As a new puppy owner, nipping can be a nightmare for you, but this is normal for puppies. Yes, their sharp teeth can hurt, and German shepherds especially have a prey drive and so as a puppy, nipping can be a real cause of concern for you.
Although this behavior is normal in most puppies, your puppy may turn out to be a dangerous adult dog if not curbed early.
Because German shepherds were originally bred to herd, a process which often included biting and nipping, it is a part of their nature to be aggressive and as such if your German shepherd puppy starts biting, you need to start curtailing it as soon as possible to avoid future problems such as puncture wounds, legal battles, confiscation or even euthanasia.
The scissor-like bites of German shepherds exert more than 1060 Newtons or 238lbs of force, according to the National Geographic Television show, “Powerful Encounters.” This article will explore why puppies bite and nip so much and ways you can curb this.
Why Does My German Shepherd Puppy Bite So Much?
German shepherd puppies particularly love to bite and nip so much. Here are some reasons:
- Their Natural Prey Drive
German shepherds have a natural prey drive as they are always ‘hunting’ for anything they see in the house from flies to balls to small critters and eventually to your hands, ankles and pant legs. It even becomes worse if they’re nipping your hands, and you try to pull them off. That increases their drive as they perceive it as a challenge.
- Their Herding History
German shepherds were originally bred to herd farm animals. Due to this, they are fond of chasing and gathering moving things, and they do this with their mouths. They were meant to control and organize farm animals, and they often did this by gripping the top of their necks or their ribs with their teeth.
When puppies are young, there are puppy herding trials conducted, according to breeder and herding expert, Ellen Nicklesberg, who explains that puppies are selected based on how hard they grip. This ranges between damaging and less damaging bites, full mouth bites and puppies that bite and hold on. This tells us that biting and nipping are indeed a part of the German shepherd.
- Early Teething
Around 2 weeks old, your puppy will start teething, a situation that can be very uncomfortable and painful for it. Just to get comfortable, they tend to chew on anything they find, including your hands. This could go on for 6 months.
- They Love to Explore with Their Mouth
All puppies, regardless of breed, go through a stage where they will explore the world with their mouths. Puppy nipping is a completely normal behavior most puppies go through.
It’s similar to the mouthing period babies go through when teething. However, in German Shepherds, the behavior may be more pronounced and more intense than in some other breeds of puppies.
- They Were Separated Too Young
If your puppy was taken from the mother and other puppies within the first two months after birth, this can affect its socialization, as these are crucial months for such purposes. Puppies learn to control their bite when they are together.
Once their bite feels too strong for the affected pup, the scream and sometimes a scold from the mother dog informs the puppy that, that was too much, and they’re going to control it next time. This process is very crucial for puppies and as such if a pup is taken away, it misses this and tends to be very violent with its bite.
How To Stop Your German Shepherd Puppy From Biting
- Training Your Puppy
Training your shepherd puppy is very important, but training it at an early age is even more important. Without early training, your dog will miss out on so many developments and turn out with many issues you would not want to see. Socialize your dog as part of the training and let them know what boundaries not to cross. Let your dog know if it bites too much.
- Give it Toys
Giving your puppy toys to chew on distracts it from biting and is also a good way to exercise its teething. Once you notice that your dog wants to chew something or even your hand, you can quickly give it toys to chew on. You can keep these toys with you during training sessions or walks, so you can easily reach for them when need be.
- Have Some Phrases or Commands
From its early stages, you should establish a phrase or command with your dog so that once you issue that, it knows it has to stop biting. You can gently say “ouch” when it bites you. This should be a consistent phrase anytime it bites you, so it will know that biting hurts you. This could help your dog stop biting or reduce its biting force.
- Swap Negative Attitude for Positive Ones
The greatest training techniques for your puppy are those that use positive reinforcement to guide them away from undesirable habits and toward desired ones. These techniques are perfect for strengthening the link between you and your dog because they don’t entail harsh punishment or reprimands.
Simply reinforce the behaviour with a treat or verbal praise when you offer your dog a chew toy rather than a bite, or when you give them a command that they immediately obey. You disregard improper conduct. They’ll quickly start to link rewards with good conduct and quit acting out when they don’t get any attention.
- Play Games with Your Puppy
GSDs need to be mentally and physically occupied through games and interactive play because they are such strong and athletic animals. The greatest opportunity to implement training methods and get your GSD accustomed to them before biting out of control is during games.
There are a ton of games available, but it’s best to stay away from violent games or those that reward violence, like tug of war. Play simple activities like fetch or Frisbee, so you can teach your dog to return the ball when called.
At 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.
Why Is My German Shepherd Puppy Biting So Much?
German Shepherd puppies bite mostly because they simply want to play. However, they do also bite for other reasons, such as curiosity and wanting your attention. Keep in mind that these dogs have a high prey drive and are instinctual herders, and these traits can also lead to biting.
Training your dog at an early age is very important, as not doing so will be detrimental when your dog is an adult.
Exercising your dog, socializing it, giving it treats and distracting it are some ways you can help your puppy reduce nipping or control its biting force.
Once your puppy can control the nipping and becomes well-behaved, you are in for a healthy and comforting relationship with your shepherd friend.
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