continuous biting

Posted by Borlandelli
Oct 29, 2008

I have a 5 month old German Shephard. She has been to obedience training but still has a big problem with biting me. She really hurts sometimes and the trainer has told me to pop her under her chin when she does this. There are times that when she does bite she does it where sometimes it is so fast and it hurst that I just react and smack her nose. I feel like all I do is pop her for biting. I am trying the technique of squealing or using ahhhh, it seemed to work the first day and today she is at it again. I had her fixed a week ago so I wonder if it might be hormone related as well. If someone could help I would be grateful. I try to love on her and all she does is bite it really hard to be affectionate to her when your afraid of the biting.
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Dec 26, 2009
Your dog is quite young so although she is nipping, it is perfectly natural puppy behavior to have fun with their mouths. It may not necessarily mean that it will become a habit, but it is important to deal with now to prevent it become something more serious.

If your dog bites you when you are playing with her, yelp loudly or do a low guttural growl and immediately put an end to any play or attention, imitating the natural behavior of her litter-mates. A guttural growl is preferable to a squeal as the alpha-dog in the packs would growl whilst the inferior dogs would be more likely to squeal. Ignore your dog completely, including eye contact, until she has calmed down. If you continuously repeat this method every time she nips you, she will realize that biting you brings an end to all the fun.

If she does continue with the biting though, put her in a 'time-out' zone. The key is not to give her any attention whilst taking her there so that she knows it is not a new game or that she holds a dominant position over you. The best way to do this is by having a short leash on her at times when you feel that she is likely to try to bite you, and take her by this lead without looking or speaking to her to the area so that she can calm down without any attention whatsoever. Leave her in 'time-out' until she has calmed down completely.

It is a good idea to avoid playing rough games, such as tug-of-war, with her as this will encourage more pushy and aggressive behavior. Don't forget to reward her with her favorite treats and lots of attention when she is playing politely as this will give her something to strive towards.

You should also reinforce your status as alpha dog with her, as she will soon be going through adolescence and be challenging for a higher place in the hierarchy. You can do this by insisting that you go through doorways ahead of her and feeding her after the rest of the household has eaten. Make sure you greet the rest of the people in the house when coming home before you say hello to her. When taking her out on a leash, be sure to walk in front of her and not let her pull you around. As she is a big dog, you may find a 'gentle leader' helpful in these cases. Don't give her attention when she asks for it, instead only play with her when you want to, with you both choosing the toy and how long the game lasts for. Keep up with the obedience training, even if it is just for 5-10 minutes a day as all this will keep her alert and attentive, seeking to do as you command. German Shephards are very intelligent dogs, so she should pick this up in no time!

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!
Posted by kjd
Dec 26, 2009

I would like to add one thing to what Robyn has said: I think your earlier trainer gave exactly the wrong advice. Popping her under the chin, unless done hard enough to hurt, is only going to look like play to your pup -- and why would you want to hurt her just because she plays rougher than you want? By following Robyn's instructions, you are teaching her, in a way she understands, that she is biting too hard. (And, I assure you, Robyn's way can teach the dog that any biting is too hard for a human to take. I taught my mother to do it when she felt the teeth of our large GSD and the dog quickly learned to take food from her with his lips, not his teeth. Note that in this case, we aren't even talking about biting, just about taking something politely.) It not only works, but it is much easier for you to do immediately. Please don't hit her on the nose. Not only does it hurt, but you may make her hand-shy. Then she will even be afraid when you want to pet her.

The rule is pretty easy, I think. If a dog gets too rough with you, let him know nicely (as when your friend slaps your back when you are sunburned). If a dog is seriously out to hurt you, do whatever it takes to stop him (as when the bully attacks you in the alley).

GSDs are smart. You will be amazed how quickly she learns what you want.