The German Shepherd breed is renowned as one that is good at protecting its owners and their property. But, what people fail to mention is that this dog is also notorious for biting, not just intruders but his owners too!
Reasons, why a German Shepherd may bite, includes teething, fear, wanting attention, poor genetics and temperament, lack of adequate training, being rewarded for biting, or just exploring their mouths and biting skills.
Let’s explore why a dog would possibly bite its owners and how to stop it before it gets out of control!
Why Do German Shepherd Bite?
So, ‘why do German Shepherds bite? There is no hard and fast answer to this question. But the main reasons would often be his upbringing and past (if he is adopted).
In other cases, it is a completely random act and every individual dog can differ, even if they are from the same litter. Sometimes even being taken away from their mother and siblings too early can affect their social skills and affect aggressive nature.
Here are the many other reasons why your German Shepherd may be biting you.
What else can a bored dog do?
Even worse if you have not trained him well. Nipping at ankles and hands will be a common way for him to entertain himself. The German Shepherd is traditionally a working breed and making him sit idle will attract some unwanted habits.
Enough exercise is compulsory with this dog breed! Also, make sure there is enough variety of exercises to make it fun.
Biting is a dog’s best defense!
So in situations where a dog is under threat and needs to defend his territory or family, he will turn to his best defense of biting. But, it is not just a defensive dog that bites. Dogs also use biting when in fear and this action is usually misunderstood.
Instead of understanding the reason behind the biting, people pin it down to aggressiveness. Plus, a German Shepherd with a background in an abusive household can be more likely to bite. Another dog that also has a tendency to attack is the Akita.
A Herding Breed
Dating back to when the German Shepherd was first bred, his original purpose was herding livestock.
Although the breed we see today may not be 100% the same as its ancestors, the herding tendency still exists. This might be why at times your German Shepherd will nip at your ankles. He may even try to round up the kids!
Genetics can’t be changed and it is all up to training and personal characteristics.
Incorrect/Lack Of Training
Suppose you have adopted your German Shepherd from a shelter as an adult. His biting habits could be a result of incorrect or even lack of training. Obviously, his previous owner has not taken an interest in training his German Shepherd as a puppy.
The biting tendency can stem from puppy breeders who sell their puppies too early! During this process, puppies are taken away from their mother and siblings without having socialized enough.
This will affect the dog as he grows up, especially if the owner does not make an effort to train him.
They Have High Prey Drives
German Shepherd dogs have a high prey drive and there is no way to totally eliminate this!
The slightest movements and faintest sounds are bound to draw the attention of your German Shepherd. Your dog easily starts chasing small animals and even insects in the yard.
It becomes understandable that even after some time, your hands, ankles, feet, and even clothes become a target!
Finding Their Mouths!
Biting could even be a German Shepherd puppy’s new favorite pastime!
This is expected when dogs are young and haven’t understood the full power of their mouths. Especially after teething and they have just grown their permanent set of teeth.
It could even be brought about by teething. Either way, biting is an exciting activity for them.
A bite on the hand from your German Shepherd could mean “hey I’m here”! He wants to get your attention. This occurs more when you are busy with something else and he thinks you are neglecting him.
If you give in to his demand, he will think that this will always work. Ignoring him when he does this will not cure this unwanted habit. Instead, you must train him to stop this habit forever!
Biting anything including you could be a sign of teething in a German Shepherd puppy!
Teething is natural and is the process of growing and replacing teeth. It is not a fun journey but there are ways to assist your dog the entire way through teething.
If teething is the cause of your dog biting, provide him with safe and durable chew toys. Just till the teething ends, then real training can begin.
Too Much Energy!
Having too much energy at the end of the day will invite mischief.
This is exactly why dogs need exercise, and the German Shepherd needs a lot of it! Apart from biting, expect your German Shepherd to run around a lot indoors or scratch and chew up the furniture!
At the end of your day, your dog should be a bit tired instead of energetic, or else you might not get a peaceful night’s sleep.
A sad reality of today is unethical breeding practices being followed by some breeders. Instead of picking out healthy parents with good temperaments, they are picked out based on their appearance.
So, although a German Shepherd puppy may look appealing, his characteristics may be far from being the best!
