accepting of newness is about desensitization and training counter conditioning.

      But before any of those things can happen it’s essential to develop confidence in older dogs before exposing them to new situations. So I highly recommend following an online dog training program that I have successfully used to train all my older, rescue dogs as well as my puppies. The program is unique because it uses games to tap into the natural intelligence of our dogs. It not only builds confidence, but also teaches them how we want them to behave and also teaches them critical problem-solving skills.

      So if this was my dog, I would back off taking him for walks near people and other dogs so that he can firstly stop practicing the barking/attacking behavior. I would rather exercise him somewhere isolated such as your yard or a quiet field for the time being. And spend time on building his confidence and developing his skills at home before taking him out on the road again by using the games in the program.

      You can read about my experience with the program as well as read an in-depth interview with the dog trainer who developed the program here. I highly recommend this program as a solid foundation for developing the confidence and skills of a rescue dog.

      Feel free to reach out to me with any questions either via email or the comments section. I’m happy to help get your boy to be more calm and relaxed so walks are less stressful and more enjoyable.


  • Nancy Lantis

    I have a 3 month gsd. very sweet. training to not bite, what I call “gentle”. She does great with nose touch, bridge and especially when she knows i have treats. I use the clicker method too. However, when she gets excited, it all goes out the window. I have to put her in her crate or take her outside. She nips at our heels and my daughter gets very scared. Perhaps she just needs more time, but it feels like “2 steps forward, 1 step back”. Suggestions?

    • Hi Nancy!

      Thanks for reaching out with your question.

      Sounds like you’re doing a stellar job in teaching bite inhibition! Nice work!!

      At 3 months of age, it’s not unusually for a pup to sometimes become over-aroused and nothing else works except a minute or two in a crate, playpen, or another area just to calm them down. You’re doing the right thing in this situation.

      When teaching bite inhibition it can feel like 2 steps forward, 1 step back but it’s still progress. And since we’re retraining a very natural behavior, it does take time.

      There is also a phenomenon in dog training known as an “extinction burst” where the behavior we’re working to recondition seems to get worse before it becomes extinct. This is often where folks feel like they should change tactics and what they are doing is not working. When in fact, they have almost reached their goal.

      It might also be worthwhile observing when your puppy becomes so over-aroused that she begins nipping at heels. Once you’ve pin-pointed what triggers this and when it happens most frequently you can interrupt her before she begins by either redirecting to something more appropriate by practicing a nose target or two. Or even calmly giving her a few moments in her crate to bring down her arousal level.

      Keep doing what you’re doing now, you’re doing great and in time she’ll have mastered the concept of gentle.

      Hope this helps set your mind at ease that you are doing exactly what needs to be done! 🙂

  • Megan Hertzig

    Thanks for this great information. I’m starting today with the Bridge with my 8 week old GS mix. She is getting pretty good with the Nose Targeting.
    My question is what to do/say when she gets things (like the pee pads or the blanket on top of her crate) and she wants to play tug with them. How to remove without seeming like you are initiating play?

    • Hi Megan,

      Thanks for reaching out with your question.

      I’m so pleased to hear that your pup is responding so well to the bite inhibition games! 🙂

      The easiest way to remove the items you would prefer her not to play with and also not make it feel like you’re initiating play is through redirection. You can employ redirection in a few ways. You can redirect to a toy by tossing it away from the item you’re wanting to remove. However, this might spark the idea that you are initiating play with another toy.

      If you are not wanting to initiate play with another toy, you could redirect with a single treat away from the item you’re trying to remove. And then, of course, there’s the trusty nose targeting that your puppy is already experienced with. Simply move your hand far enough away from the item and ask for touch as a way to redirect while you remove the item.

      I hope this helps! 🙂

  • Annie

    Hi Gabriella, We have a gsd cross (there is collie in him, but he would be majority gsd). He is 4 months old when we adopted him from a rescue centre. His first 3 months was being shut in a shed with his siblings, and they had an extremely harrowing start to life. He is a clean boy, and always greets you with a cuddle and giving his paw so the good nature is there, and he sleeps all night, and goes potty very well. I have read some of your articles which I have found very interesting and enlightening. Though I am hoping you can advise….he tends to take the head staggers every now and then, and rolls about the floor growling and then he goes for my hand. Not sure if this is related to his teething, as he came to us in full blown teething mod and no training at all. Also we have two other dogs, which all seems to be working well together. The new pup seems to be taken with our middle boy who is gsd/golden retriever cross (bobbi), but a problem with this is Bobbi is trying to draw the pup into play, which is not good for training puppy as he just wants to chase Bobbi. Would it be best to train puppy on his own before we allow play with the big boys? We knew we would have a bit of a job considering his wee start in life, but any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Loved the idea of a puppy digging area, as pup is trying to dog holes in the garden. thank you for any help/advise.

    • Hi Annie!

      Thanks for your question!

      The behavior you described could very well be from teething. Rubbing faces is something all my dogs did intermittently during teething. And if he’s been checked over by a vet recently and has a clean bill of health, I wouldn’t worry about the behavior. But if you have any concerns, definitely have him checked over.

      Although I definitely would redirect him to an appropriate chew toy when he’s going for your hand. And also consider incorporating the nose targetting and build-a-bridge games in this article to help him learn that human limbs are not for biting and nipping.

      I also have a Shollie (GSDxCollie) and I know they are highly intelligent, high drive and sensitive dogs. And they are easily distracted, especially when they are so young. So I do think it’ll be a good idea to train your young pup separately from Bobbi and then after a period of working, they can have fun together. When my crew was younger I trained them separately.

      Now I do most training with them together but there are times when I separate and do individual work, depending on what I’m teaching. When I do separate training I like to offer the dog I’m not working with something that will keep them entertained. I like to use a dog Pyramid for this because it takes some concentration and work so I have time to work with the other dog and everyone is happy! You can read about the dog pyramid I use here.

      I hope this is helpful. Feel free to drop any other questions in the comments, I’m always around and happy to help. 🙂

  • Sarah-May

    My GSD is 10 weeks, previously I’ve owned the sloths of the dog world, labs! I researched GSDs well and carefully picked a breeder with only one bitch who raised the puppies inside. On collecting puppy the breeder stated she is learning no and if she bites tap her nose and say no. I decided against this and went for the ouch/turn away method. Behaviour increased, at the breeders request I added a firm NO and disengagement… barking and increased biting was the response. I took her too a trainer and they said NO TAPPING NO SAYING NO NO OUCHING…. make like a tree, arms crossed, sit on feet disengage. Vet agrees. Breeder keeps telling me I’m creating an aggressive dog, trainer states I was given an aggressive dog…. round and round I go! I’m so very confused! BUT I’m having the most success with teaching touch, positive reward, replacement with toys and being a tree…. but in the back of my head and my emails is the breeder insisting I say NO. :’(… I’m almost ready to rehome him

    • Hi Sarah-May,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience.

      I have to say I’m 100% in agreement with your trainer on all fronts. The whole idea of tapping a dog on the nose and saying the word “no” makes no sense to me. And the results you’ve had from this is a clear indication that it doesn’t teach a dog anything. Except ramping up and reinforcing the behaviors we’re trying to un-train.

      I think it’s way more important to teach dogs what we do want and just ignoring the behaviors (acting like a tree) we don’t want or employing redirection methods as you have been with toys. Because giving those unwanted behaviors any kind of attention (like tapping the nose and saying “no”) is in fact reinforcing the behavior.

      You’ve already had marked success with the guidance from your trainer and using games like touch (which is an excellent way to teach a pup that human limbs are out of bounds btw).

      Keep the good stuff like acting like a tree, nose touch, redirecting to toys and positive reinforcement. I know it’s a trying time when teaching bite inhibition and it’s hard to bite our lips when we have broken skin, torn clothes and everything that comes with puppy bite inhibition. Keep in mind she’s only 10 weeks old and needs time to learn this new skill. But if you keep it positive as you have been and using fun force-free ways to teach her what you want, you’ll see the results soon enough.

      Also, I always like to mention there’s something called an extinction burst in dog training which in a nutshell means the behavior sometimes (not always) gets a little worse before it goes away. I like to mention this to folks because it often happens and then people think they’re not making headway when in fact they are about to achieve their goal with the behavior.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to drop any other questions you have in the comments section. always happy to help! 🙂

  • Carrie

    I have a 3 month old GSD and when I say No to him he begins barking and even starting to snip at me showing his teeth.. Example he was loose heading towards the road I yelled No bear and kept saying it until I approach him telling him to come here..I went to pick him up saying No and started barking at me showing me his teeth…What should I do about this..I’m scared if this continues when he gets bigger it wont be a good thing he could hurt me…

    • Hi Carrie,

      Thanks for your question.

      Dog’s have a keen knack for reading our body language, tone of voice and the overall energy we give off in any given situation. Bear probably doesn’t know what “no” means, but picked up tension. And that’s most likely the reason he snipped and showed his teeth. not out of aggression, but rather a moment where he felt tension but was not sure why. It makes sense since he was heading for the road, and I’d be tense too if it was one of my dogs heading for the road. Thankfully, you got Bear to stop.

      But of course, it’s not the ideal way to go forward because, in future, Bear might ignore you and keep heading for the road which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Since Bear is still such a young pup, you have time on your side to teach a solid recall while he’s still absorbing everything like a sponge.

      I highly recommend looking into a dog training program that I’ve used successfully for all my pups and rescues. It will guide you in taking Bear from the very basics to the most advanced training. And this includes the all-important, life-saving recall.

      I’ve written about the program and my experience with it. And I had the honor of interviewing the dog trainer, Adrienne who developed this program. The program is unique because it uses fun games to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence and in so doing, teaching them what we want more of – better recall, calm behaviors, less barking etc).

      You can read more about the program and my experiences with it here. I found it to be an excellent way to teach any dog of any age, and the best part is once Bear has gone through this program the things he learns will spill into other areas of his life.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m always around and happy to help. 🙂

  • TysonT

    Hi, my GSD is 15 weeks old. He is great around me, sits, lays down, follows me, etc. The issue is, he nips and mouths my son who is 8yrs old. My son helps feed, give him water as well. When my GSD has a leash on, he is OK with my son. When my GSD is off leash running in the house, he jumps on my son and mouth’s him when he walks by or sits on the couch. My GSD also does this sometimes to my wife and two daughters. This only happens if I am not home or if I am not paying attention. When this happens where i am around, I step in between my GSD and kids/wife and he stops. Any suggestions/thoughts/recommendation?

    • Hi Tyson,

      Thanks for your comment.

      At 15 weeks your puppy is still learning the rules of engagement where humans and mouthing is concerned. This is the perfect time to start bite inhibition training.

