Is Your German Shepherd Puppy Biting Ankles
Nothing is worse than an ankle-biter! I was very lucky not to have this problem with Allie. But many owners arent so lucky and have a problem with their German Shepherd puppy biting their ankles.
Why does your German Shepherd puppy target the ankles? Because your GSD is a working dog trying to do its job herd you around the house like livestock. German Shepherds were originally bred for herding flocks of sheep. And you are your pups favorite sheep!
Your furry pal may also think heel nipping is just a really fun game. If you walk past quickly, its very tempting for your playful pup to reach out and bite.
Using a toy as a distraction and keeping your pup active will help nip ankle nipping in the bud!
Treatment Of Fear Reactivity Or Aggression Focuses On Two General Approaches
One approach to dealing with fear and aggression towards people is to train the dog to associate unfamiliar people with good things in a systematic/graded manner. This process is desensitization and classical counterconditioning ,and it involves exposing the dog to the fear-inducing stimulus at a level where she barely responds and keeping her in a happy state, instead of a fearful or reactive state, by pairing the experience with things the dog likes . The goal is that, as we systematically increase the level of the stimulus while keeping Fido in a happy emotional state, the dog will systematically come to associate the scary people with this positive emotional state permanently.
Now, a lot of people try this method and have only partial success because they omit a few vital points.
As with the DS/CC we described in method 1, always start at a level where you can keep the dog happy and focused on you, keep the dog focused the entire time, end the session and remove the dog from the situation before hes tired or you run out of treats. The better your technique and ability to train in a systematic fashion the faster the training will go. Technique is the difference between taking 10 minutes and 10 months to see a huge change.
To learn more about:
Keeping Your Pup From Nipping And Chewing
Puppies have sharp teeth, especially German Shepherd puppies!
Puppies are energetic and must learn their limits for playing too rough . When your dog nips you, say ouch immediately and do your normal noise when something hurts.
Dont immediately jerk your hand back or punish your puppy physically.
Puppies view you jerking your hand back quickly as part of a game and could also tear your skin. And physical punishment should never be given!
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Dont Take Part In Rough Play
Stop roughhousing with your dog before it frustrates them.
Use appropriate, puppy safe toys instead of play sessions. This way, your pup can bite the toy instead of your fingers, hands, or arms.
You may stress out your GSD by engaging them rough of play. For your pup to either keep up with the play or stop you from too rough play, they may bite you!
Dont get angry, yell or punish them. From day one, avoid play that involves mouthing or teeth on skin.
How To Stop German Shepherd Puppy Nipping And Biting
- Move your hand calmly and slowly from your puppy.
- Show them what they can chew, instead, such as their favorite chew toy.
- Have plenty safe chew toys to grab nearby to give your pup when they get wild and decide to bite you.
- Dont participate in rough play using your hands, as this encourages nipping and biting.
- Always use toys that your puppy can chew and bite to play with pick from this list of German Shepherd Chew Toys to Prevent Boredom so you have a safe puppy toy that can take their bites.
This teaches your pup you dont like biting and nipping while offering them a positive alternative.
During play, work on the signal easy when your pup plays too rough. When they stop biting or nipping reward them with verbal praise and pets.
If they are still too rough, use a toy to show them whats acceptable to bite or remove yourself from playing for a few minutes. Return later to try playing with your pup again and repeat the procedure.
Read this information for more helpful tips to stop your German Shepherd puppy from biting and nipping you.
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Holding Your Puppy’s Mouth Closed
I have no idea why people think this is an appropriate way to change biting behavior.
I mean no living creature is going to sit back and allow their mouth to be held closed. It’s a natural reaction to struggle to break free from this type of grip.
Never mind the fact that doing this to a puppy will cause life-long issues when it comes to human limbs near their face.
Think about how difficult this will make grooming and visits to the vet.
How To Discourage Jumping And Biting Behavior
Thankfully, there are ways you can curb German Shepherd jumping and biting.
- Be proactive. If I knew someone was coming over, I would put Allie in another room or in her crate. Once our visitor was in the house and the initial excitement had passed, I would let her out. By keeping her from greeting people right when they walked through the door, I could minimize her overzealous behavior.
- Teach a place command. This is a simple command that teaches your dog to stay in her place until you give a release command. This is another way to allow the initial excitement to pass and your German Shepherd to calm down a bit before greeting anyone.
