If your German Shepherd keeps nibbling you this post will show you why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd nibble? Possible reasons are that it wants attention, it’s teething, it hasn’t been trained not to, excitement or you might have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd does it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd nibbles
Each of the different reasons why it does it will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might keep nibbling and the signs to look for.
It wants attention
The reason why it does it could be that it wants attention. This would be especially likely if you tend to give it more attention when it nibbles you and it does it when you have not been giving it much attention.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day but to train it not to nibble you using the tips below and to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it.
It hasn’t been trained not to
While German Shepherds are an intelligent breed, they do still need to be trained to act the way that they are supposed to. If you have not trained your German Shepherd not to nibble you then it won’t know that it is not ok. You can see some training techniques you can use below.
The reason why it nibbles you could be that it is exploring. When German Shepherds are puppies they will begin to explore the world with their mouths and noses before they even begin to open their eyes. Interacting with things using their mouths is a habit that they will often keep into adulthood.
If your German Shepherd is still a puppy then the reason why it has been nibbling on you could be that it is teething this would be more likely if it has also started to nibble on other things as well.
In this case, it would help to train it not to nibble you using the tips below and to do lots of “leave it” training as well. It would also help to give it lots of things to chew on such as chews or toys.
The reason why your German Shepherd nibbles you might be that it gets excited and it is trying to show its excitement.
This would be more likely if it only seems to nibble 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 nibbling you.
In this case, you could try ignoring it until it starts to be well behaved and then to reward it with the thing that it wants.
You have inadvertently reinforced it
It might be the case that you have been inadvertently reinforcing the behavior. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things that it wants when it starts to nibble you. Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it does it and to give it lots of training so that it learns not to do it.
Things to consider
Below are some things that you can consider to help you in figuring out why it might be doing it.
If it has always done it
If your German Shepherd has only started nibbling you suddenly then it would be more likely that something has caused it. If it has started to nibble suddenly then it would help to consider what happened at around the same time that it started doing it.
Some things to consider would be:
- If you rewarded it for nibbling one time
- If it started nibbling other things suddenly (this could be because it is teething)
- Someone mistreated it (this might suggest that it is anxious)
If it has always nibbled you then it would be more likely that it is because it hasn’t been trained not to do it.
What is different when it doesn’t nibble
If it doesn’t always nibble then it would help to consider what is different when it does not do it. For instance, if you find that it doesn’t tend to nibble you when it has gotten a lot of exercise then it might be that it nibbles you because it wants to get you to give it exercise.
How to stop your German Shepherd from nibbling you
Below, I will mention a number of things that you can do about your German Shepherd nibbling you.
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 nibbling, you would:
- Stand up turn away and hide your arms when it starts nibbling 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 nibbling
- Repeat the above until it learns that nibbling 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 nibbling with positive reinforcement training.
Avoid reinforcing the nibbling
While positive reinforcement training can be highly effective it can also work against you. It is important to reward your German Shepherd when it is being well behaved and to avoid rewarding it when it nibbles you.
Give it distractions
It would also help to give your German Shepherd things to be distracted with such as toys or chews to chew on. This would be especially helpful if it is in the teething phase.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you can’t figure out why your German Shepherd nibbles you or you can’t get it to stop then it might help to get help from a dog trainer or behaviorist who will be able to give you expert advice tailored to your particular German Shepherd.
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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.
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Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.