      Stepping in like you are is good. But it means he actually practices the behavior first, and ideally, you want him to not practice it. And it’s a type of social pressure which can make some dogs feel uncomfortable.

      The first thing I recommend is to put a management system in place. This is only temporary to help your puppy not practice the behavior while you’re teaching him what you do want, in this case, a soft mouth. My go-to for a puppy is tethering. This is simply having him on a leash and I usually tether to myself. So the puppy moves when I move and gets to stay a part of the family instead of being isolated. Tethering is also great for potty training.

      Then I’d definitely start working on the build-a-bridge game and the nose targeting game. These are excellent tools to teach bite inhibition in a fun and force-free way. Once you’ve started working with your pup on this, I suggest getting your wife to play these games too. And if your daughters are older they can also practice this. For your 8-year-old, I would only let him practice once your pup is a little older and has learned to have a softer mouth.

      It will take some time to achieve a soft mouth and it will take calm management. It’s a normal puppy behavior but it’s totally possible to teach a dog to have a soft mouth, but it won’t happen overnight.

      If you’re keen to take your puppy from pre-school learning to Einstein and in the process teach him exactly which behaviors you love and want more of, check out the dog training program I recommend and use for all my dogs. It uses games to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence and teaches them to give us more behaviors we want and over time eliminates what we don’t want. You can read more about it and my personal experiences with the program here.

      I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions, I’m always around and happy to help. 🙂

  • Cynthia

    Hi Gabriella,
    My brother and i recently just got a gs puppy about 3 weeks ago, he is 3 months old and we have literally tried everything to get him to stop biting, but nothing has worked so far we just tried the hand one where he smells/licks it and he did really well. We are going to be reading about the clicking training you have because we feel we need to try EVERYTHING and not give in on just letting him bite, because his biting force has become worse and he bites harder. So any tips you have for us will be very much appreciated!!
    Thank you so much!!
    – Cynthia & Joel

    • Hi Cynthia and Joel!

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s great to hear you’re going to work on clicker training! It’s a super way to train dogs because it’s kind and force-free. Try the games in this article to help with bite inhibition training. My go-to games are the build-a-bridge and nose targeting. These work especially well for young pups and prevents them from getting too revved up.

      I highly recommend checking out a dog training program I’ve used extensively to train all my dogs. It’s unique because it uses games as a way to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence and so teach them the behaviors we want more of. This naturally causes the behaviors we don’t want to disappear. Essentially replacing the unwanted behaviors with wanted behaviors in a fun way.

      I’ve written extensively on the program, my experiences and also had the privilege of interviewing the trainer who developed the program. You can read more about it all here.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m always around and happy to help. 🙂

  • Gabby

    my dog is 12 weeks and he doesn’t care if he hurts anyone he WONT stop and when I tell him to stop he talks back to me by barking back i really don’t know what to do i’ve tried pinching his neck i’ve tried the thumb under his tongue trick but nothing seems to work he is too young to start teething and that’s the excuse my brothers have been using and he is neutered while that calmed him down a bit it’s not enough he is biting your ankles trying to rip your pants if you’re wearing them and it just hurts when he bites us sometimes he even makes up bleed

    • Hi Gabby,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The techniques you mention are common advice, but as you have experienced, they don’t work. He will start actively losing his teeth from 14 weeks, so he’s probably already started feeling the irritating pain although he’s not started losing his milk teeth.

      Biting and nipping is not only about teething, but it’s also the way puppies explore their world. Your boy is still very young and his behavior is totally normal for his age. But of course, it’s no fun for you and it’s something you need to address.

      Have you tried any of the games in this article?

      I highly recommend the build-a-bridge and nose targeting games to teach bite inhibition. The tug game is for dogs that are a little older. You could try to divert his attention by playing a game of fetch, but with some high drive puppies, this could rev them up even more and make nipping/biting behavior more intense.

      Definitely start using the bridge and targeting games on a daily basis. Training bite inhibition is tough but it’s totally possible. Remember, you’re teaching him to inhibit something that’s totally natural for him – that takes time. Keep calm, be persistent and have patience with pupper.

      Let me know how you get on with the games, I’m always around and happy to help.


  • Eleanor

    We have a two year old German Shepherd wolf mix, who is normally awesome, but when she gets excited (I come home, we go out so she can run around, etc.), she gets very nippy. It’s all in fun play to her, but she’s a big dog, and has nipped pretty hard in the past. She’s also just very mouthy in general. She doesn’t have any issue with being touched though, and she usually bumps you with her nose as a precursor to the biting.
    My current theory is that she never learned any sort of bite inhibition as a puppy. She was rescued from a drug house and I know her mom lives there, but I have no idea if she had any siblings, or what happened to them. She’s pretty shy, and was abused there. I can’t imagine they would have taught her much, and from what I can tell, her mom is incredibly aggressive and destructive.
    Anyways, any help would be amazing, I’m a bit at a loss here. Thanks!

    • Hi Eleanor,

      Thanks for your comment and question.

      Since she’s already practicing a nose touch as a precursor to nipping I’d go with that training as a way to start teaching bite inhibition. If she’s easily excited the tug or fetch games might just rev her up more. But the nose touching game is pretty chilled out and you can make it more or less exciting by how fast you move, your body language and your voice.

      The Build-a-Bridge game might also work, although since she’s so big I don’t recommend sitting on the floor. you could try sitting on a low stool or table with your legs stretched out as described in the article.

      But ultimately I’d go with the nose touch game and practice it as much as possible to teach her that human limbs are out of bounds for nipping and biting.

      Let me know how you get on with the training, and drop any other questions in the comments. I’m happy to help.

    • Eleanor Powell

      Hey Gabriella!
      It’s been a while since I commented this, but I wanted to share that she’s gotten MUCH MUCH better. She’s much more respectful with her jaws, and doesn’t jump as much either. I can play with her the way she likes and not worry about her nipping too hard or getting too excited.
      I am a little worried about her mental stimulation, though. I’ve gotten several brain toys and things to occupy her with, like a snuffle mat and so forth, but a lot of the time, she’s just laying around. I try to walk her at least twice a day, with one of those being a longer walk with a longer leash. Usually she gets three walks a day: Two twenty minute ones and one longer, but aside from that, she’s not really interested in anything, and seems very bored. I’ve noticed she doesn’t seem to want to go back in the house when we get back from walks, and I certainly want her to be happy. But I can’t play with her all the time, and most of the toys she has aren’t things I can leave her alone with, since she’s still learning to play nicely with them and not tear them apart. She gets bored of a game very quickly, and I’m running out of things to do with her. Any advice you have would be great, she deserves more than she’s getting, and I’d love to make that better. Thank-you so much!

    • Hi Eleanor,

      I’m so pleased things are moving in the right direction and that the bite inhibition training is making a difference!

      An adult dog can sleep up to 18 hours, depending on their age. But the average is 12 to 14 hours of sleep for an adult dog. Mostly at night since they fit in with our routines but the remainder is napping throughout the day.

      It sounds like she’s getting loads of physical exercise and mental stimulation too, from your comment I can tell you’re meeting her needs thoroughly in this department. If you want to give her something to entertain her when you’re not actively able to engage but still supervise somewhat, like those times when she’s awake and chilling, you could look into something like a stuffed Kong or even a Goughnuts stick.

      These kinds of toys are designed for chewing and are a good option to offer when a dog is still learning to play nice with toys. The Goughnuts range is a particular favorite of ours. You can read about the Goughnuts and other robust chew toys here.

      Sounds like you’re doing an excellent job of raising a happy well-balanced girl!

    • Eleanor Powell

      Thank-you so much Gabriella! I’m super relieve to hear you think that. I’ll certainly look into Goughnuts, they sound great.
      Thanks again!!

    • Hi Eleanor,

      Absolutely! You can reach out to me anytime you have questions, I’m always around!

      Happy training! 🙂

  • Linda Mathews

    Our puppy is 10 weeks and we’ve had him since 3 days old. His prev owner placed he & his 5 siblings in a taped up box in a dumpster, but luckily all but one lived. Authorities found the jerk & he was arrested and Mama dog confiscated & brought to us to foster w/ babies. The siblings & Mama were adopted out to new homes 2 wks ago (in <1 hour!) and we’re so happy to have him to ourselves now to love unconditionally! (Me, hubs, 13yo daughter) But he won’t let us cuddle or love on him! All touch besides “good boy” head/jaw scruff earns immediate biting! 🙁 We’ve been forced to avoid touching him 80% of his awake time and it’s breaking my heart- bc we want to love on him & bond, & bc I know no touch is bad for his socializing too! (He also had an undescended 2 wks ACO at Neuter so we’re careful not to pull on him, pick him up, or play tug/chase for now. Please can you offer advice? As a rescuer I’ve had a few bites and I do NOT like my own doing it.

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your comment. And for being such a superstar in helping out Mama and her babies! I can see why you feel heartbroken at not being able to give the physical touch to your pup that you’d like and know that he needs. But all is not lost. See my recommendations below and work slowly at the pace he dictates, he’ll come around.

      The first thing I highly recommend is to start with clicker training. It’s a force-free and science-based way to train and communicate with dogs. I’ve found it an invaluable way of working with any dog but especially my rescues. If you’re new to this or need a refresher, here’s an article that might help.

      I also recommend using the nose touch and build-a-bridge game in this article on biting. Those are my go-to games for teaching bite inhibition. Also, feel free to look into a dog training program I recommend and use for all my dogs. And since he can’t play fetch or be redirected in another way right now

      I love this program because it uses games to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence and this filter into naturally altering their behaviors in a positive way. I’ve written a full review of the program and had the privilege of interviewing the dog training who developed this method of working with dogs. You can read the full thing and the interview here.

      Feel free to drop me more questions in the comments, or email me if you prefer.

      Chat soon,

  • Yaz

    Hi Gabriella,
    I’ve got a 3 months gsd for about 3 weeks now and she is starting to be a problem. Due to inexperience when she got used to us and started biting/nipping and jumping we tried to get her off of us and she found it rewarding. We work a lot and during the day she stays with the maid, and every time we get home she is a little bit more aggressive with the biting and jumping, at a point I’m getting scared to play with her because all she wants is to bite and jump over.
    I’ve tried to teach her to calm down by giving treats and the order calm, but now she bites on purpose to hear the command and keeps expecting treats (which I don’t carry with me everyday). How can I stop this? She’s growing bigger and stronger and more difficult every day.

    PS: Where we live we don’t have clickers, I would have to import one from the internet and will take its time.

    • Hi Yaz,

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      You can use anything that makes a click sound as a clicker. If you have one of those clicky pens like a BIC or even an old Parker pen that will work just fine.

      Your pup is only 12 weeks old which is still very young and has a lot of learning ahead of her. I highly recommend starting these bite inhibition games with her. My personal choices for pups as young as yours are the build-a-bridge game and the nose touch game. Start with those 2 games and use them interchangeably in training sessions.

