If your German Shepherd has been biting other dogs, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might bite other dogs and a number of things that you can do to stop it.
So, why does my German Shepherd bite other dogs? Possible causes can be that it didn’t get enough socialization as a puppy, it is dominant, it’s protecting its owner or territory or it is due to its prey drive if it only does it to small dogs.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd does it and there are a number of things that you can do to stop it.
Why your German Shepherd bites other dogs
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd bites other dogs will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might bite other dogs and a number of signs to look for.
It hasn’t had much exposure to other dogs
When German Shepherds are puppies they will bite each other. When one puppy bites another too forcefully the other puppy will react negatively which will teach it not to bite so hard. If your German Shepherd didn’t interact with many other dogs as a puppy then it might not have learned to control its bite.
This would be more likely if you know that your German Shepherd didn’t interact with other dogs much as a puppy or if it was adopted from a shelter.
Another possible reason could be that you have an overly dominant German Shepherd.
If this is the case then it could be that your German Shepherd is trying to assert its dominance over the other dogs.
Signs that this could be the reason would include your German Shepherd displaying other dominant behaviors such as trying to position itself in higher positions than you or being unresponsive to your command (although that could also be a lack of training).
It’s protecting you or its territory
German Shepherds are very protective dogs and they are used as guard dogs for this reason.
It could be that your German Shepherd is trying to protect you or its territory from other dogs. This will likely stem from a lack of socializing with other dogs from an early age but other signs would barking and growling at other dogs from a distance as well.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
It has a strong prey drive
German Shepherds have a strong prey drive. This means that they will often not get on very well with cats and small dogs. If your German Shepherd seems to only do it to small dogs then it is likely to be due to a strong prey drive.
If it does then I have written about what you can do to stop your German Shepherd from attacking small dogs, in the past, here.
You get emotional
German Shepherds are highly attuned to the emotions of their owners. When their owners start to become anxious it can cause the German Shepherd to start to get anxious as well. If you start shouting at it when it is around other dogs it might be causing your German Shepherd to start to get more aggressive.
Instead, it would help to stay calm and to pull it away from the other dogs when it starts to get aggressive and to get it to calm down.
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop biting other dogs it would help to figure out what is causing it to happen.
Below, I will mention a few particularly helpful things to consider.
When it first started doing it
If your German Shepherd didn’t always bite other dogs and it only started to do it suddenly then it would help to consider what happened when it first started doing it.
It could be the case that another dog was aggressive to it which has caused your German Shepherd to be less trustful of other dogs. It could also be that your German Shepherd has gotten an injury that has caused it to start being more aggressive.
How old it is
It would also help to consider the age of your German Shepherd. If it is still young then it would be likely that it hasn’t learned to control its bite yet. It would help to allow it to socialize with other dogs in a controlled way.
What types of dogs it does it to
It would also help to consider whether or not it only seems to be doing it to small dogs. If it does then it would make it more likely that it does it due to being dominating and due to its prey drive. I have written more about what to do in this case here.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop biting other dogs
There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to stop biting other dogs that I will mention below.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
Calm it down when it starts misbehaving
One option you have would be to get it to calm down by grabbing ahold of it or putting it on a long lead when it starts to get aggressive. Then you would get it under your control whenever it starts misbehaving again.
You can watch the video below to see more on how to go about doing it.
Positive reinforcement training
One option you have is to train your German Shepherd to stop the bad behavior by using positive reinforcement training. This is where you teach your German Shepherd that it will get things that it wants when other dogs are around. This will help to get your German Shepherd to have positive feelings toward other dogs.
One way to do this is to try the “open bar” technique where you give your German Shepherd positive attention and a treat when you see other dogs on a walk. The positive attention and treat should stop when the other dog goes away and when your German Shepherd starts to become aggressive.
The treat should also be a special treat that you only give to your German Shepherd when other dogs are around.
You can also try “shaping” where you reward your German Shepherd for making small steps towards being well behaved.
You would start by rewarding it for not reacting when it sees other dogs and then you would gradually build up to rewarding it for playing nicely with other dogs.
When you’re doing this you will want to reward your German Shepherd for being well behaved before it has a chance to become aggressive and to bite other dogs so avoid making large jumps in what you ask of it.
For example, if you start out by rewarding it for being well behaved at a distance then don’t close the gap between you and the other dog too quickly.
Instead, do so gradually so that your German Shepherd can make small steps without being poorly behaved. This can be difficult to do if you just have one German Shepherd so you could get a friend with a dog to help you out.
One option is to try desensitization training where other dogs are presented at a sufficiently large distance so that it doesn’t have a chance to give a negative reaction or to bite them.
You’ll then reward it for doing so and then gradually lower the distance. When it does give a negative reaction increase the distance until it stops and then
Take it to a growl class
There are classes, available, in some areas where they train their dogs not to be aggressive towards other dogs and people. If there is one in your area then you could consider taking yours to one.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you are unable to get your German Shepherd to stop biting other dogs or it gets overly aggressive then you could get help from a certified dog behaviorist in your area.
Most Recommended For German Shepherds
Best German Shepherd Training Program
Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient dog, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now.
Best German Shepherd Guide
Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.