Biting is a natural German Shepard puppy behavior. Puppies explore their world with their mouths, and they use their teeth extensively in play. Puppies spend a great deal of time playing, chewing and investigating objects. All of these normal activities involve puppies using their mouths and their needle-sharp teeth. When puppies play with people, they often bite, chew and mouth on people’s hands, limbs and clothing. It can be cute at the beginning, but a puppy’s teeth are very sharp and they don’t know how hard they’re biting, so the puppy raising experience will generally include that one moment when Fido playfully bites down on a finger and draws blood.
Puppies often mouth on people’s hands when stroked, patted and scratched (unless they’re sleepy or distracted)
Teaching Your GSD Puppy to Be Gentle
Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing, When a pup bites a playmate too hard the victim yelps and stops playing. Through this kind of interaction, puppies learn to control the intensity of their bites so that no one gets hurt and the play can continue without interruption.
Modeling Correct Play: DO NOT encourage wrestling and rough play with your hands, instead, perform noncontact play like fetch and tug-of-war. Re-direct chewing instincts toward appropriate chew toys such as Kongs, soft plush toys and tug of rope toys. Substitute a toy or chew bone when your puppy tries to gnaw on fingers or toes. Provide plenty of interesting and new toys so that your puppy will play with them instead of gnawing on you. You can satisfy your puppy’s urge to mouth things with non-contact games, but remember to never let the tugging become too aggressive, and teach your puppy “let go” or “leave it” command, so that you can always remove something from his mouth without an aggressive response.
Positive Reinforcement: When you play with your puppy, let him mouth on your hands. Continue play until he bites especially hard. When he does, immediately give a high-pitched yelp, as if you’re hurt, and let your hand go limp. This should startle your puppy and cause him to stop mouthing you, at least momentarily. (If yelping seems to have no effect, you can say “No!” in a stern voice instead.) Praise your puppy for stopping an resume playing. If he bites too hard again, give another yipe and do another time out. It’s important to remember, though, not to pull away from the bite. This can trigger your puppy’s chase instinct and make the problem worse. Don’t repeat the limp and yelp process more than three times in fifteen minutes — when you get to that point, it’s time for a puppy time out. Do not use physical force or punishment, such as hitting him or holding his muzzle closed, or he may become aggressive or learn to fear your hands. If you find that yelping alone doesn’t work, when your puppy delivers a hard bite, get up and move away for 10 to 20 seconds. Play with your puppy until he bites hard again. When he does, repeat the sequence above. After you have had some success, instead of giving your puppy time-outs for hard biting, start to give him time-outs every time you feel his teeth touch your skin. Be sure that the room is “puppy-proofed” before you leave your puppy alone in it
Alternatively, you can keep a leash attached to your puppy during time-out training and let it drag on the floor when you’re there to supervise him. Then, instead of leaving the room when your puppy mouths you, you can take hold of his leash and lead him to a quiet area, tether him, and turn your back to him for the brief time-out. Then untie him and resume whatever you were doing.
Deterrence: If a time-out isn’t working, some German Shepard Puppy owners use a taste deterrent, such as Bitter Apple Bitter Cherry, and YUCK No Chew Spray, that are designed to prevent a dog from licking or chewing by putting an unpleasant taste in their mouth. Spray areas of their body and clothing that your puppy likes to mouth before you start interacting with him. When training, place the product on any objects you don’t want him to lick or bite once a day for two to four weeks. If he mouths you or your clothing, stop moving and wait for him to react to the bad taste of the deterrent. Praise him lavishly when he lets go of you. After two weeks of being punished by the bitter taste every time he mouths you, your puppy will likely learn to
Distraction: If your puppy gets all riled up and starts mouthing you when you pat him, distract him by feeding him treats from your other hand to help him get used to being touched without mouthing. Once your puppy can play tug of war safely, keep tug toys easily accessible. If he starts to mouth you, immediately redirect him to the tug toy to encourage him to look for a toy when he feels like mouthing.
If your puppy bites at your feet and ankles, instantly stop moving your feet and wave a toy enticingly. Only when your puppy grabs the toy should you start moving again. If no toy is available, just freeze and wait for your puppy to stop mouthing you. The second he stops, praise and get a toy to reward him..
Provide plenty of opportunities for your puppy to play with other puppies and with friendly, vaccinated adult dogs. This will help to socialize her, and those dogs will also assist in the process of teaching your puppy when a bite is too hard.
Help with persistent mouthing or biting:
Because mouthing issues can be challenging to work with, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a Certified Professional GSD Trainer such as Vom Issam Haus Ontario Breeders of purebred German Shepard dogs for group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of assistance with mouthing.