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Hello Everyone,

I am new around here and I am in desperate need of help. I have a 3-month-old GSD puppy. His name is Rex and he is showing normal puppy behavior. I don't see any signs of aggression but when he is held down just for a little, he stiffens up and starts growling. That is the only aggression I have seen from him.

Now the problem I have with Rex is his biting. I try my best to correct his biting but then he will throw a temper and want to bite more. (Saying no, timeouts, ignore him). As he gets older, it gets worse and worse. I can't even pet him anymore. Every time I try to reach my hand towards him, he goes for the bite. Doesn't matter if I am trying to put on the leash, pet him, take his collar off, fill his water bowl, move his toys, untangle him with the leash... his first reaction is "Chomp". Not a nibble... not a lick... just "chomp" "chomp". If I leave my hand there, he sinks his teeth in, if I try to move out of the way quickly, he thinks its play time so now he has to bite faster and harder. And if I don't play with him, the temper kicks in with the barking and leg biting which is followed by a timeout but then resumed once he is free again.

I try my best sometimes to stay calm and remember he is a puppy and doesn't know better, but there were times where I had to use my hand to make him let go or stop with the biting because I was bleeding or in pain. I am trying to use positive reinforcement on him but it's not working. He has more toys than I had as a child. I feed him top quality food and give him treats only when he obeys commands and does something good like sitting calmly on the floor or play with his toys. I keep him busy with a kong and other toys to stimulate his mind. I could do a better job of letting him roam free outside but here in Arizona, during the day it gets too hot for his puppy paws so every night I take him for a small walk, let him loose outside, play with his flirt pole to get some of that energy out of him.

Now just recently he started developing this new behavior where he would start biting my feet and legs, jumping on my leg to try to bite my arm, go crazy and ignore every command. I call this the "Anarchy mode".
He first started doing it outside and now he is starting to do it inside the house. I am not sure on how to correct his behavior by other than giving him a timeout or ignoring him. (ignoring him makes it worse, I literally have to start wearing jeans in this hot weather to protect my legs.)

Here is a list of things that don't work.
1. Bitter Apple spray (gets him more frustrated and bite harder)
2. Redirecting his attention to something else like a toy (he will bite it for a few seconds and then go for the hand instead)
3. Redirect his energy to training (bring out the treats, tell him to sit, lay down, focus, get up) If there are no treats he will flat out ignore me and go with the biting)
4. Get him tired with the flirt pole (I try to go in sessions of 10 minutes during the day because it's too hot outside. After a session, if I try to pet him, its a 50/50 chance he will bite me. If his eyes are focused on his distractions, I can pet him, If not, he will bite me.
5. Treats in General. I am noticing that I have been giving him too many treats to try to train him. He has stopped cleaning out his bowl of kibble and only eats what tastes better. So I will stop giving him treats for the next few days and only reward him during training with kibble and cut down on the amount I pour into his bowl.

Rex is my second German Shepherd. The one I had before him did bite and nibble when he was a puppy too but it stopped right after 10 weeks and never got worse and he grew up into an amazing guard dog. With Rex I am worried that his biting will get out of control and when he gets older, I don't want him to have an accident. I am trying to figure out a routine and strict schedule I can keep him on right now so that the biting can stop. Right now I work at home so I spend a lot of time with Rex and I want to take advantage of this opportunity to train him right before I start working a 9-5 in the near future.

Any tips or recommendations are greatly appreciated. If you want to see pictures of Rex, I have posted a few on Instagram @d_tahirovic. It's not private so you don't need to follow :p
 

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That sounds...absolutely normal. GSDs are notorious land sharks. You probably got lucky with your last puppy, honestly. Most puppies will make you bleed, they will chew on your clothes and bite you and make you look like you've fallen down the stairs.

You've had this pup for what, 4 weeks at this point? Training a pup bite inhibition takes MONTHS, typically. Some people have said they couldn't pet their puppy like a normal dog for up to a year, sometimes! The key is consistency. It sounds like you've used at least three different methods (no, timeouts, ignoring). Typically, saying "no" doesn't actually tell the dog anything and might actually get him amped up, timeouts do work but need to be used in the correct context, and simply ignoring and standing there and letting him chew on you is just painful. The method below seems to work the best:

First, if puppy starts biting you, redirect to a toy and praise for using it. If the pup continues to chew on you, get up and walk away. Step over a baby gate, close a door, whatever, just withdraw all attention. Then, 5-10 minutes later you can try to play again. If the puppy still wants to chew on you, pop him in a crate or pen to calm down. Rinse and repeat. This takes a long time, and consistency.