      And if she’s cottoned onto doing the unwanted behavior to get a treat, I’d definitely start introducing clicker training as soon as possible. This way you can show her what you do want and not have to focus on what you don’t want. Dogs will do more of what gets them positive results.

      It’s also essential that a dog knows other behaviors because this encourages them to offer a behavior they know you like and one that gets them rewarded. So definitely teach her a sit as a starting point.

      Teaching her a focus behavior is also a great tool since she’ll learn to look to you for guidance and it’s also useful to help her snap out of a biting or jumping frenzy. You can learn about the focus command here, and also about why dogs don’t listen sometimes.

      For jumping behavior, check out this article on how to stop her jumping on you, family members and guests.

      Also, if she’s that over excited and in a frenzy when you get home from work it could be due to her not getting enough stimulation when you’re away. Is there any way you can ask the person she’s with during the day to spend some time playing with her? It won’t take much play since she’s still so young and will sleep a lot of the time, but 5 minutes here and there will make a big difference in stimulating her mentally.

      A simple puzzle game with a muffin pan, plastic cups and a few treats will create a fun puzzle game. Hide the treats in the muffin pan and cover with the cups. Then let her ferret out the treats. 3 rounds or so of this spread over the day will help your pup immensely. Just keep in mind that this game must be supervised and she shouldn’t be left alone with the plastic cups.

  • debra

    I have ayear and a half old adopted about a week ago shewas ok for the first week but now she is jumping up and biting hard She thinks this is playing Now I am afraid to go past the patio because she wants to play Is she too old to learn differently or does she need a behaviorist

    • Hi Debra,

      Thanks for your comment and question.

      I usually recommend a behaviorist if folks are not able to get a certain behavior under control or if there is serious aggression.

      From your description, it sounds like your girl had very little or no training wherever she was before, which is not uncommon in rescue dogs. Your girl is definitely not too old to learn! And she’s lucky to have you in her life because clearly, you want the best for her.

      I highly recommend getting involved in clicker training right away to start teaching your girl what you want. Here’s an article to get you started on clicker training. It’s science-based, force-free and above all fun!

      Then I also recommend highly a dog training program that I have used for all my dogs. It is different from other programs since it focuses on tapping into our dog’s natural intelligence and uses games to teach them to live with us in harmony.

      The program will take your girl from pre-school (the basics) all the way through to Einstein (tidying up her own toys). I have written a full review of the program and also had the pleasure of interviewing the dog trainer who developed the program. You can learn more about the program and the trainer in this article. And it’s all online, so you can start right away and train anywhere you like.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m always around to help where I can. 🙂

  • Marilyn

    Hey! Thank you so much on the advice so she got crate trained! However I’m worried about potty training. So she doesn’t go inside her crate & she hasn’t had an accident but I’m afraid she will forget that the house is a no potty zone if I leave her out of her crate when I’m not home. Her bitting issue is still there & now she’s been barking so say she bites me I will stop play time but then she will start barking and charge at me haha. Or the other thing she will do is forget about me and start chewing the carpet :(. Any ideas on why she’s doing this should I continue to ignore her & will the barking continue?

    • Hi Marilyn,

      The crate is a great way to do something like a time out but in a positive way if she starts biting during play. The idea is not to isolate her so I still like to give pups the ability to see, hear and interact with the family even if they are in their crate. The crate is just a tool to help her lower her threshold so that she’s not biting like a land shark!

      Check out this article on thresholds that’ll give you an idea of how they work.

      So if she becomes overexcited, simply lead her to her crate and let her go inside. Then shut the door. Don’t reprimand her or even say no. Just calmly let her into her crate. As soon as she’s calmed down, open the door and initiate play again. This way the charging behavior will not be reinforced and like I mentioned, a time out can be done in a positive and calm way. It is super important that she already sees the crate as a good thing and a safe place before you do this. Or she will see it as a punishment.

      Really work to cement the idea in her mind that the crate is a good thing. If you’re putting her in there and the barking doesn’t stop, take a few steps back in the crate training to where she’s not barking and work forward from there.

      If she starts to chew on the carpet and forgets about you, you can either draw her attention to a safe and appropriate chew toy or initiate another game to draw her attention away from the carpet.

      The likelihood of her messing in the house and chewing stuff if she’s out of her crate when you’re not home is high since she’s still a small pup. So I recommend getting someone to pop into your home and let her out of her crate for a play and potty run. A trustworthy neighbor, friend, family member or you can even consider hiring a local dog walker. Young pups can’t hold their bladders for very long so she’ll likely have accidents in her crate if she’s not let out regularly.

      Once she’s older things will be easier, but in the beginning, she will need to be let out on a regular basis.

  • zack

    so I found a gsd puppy that someone had dumped on the side of a bridge. I could not let the puppy just stay there so I deided to bring her home and make her mine. She nibbles a lot, but hasn’t had to big of a potty inside problem. I just wanted to know if you had any tips for a puppy that has been dumped and if I should treat it any differently than a pup you would buy. Ive had her for three days now and she is starting to recognize her name. she sits pretty much on command now, just having a little trouble with the nibbling and chewing on things.
    thanks in advance for any tips or tricks that you may have for me. any would be appreiciated.

    • Hi Zack,

      Thanks for reaching out with your questions.

      All aspects of raising a puppy are important whether they are rescues or bought from a breeder, from basic training to socialization. But in the case of a rescue like your girl, it’s super important that you socialize her.

      Judging from her life before you, she probably had little to no stimulation, socialization or training. And there’s a good chance that she had some bad experiences with humans and probably other dogs too. It’ll be almost impossible for you to know what kind of bad experiences, so your best bet is to socialize, socialize and more socialization with people, other animals, and situations. Socializing any puppy is super important, but especially for a rescue.

      Once she’s had her vaccinations and she’s ready to be taken out into public you can start (your vet will tell you how long to wait after vaccinations). But in the meantime, you can invite friends over to your home for her to meet and greet. Later you can start introducing her to other dogs and animals. And even taking short trips to the vet just to say “hello” so she can get used to other folks and their pets and of course the vet.

      To help curb biting and nibbling try the build-a-bridge game with her which you’ll find in this article. It’s my favorite way to teach pups that human limbs are off limits for biting.

      And if you’re interested in following a complete training course then check out my review of Brain Training for Dogs. It’s a program I use for all my pups and even rescue adult dogs. I love this program because it’s not about getting a dog to respond like a robot. But rather to stimulate their natural intelligence to learn the behaviors we like. I highly recommend the program, it’s my go-to for training. And I also did an in-depth interview with the dog trainer who developed the program.

      You can also check out my article on potty training to help keep up the good work she’s already doing with learning the potty training rules.

      Crate training is a great training tool to have. Not just to keep her from chewing when you’re not able to supervise her, but also, dog’s are den animals and do need a place where they can go and chill which makes a crate ideal. Check out this ultimate guide on crate training. It’ll give you all the steps you need to successfully crate train her, if you wish.

      Hope this helps. Drop me a comment if you have any other questions.

      Happy Training!

  • Marilyn

    She usually sleeps with me. & whenever she needs to pee or poop she usually gets off the bed and goes on the pad but last night up to now she just wants to bite me she’ll get up and will barely play with her toys and if I don’t give her attention she’ll whine and bark at me which at night and early morning I can’t have. Eventually after a little she’ll go back to sleep but she wasn’t doing this before and it take a awhile before she goes back to sleep she’ll bark and whine for a little and will want to play with my hands or hair or even my face.

    I was scared about a crate because of the fact that she could cry a lot or extensively. If I were to train her on a crate how often and long would she be in there? Is it too long when she starts to Yelp loudly even if she’s in there for 5min.

    How often should I feed her as well, 3 or 4 times a day since she is growing? I want to put her on a set Schedule.

  • Marilyn

    Thank You so much for the response! Usually she sleeps with me I know that could be a bad habit but It’s comforting to me and her I wouldn’t mind having her grow old sleeping with me as well. However I understand if I must I’ll crate train her. That being said she wakes me up at night to go potty and she often jumps off the bed and goes on her pad but last night she would go and start whining and barking after. I would put her back on the bed but she started biting me and usually she just sleeps off or bites her toy to sleep but she didn’t go to sleep after 2hrs and she did it twice at night.

    My fear of crate training is that she will be crying a lot or excessively but if that’s my best option for the night time then I will I just feel like this night was different as she usually behaves well at night. I was worried something was wrong.

    I also haven’t had time to put her on a set schedule but today she’s starting a schedule. Would you recommend feeding her 3 or 4 times a day and during what times are best? How often should I play with her? & lastly if I train her to be on a crate how often should she be allowed in a crate and when is too much, because when I tried teaching her to stay in a corner section there would be times where she will cry extensively.

    This is my first time having a puppy so I’m always going on google for questions like these but if you can help me out I would highly appreciate it (:!

    • Hi Marilyn,

      It’s totally okay if you want her to sleep with you. Mine are free to get on my bed whenever they feel like it. For a nap or a cuddle. But they have 4 different beds all around the house where they like to go too. I think keeping options available where sleeping is concerned is important.

      Also, keep in mind that she’s going to live a long life and in 5 years from now, your situation might look different and you might want her to enjoy sleeping on her own bed or den. Speaking of dens, dogs are den animals and do need a place where they can go that’s theirs, so to speak.

      One reason why she might be waking during the night right now could be due to you moving while sleeping and this wakes her and then she wants to play.

      In general though, I like crate training pups for various reasons. Like for example, if you need to travel with your dog via car or plane, having them crated for the journey is safe and also necessary if flying. A dog that’s crate trained is also easier to help through any kind of surgery like a spay in the future since post surgery always requires limited movements for the first while.

      If you’re going to go the crate training route, I recommend starting over a weekend and letting your housemates know what you’re doing so that they can be prepared for any whining that might occur in the first few nights. If you follow the crate training guide I shared it shouldn’t take too long. But make peace with some broken sleep, to begin with. Remember to make the crate a fun thing for her where good things happen so start feeding her inside her crate, give her high value treats in her crate and fun toys too. But the guide will take you through the training step-by-step.

      You’re absolutely right in wanting to get her on a set schedule. This is important when it comes to food, sleep, play, exercise, potty training and all things puppy related.

      If you haven’t already dipped your fingers into clicker training check out this guide on how to get started, it’s the best kind of training since it’s kind and force free. And you can also check out my guide on potty training if you need help there.

      The first step I recommend from here is getting her into clicker training. They learn what a clicker means really fast, so in a day or 2 you can start introducing her to the crate with the door open, doing fun things as I mentioned above. By this coming weekend, you’ll be ready to start crate training her.