If a German Shepherd is bred from pedigree parents, the price is bound to be high. Breeding lower quality dogs incorrectly lower prices and invites higher sales.
Points to Consider Before Seeking Professional Training
If you have any intentions at all of tackling your German Shepherd’s biting and mouthing, establishing some points is important.
Below pointers will help to guide you in the right direction when it comes to training.
How Severe Is The Biting?
Is the biting so severe that you end up with bite marks and even bleeding? If there is blood and scars about it, you need external professional help! You must employ the help of a specialist trainer that has experience with such dogs.
But, if your dog doesn’t bite too hard and it just seems like mouthiness, training him yourself is possible. Either way, you have to find a way to stop him from doing this forever.
When Did It Start?
Is the biting something that has started recently, or has it been happening since puppyhood? Answering this question helps to get around to the cause of the biting. Whether it is a lack of training or just your dog’s genetics and temperament.
Sometimes a dog’s behavior can shift when something happens to them. Perhaps someone has been aggressive towards them, a family member moves away, or you are moving into a new house with your dog.
Getting to the cause of the problem can help to solve the problem or make him comfortable with his new surroundings. This should also lessen the number of biting instances.
Situation Causing The Bite – When and Where?
Ever notice that your dog is biting your hand at the same exact time every day? You might have not picked this up! If it happens at a regular time like clockwork, maybe he is trying to remind you about something.
Maybe he is making sure you don’t forget walk time or feeding time! If he is biting you at a random time and all over your arm and legs, it could just be a sign of bad behavior. Whatever the case is, you should make him know that both are bad behavior.
Was your dog from a shelter and already an adult? If he has been adopted, it is very likely that his previous owner did not train him.
So maybe you have a German Shepherd puppy who playfully bites your hands and arms. Teething could be the culprit for making him want to bite you. But, this is no excuse for bad behavior and you have to train him to bite something else.
Getting Your German Shepherd to Stop Biting
You can’t live forever with teeth marks and wounds on your arms, hands, legs, and ankles! It has to stop for the good of both you and your German Shepherd. There are a number of things that could work to reduce your dog’s tendency to bite!
If left untouched, a German Shepherd’s ill habits will become stronger!
This makes it harder to train him as an adult. To avoid this, training must start early on. Sometimes training is so tough that even owners find themselves on the losing side of their dog’s teeth.
This is quite common in German Shepherds and owners can avail professional trainers to get the right type of training for their dog. A behaved and well-trained German Shepherd is the only type of German Shepherd you would want.
If you want your dog to behave well and stop needlessly attacking you, you have to keep up with training. Training him later and not carrying on support for that training can cause your dog to lapse back into his old biting habits.
Owning a dog requires this dedication and if you do not have enough time, a dog that is easier to train might be a better option!
A dog will easily take advantage of a lax owner and this can initiate other behavioral issues.
Don’t Reward Biting!
For a lot of dog owners, making the dog bites end through rewarding is easier than putting in the time and effort of training him.
But, that is only a temporary solution to ending the painful dog bites. Also, it is the incorrect way of stopping the biting, you are literally avoiding the elephant in the room!
Rewarding your dog when he bites you is actually against your favor. It motivates him to keep doing it again and again. This is because he knows very well how it will end! You have to hold your nerve and surprise him by not giving into the easiest solution.
Keep Him Occupied
German Shepherd dogs mostly have high energy levels and very few like to sit still and do nothing! This dog is best when given a job to do. But, even then he needs to know to draw a line between work and play. Playtime could easily become a bit too physical.
Provide Ample Items to Chew On
Some German Shepherds may have a natural tendency to bite things. This is fine as long as he is not biting furniture or people! Apart from training, there is another way to confine his biting to certain objects.
Introduce some items that he can chew on. Train him so that whenever he feels like biting and chewing, he’ll know to go to these certain objects. You can offer him bones, toys, and other chew-centric dog toys.
Yes sadly a German Shepherd can attack its owners, but not without reason. Some possible reasons for him biting family members are ill-treatment, past trauma, or teasing and praising biting behavior from a young age.
Unless you are mistreating your dog and have not trained him properly, then you should not worry about your GS turning on you. Yes, you may have to be strict with this dog breed but, you also have to form a connection with your dog. Asserting yourself as the leader is vital and you also at the same time have to show him you love him!