Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Yep, at that age (or at least at that age with those issues), you need to either be giving him your full attention or have him somehow restrained (crated, tethered to you, or in a stay are all good options) so he can't get into trouble.
He's not acting out for attention necessarily, he's acting out because it's fun! What dog doesn't like getting into smelly laundry and garbage? If he's bored and he can do it, why not? Even nipping you can be described that way. Sure he wants attention, he wants you to play! And when you turn around and swat him or chastise him, that's the start of play, right? Kind of? It's something to do, anyway!
So what you need to do is make extra sure that his need for exercise (both mental and physical) is being met--and young GSDs can be very smart and very energetic, so that can take a lot! And then otherwise, control his life so that he doesn't have the opportunity to get into trouble. As he matures a bit more (and you continue to provide him with enough exercise and mental stimulation), you should be able to relax your control without him getting into trouble, but at this point he's very much a baby still and is just trying to play and explore his environment.
Also, if you do choose to go the "stay" route, remember his age...don't expect him to stay there too long. Young'uns of all species only have so long of an attention span and you want to set him up for success by not expecting too much of him too soon. I personally prefer tethering the dog to me for that reason, because they have some freedom to move and figure out how they want to be but they're still not able to get into trouble.
Finally, one thing that worked for me with the playful nipping/jumping my dog used to do is to give a clear "I'm ignoring you" cue. I turn my back to him, cross my arms and look at the ceiling. He can do what he wants, I don't speak at all or move except to turn my back again if he comes around to my front, and I don't relax until he's been calm for a couple of seconds, at which point I'll pet him--going back to ignoring him if he reacts rudely. After a week or so of doing that consistently any time he was rude, all I had to do was cross my arms and look up for a second and he'd immediately chill out. I initially learned that trick for jumping but I found it very successful with nipping too, as long as you trust your dog not to escalate into biting.
The rowdy dogs:
Hector-2 y/o GSD (mix?) rescue
Scooter-12 y/o ACD/Border Collie mix
Bandit-8 y/o ACD
Wooby-14 y/o ACD
Abutiu "Abi"-ACD puppy and hopeful future SAR dog!