      Drop me any questions in the comments as you go along with the training. 🙂

      Happy training!

  • Marilyn

    Hey so I have 2 month old puppy and she’s starting to bite everything that she sees. I know is a teething stage and when ever she bites me I give her a toy or just Yelp but that has gotten her more excited and she starts to bark. This is however the first night that she wakes me up twice biting everything. I tried to give her a toy but she would bark at me and go for my skin. She wouldn’t stop this and my main issue is she started barking and if I stop playing with her she bark more. I live with housemates who aren’t sure about having her around but I don’t want to let go of her. So I’m trying my best to train her are there any tips on why she did this last night? Eventually she slept after she chewed on one specific edible toy . But I’m not sure if these toys are safe for her. I just want to know how I can make her stop barking when I reject my hands from her or when I decide not to play with her in the middle of the night. I know waiting it out helps but I can’t at 2am. I also want her to learn to stop bitting everything she Can including the carpet.

    • Hi Marilyn,

      Thanks for your question.

      I understand how important it is to you to get your puppy to learn the right way to do things, especially since you’re sharing a house with other folks.

      I have a few recommendations that will help you.

      The first thing is not to try the yelping method when teaching bite inhibition. I don’t recommend it anymore because in most cases it just gets pups more revved up. Using a toy to redirect like you have been doing can work. But it can also get puppies more excited and have the opposite effect. Since your puppy is still so young, I’d avoid trying the tug method to redirect from biting. This is because her teeth and jaw are still too young for playing tug.

      The method I use with all my pups and even older rescues is the build-a-bridge game which you can find in this article above. It’s a great way to teach a puppy that human limbs are out of bounds. And it’s a calm game so it’s not likely to get her overexcited.

      If she’s waking during the night have you taken her out for a potty run? Young pups can’t keep their bladders for too long. They are also easily distracted. So she might be waking up to go to the toilet and then get distracted with wanting to play. You could try taking her out for a toilet trip and then back to sleep. Usually, once they have been outside for a toilet break, they nod off to sleep after.

      I also recommend looking into crate training her. This way she’ll be in a safe space where she can’t chew anything if she does wake up during the night. You can check out this guide on crate training for much more information. Crate training is also great to help with potty training and to keep her out of trouble (like chewing carpets) when you’re not able to directly supervise.

      The best way to deal with chewing everything is to directly supervise her when she’s roaming free and keep things like shoes, phones and anything else that’s not puppy proof out of her reach. And to offer puppy safe chew toys. You mentioned that you’re not sure if the toy she has is safe, so this article on the best toys for German Shepherd Puppies will help you find safe toys that you can trust.

      For training in general so that your puppy and housemates are all happy, I highly recommend checking out an online dog training program I use for all my puppies and adult dogs. I have written a full review and also had the privilege of doing an interview with the dog trainer who developed the program.

      I love this training program because it’s not about teaching a dog to be a robot but rather to stimulate their innate intelligence through games and so teach them how to live in harmony with humans. I’ve found that dogs learn much faster this way. The method is through clicker training which is a force-free and science-based way to train dogs.

      You can check out my full review and the great interview with Adrienne here.

      I hope this is helpful. If you have other questions, drop them in the comments, I’m happy to help. 🙂

  • Blake


    I have a 4 month old GSD and when I try to play the “build a bridge’ game he just jumps all over me and tries to bite my arms, hands and ears. I’ve had him for atleast 2 months now and am yet to see him calm enough to be able to play this. He also whines non stop when I leave him, even when in still in sight.
    Do you have any advise to lessen the whining and how to play these games with a overly energetic dog?
    (he is walked twice a day and played with for a fair chunk of my evenings after work).

    Cheers, Blake

    • Hi Blake,

      You’ll need to start working on impulse control with your pup. He needs to learn that when he offers a behavior you like, he gets something good. This can be tricky with a busy pup. So the first thing you can try is to initiate the bridge game after a walk. Give it some time after the walk for him to chill out and then calmly initiate the game. If he’s still too energetic then or when you’re sitting on the floor, try sitting on a low chair or table and then follow the steps in the description.

      You can also find other ideal times when he’s calmer. You’ll need to observe him and see when he’s the most relaxed. Most dog’s are really chilled in the afternoon times and busiest in the mornings and early evenings.

      If he’s whining the only thing you can do is ignore it and only give attention once the whining stops. If you give attention when he whines, he’ll keep doing it. Teach him that he gets your attention when there’s no whining. It’s tough to start with because there will be whining and you’ll need to ignore it. Of course make sure that he’s toileted, fed, watered and has safe toys to keep him busy. That way you can eliminate him whining due to a need.

      Check out this guide on crate training which will help him get over the whining phase.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • David

    I have a 3 1/2 month old all black German Shepherd puppy, names Duke. I am having a small issue with him wanting to bite at towels when wiping up accidental pees or poos and also biting on clean clothes on the floor as we are organizing them into piles. I have a clicker and some treats, but he is very stern n this, with some obedience. HELP !!!

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for reaching out with your question.

      My boy used to chase and try to bite brooms, the vacuum cleaner and mops, so I know where you’re at.

      My advice is to start teaching your boy a solid ‘leave it’ along with other behaviors like sit, down and wait. This way you can control situations like the ones you described.

      I highly recommend a training program I used for all my dogs and still do today. The reason I recommend this specific one is because it shows you exactly how to teach the kinds of behaviors I mentioned and a lot more through games. And the trainer, Adrienne, who developed this method is also one of my dog training heroes.

      Check out my full review of the program and an insider interview I did with Adrienne. If you have any questions about the program, please drop them in the comments section, I’m always happy to help.

  • Lynn

    We have a 7 mo Shepard puppy. Yelping like a puppy when he bites too hard makes him more excited and he jumps and bites more. Sharp NO, same. Turning your back and walking away helps. Sometimes.

    For awhile, I kept bitter apple on my hands. Not much help.

    This biting is recent behavior. We are trying to understand why, so we can fix it. It got worse after he was at the vet a full day to get a recent limp evaluated. (Panosteitis diagnosed). They gave him Rimadyl. The next day, he was feeling much better. Very active/hyper. He got me, not an attack but jumped up and caught my hand, I did not realize how badly until I looked. 9 stitches. It’s not a puncture, it’s a tear on the back of my hand. Literally looks like an L shaped, knife cut. I thought maybe it was a bad reaction to Rimadyl but it’s still happening. Something seems to have switched in him since that day at the vet.

    We have done some (not enough) puppy training with a trainer. (Unexpectedly one one income right now but will do one on one ASAP). We do socialization with other dogs (and people) every Saturday with the trainer. I won’t do dog parks!) Neither trainer nor vet see any concerning behavior in those situations. We are very confused right now. Vet won’t neuter until 12 months. Will that help? Is this a phase? I also see him getting suddenly possessive. In the yard, I cant pull weeds or trim trees when hes out.

    When he has another flare of pano, which is likely, I am also concerned about how to burn energy in a stir crazy puppy.

    Any ideas what could be going on? Something at the vet? It’s something other than pano? Any ideas on stopping this in a dog that typical approaches dont work with?

    He is a beautiful and very smart dog.

    Thank you

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you have a lot going on there, so I’ll try to answer each point individually.

      Firstly, yes, pups do go through phases called fear phases. And it sounds like he’s going through the one the one which is around 6 to 14 months. The best thing is to keep working with him.

      I totally agree with the vet that you should only neuter at 12 months. Their hormones play a big role in their all over adult health and development. I neuter at 24 months.

      His behavior could also be caused by him not feel well from the pano. You could ask your vet if they could recommend a product to protect his tummy from the Rimadyl. Rimadyl is a Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory and it can sometimes cause tummy cramps just like it does in some humans. It might not be the case here, but it’s worth finding out if there’s something you can use to protect his tummy and gut.

      I don’t recommend the yelping method or saying ‘no’ when it comes to bite inhibition training because like you have experienced, it does cause excitement.

      I highly recommend you use the games in this article to teach bite inhibition. You can try the build-a-bridge game as a starter. But since he’s already bigger, you might need to sit on a chair or sofa and not on the floor for this game.

      My other favorite is the nose touch/targeting game which will work well for him since he’s bigger in size. Both of these games are a great way to teach him that human limbs are out of bounds.

      If he does have another flare of the pano, you can use other games to burn energy. I have found that mental stimulation burns more energy and satisfies my dogs more than a physical game of fetch. Our favorites are nose work games, hide-and-seek and puzzle games.

      I recommend a training course called Brain Training for Dogs. It’s what I use for my dogs, I’ve had great success with it. I’ve written a full review of the program which you might want to check out. As a side note, the trainer who developed the program is one of my dog training idols. And there’s a great interview I had with her which is also in the article I wrote.

      You won’t need much to play the games with your boy, most of the items are things you have around the house. I do have puzzle games I bought and use too. And if you’re interested in finding out how they work and what my dogs think, then check out this article. There’s a video I made to show you exactly how I teach my dogs to play puzzle games.

      I think I’ve covered everything, if you have other questions, drop them here in the comments, I’m happy to help. 🙂

  • Darrell

    I recently got a gs pup I’m a first time dog owner having trouble getting her to stop the biting sometimes it’s almost like she’s attacking and not the normal play biting today she even barked she’s only 11 weeks and she also tried viscously to bite me when picked her up please help

    • Hi Darrell,

      Thanks for your question.

      What you’re describing is typical pup behavior. At her age she has no concept of what aggressive or hard biting is. You’re lucky she’s still small and easy to manage while teaching bite inhibition.

      My advice is to start with the bite inhibition games in this article. Focus specifically on the build-a-bridge game to begin with and once she understands that biting human limbs is out of bounds you can start with the nose touch/targeting game.

      Both these games, but especially the bridge game are excellent training tools to teach bite inhibition.

      If you have questions while working through this, feel free to drop a comment here, I’m happy to help.

  • Nicole Chavez

    I have a 12 week old German Shepherd/Rottweiler male . He’s super sweet , loving and a very outgoing personality . He gets the “puppy crazies” when we are playing with him outside , and he will proceed to bite my legs , and to the point it breaks my skin , but he only does this with me ! I am the only person he bites , I try to remain calm as I can and firmly tell him no and offer him his favorite toy , but he will ignore me and continue to grip on my pant leg . I can’t put him in obedience school for another month , so what I can do to help curb this ??

    • Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for your question.

      For now I’d stop with the playing outside just to avoid the “puppy crazies” (which is the perfect way to describe it BTW)!

      Instead use the games in this article to teach your pooch that human limbs are out of bounds. The two that work best for young pups like your boy are the bridge game and the nose touch (targeting) games.

      These are low excitement games. So he’s still getting to play and interact but he’s not going over the threshold into a biting frenzy. If you want to find out more about thresholds check out this article on thresholds and triggers.

