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Old 01-28-2013, 09:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Biting - Newly Adopted

Hello All,

I'm after some advice if possible. I've just adopted a 17-month old GSD boy, who occasionally jumps/bites me, when we're outside. I'm assuming it's nervousness, but having very little experience in this sort of thing, am not really sure...

Back story provided: He was kept with his brother from a puppy, (whom he apparently depended on to lead the way), by an older lady. When she sadly passed away, her carer decided to try keep them both on, but struggled & so passed them to a rescue centre. During their time before the rescue centre, they were never walked outdoors for further than ~100m. They stayed in rescue for several months before a family tried to adopt them both. They were handed back to the rescue, because they would both jump & bite when on the lead (always initiated by the dog which i've now adopted).

What i've seen: Around the house he's very well behaved, if showing a little separation anxiety (follows me from room to room, even over playing with/staying with my other dog, who he gets on very well with). I assume this is from his extended stay in rescue, and history of being left in circumstances he isn't comfortable in. He doesn't guard, is very subservient, and not vocal at all unless playing with my bitch.
When outside, he can walk fine (if pulls a little), but then without warning may suddenly jump up to my face, and start biting. I have 4 rips in my coat (arm from when i shielded, and upper back when i tried to turn away to ignore the behaviour), and a wounded finger which needed dressing. This was both on and offlead, although offlead happened in stressful situations (when walking with a friend, and their dogs reacted nervously to being separated from one of the owners, whining & struggling to re-unite), which may explain the offlead event. During the jumping/biting episodes (which last approx 20-30 seconds) there is no growling, barking, or baring of teeth beforehand, and there is no timing pattern i've been able to work out as to when this might happen - the roads were empty other than us (one attempt was with both dogs - he jumped sooner than when by himself) & the distance from home was very different. I made one attempt in the back garden, using a chain lead - as he bit through the double-layered reinforced nylon of the previous lead. He started jumping & biting before the lead attached to his collar, so i dropped the lead & walked off, he followed me to the back door & continued to jump & bite for a short while. I then walked back to the lead, bent down to pick it up, and he kicked off again before i turned around to start attempt 2.

He is on herbal calming pills provided by my vet, and did have a DAP collar (both 1.5 weeks, no visible difference yet), the DAP collar now lives on top of his crate/bed, as it snapped off during play.

Question one: Any ideas what is causing the jumping / biting?
Question two: What can i do to solve it?

Thanks very much for your thoughts!
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's really hard to tell over the internet if what you are seeing is aggression or fear behavior or fight/flight thing. Plus, at 17 months old there is alot of puppy left in him (big puppy)

What I would be working on is creating a calm leadership role for you in his life.

You start up any treat/trick training yet? Teaching a trick is the least important part of teaching tricks

If you can go up to the top narrow black bar on the forum, find User CP and add your GENERAL location then it will show up with each post under your avatar like my Poconos thing. Someone may have a behaviorist/trainer to recommend.

Home Page Holistic Behavior Solutions

That's a place in NJ but you can see that if you live in Alaska it won't help you..

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Old 01-28-2013, 10:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It sounds like this dog has a low frustration threshold; he becomes frustrated easily and takes it out on you.
We had a dog with this same issue and he was very difficult to manage.
It's tough to build frustration tolerance in a dog over 1yr. of age, I'd say 6-8 mos. in fact, but you could try working with some of these techniques.

Mind Games (version 1.0) by M. Shirley Chong

I wish you luck
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Sounds like the OP is in a place where they might want to see a behaviourist, rather than a behaviorist.

This definitely sounds like a nervous behavior and a nice, new replacement behavior can be trained. He's definitely trying to communicate!

But a trainer, used to working with dogs who are new to being dogs w/humans who want to work with them, would really be a great thing for you.

Fearfuldogs.comhas a lot of info too.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Some German Shepherds are very mouthy, especially if they are not taught bite inhibition as puppies. I suggest dramatically increasing the exercise, off leash fetching in a safe environment. I would also teach him to always carry a ball or toy in his mouth, to diffuse the stress and give him something to work on. Young German shepherds can be pretty rough. I would also suggest to up the obedience and practice NILIF. He sounds like a good dog, apart from this.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I second Rebel's advice. Remo used to always carry a Frisbee in his mouth when we leash walked. If he did not have the Frisbee to occupy his brain he tended to try and nip me on the rearend. We never did figure out WHY - but it worked! The Frisbee also served to make a huge GSD look a little less intimidating!
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Maybe a halti would also help when walking give you so control of his head by giving him less lead to jump up. Lots of training maybe some clicker work. I think it is great that you are giving this guy a chance at a good life
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Any signs of aggression/fear when he starts jumping and nipping? I.E. barking or growling?

Could be just excitement and trying to get you to play!

our guy has always been very very mouthy but did fortunately learn very good bite inhibition. Even today he will seem to snap sometimes when we pat him on his hindquarters but now when i say OW he will change to licking.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Tasha carries around a ball in her mouth most of the time and she looks far less intimidating and pretty much like a goof. If you can get him to carry something in his mouth I would definitely try it.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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GSDs following you everywhere in the house is a normal thing in my experience
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