- Redirect attention to a toy .
- Fold your arms and turn away. You can also use an off command when you turn. Keep turning until your GSD stops jumping, then praise them and use a treat as a reward.
This training method works great because youre refusing to give your German Shepherd what they want attention! Its best to practice this when you dont have guests over so that your pup knows how to handle excitement in advance.
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Pretend Youre In Pain
If your german shepherd is biting a lot when theyre jumping up then this is definitely the method youre going to want to use. In fact, this is a great method to use any time your german shepherd is biting in a playful way.
- The first thing youre going to need to do is to get your dog to jump up at you again. If they do this on their own great, if not use the same method as before.
- However, this time when your german shepherd jumps up and bites you, let out a yelp or cry of pain before turning away and not facing them.
- Its important that you dont give them any attention until theyve calmed down completely.
- If your german shepherd tries to follow you, keep turning until theyve stopped and calmed down completely.
- Once theyve calmed down completely, you can then reward them with your attention and treats.
This method works so well as its similar to what their litter would do if they were bitten too hard and they dont want to play anymore. Its a great way for teaching your german shepherd bite inhibition as well.
Remember, to do this every time your german shepherd jumps up and bites to show them that the game will stop being played any time they do that.
Dont Bite Your Puppy Back
For some reason, this response to puppy nipping has been making the rounds on social forums, and you should completely avoid this. First off, your puppy knows youre not a dog, so biting them back doesn’t have the same meaning as when a dog does it to them. Second, as with other aversives, it can have unintended consequences of increased nipping or unwanted aggressive responses.
You don’t want your puppy viewing you as threatening or something to be scared of. That’s not setting you up for a trusting and healthy relationship. Third, its really just asking to be bitten back, and do you really want to be bitten in the face with those sharp puppy teeth? There are better ways to handle puppy nipping.
Learn Effective Clicker Training
The most important part of clicker training is timing. You must time the click at the exact moment your dog is doing what you want to reinforce. If you quickly reward with a positive experience such as a treat, he will soon learn to associate the noise of the click with great things.
The idea is that you condition your German Shepherd so that when he hears the sound of the clicker, he knows he has done something to please you.
In the case of puppy biting, we are simply rewarding the puppy for choosing not to bite. This can be achieved by using the distraction technique described above. When the puppy makes the right choice and starts to bite on his chew toy, he hears the click and gets his treat.
If youre new to clicker training check out the below short 6-minute video which shows how to introduce your dog to a clicker and explains the importance of the timing:
Get Everyone On Board
Friends, family, and anyone else who comes in contact with your German Shepherd all need to be on board when training your dog to stop chewing. Different commands and gestures can be confusing and impossible for your dog to hold onto. Instead, make sure that you all use the same motions and phrases.
A simple way to do this is to lay the foundations as soon as the destructive chewing begins. Write down on a whiteboard all the commands that you plan to use and leave in a handy place as a reminder for everyone.
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They May Be Taken From The Litter Too Early
Young puppies learn to naturally inhibit their biting through socialization with their mother and their siblings.
A puppy does not quite understand yet the force of her own bite unless she bites too hard and the recipient reacts by yelping out of pain.
This interaction among puppies and their mother is crucial, and it happens during the puppys early socialization period between three to six weeks old.
Taking a puppy away from her mother prematurely will therefore deprive her the chance to learn important socialization skills.
As a rule of thumb, the American Kennel Club recommends that you take home a puppy that is no less than eight weeks old. By this time, the puppy should have had ample time to interact with her playmates and learn bite inhibition.
We concur that you should never take home a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old. In fact, more than half of the states in the U.S. have laws or regulations that mandate how old a puppy must be before it is allowed to be sold or adopted.
This does not mean, however, that your puppy will completely stop nipping. As the new parent, it is your job to continue training the dog so that any subsequent bites should be gentler.
For more on selecting the right German Shepherd puppy from a litter, including additional information on the proper age, what to look for in a puppy, and what to expect from ethical breeders, be sure to check out the 2 articles linked below:
Use Daily Leadership Skills
Use daily interactions as an effective way of teaching your dog about leadership.
- Feed your pup only after youve eaten and have them sit before their meal.
- Dont let your pup sleep in your bed if youre experiencing aggressive biting issues, as this may teach them they rank as high as you on the leadership scale.
- Have them sit before you take them for a walk or exiting a door.