      It’ll be good if you have a decent handle on biting before he starts obedience school. Since he’ll be more focused and ready to listen, even around all the other folks and their dogs.

      Enjoy your new pup!

  • Peggy

    Boy seems everyone has same biting problem. It does make you want to give up. It is exhausting. I won’t let my girl out of kitchen. Chewer and biter. Sweet in morning but when play begins she doesn’t know how to stop. She is attending puppy socialization classes but if she doesn’t start listening I am thinking shock collar. Especially before she gets too big and hard to handle. I will try everything but she doesn’t like when I say no. Barks at me and still goes after feet try to put lead on andcshe bites your hand. Crazy

    • Hi Peggy,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience.

      Keeping her confined to a safe space like the kitchen where you can control chewing and she’s still able to socialize is a good idea. She’ll get over the chewing eventually and then she can get more freedom.

      As far as biting goes, puppy socializing is for just that, socializing. She will learn listening skills but to help her learn that biting humans is off limits will take specific training. Of course she’s you pup and I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ll say that a shock collar is only a short term solution and will not fix the problem.

      You’ll likely have much more success teaching her what you do want instead of what you don’t And what you want is to teach her that biting is off limits. The more you reward a good behavior, them more she’ll do that behavior.

      I highly recommend working with her on this using the games I detailed in this article. The bridge game and the nose touch (targeting) game works great to teach pups that even if human limbs are in close proximity, they are off limits to biting.

      All the best, I hope this helps.


  • Abi

    Hi I have had my german shepherd for nearly 2 months Now and she’s 4 months. I have a clicker and have been doing these with her but she’s still biting me a lot. I have tried nearly everything and I have so much patience with her but her teeth are so sharp I’m covered in bits and bruises and scratches. Please help x

    • Hi Abi,

      Thanks for your comment.

      At 4 months it’s still totally normal for a puppy to be biting. Of course it’s something you’re working on retraining but it’s going to take time. Remember that to teach bite inhibition we’re actually training our dogs not to do what comes naturally. Biting and nipping is a natural instinct for them so it will take time and a lot of patience.

      From personal experience I know these games do work, but like I’ve already mentioned it takes time. I highly recommend using the targeting and bridge game. And to avoid the tug and fetch games for now. These last 2 might make your pup more excited than you’d like when training bite inhibition. And you’ll need to consider protecting her young teeth and joints. So definitely continue with the targeting and bridge game.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  • Zule

    I just got a gsp n he does bite quit olot ima try this out hope it works

  • Poonam Bhamgara

    I have a 16 week gsd. She had been the most gentle dog till now. Even now she’s quite obedient. Of lately since a couple of weeks when I train (stay and come) with her after a couple of commands she starts nipping and mouthing my feet and pulling on my pants. I have tried ‘leave’ with treat as a distration, shouting ouch but it doesn’t work. Today she got in a frenzy. I could see she didn’t want to bite me but crazily ran around and towards me and started mouthing me. I just wanted to leave from there but I just stood ground – though quite scared. Somehow I managed to stop her. She settled down next to my feet and started licking them. That’s her way of making up. I didn’t treat her then as wasn’t sure was I rewarding the earlier frenzy or settling in. What should I have done in such a situation and how can I reduce the nipping behaviour? She’s OK with my husband. He doesn’t tolerate any mischief and my son (18) can manage her. We got her as my son had been wanting a gsd for a long time. Any guidance on how to handle such situation will be a great help.

    • Hi Poonam,

      Thanks for your question.

      Your girl sound like she’s super smart and so you can use that to your advantage by raising the criteria in her training. She might be getting rowdy because she’s mastered what you’ve taught her an now she wants something more challenging.

      Because the GSD is such a smart dog they learn quickly and need to be stimulate more otherwise they can get rowdy. So maybe you can work on duration to make things more interesting and challenge her.

      To work on duration is easy. Simply ask for the behavior and then wait before clicking and offering a reward. So you can wait 5 seconds before clicking and rewarding and as she gets better and better at waiting out the 5 seconds you can up the criteria more to say 8 or 10 seconds.

      And from there you can raise the criteria even further to include distance. So to begin with take one step back and if she holds the behavior, click and reward her. Just make sure to reward her in place so in other words you move towards her to reward so that she stays in place. That way she understands that you are rewarding her for staying in place while you move away.

      The other thing I highly recommend is using the games in this article to teach your girl how to interact with human limbs. Even if she’s not nipping at your hubby or son, she still needs to learn that biting and nipping the limbs of any human are out of bounds. since she’s already bigger, if you use the build-a-bridge game it’s better if you sit on a chair and not on the ground. But the game I most recommends since she’s already biger is the nose touch game.

      It really is a super tool to teach bite inhibition an it can be transferred into other skills later. Like fetching slippers, keys an anything else you want. And picking up toys to put them away. And you can even teach her to switch lights on and off or opening doors. It’s a very versatile skill but it’s main purpose is to teach bite inhibition.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Jessica

    Ya my girl Lydia is a real jerk. I’ve got to start training her lol

    • Hi Jessica!

      All the best with the training! It’s a great bonding experience!

  • Shane fowler

    I need advice I recently got a 16month german shepherd.iv had him for just short of 2 weeks we have taken the right steps we have a sign on the door and we warn every visitor he can be temperamental but he’s bit 5 people on the hand puncturing 3 of them.2 in the last 2 days 🙁 he’s not mistreated at all he gets plenty of love and walks.I don’t want to get the dog destroyed what can I do to stop him doing it??

    • Hi Shane,

      My advice is to get started on proper bite inhibition training as soon as possible. Your pup is just feisty like all pups are, but you must get his biting under control.

      Please start by working with the build-a-bridge game. And then also the nose touch games. For now, avoid the tug game because he’s still too young and the fetch game might get him too excited and increase the biting.

      But definitely start with the games I mentioned and work, work, work with him. He’ll learn what he needs to know if you’re constant, persistent and patient.

      Let me know how you get on.


  • Ralf Eidel

    Gabriella, My wife doesn’t play with him to the degree I and he bites her more! Maybe because she doesn’t play as much, LOL. I wouldn’t mind the biting as much, although it has to stop, if he didn’t have those razor sharp puppy teeth!! I involve him in other activities with me such as talking walks, working on my tractor while he plays outside, and taking him with me in my truck. Trying to teach him to go down the basement steps, but not successful so far. All the other GS’s we had did it on their own, every one of them! I tried the treats to coach him to the first step, but he won’t go. He does go up and down the steps on the patio to the yard and house to the garage, but those aren’t as itimidating as those sixteen basement step. Wife said try from the bottom up instead of the top down. We’ll see.

    • Hi Ralf,

      I definitely agree with your wife to start teaching him how to climb steps from the bottom up. It’s much less frightening that way.

      Let me know how you get on.

  • Ralf Eidel

    I have a 4 month old GS puppy. His biting is out of control. He just bit me this morning and ripped a 1/4 to 3/8 inch hole in my hand. He has my wife’s both wrists bit up bad as she had a stroke and it on blood thinners and the bites leave bad red wounds. I’ve tried all the remedies like redirecting toward toys and many more off the web and this website too. Don’t get offended, but I believe that most of you that post positive posts are in the minority because there are a LOT MORE of us that are having NO SUCCESS!!!! This morning I told my wife I’m getting rid of this puppy! We’ve had GS’s for over 30 years and never had one this biting bad!

    • Hi Ralf,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with teaching your pup bite inhibition. And I’m sorry to hear that your pup is hurting your wife too. I have a family member who uses Wafarin and I know how easily bleeding starts and how difficult it is to stop.

      Bite inhibition training is a difficult thing to work through, but I don’t believe folks that have gone through it and have had success are in the minority.

      Redirecting to toys does work, but in most cases I recommend using the build-a-bridge game and also the nose touch game. They are great games for young pups and tend not to rev them up like toys would. And from your description, it’s clear that your puppy hasn’t been taught how to appropriately interact with human limbs. Which the 2 games I suggest are targeted at remedying.

      My question to you is, how long have you spent working with your pup using one of these games? Bite inhibition does not happen over night and takes a lot of time, patience and above all consistency.

      Keep in mind that your puppy is still teething so having safe chew toys available will help. That being said, training is the most important thing when it comes to bite inhibition.

      If you tell me that you’ve worked with your pup using one of these positive games, consistently over a period of time (not just randomly) and at least two or three times a day. And you haven’t let your pup practice any biting behavior in between training session by keeping him in a playpen and you still have not had some improvements in the right direction, then I’d say you should consider getting the help of a positive dog trainer who can work with you and your pup one-on-one.

      If you let me know whereabouts you are I can recommend a few good trainers who use positive training.

      Of course, if you’ve got your mind set on getting rid of your puppy, then my recommendation is to return him to his breeder. Most ethical breeders will happily take back a puppy if their owner no longer can or wants to keep them. This way he is saved from getting into the dog shelter system.

    • Ralf Eidel

      Hi and thanks for the reply. I started playing with toys with him from starting from the day we brought him home. He has the tugs toys, balls, nylon bones, and the stuff squeaking toys. We are retired so I play with him almost through out the whole day. I also take him for long walks. He has been put in the cage just a few time mainly by my wife. One day he was exceptionally a good boy. Hardly any biting at all, but it only lasted that one day. He’s the best when he has just gotten up from a nap. He’s excited to see you are still around, lol, when he awakes and he’s very very loving then and licks you a alot and there is no biting at all. He even has his ears back and down lol. Then after he’s awake he starts his biting. Now don’t misunderstand me some of his biting is accidental trying to grab a toy. However, the bite this morning was deliberate. Took me about 30 mins to warm back up to him. The other thing he does a lot is jumping. Not necessarily jumping on us, but jumping to get his toy that you have in your hand. He’s very very verbable more so then any other GS we’ve had in over 30 years. He house trained pretty good and goes to the door and if that doen’t work he comes and sits in front of you and barks. So that worked out well. We have an adult female cat and they aren’t getting along at all. The previous GS and the cat got along very well. Interesting the cat went into several weeks of mourning when the other GS passed away. Right now my puppy is afraid of the cat, although he makes like he’s not. Lately he’s been less afraid of her and chasing her off numerous times, but we’re afraid the day will come where she claws up his face and we definitely don’t want that. I got off topic. I play with him almost the entire day except when he’s sleeping.


    • Hi Ralf,

      Do you think the biting is because he’s demanding play? That was the first thing that came to my mind after reading your comment. Especially since he’s so calm just after a nap. It’s great that you’re stimulating him so much with play. But if he’s getting it all the time and then he doesn’t for whatever reason, like you being busy with other stuff, it makes sense that he’d resort to biting as a way to get your attention to play with him.

