Biting/ mouthing or nipping for German Shepherd puppies is pretty normal behavior, it’s not strange why people call them ”land sharks”. Although puppy biting requires proper training, an adult German Shepherd biting is a serious problem that needs to be fixed.
German Shepherd who bites/mouth so much probably never learned not to do that during his puppyhood. So he is not properly trained. Some German Shepherds bite out of fear or frustration and this behavior clearly indicates that such dogs have a problem with aggression.
In this case, professional help is necessary. Another problem is if German Shephard hasn’t learned bite inhibition -he doesn’t know how human skin is fragile and how to control the force of his bite. Sometimes the owners unintentionally encourage their dogs to bite by waving their fingers or toes in front of the dog’s face or slapping the dog’s face to get him to play. Biting behavior may occur in older German Shepherds due to chronic pain or canine dementia.
Why German Shepherds Bite So Much?
German Shepherd that bites so much as an adult dog most probably received poor training when he was a puppy. Mouthing behavior is completely normal for puppies, they discover the world around them by nipping, mouthing, biting, and chewing the objects but the humans as well.
If a German Shepherd puppy wasn’t trained properly which means that his owners didn’t teach him that biting humans is not acceptable, didn’t give him chewing alternatives like toys and other objects that can bite without consequences. Human skin is very fragile, but puppies don’t know that, they have to learn. If puppies didn’t learn bite inhibition, they don’t know to control the force of their bite as adult dogs which may cause serious injuries to human skin even if the dog is just playing.
Adult German Shepherd can bite out of fear or frustration. Dogs will feel fear if they are cornered or trapped. If the dog thinks that he needs to defend himself, most probably will think that good offense is the perfect solution. If your GSD wants to reach something and he cannot because someone or something is holding him back, he might try to bite whoever or whatever stops him.
If you suddenly wake up your dog or your child does that, your GDS might be startled and slightly disoriented which may lead to biting. That’s why is very important to teach your kids not to wake up their dogs, nor to crawl into their beds as any dog caught by surprise may bite.
If your German Shepherd didn’t learn where is his spot in the ”pack” and sees himself higher in rank may show aggression and bite family members.
Dog breeds like German Shepherd that once served a specific function for humans (they had guarding and protective role) and today rarely fulfill their original purpose, certain individuals may still carry ancestor’s DNA which means that some German Shepherds are simply predisposed to some type of aggression which may cause biting.
Sometimes instincts simply win even though the German Shepherd was properly trained as a puppy. For example, some dogs may show predatory canine behavior which means that they will try to grab and bite any fast-moving object. Even the owner can provoke such behavior by waiving the fingers in front of GSD’s face.
German Shepherds may also bite if they are in pain or injured. Being sick or injured can be quite stressful and overwhelming so in that situation, even the most patient and serene dog can bite.
Do German Shepherds Bite Their Owners?
It’s highly unlikely for a trained German Shepherd to bite his owner but of course, it can happen. If the dog is sick/ injured or in pain, if he feels trapped for some reason, if he has been abused or neglected, it might happen that he attacks and bites his owner.
That’s why you should build a trusting and loving relationship with your dog right from the beginning. You need to socialize your dog from an early age, work on obedience training with your dog, always use positive reinforcement.
How To Stop A German Shepherd From Biting?
If your GSD has issues with biting that didn’t have before, you should visit the vet to rule out any medical cause.
In case the vet is certain that your dog doesn’t have any illnesses or other medical issues, you can get a recommendation for a good dog behaviorist.
Don’t rely on TV dog trainers, they cannot help in this situation, especially if you hear them say ”Don’t try this at home”. There is a good reason for this.
Observe your GSD. It’s very important to know his body language and how does he look, how does he behave when he is calm /relaxed and when is upset/ afraid.
If you have a German Shepherd that likes to mouth/bite offer him an alternative like a toy or chew bone when he tries to mouth your hands or other parts of your body.
GSDs like to mouth/ bite when being patted or scratched. If your dog is like that, then keep some tasty treats with you and give them when you start petting him. This way his focus will pass from mouthing your hands to enjoying tasty treats.
Try not to play rough games with your dog, avoid wrestling and do something else like tug-of-war or play fetch. Non-contact games are less likely to provoke mouthing and biting in dogs.
Provide plenty of interesting toys, chewing toys for your GSD. Also, make sure he plays a lot with his canine counterparts. If he is physically and mentally stimulated, if you make him opportunities to spend all that energy he has, mouthing / biting accidents will be less probable.
Teach your GSD impulse control by exercising ”sit”, ”wait” and ”leave it” with him.
Some GSDs like to mouth/bite any moving object even your feet. If you have such a problem and your German Shepherd likes to bite you at your feet, as soon as this happens stop moving your feet.
It would be good if you have his favorite tug toy so you can distract him by waving the toy. When your dog grabs it, you can continue walking. If you don’t have a tug toy with you at that moment, it’s important to freeze and don’t move until he stops mouthing you.
As soon as he stops doing that, praise him. With time, he will learn to stay still while you pass by and not have an urge to bite you at your feet.
As soon as you feel your dog’s teeth on your skin, make a high-pitched sound and walk away from him. You should ignore him for 30-60 seconds. If he tries to follow you in order to nip you again, leave the room and go somewhere where he cannot come.
Stay there for another 30-60 seconds. After this period, return to the room where your dog is and resume whatever you were doing with your German Shepherd.
Biting is a way of communication for dogs. They express some discomfort, fear, anger, and a variety of different feelings by mouthing and biting. Note that there are other ways of communication that come before biting like growling, for instance, don’t ignore it.
To be sure how big a problem you have with your GSD and biting, please do check Dr.Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale. It seems that if your dog is level 4 or above, he has a serious biting issue and professional help is needed.