While these dont directly stop your puppy from biting, they help communicate with your dog your leadership. If your dog sees you as a confident leader, theyre likely to respect your discipline more.
You can learn how to get your dog to start behaving by reading Easy German Shepherd Training at Home .
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Teach Your Puppy That Biting Means Game Over
If your puppy bites you while playing, that means playtime is over, with no exceptions. Yelling at or physically punishing your puppy, as strange as it sounds, is also a type of reward. It teaches them that biting gets some kind of response from you, which is known as positive punishment. This can also make them fearful of being handled. Instead, teach them that biting will get them nothing. Kathy Santo, dog trainer and columnist for AKC Family Dog, suggests turning around and tucking your hands into your armpits.
Its actually a calming signal and a minor form of attention withdrawal, she says. And be careful not to roughhouse with your young pup in ways that only encourage them to lose control and bite you.
Engage In Structured Exercise
Make sure you properly exercise your dog so they dont have extra energy to want to engage in destructive behavior and biting.
An overfed dog that is under-exercised may display destructive behaviors because of boredom and lack of energy needs being met.
Get up off the couch and go outside for a walk and sniff party. German Shepherd puppys bones arent fully fused until theyre 12 to 18 months old, so be careful in the exercises you choose.
Stimulating exercise doesnt mean high-intensity exercise.
Low impact activities and free-running are best. Choose from a list of fun and gentle, age-appropriate puppy exercises to keep your pup healthy and better behaved.
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Socialise Your German Shepherd Puppy With Other Dogs
Puppies will learn from each other and older dogs. Thats why its so important to socialize your German Shepherd with other dogs from a young age. It will help them learn to understand whats acceptable and whats not.
We often look after puppies for our friends. Our friends will often say what a positive impact they see in their young pups after spending a day in the company of our now older dog. And that can include not as much biting.
Theres another thing here too they will also tire each other out. This means your puppy hopefully wont have the energy to bite you!
Provide Appropriate Chew Toys
Ensure that your puppy has opportunities to chew and nibble on appropriate things. Teething can be very uncomfortable for your pup, and they need something to gnaw on that soothes the pain. A puppy KONG is an excellent choice, especially if stuffed with frozen wet food or softened kibble.
This Cooling Teeth Stick featured below, is another great option, as it can be frozen but still stays soft enough to prevent tooth damage. Avoid toys that they might shred and ingest, and don’t give them bones or chews that are too hard and might crack their teeth. Check out this list of trainer-recommended products for nipping puppies for more safe toys and chew ideas.
When choosing the best toys for your puppy, it’s helpful to consider their “chewsonality.” They might be a nibbler, inhaler, or destroyer with their toys and chews. Find out your puppy’s chewsonality by reading “3 Simple Steps to Choose the Best Chews for Your Dog.”
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Arent All Bites The Same
While all bites should be considered serious the circumstances and choices the dog made during the episode may give some indication as to the options the dog considered before using aggression. In general, most dogs have good control of the intensity and force of their biting.
“Dogs that are willing to use aggression to change the outcome of a situation are rarely cured.”
Some bites are inhibited and may leave no marks on the skin. Other bites may bruise, pinch, or indent the skin without creating bleeding. More intense bites break the skin, puncture wounds may be superficial or deep, multiple punctures may be present or tearing/shearing injuries may result. Some dogs may bite hard enough to crush bones. Some dogs bite once and withdraw, others bite multiple times within the same episode. Some dogs bite when threatened and when in close proximity other dogs charge from across the room.
Discipline At The Moment The Biting Occurs
You must discipline your German Shepherd at the very moment the biting or nipping occurs so that he will quickly learn and remember that his biting behavior is inappropriate.
Have you ever left your GSD alone for an hour or two and upon returning find that hes had a good chew on your possessions or on your wooden table leg, and then tried to discipline him without success?
Well, this is because your German Shepherd wont understand what he is being reprimanded for as the disciplinary moment has been missed! This is because dogs only have a very short term memory and will typically forget an experience in about two minutes.
However, if you train them well, they will remember your commands through associative memory.This means they can remember experiences, people, and places based on different associations.
Heres an example of associative memory when I pick up my car keys my German Shepherd will go straight to her bed as she has learned to associate the sound of the keys with me going out. She goes directly to her bed to relax as she knows theres no playtime for a while.