Also, sometimes being overtired can cause puppies to lose some impulse control and bite and go crazy! It's typically called zoomies and is kind of a happy release of the last dregs of energy. Again, when he starts making inappropriate contact with you step over a baby gate, into a pen if you're outside, or put a physical barrier between you and the pup and then ignore. Nothing fun happens unless he acts right! You could also carry a slip lead with you and slip that over his head, then tether him until he calms down.

Why are you holding him down? Most dogs don't like that, so his reaction is not surprising.
 

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That sounds...absolutely normal. GSDs are notorious land sharks. You probably got lucky with your last puppy, honestly. Most puppies will make you bleed, they will chew on your clothes and bite you and make you look like you've fallen down the stairs.

You've had this pup for what, 4 weeks at this point? Training a pup bite inhibition takes MONTHS, typically. Some people have said they couldn't pet their puppy like a normal dog for up to a year, sometimes! The key is consistency. It sounds like you've used at least three different methods (no, timeouts, ignoring). Typically, saying "no" doesn't actually tell the dog anything and might actually get him amped up, timeouts do work but need to be used in the correct context, and simply ignoring and standing there and letting him chew on you is just painful. The method below seems to work the best:

First, if puppy starts biting you, redirect to a toy and praise for using it. If the pup continues to chew on you, get up and walk away. Step over a baby gate, close a door, whatever, just withdraw all attention. Then, 5-10 minutes later you can try to play again. If the puppy still wants to chew on you, pop him in a crate or pen to calm down. Rinse and repeat. This takes a long time, and consistency.

Also, sometimes being overtired can cause puppies to lose some impulse control and bite and go crazy! It's typically called zoomies and is kind of a happy release of the last dregs of energy. Again, when he starts making inappropriate contact with you step over a baby gate, into a pen if you're outside, or put a physical barrier between you and the pup and then ignore. Nothing fun happens unless he acts right! You could also carry a slip lead with you and slip that over his head, then tether him until he calms down.

Why are you holding him down? Most dogs don't like that, so his reaction is not surprising.
Hi Lillith,

Yea it's normal, I am just trying to figure out a way to correct it by creating a routine for him to go through every day. It has gotten to the point where I have to wear Jeans all day lol and the Arizona heat doesn't make it more comfortable.

So far a little over 4 weeks so we are still working our way through it. He was born on Feb 20th a day right before my birthday :p. Got him at 8 weeks. His biting has been getting more painful as he grows but its part of the puppy experience. To be honest, timeouts work the best. But each day is different. Some were better than others.

Thanks for the tip I will be sure to try it out the next few days. I definitely need to start giving him more exercise at night. It is just too hot during the day. He goes out for a few minutes for his potty breaks and runs right back in. So during the day I try to focus on training and mental stimulation. So at night, I can get him tired for a full nights rest.

What are signs that the puppy is overtired, is it red eyes? I did notice Rex having red eyes a few times and I think it because he hasn't been getting enough sleep which is weird because he sleeps most of the day. It might be because his naps are getting interrupted by my keyboard when I am working at home.

As for the holding down part. It only happens at the vet. Rex loves going to the vet, he is usually the first on in the door....But...when its time to take his temperature or to feel his tummy, he won't have it. The last time I took him to the vet, I was told to bring a muzzle next time. The vet had to hold him down or rather close to her chest and have his head focused forward. He would try to turn his bed to bite the vet, but when he was held down, the growling started and then the snapping. So yea lol
 

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You can work on some impulse control even at this age, too. Look up some impulse control games for dogs. I practice these regularly with my dog and have since I got him at 4 months old. I show him that I have a high value treat in my hand, then close my palm. He'll nose at my hand, paw at it, etc. When he stops, I open my hand. If he goes for the treat, I close my hand again, and repeat until they get the point of the game. With a young puppy that bites (he may just start attacking your hand) this may have to be in small baby steps and it may take a while just to be able to put your hand out without him biting, but eventually, he will get the game. Watch for signs of over frustration - it may have to wait until he is older, but I think learning the basics of impulse control could help you immensely. Also look into different versions of this game.
 

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Hi Lillith,

Yea it's normal, I am just trying to figure out a way to correct it by creating a routine for him to go through every day. It has gotten to the point where I have to wear Jeans all day lol and the Arizona heat doesn't make it more comfortable.