      What I recommend it having set time when you play with him. And after that, put away any toys you use to interact with him. And only give him toys that he can interact with on his own. It might mean you need to get one or two new toys that he doesn’t associate with you and play. My dogs have some toys they never get access to unless I’m involved and then they have toys they can just go and play with on their own.

      To being with you might need to crate him during periods where he wants to play but you can’t or don’t want to. It’s okay to crate a pup for a couple of hours during the day. Just make sure he has a toy to keep him busy. Over time he’ll figure out what’s going on.

      But definitely work with him on teaching bite inhibition as well.

      I’m sorry to hear that you folks lost one of your best friends. And it’s not unusual for other fur family members to mourn. I wrote an article on how to get German Shepherds used to cats, check it out, I hope the tips will help out.

      Also, for jumping, it’s important to get that behavior under control while he’s still small. Especially since your wife takes blood thinners. Once he’s a fully grown male, that could become a problem. I wrote an article on how to stop jumping, check it out and let me know if you have questions by dropping them in the comments.

      Chat soon,

  • donna dowdall

    Hi my 11week old gsd cross border collie is catching my trousers as I walk but is now doing it as I sit on the couch she is also doing this to my daughter have you any ideas on how to stop her thank you

    • Hi Donna!

      Ah, yes! The GSD Collie cross! They’re a handful! I have one too, her name is Lexi.

      A lot of that kind of behavior can be chalked up to our pups wanting our attention. But it’s something that’s important to work on teaching them not to do it.

      I highly recommend working with her using the games I’ve shared in this article. She’s got to learn how to interact with you and your daughter and a very important part of that is bite inhibition. She’s still young so I suggest using the build-a-bridge game and also the nose touch game.

      The other recommendation is that you not give her any attention when she does this behavior. Any attention, even negative (like saying ‘no’) is a reward for her.

      If she’s doing the behavior and you’re not able to work with her at that moment, the best thing to do is to crate or tether her. It’s important that she doesn’t have the opportunity to practice the behavior when you’re not able to actively work with her.

  • Lo

    In regards to Nose Targeting, what if your pup just bites at your hand while it’s in a stationary position, so you can never even move it so she follows? Even from 8 weeks, our now 13 week old puppy refuses to follow my hand with a treat and instead just nips/bites very ‘snapily’. She even smacks her jaws together almost daily when she is very excited and bitey and it’s very frustrating. Even though it’s not aggression, it still seems very aggressive.

    • Hi Lo!

      Thanks for your comment.

      The nice thing about dog training is it’s not ridged, so if something isn’t working you can easily adjust and change things to reach your goal.

      So for example, you can use something else a s a target. And in this training there’s no luring. Luring can make some dogs over excited. So this might work better for you. Check out this article where I give a quick rundown of how one of my dog training idols teaches nose touching. In the video I made I actually use something else as a touch target. You can use the navigation menu at the beginning to skip down to the detailed steps and my video.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Bev

    Hi I’m wondering if you can help I have a 6mth old gsd who was taken from his litter far too early and hasn’t learned bite inhibition he is lovely most of the time but if he feels he is being ignored or is excited he bites and nips quite hard how can I stop this behaviour please as I don’t want anyone to get hurt .

    • Hi Bev!

      Thanks for your question.

      It’s totally normal for pups to exhibit that behavior when they feel ‘ignored’, you’ll find them doing that with their litter mates too. But that’s not to say it’s behavior you like or want to encourage.

      You’ll have success using games time the build-a-bridge and nose touch to help your pup learn bite inhibition. Although since he’s bigger in size, if you’re working on the bridge game, I recommend sitting on a chair with your legs outstretched and not on the ground.

  • Jaime

    I have a 5 month old GSP and when I leave him in the room to sleep he always ends up tearing up his pee pads. How do I stop him from tearing them and do you have any tips to potty train

  • donna dowdall


    I was wondering if u could help every time we walk my 10 week old gsd cross border collie keeps biting our trousers and use it as if u were playing tug of war I have a 2year old shin tzu and he didn’t do this so I am a little lost any advise

    Thanks donna

    • Hi Donna,

      Yeah, it’s not easy to walk with a puppy attached to your leg! LOL. And oh boy! I know the GSD Collie X so well, they’re smart as anything! My Lexi is the same mix.

      At 10 weeks it’s totally normal for a pup to tend to do this. Your best bet is to pull back on actual walks for now and work in a smaller area, like your back yard on walking before going out on to the road again.

      Can you give me an idea of how you’ve worked with your boy up to now on leash walking? That way I can give you much more specific help. If you want to email me instead, my contact details are rosemary (@)

  • Sheryl Wykes

    I just got a 4mo. old Female German Shepherd Pup. This is my 5th GSD and I have trained them all into wonderful, obedient, social pets without using any force, don’t believe in that! This pup has a severe biting problem to the point of causing pain.
    Some of your lessons I use but you gave me some great tips and I will start using them today, I know this will work in time and she is a georgous pup with a great lineage and she is going to grow into a great adult dog, if she doesn’t chew off my and my 6 year old GSD first! My older GSD does set limits with her and this helps, the older dog is extremely sweet and gentle and never had this problem to this extreme! Different temperments, as in people. Wish me good luck! And thank you for your excellent articles.

    • Hi Sheryl!

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s so great to connect with folks who are so passionate about positive training. It really is the only way. I’m sure these games will help. And the fact that you have your mature GSD to help set boundaries to great. I can totally relate since Charley who’s 11 now helped me raise 2 rambunctious pups less than 2 years apart. She was and still is a super role model for them.

      All the best! 🙂

  • danielle

    Hi, I have a 7 1/2 month old GSD that is still biting!! I have two boys 7 & 10 and I’m getting worried that she’s going to end up hurting one of them by accident. I’ve read up on biting and I’ve tried the “ouch” and that seems to get her more excited so lately I’ve been closing her mouth and telling her “NO” but that isn’t stopping it either. Any other ideas???

    • Hi there Danielle!

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yeah, the ouch method really only gets them more excited. And I do feel that closing their mouths and saying no doesn’t accomplish anything. At 7 months though she should already understand that human limbs are out of bounds. And I totally understand your fear of her accidentally hurting one of your boys.

      So I highly recommend using the games in this article. Personally I’d avoid the tug and fetch games for now because I think it’ll get her too excited and that’s not good until she’s learned a soft mouth.

      I would start with the nose touch game. It’s highly effective and your kids can play it with her too. You could also try the build-a-bridge game. Although because she’s already bigger in size I recommend you sitting on a chair instead of on the floor. But definitely work with her a lot on the nose touch game.

      If you have other questions, feel free to drop them here in the comments.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Kristina

    Hello. I have a 1 year old baby who isn’t walking steadily yet and mostly crawls and an 8 week old German Shepard puppy. I’ve been having a real issue on teaching the puppy to be easy with my child, as she feels she can play with him like she would a littermate since they are on the same level. Her playing involves biting which I understand is normal, but my son is still just a baby and can get hurt easily. Any suggestions on how to get my puppy to interact with my son better would be appreciated!

    • Hi Kristina,

      Thanks for your question.

      For starters I think that any interaction between your young one and your puppy should be under supervision only. At 8 weeks your pup still has a lot to learn so it’s better to keep them separate if they are not supervised. Can you close off a section of your home with baby gates? This will be very helpful to keep them apart but it’s nice because they can still see each other and interact.

      You’ll really need to do this until your puppy has learned not to bite humans, and even then, I don’t recommend leaving pup and little one alone to interact without supervision. The games like build-a-bridge and the nose touch game are excellent ways to each very small puppies that biting human limbs in not allowed. You should practice these games with your puppy.

      Even when children are a bit older I always recommend supervised interactions. This is because puppies are easily excitable but the fast movements and high pitched sounds kiddies make. It’s going to be quite some time before your son and his best friend can interact without that much supervision.

      But really give those 2 games a go, they have always worked for me when raising a new pup.

      I hope this helps.


  • J swan

    Hi I have a 7 month old male gsd. He is very energetic and loves to play. But loves to bite and chew on everything too. Every toy I get him he ruins. I’ve tried literally everything I can but he still bites me and my fiance. I’ve had him since he was 10 weeks old. He doesn’t get the exercise he should because we’ve also got a 3 year old Chihuahua that we had since she was 6 weeks old and he chases her and has bit her before. Not hard but enough to make her yelp so I’ve had to keep them separated. Which is not right. I don’t wanna have to get rid of him but it’s coming to that. I’ve tried everything I can. If anyone has any input please feel free to let me know. Really don’t wanna get rid of him.

    • Hi there!

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s definitely a good idea to get that biting under control as soon as possible.

      The first thing is that he should get more physical exercise. Is there a way you can walk your dogs separately? It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. But just until you’ve got a handle on his behavior. But a working dog like the GSD does need physical exercise. It’s true that German Shepherds are heavy chewers but I’ll bet part of his obsession with destroying his toys is because he needs to go out for walks and maybe a quick game of fetch. He’s still young so you don’t need to give him hours of this. Even if it’s 15 minutes twice a day or something.

      As for the biting, I highly recommend using some of the games in this article. The build-a-bridge game is the one I always recommend first. And also the nose touch. For now maybe stay away from the fetch or tug games because he’s still biting and this could excite him even more.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  • Amanda

    Good Morning,

    First off I want you to know I appreciate your web page about training GSD’s. It is helpful. My husband and I recently got a GSD puppy. We are finding it hard to train him. Even with all of the very helpful advice on the internet. We think that part of this issue is that he was the only puppy in his litter and he did not have that early influence of learning boundaries with this litter mates. He is very aggressive, even when he is “Calm”. We know he is a puppy and expect a rambunctious little guy. But he is on full tilt all day and always biting. We have been trying to use the tips you give in our articles and the one with the soft nose touch seems to be working. Where I keep my fingers down. But even when he gets his treat he about takes my hand off. Our last dog was part GSD and part Husky. So we felt like we would be prepared for a full blood GSD. Needless to say we are overwhelmed at times. We live in a rural area and the nearest reputable trainer is 60 miles away. We would prefer to train him our self if possible. But if we have to we can go to a trainer. If you could please give us a few personal opinions and tips we would appreciate it. Oh, before I forget. We do walk Tucker and play with him so it isn’t like he is under stimulated. We have tried the ouch method and it only seems to encourage him and makes him be demanding and bark.

    Kind Regards

    • Hi Amanda!

      You’re welcome, I’m pleased you find the information here helpful.

      The nose touch training is really a great tool on the way to teaching bite inhibition. I no longer recommend the ‘ouch’ method anymore. It tends to rev pups up more than anything else. And like you’ve experienced just causes more biting.

      It sounds to me like Tucker needs some impulse control training. This kind of training will spill into all areas of behavior especially when you start asking for longer stays and sits as an example.

