If your German Shepherd has been snapping at you, this post will show you a number of reasons why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd snap at me? Possible reasons are injury or illness, feeling threatened, it was mistreated, a lack of training, dominating behavior, frustration or stress.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd might snap out. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd snaps at you
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd snaps at you will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it does it.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might snap at you and the signs to look for.
The reason why it has been snapping at you could be that it is ill or injured. The illness or injury could be causing it to be in pain or to get frustrated which could be causing it to snap out. This would be more likely if your German Shepherd has been acting unusually in other ways as well.
If it does seem like illness or injury might be the cause then it would be helpful to take it to a vet.
Dogs will often snap out when they are feeling threatened. If your German Shepherd snapped out in a situation where it might have felt threatened then it would be more likely to be the reason. Situations, where it might feel threatened, could include getting backed into a corner, someone it doesn’t know approaching it or someone being aggressive towards it.
It might be the case that it snapped at you because it felt like you were mistreating it. This would be more likely if it did it when you were being aggressive towards it or you were neglecting it in some way. It might also be the case that you did something that it didn’t like subconsciously rather than doing it on purpose. It would help to consider if your own actions could have made it feel like it was being mistreated in some way.
A lack of training
If your German Shepherd hasn’t had much training then it won’t know how it should and should not be behaving. This is why it is important to train your German Shepherd regularly to behave the way that you want it to. The training method that I would recommend the most would be positive reinforcement training which will be discussed below.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd was doing it because it was being dominating. This would be more likely if it also shows other signs of dominating behavior such as being unwilling to listen to you, standing in your way or positioning itself to be higher than you.
In this case, it would help to give it lots of training to get it to behave the way that you want it to. If it is also aggressive then it would likely help to get the help of a dog behaviorist or a dog trainer in your area who will be able to help to train it more safely.
Sometimes dogs will snap out when they are protecting things that they think are theirs. This will commonly happen when someone tries to take something such as a bone away from them or when going near them when they are eating. If your German Shepherd snapped out when it was interacting with something then it would likely be due to possessiveness.
In this case, it would help to do lots of leave it training. But, if it is aggressive, getting the help of a dog trainer or behaviorist would likely help the most.
It could be the case that something is causing your German Shepherd to be frustrated that is causing it to act differently. There are a number of things that could cause it to be frustrated or stressed but examples could be another dog passing away, moving homes or its owner leaving.
Things to consider
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd snapped at you. Below, I will mention two particularly helpful things that you can think about.
When it started lashing out
If it snapped at you on more than one occasion then it would help to consider what happened at around the same time that it started doing it.
It might be the case that something occurred that has caused it to start acting differently.
Things that might have happened could include:
- It moved homes
- You were aggressive towards it
- You stopped giving it exercise
- It became ill or injured
What is different when it snaps at you
It would also help to consider the timing of when it snaps at you and what is different when it does it.
For example, if you notice that it only snaps at you when it is eating then it would make it more likely that it does it due to food guarding.
How many times it has done it
It would also help to consider how many times it has done it.
If it only snapped at you once then it would make it more likely to be because it was feeling threatened or because it was in pain at the time.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop snapping at you
There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd not to snap at you. The best thing for you to do with your German Shepherd will largely depend on the cause of why it does it.
Make sure that it is not ill or injured
Unless your German Shepherd seems to be snapping at you in specific situations such as when eating it would help to take it to a vet to make sure that it is not ill or injured. This would be especially helpful if it has started snapping out suddenly and if it has been acting differently in other ways as well.
If you think that your German Shepherd is likely to bite you in certain situations such as when it is eating then it would be best for you to get the help of an expert in your area. By doing so you will be able to get expert guidance tailored to your particular German Shepherd and they will be able to show you the most appropriate course of action to take.
Make sure that you are feeding it correctly
It might be the case that there is an issue with its diet that is causing it to behave unusually. You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding your German Shepherd.
If you are unsure of what food to get for your German Shepherd, consider getting dog food designed specifically for German Shepherds. You can get a GSD specific dog food on Amazon here and one for GSD puppies on Chewy here.
Avoid punishing it
It might be tempting to punish your German Shepherd for snapping at you. However, this would not be recommended. It might not be the case that it will know what you are punishing it for, it might be snapping at you because you are being aggressive and it could cause it to develop negative feelings towards you.
Instead, it would help to train it to act the way that you want it to using positive reinforcement training and to avoid getting to the stage where it begins to misbehave.
Use positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training is where you get your German Shepherd to show the behaviors that you want by rewarding it when it behaves in that way.
If you have not trained your German Shepherd to behave the way that you want it to then it would help to start doing so. I have written about how you can use positive reinforcement training to get it to lay down here and to come on command here.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
Avoid negative reinforcement
Negative reinforcement training is where your German Shepherd learns to behave in a bad way because it gets things that it wants when it does it.
Instead of giving your German Shepherd things that it wants, when it misbehaves, try to reward it for acting well and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
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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.