So far a little over 4 weeks so we are still working our way through it. He was born on Feb 20th a day right before my birthday :p. Got him at 8 weeks. His biting has been getting more painful as he grows but its part of the puppy experience. To be honest, timeouts work the best. But each day is different. Some were better than others.

Thanks for the tip I will be sure to try it out the next few days. I definitely need to start giving him more exercise at night. It is just too hot during the day. He goes out for a few minutes for his potty breaks and runs right back in. So during the day I try to focus on training and mental stimulation. So at night, I can get him tired for a full nights rest.

What are signs that the puppy is overtired, is it red eyes? I did notice Rex having red eyes a few times and I think it because he hasn't been getting enough sleep which is weird because he sleeps most of the day. It might be because his naps are getting interrupted by my keyboard when I am working at home.

As for the holding down part. It only happens at the vet. Rex loves going to the vet, he is usually the first on in the door....But...when its time to take his temperature or to feel his tummy, he won't have it. The last time I took him to the vet, I was told to bring a muzzle next time. The vet had to hold him down or rather close to her chest and have his head focused forward. He would try to turn his bed to bite the vet, but when he was held down, the growling started and then the snapping. So yea lol
You correct it by being consistent and patient. It won't happen overnight. It will take months, and that is fine. Each dog is an individual, and it takes some longer than others to learn. And yeah, you may have to wear some protective clothing. But I would set up little areas that you can escape to until the pup calms down or use the slip lead method. He will eventually learn that such behavior will only make you and fun disappear.

Overtiredness varies from dog to dog, but I've always found that it is general unruliness, increased biting, zoomies, barking, just being kind of crazy and incorrigible. Red eyes sounds more like allergies, or perhaps an infection, which you may want your vet to check out. If its draining green or yellowish goop, you will definitely want to get that checked out.

Sounds like you need to work on handling. Basically, that's getting the dog comfortable with having his paws, face, ears, eyes, and tummy touched and manipulated by heavily rewarding the interaction. You can probably google some videos on teaching handling. I think Kikopup has some good videos on YouTube you can watch.

Muzzle training also isn't a bad idea, because they're might be a time when your pup gets injured and needs to be muzzled to keep everyone safe. There's probably a video on YouTube for that, too, or google the Muzzle Up Project.
 

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As mentioned, GSD puppies are notorious land sharks, with some being bitier than others. Consistently working on what is and is not acceptable is the key to surviving it.

This is an online class that is all about cooperative care, stuff like nail trims, brushing, bathing, muzzling, and yes, having his temperature taken. https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/2392 The class starts on June 1st, and enrollment is open now. Tuition starts at just $65 for the six week class, and once you enroll, you can join the school's main Facebook group, as well as the student group for that class, and get lots of support from a very friendly and supportive community.
 

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Oh yeah, this is totally normal gsd pup behavior. Its going to take some time to grow out of. Biting ankles and pants legs and such is prey drive. Fun stuff for the pup. Sounds like this pup has some drive to him. Thats a good thing, but like the others said you have to figure out how to manage the biting until he grows out of it.
It sounds like your doing alot of things right so thats good. The gsd I have now was a biting machine as a puppy. It gets better but takes time. I can say that alot of the normal advice for this probably wont work with this puppy. That desire to bite things will bulldoze straight through with these dogs. When he goes into tantrum mode put him in his crate for awhile. Its like a human toddler. They get tired, they get insane and if you dont put him down for a nap it gets worse.
Play with him, work with him like you've been doing, then put him in his crate or ex pen when you're not directly interacting with him. He needs more rest than play at this age anyway. Animate his toys to make them more exciting than your body parts lol. Teach him to play tug, try different things for tug and see what he likes. Could be he likes a towel or rag, or something harder like a piece of rope.
This pup is probably going to be alittle more high maintenance than your last one from the sound of it.
If he's food motivated make some trails with tiny treats and teach him to use his nose. Anything that'll engage his brain.
You might also benefit from reading some articles on leerburg.com. lots of info there.
 

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I paid a LOT of money to get exactly this behavior. It is desirable in the breed as long as it is not hectic and nervy!

You mention holding your puppy down and he growled. Don't do this. Ever. It creates conflict between you and the dog and it can damage your relationship with the dog. Not all German Shepherds WANT to be petted.

Regarding the biting. As mentioned above, IMPULSE CONTROL GAMES are essential. Do not "correct" the dog.. teach the dog how to control itself with these games.