      But 2 ways that are very powerful to start with is when it comes to food and treats…

      When it’s feeding time ask for a sit and start to lower Tucker’s bowl. If his bottom lifts off the floor the bowl goes back up. Then ask for a sit again and raise the bowl if he lifts his bottom.

      Keep doing this until he sits and stays seated until the bowl hits the ground. It’s okay if he stands up once the bowl hits the ground. You won’t get duration yet, this is only the first step.

      When it comes to treats it’s the same principle. Ask for a sit and start lowering the treat. You’ll see in his face and eyes if he’s planning on snatching it out of your hand. If you see that, or if he lifts his bottom off the ground, raise the treat. And continue until he takes nicely.

      After he’s taking nicely in a reliable way, then start adding the cue. I use “take nicely”. But whatever you pick as a cue, stick to it. I used this method to teach my rescue GSD Charley, how to take nicely. When she came to us 4 years ago she’d half snatch my fingers off. She’s been taking nicely since then.

      Dogs like the path of least resistance, so they quickly learn when a behavior is not working. But it’s important that we teach them a behavior to replace the one we don’t like.

      I think it’s great that you want to train Tucker yourselves. I train all my dogs too. Personally, I think a trainer is only necessary when you’re dealing with a behavior issue. To me it sounds like you’ve got a high energy pup on your hands that needs to do ‘work’ to get rid of that excess energy.

      Keep in mind that they are working dogs. So by training him keeps him more stimulated. Along with the physical stimulation he’s getting already you’ll have an all-round calmer pup as time goes by.

      I highly recommend getting a training course I used with my dogs. And the trainer who put it together is one of my dog training heroes. We’ve chatted about dogs and dog training and she’s really knowledgeable. I did write a review of her program which is about using games to train our dogs how to be the kind of dogs we know they can be.

      Here’s a link to my review of Brain Training for Dogs. Check it out, you might find it helpful.

      I hope I have been able to help you.

      Chat soon,

    • suzette

      hi I puppy named thor, he keep me and siblings and mother. and I when outside the wall keep ripping paint wall, what should we do.

  • Diana driscoll

    While doing these games, I am sure there will be times the puppy will bite you. What do you do if the puppy bites too hard? Ignore it? Yelp out? You also say that the person initiates play, how does one do that when every time you are near the puppy it tries to bite you?

    • Hi Diana,

      If you pup bites, withhold treats. The treats are there to reinforce when they offer the correct behavior. If they bite, even by accident, the treat is withheld. If they mouth your hand to get to the treats you can either hide your hands or just let them mouth, as long as they are not biting. But for small pups hiding hands is the best.

      When I say only we initiate play I mean that as a rule of thumb. not just to teach bite inhibition. My dogs don’t get play with me when it suits them. I initiate the games. Sure, they know when it’s time (a built in clock like when it’s dinner time) but only I initiate. And I end the game too.

      For a small pup still learning bite inhibition I recommend only initiating play when they are in an enclosed environment like a play pen. That way you can walk away without them following and nipping at your heels.

      Hope this helps.

  • Megan

    I need help! I’ve tried literally every single method in the book and my GSD won’t listen! I’ve taken him to puppy training class in hopes that would help but not at all. He will come up and just bite my hands or feet or wherever he can reach. He was born May 5, 2017 so he is around 5 months old. Please help! I have a 2 year old nephew who lives at my house also and I just get so scared my dog is going to bite him cause he almost has before.

    • Hi Megan,

      Sorry to hear you’re having troubles.

      The only way your boy will learn not to bite is through practice. I highly recommend starting with the build-a-bridge game in this article. Since he’s already bigger you can try sitting on a chair or stool for this game instead of on the floor.

      Once he’s chilled out when human limbs are in close proximity to him, you can move on to the nose targeting game. Both of these games are low key and won’t cause a lot of excitement. Low excitement means less biting behavior.

      Also, while you’re teaching your boy bite inhibition, I’d keep your nephew and your pooch apart. And only allow interaction when there’s an adult to supervise.

      Keep in mind that small children tend to excite pups because they have fast movements and excitable, high pitched voices. So it’s really important for you to control the environment at all costs.

      Hope this helps you. 🙂

  • maria

    My dog is 3 months two weeks he plays bite but what i dobt like is i kiss him and then he tries to bite my face what can i do?

    • Hi Maria,

      Thanks for your question.

      I think until you’ve taught your boy bite inhibition, it’s better not to give him kisses. Once he understands that humans are not for biting you can start introducing kisses.

      I recommend starting with the build-a-bridge game in this article and once he’s comfortable with human limbs in close proximity to him without biting, you can start with the nose targeting.

      The nose targeting game can be used later to teach him to give kisses and which part of you face are for kisses, like your cheek or chin.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Amber Nehlig

    My dog is 5 months old and bites me and my children anytime she is told no..whether we yell or calmly say no or down or off or stay…anytime she doesn’t get what she wants she bites us…if we say nothing at all and simply take away a shoe she shouldn’t be chewing she bites..or gently takes her paws off the couch that she’s jumped on she snaps..I’ve never seen anything like this before…Ive tried many different techniques that’s been advised to me and nothing..Im at a complete loss and thinking of getting rid of her because it’s starting to become unsafe for my children..any advice would be greatly appreciated??

    • Hi Amber!

      Thanks for your comment.

      It sounds like you have a feisty girl on your hands. I understand your frustration, I’ve been there with my own pups over the years.

      The first thing that comes to mind is that you need to bring structured positive reinforcement training into your pup’s daily life. And you should use this method to teach her what you want. Forget about teaching her what you don’t want, in my experience that approach rarely works.

      After you’ve checked out the rest of my reply, read my article on how to use a clicker to train your pup, to get you started on your journey.

      But let’s look at biting first…

      I’m sure you were advised to do things like yelp, say a firm ‘no’, walk away, time out or even hold onto her jaw. These are common methods advised by folks who don’t really understand how bite inhibition works. And all of these methods will just rev you pup up even more.

      And none of them are working to desensitize your pup to having human limbs in close proximity to her without acting on her instinct to bite.

      The first thing I recommend is working with her on the build-a-bridge game. I’ve detailed the steps in this article. I can’t stress enough how important it is for her to get used to having human limbs moving around. The bridge game will teach her that.

      I suggest you start working with her first. And while she’s still learning, I would keep interaction with her and you kiddies to a minimum. Kids have fast movements and highly excitable voices. So pups tend to get super excited around them.

      After she’s mastered this with you, I think adding nose targeting is the next step. This is the part where your kids can get involved and do nose targeting with her too.

      In terms of her behavior when you remove something inappropriate that she’s chewing, I recommend replacing it with something positive that she can chew on. There are loads of safe chew toys for pups. Of course she’s chewing because of teething so the more appropriate things you have lying around for her to chew on, the better.

      I’ve written up my personal recommendations for chew toys. Here’s one I wrote specifically for dogs that are heavy chewers. Many of these I use for my own dogs, even now that they are adults.

      Also, make sure to keep things like shoes and other objects off the floors and out of her reach. I know this is impossible with furniture and the like, so it’s another reason to have safe chew toys for her that she has access to.

      When it comes to things like climbing on the furniture like you described. You’ll need to teach her that it’s more rewarding for her to keep all fours on the floor. She’s likely to snap if you take her off, merely because it excites her. Puppies are way more excitable than we think.

      So use a clicker and treats to teach her ‘off’. I won’t go into the steps. But I do recommend you follow the process in this video. It’s an excellent method for teaching her a reliable ‘off’.

      I hope this helps you and your pup. Stay consistent, be patient and celebrate her small victories as she learns what you want her to do.

      Chat soon,

  • Karlee

    My german shepherd is 3 months old and she has a floppy ear. My veterinarian has told me to massage her ear for 3o minutes each day. But the previous owner told me never to touch her ears. I don’t want to permanately damage her ear. What things do you suggest to help her ear stand up other than taping it?

    • Hi Karlee,

      Thanks for your question.

      I’m in the same camp as your pup’s previous owner. I don’t believe in massaging their ears. I know the theory behind it is to stimulate blood flow which some folks believe will encourage their ears to perk up.

      But I think as far as possible tampering should be avoided.

      My suggestion is to encourage chewing. I’ve seen great success with this method. In fact I had a reader here contact me to let me know that only after one week of chewing her 8 month old pup had perky ears. And that’s after everyone had given up on those ears.

      More importantly though is your pup is only 3 months old. So floppy ears is totally normal. She has a lot of growing and developing to do. So I wouldn’t worry too much about them. They’re doing what ears of that age do. Flop!

      Encourage chewing though. Here are some toys I’ve reviewed which are safe for pups. And I’ve used a bunch of these for my own pups.

      Here’s a rundown and detailed review of the best chew toys for German Shepherds.

      And here are my favorite picks for the best toys for German Shepherd puppies.

      I hope this helps to ease your worries about her ears.

      If you have other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.


  • Jillian W

    We have a 13wk old GS puppy who is a biter. He seens to bite me more than anyone else. He is also a jumper; counters, people, etc. Do you have any new videos you could share?

    • Hi Jillian,

      I’ve not had time to make any new ones. But the games in this article definitely do work. I recommend trying them and picking the one that works best for your pup. I’d avoid the tug game since he’s still young and his baby teeth need to be protected.

      In terms of jumping, my method is to stand dead still and ‘make like a tree’ and just wait it out. It takes time and I’ve waited up to 20 minutes before a pup stopped jumping. But she was rambunctious. In most cases they stop doing it much sooner. You could also keep treats handy and drop them on the ground as soon as she wants to jump. She’ll need to have all 4 paws on the ground so she can eat them. Both these methods are great methods to curb jumping.

      Counters are a different beast altogether. Either keep her out of the kitchen by teaching her to go to her bed, a mat or a different room. Or keep anything she could eat off the counters. The problem with counter-surfing is once they get something to eat it’s a reward that keeps them coming back for more.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

  • erinn

    My 4 month old german sheppard / lab / rotti wont stop biting at my little 1yeard old pomeranians legs and his back of the neck area. They are totally fine otherwise other than when the two pups get riled up together than that happens. I’m concerned to leave them home together as I am scared hes going to hurt the small guy. Please help..

    • Hi Erinn,

      I totally get where you’re coming from. And I agree that they should not be left unsupervised until your pup is more mature.

      Is it possible to keep them separate when you’re out of the house?

  • Katherine

    The rope toy really helps, but in the beginning he gets really excited to play so he would get distracted easily of his surrounding. Sometimes I’ll carry him to try to calm him down. Is it OK if I do this?

    • Hi Katherine,

      My advice is not to carry him. On the one hand it can make him more excited. And secondly, if he gets used to being carried in order to calm down you might end up with an 80 lbs do who won’t calm down unless you’re carrying him!

