If your German Shepherd keeps mouthing you, this post will show you why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd mouth me? Possible reasons are that it is teething, it wants attention, it’s exploring, it hasn’t been trained not to, the behavior has been reinforced or it is excited.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd mouths you. Depending on the cause there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd mouths you
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd mouths you will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and the signs to look for.
It wants attention
The reason why it mouths you could be that it wants your attention.
This would be more likely to be the cause if it starts mouthing you when you have not been giving it attention for a while. It would also be more likely if it does it when you had just left it alone for a long time.
If that is why it mouths you then it would help to give it more attention in the form of exercise, training and playing games such as tug of war in addition to training it not to mouth you.
It is exploring
Dogs interact with the environment using their mouths and their noses as much as they do with their eyes and even more so when they are puppies.
The reason why your German Shepherd has been mouthing you could be that it’s interacting with you. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.
Even if this is the case it will still be important to get it to stop by training it not to mouth you.
If your German Shepherd is still a puppy then it might be mouthing you because it is teething.
When they are teething their gums will be painful and biting on things can help to soothe their gums.
If this is the reason why your German Shepherd is mouthing you then it would be likely that it would chew on other things as well.
In this case, the best option for you would be to give it lots of toys to chew on and to do positive reinforcement training with it (discussed below) so that you can get it to behave the way that you want it to.
It wasn’t trained not to
If your German Shepherd is not a puppy anymore then the reason why it mouths you is likely to be that it never learned that it is not ok to bite as a puppy.
If you did not train it not to mouth you as a puppy or you adopted it then it’s not too late now for you now to train it to stop. You can do so by following the tips given a few sections below.
It has been reinforced
It could be the case that you have been inadvertently reinforcing the mouthing.
If your method to get it to stop mouthing is to give it things that it wants such as toys or a treat then it could have learned that mouthing you results in it getting things that it wants.
This would be more likely to be the reason if it is older than 6 months old and it is no longer teething.
Instead of giving it things that it wants, when it mouths you, a better option would be to withdraw your attention and to not allow it to mouth you by leaving the room, for a few minutes, if necessary. Then after waiting for a few moments, you would go back to giving it attention and withdraw your attention again whenever it starts mouthing.
The reason why your German Shepherd mouths you could be that it gets excited and it is trying to show its excitement.
This would be more likely if it only seems to mouth you when you’re about to do something that it likes such as to go out for a walk. It would also be more likely if it tends to show other signs of excitement when mouthing you.
In this case, something that you could try would be to stop it from mouthing you by standing up and turning around or by leaving the room. You would then reward it when it shows signs of behaving the way that you want it to. Doing this will teach it that mouthing you does not get it what it wants.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop mouthing you it would help to consider what is causing it to do it. Below, I will mention some things that you can consider.
When it started doing it
It would help to consider when it started mouthing you. If it has always done it then it would be more likely that it’s natural behavior and you just need to train it not to mouth you.
Whereas, if it started to mouth you it suddenly it would be more likely that there is something else causing it.
Some things to consider would be:
- If you moved home
- If you rewarded it one time
- If it started to act differently in other ways as well
How old it is
If your German Shepherd is still young then it would make it much more likely that it mouths you naturally because it is teething.
Nevertheless, it would be important to train it not to mouth you so that it doesn’t do it when it is older.
If it is an adult then it would be more likely that it never learned not to do it.
However, if it started to do it suddenly and it didn’t do it in the past then it might suggest that something is wrong such as that it is in pain.
When it does it
Considering when and where it mouths you would likely help a lot in determining why it does it.
If it tends to mouth you when it is time for it to get a walk then it is likely trying to remind you of that.
Whereas, if it mouths you whenever it gets excited then it would be likely that it does it naturally but it hasn’t learned that it is not ok to mouth you.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop mouthing you
There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to stop mouthing you 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.
Train it not to
The first thing that you can try is positive reinforcement training. This is where you reward the behaviors that you want to see from your German Shepherd.
To use it to get it to stop mouthing, you would:
- Stand up turn away and hide your arms when it starts mouthing leaving the room if necessary.
- Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts mouthing
- Repeat the above until it learns that mouthing causes it to lose your attention
- Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well
You can watch the video below to see more on how to get your German Shepherd to stop mouthing with positive reinforcement training.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training can be very effective in getting the behavior that you want from your German Shepherd. However, it can also work against you with something known as negative reinforcement.
Negative reinforcement is where you reinforce bad behaviors by giving it things that it wants when it does things that you don’t like.
Instead, of giving it things that it wants, when it mouths you, try the positive reinforcement technique above.
Give it distractions
Another option you have is to give it things such as toys or chews to be distracted with. This would be particularly important if it is in the teething stage.
Get help from a dog behaviorist or trainer
If you cannot get your German Shepherd to stop mouthing, you don’t know why it does it or it does it aggressively then it would likely be very helpful if you could get the help of a dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so you will be able to get tailored advice for your particular German Shepherd.
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Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.