Also, get a ball on a rope. Or two (better). I like the ones from this place: www.hightrialk9.com This toy is ONLY used when you interact with the dog and is put up out of the dog's reach when you are not playing with him. It is a special toy. Only for these times. When he goes for your hands push the ball at him. Typically young dogs will go for the rope and not the ball. Coil the rope and remove that option as much as possible. Play tug with this toy. LET THE DOG WIN. Teach him to "out" the ball and trade (first for food, then for the second ball). This redirects the biting.

If you watch Police dogs and working dogs you will see them carrying a ball like this almost all the time when they are being walked. If you can get your dog to eventually do that, you are ahead of the game. The dog will drop it's own stress by squeezing and clomping on the ball. You can always grab the rope and add some tug if you are in a stressful (to the dog) situation.

You may have a darn nice humdinger of a dog. Do you have any photos????
 

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Rex is a good looking pup, looks confident and friendly. Adding to what Lillith suggested:
1. Look up the term, 'Bite Inhibition' and related training methods. Dr. Ian Dunbar described the method about 45 years ago.
2. When Rex nips you, then make a repeatable sound - Yelp, Ouch!, Oops, or the appropriate profanity. This 'word' is going to be the 'signal' for Rex.
3. When you say this word with emotion, Rex may startle, and stop nipping momentarily. You can Praise, Pet him, or offer an appropriate chew toy.
4. If, instead, he continues to nip you after you praise ... or rather than the chew toy ... then say the word again, and turn your back for about 15 sec.
Withdrawing your attention from Rex for a brief time may get his attention ... or he may nip your legs etc. If he doesn't nip, then Praise, Pet, or offer a chew toy. If he does escalate and nips when you turn away, then you must escalate, Say the word, and leave him alone [in a timeout], going out of sight for 15 sec.
5. Continue this process, increasing the timeout by 15 sec. increments. After 2 min., simply end the interaction.
6. If you are consistent, this method can take 3 days before the puppy begins to understand your reactions. As Lillith wrote, it can take a few months for Rex to stop nipping. And, reading up on "Bite Inhibition" will help you understand this process.
 

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I'm incredibly thankful for this thread! I, too, have a puppy who bites like the ****ens and she seems to do it more than I remember my first dog did about 25 years ago, LOL. SO. Much. To. Re-learn... I have to try the technique of saying ouch and walking away. So far I've been telling her to sit and settle before she gets attention and at night she just turns into an ankle biting terror. Telling her to sit has helped, but I need more help and I think that ignoring her may do the trick :)

Again - THANK YOU!
 

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Search through the Forum for Bite Inhibition. Saying ouch! or some other word may get the pup's attention, but it also serves as a marker to let the dog know you are about to withdraw attention. Then, she will have to figure out why you just said Ouch!, and being consistent will help her learn the Behavior, response, consequence sequences...
 

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Our first GSD lab mix used to be super bitey. He would nip hard, and found great fun in biting ankles and toes. We tried redirecting, scolding, etc to no avail. What finally worked for us was bite inhibition training as mentioned above. We also taught him the word "Gentle". We began by sticking our fingers directly in his mouth with the command. If his bite was soft he was praised. If he nipped a little too hard, we said OW! and walked away. When he began to get the idea, he was told "NO!" if he bit too hard followed by the "Gentle" command. Keep a rope or something on hand in case it turns into a game for him. If he's wanting to play the bitey game we gave him a rope and turned it to tug of war. He's two now. Still super sweet, kinda bitey haha. But through bite inhibition training he will just mouth if he needs to get his point across (like if he's hurt). Or if he wants to play we just give him a rope and he's stoked. I also found it helpful to mess with his mouth a lot. Tons of short frequent sessions of just putting my hands in his mouth, and messing with his teeth, tongue and gums. It just becomes such a regular occurrence that it loses it's novelty and it's no longer a fun game to bite the hand that feeds them. Same if the dog growls and nips when handled. Begin handling them frequently. hold their paws, pull their ears, tails, etc. Pick them up and hold them. Be gentle about it of course! The idea is to get them used to being touched and handled. Be it a child that tugs an ear, or a vet poking and prodding. My 2nd GSD lab mix would growl any time I would hold her tail, or push her away unwillingly. I just made it a habit of handling her daily until she was used to it. If she had no reaction she got a praise. Now she doesn't care, or react at all to being handled or mildly annoyed.
 
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