  • Lily

    My 7 month old germansheperd only bites one person really badly and doesn’t do anything but bite hand/legs anything he can reach. He’s very crazy and has anxiety outside. Runs in circles and is scared of everything outside. We’ve tried everything for the biting and it’s getting worse.

  • Susan O'Reilly

    Hi we have a Rottweiler German shepherd cross pup he is 14 weeks old. But can be aggressive around his food and sometimes play. He frightens me. What can I do

  • Jessica

    Hello, I have a 7 month old rescue pup he’s crossed with a mastiff, he was abused in his old home and was very shy for the first 2 days. Since then he’s become very confident but is very nippy and biting quite hard saying no isn’t working with him. When playing with him and his toys he seems to think you’re the toy and instead of chasing the toy he’s biting at us instead. Any tips to stop and get around this problem?
    Thank you

  • Sandra Sebastian

    i have a puppy that is 50 days old . its a Female and i got it from a doctor whos a friend of my brother . It keeps whining making sounds like mmm mmm mmm mmm . lol . if u know what i mean . and also it tends to bite a lot . i love my baby girl Molly but at the same time i am scared of its biting and m worried it might injure somebody . it plays along very well . licks at times . sleeps on my lap . but the biting sometimes it scares me and not to forget it pains as well . what do i do ?

  • Yash napalchyal

    I got a new german shepherd pup he is 2 months old and is with us for a month now. He has biting habits like any other dog but he never listens to me too. Treats are also not working plz help.

  • Abhilash

    Hi i have a 2 month old gsd he is always eating sand
    Can you help

    • Hi Abhilash,

      Thanks for your question. What you’re experiencing is something called Pica. And it is common in dogs. It’s basically the eating of items that have no nutrition. Although some people will argue there are nutrients in soil.

      My suggestion is to take your puppy to the vet for a full checkup and blood work. If that comes back all good then I wouldn’t worry about him eating soil. As long as he’s not swallowing whole stones or rocks.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • alicia


    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,

  • 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.


  • 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,

  • 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.

  • 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,

  • Abriel

    My puppy is learning soft biting pretty quickly. But we do have one problem. He bites soft, but will occasionally jump up at my face with his mouth open. How do I curb this behavior?

  • 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,

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • Lillian

      Thank you Gabriella for your answer, she tried the clicker and followed your method and the nipping improved some but Milo still bites, we have tried giving him different chew toys and rope as a replacement but hands and ankles are his favorite still, he is lovable, smart, and a true keeper, will continue to work with him and follow your advice


    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,

  • 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,

  • 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.

  • Luis


    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.

  • Meagan Stephenson

    Hi Gabriella!

    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 Gabriella!


    • 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:

      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.

      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:

      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,

  • 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.

      P.S. You might find these articles interesting:

  • Ashley

    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.

  • Shannon

    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!


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sarah

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Kevin

      Hi I have a 5 month old gsd hes learnt the sit command but that’s it hes so hyper active he doesn’t want to do anything else how can I calm him down also I’m trying to get him used to the lay down command by having a treat in my hand an lowering to the floor and saying lay down but all he does is nip at my hand to try and get the treat out hes also nipping at my partners hand everytime she walks past him please do you have any suggestions on what I can do

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your questions.

      I recommend using the games in this article to teach bite inhibition. Then in terms of your partner walking past him and his attempts at nipping, is it a playful nipping? Or is it potentially that he becomes startled?

      I would also highly recommend using an online training program that uses games to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence and teaches them how we would like them to behave. I’ve used the program extensively for my rescue dogs and new puppies. I wrote about the program and my experiences with it in detail here.

      Feel free to check it out and drop any questions or comments, I’m always around to answer questions.

      Chat soon,

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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,

  • 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,

  • 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,

  • 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.

      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,

  • 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,

  • 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!!

  • 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.

      Next. Read this comment and the answer below it.

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

      Chat Soon,

  • Jimmy

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

  • 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.
      Next. Read this comment and the answer below it.

      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.


  • 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,

  • 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.

      Chat soon,

    • 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,

    • Maria A Wilson


    • Hi Maria!

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


  • Guylaine

    Hi Gabriella,
    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

    • 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,

  • 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: And then follow up with this one:

      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,

  • 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:
      And then all the articles here:

    • 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

    • Hi Lucas,

      Please see my reply to your previous comment.


  • Barbara Vargas

    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.

  • Nick

    Hello Gabriella,

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Elly


    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,

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jenn

    Hi Gabriella,

    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.

  • 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.


  • Kendra

    Hi Gabriella, 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?


  • 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

  • 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

    • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Leah


    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 Gabriella

      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

  • Craig

    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!

    • Eliot

      Is it possible to receive your videos regarding nipping? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Eliot!

      The videos I made were of methods I no longer recommend. But the games in this article work a treat. start with the build-a-bridge game and move on from there once your dog has mastered having human limbs in close proximity to their face without biting.

    • Susan

      My dog does the same thing she doesnt listen

  • 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

  • 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.


    • Matthew Sweeney

      Hi Gabriella,

      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.


    • Mark

      Once the baby teeth fall out and adult teeth come in, he should stop breaking the skin.

    • Hi Mark,

      That’s not the case. If he hasn’t learned bite inhibition, his adult teeth could not only break skin but tear it.

  • 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…

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

      Chat soon!

    • Yash

      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.

    • Mark

      Our 6 mo GSD has finally gotten the hang of potty training. It took a few weeks, though. I ended up setting a timer and taking him out every hour no matter what and giving a treat if he went to the bathroom.

      We have a dog door, but I’m not sure if that is supposed to make it easier or more difficult.

      Unfortunately, we are having a tough time stopping him from biting ankles when he wants to play. He thinks our 6 year old is a chew toy.

      Good luck

    • Holly Jo

      I have 2 litter mate GSD, 3 months old, 1 girl and 1 boy. They are smart and learn so quickly what i want them to do. But when I give them their free time they play Very Very rough with each other and this undies all the no bite training I’ve done. Any suggestions on how to keep them from biting each other? If they can stop playing so intense with each other that would help me.


    • Hi Holly Jo,

      Thank you for your questions.

      Dogs are pretty good at compartmentalizing things and they are also context-bound animals, which means what they learn in one environment or situation doesn’t necessarily transfer to another unless they are trained to do so.

      If you see the game between them is getting too intense you can call them to you and redirect or give a few long slow strokes along the side of their bodies that in most cases will calm them down.

      However, in my opinion them playing rough with each other does not necessarily equate to the transfer of this behavior to other situations or undoing any bite inhibition training. I would keep on training bite inhibition using the build-a-bridge and nose targeting games in this article. Puppies will be puppies and they will roughhouse with each other as part of their development but if you are persistent with the bite inhibition training they will most certainly learn that biting and nipping at human limbs is off-limits.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to drop any questions about the bite inhibition training I detailed in this post, I’m happy to help. 🙂

  • 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!

    • Katie

      New 9 wk gsd mix land shark Mamma. She totally attacks me when I’m sitting on the couch. She’ll come up behind me and bite the back side of my arm, she’ll pull my hair, I have to shove her away from me, to try and get away and that just seems to egg her on. What do I do in these instances before we start the play training. It always happens suddenly. And if she tries to bite during the play training, what do I do to stop it?

    • Hi Katie,

      The best thing is to train for a situation not in a situation. So my advice would be to start the games to curb biting right away. Since she’s still so young, I’d stick to the build-a-bridge and most targeting games only as she’s too young for tug and the redirection might rev her up more.

      Try to play the games slowly so as not to get her too excited but still start to teach her the concepts of bite inhibition. If she does get too excited while playing these training games, you could do a quick 2 minute time out by placing her in a sectioned off area such as a playpen or a crate. This is not meant as a punishment so it should be done gently and she should still be able to see, hear and be a part of the family unit, so it’s not any kind of isolation. Just nearly a few minutes to help her reach her baseline of calm before starting the games again.

      To prevent her from sneaking up and practicing the biting and hair-pulling behavior, I recommend tethering her during times when you’re relaxing on the couch for example. I love the tethering method because the pups can still be around me and near me but are unable to practice unwanted behaviors. I usually have them wear a harness with their leash attached. I tether to my body so they can go wherever I go and not left behind when I leave the room. And if I’m working in my office or watching something, they are tethered to a heavy piece of furniture right at my side. It’s an excellent way to control movement, prevent potty accidents and have them close by to directly supervise for things like unwanted chewing. And it builds a super close bond between pup and human.

      I hope this helps some. Feel free to reach out with any other questions, I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon!

  • 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.


    • Marc Reed

      Got new gsd all white – his biting is getting bad. How do I get your course? How much?

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for your comment and congrats on your new best friend!

      The games I recommend for teaching bite inhibition are free and in this article above. I highly recommend you start with build-a-bridge and the nose touch game. Depending on how old your pup is I would not use the tug game until he’s older than 6 months. But the bridge and nose touch games are excellent ways to teach a young pup bite inhibition.

      If you’re looking for a course to teach your boy everything you need him to know to live in harmony in a fun and force-free way then check out an article on a program I highly recommend all puppy owners use to train their dogs.

      The program is unique because it taps into our dog’s natural intelligence and uses games to teach them what we want more of. You can read about my experiences and the program by clicking here.

    • suzette

      hi, I have problem my puppy thor, he keep biting all need and sometimes ripping the wall from outside and biting me with skin. what should I do.

    • Hi Suzette,

      Thank you for your questions.

      Without knowing more details about Thor, his background, and training it’s difficult to say why he’s ripping the paint off the walls. But it could be due to separation anxiety, lack of stimulation, isolation (being alone for too long), or a lack of training.

      And in terms of the biting, it’s normal behavior for puppies and I recommend using the games in this article to teach your puppy that biting human limbs is off-limits. These games are fun and force-free and I’ve found that dogs of all ages respond well to this type of training.

      I highly recommend getting Thor started with [ositive reinforcement training, the earlier you begin, the easier it is to avoid the development of unwanted behaviors. I wrote extensively on a program I have used for several years and encourage folks to do the same. You can read about my experience with the online training program here.

    • Mike Ziegelmeyer

      I put on treat on my dogs nose. She flips it up and catches it.
      Keeps her busy. She is 11
      months. Have had her for one month. She knew nothing when I got her from humane.
      I tell her to kiss when she grabs my hand. She licks me now. She gets it. She likes to give kisses. Sometimes too much. Oh well.

    • Hi Mike,

      Your girl sounds super-duper smart!

      I like how you redirect her natural biting to something acceptable like doggy kisses! Nice work! It just goes to show how incredibly well dogs respond to positivity!

      P.S. there’s no such thing as too many doggy kisses!!! 😉

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