If your German Shepherd has been biting on its paws then you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd has been biting on its paws and a number of things that you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd bite on its paws? Possible causes are fleas, allergies, having something stuck there, boredom, compulsive behavior or an injury. Taking it to a vet will likely be the best option for you.
There are actually a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might bite its paws and, depending on the cause, there are a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd bites its paws
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd bites its paws will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it does it.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why it might do it and the signs to look for.
The reason why your German Shepherd has been biting its paws could be that it has fleas.
This would be more likely if it has been itching itself in other areas as well and if you have found flees on it.
If fleas are causing your German Shepherd to bite its paws, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by doing things such as:
- Washing the bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets and throwing the bad
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Applying a spray, pellet or non-toxic treatment for the yard
- Treating your German Shepherd with a monthly preventative
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your German Shepherd to bite its paws. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).
It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that your German Shepherd started to bite its paws. For example, if it started doing it when you started using a new shampoo on it then it would likely have something to do with it.
It has something stuck there
It could be the case that it has gotten something stuck between its paws which is causing it to bite them.
This would be more likely if you can actually see something stuck between them and if it only seems to be biting one paw.
German Shepherds are a breed that should get a lot of exercise. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd gets an hour of exercise per day. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including biting their paws.
If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise then making sure that it does will likely help a lot.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is biting its paws compulsively. This is where your German Shepherd has an irresistible urge to repeat the behavior despite there being no apparent cause. This would be more likely if your German Shepherd has been biting its paws excessively, it has caused damaged its paw by biting it and if it bleeds.
It would also be more likely if it started biting its paws excessively when something happened that would cause it to develop a compulsive behavior.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
The cause of it biting its paws could be that an injury is causing them to be painful. This would be more likely if there are obvious signs of it being injured such as it not walking normally. It would also be more likely if it started doing it when something happened that could have caused its paws to become injured.
Separation anxiety is where your German Shepherd does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become anxious. Separation anxiety could be the cause of your German Shepherd biting its paws.
This would be more likely to be the case if it does it more when you are not around and if it becomes anxious when you are about to leave.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?
It was just playing
If it only bit its paws once and not excessively then it could be the case that it was just playing. This would be more likely if it is just a puppy still.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid?
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop biting its paws it would help to understand what is causing it.
There are a number of things that you can consider that will help you in understanding the possible cause. Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider.
When it started doing it
The timing of when it started biting its paws could be a helpful thing to consider.
If it started to bite its paws suddenly then it would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that it started happening.
Some things that might have happened could include:
- You started using a different shampoo on it
- Someone stepped on one of its paws
- You started noticing fleas around the house
How much it bites its paws
How often your German Shepherd bites its paws will have an impact on the most probable causes of the paw biting.
If it rarely does bite its paws or if it’s a puppy and it just did it once then less likely to be a problem and it was probably playing.
If it does it a lot then it would make it more likely to be due to things such as a rash, fleas, compulsive behavior or an injury.
When and where it bites its paws
It would also likely help to consider the timing of when your German Shepherd bites its paws.
For example, if it only seems to bite its paws when you are leaving or while you are not around then it would make it a lot more likely to be due to separation anxiety.
What to do about your German Shepherd biting its paws
Depending on the cause, there are a number of things that you can do about your German Shepherd biting its paws.
Take it to a vet
Often, a dog biting its paws will be something that a vet will be able to treat since paw biting often has an underlying medical cause such as a rash.
If you are unsure of why your German Shepherd has been biting its paws or you think that it might have a medical cause then the best option for you would be to take it to a vet.
Give it exercise
If the vet has verified that there is no medical issue then it would help to make sure that it is getting enough exercise.
You can do this by walking it for an hour per day, teaching it to play fetch or by getting a dog walker to exercise it for you.
Avoid reinforcing the behavior
If you tend to give it things it wants, when it bites its paws, in order to get it to stop, it could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior. This is because it might have caused it to want to bite its paws more so that it can get more rewards.
Instead, you could try rewarding your German Shepherd when it does not bite its paws. When it does bite its paws you could try avoiding giving it what it wants if it seems to be doing it to get something from you.
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