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Old 01-17-2012, 10:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Red face Puppy "air snapping" please help

Hello all! I am new here so sorry for any mistakes in advance, because I'm sure I'll make some haha. My shepherd ryker is 11 weeks old and is doing pretty well. I know to expect him to bite (which he does but is doing MUCH better then he was the previous 2 weeks) but lately when we correct him he will snap at the air and look at us. He also does this while playing, and I'm not sure how to correct this. When he bites just to be a bully, we grab him by the scruff and firmly say NO, which usually works. Other times, we will stuff a toy in his mouth but this doesn't work as good. We got this advice from his breeder, who has a TON of experience with this breed. Please keep in mind that this is my 2nd dog and my first shepherd. My last dog was a lab, so it's a little but if a culture shock to say the least. I got ryker because of a wonderful shepherd named Woodstock who pretty much raised me as a kid, and I was hoping fir a similar bond with this goober. Any advice is welcomed
Thanks so much,
Madi
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to you and the wonderful world of GSD's!

Grabbing his scruff, with a "no" is just ramping him up. He may need a time out in his crate when he gets too wild. Bring him to it with a nice treat and happily give a crate up command. Keep it fun/positive.
I always saw these biting times when my pup was overtired. Just like a baby, they get worse when they are exhausted(even though they want to keep on keeping on)
I would play tug with him...stuffing a toy in his mouth isn't what he wants. He wants to interact with you. You can play a bit of tug, out it, then ask for a behavior/position and reward him with the tug. Do you use a flirt pole with him? Best exercise ever for a young pup.

Because he'll start teething shortly, you have to be more gentle with the tug, but you can still go thru the motions and play(have him fetch it/bring it back for more fetch) Are you in classes yet?
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Last edited by onyx'girl; 01-17-2012 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to you and the wonderful world of GSD's!

Grabbing his scruff, with a "no" is just ramping him up. He may need a time out in his crate when he gets too wild. Bring him to it with a nice treat and happily give a crate up command. Keep it fun/positive.
I always saw these biting times when my pup was overtired. Just like a baby, they get worse when they are exhausted(even though they want to keep on keeping on)
I would play tug with him...stuffing a toy in his mouth isn't what he wants. He wants to interact with you. You can play a bit of tug, out it, then ask for a behavior/position and reward him with the tug. Do you use a flirt pole with him? Best exercise ever for a young pup.

Because he'll start teething shortly, you have to be more gentle with the tug, but you can still go thru the motions and play(have him fetch it/bring it back for more fetch) Are you in classes yet?
One of the things I always found that worked well with a puppy biting me is a soft whine like he hurt you. I don't know if they are curious about the sound or if they understand that it hurt but usually it stops them cold. Then distract them with a toy or something else.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for your help guys Ill try putting him in his crate so he'll calm down, but any thoughts on him "snapping" at the air? Is this a normal German shepherd puppy trait, or is he just being a butt head for a lack of a better word haha. And what is a flirt pole? I'm open to anything thing that tires this crazy fur ball out. We have been going on half hour (I don't want to over exert him at this young age) trail walks almost daily, but because of the weather the trails are quite yucky and he's not a fan of it. Thanks again!
Madi
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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snapping at the air when in a playful mood is normal behaviour in pups.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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snapping at the air when in a playful mood is normal behaviour in pups.
We need to be careful if we CORRECT for a play behavior. Talk about confusing for a puppy. Be like we smack or grab or yell at a child everytime they come up to play frisbee/chess/baseball with us. Heck, they just want to play and if we CORRECT that behavior we mess up their brains!

Cause my dogs also snap when excited and playful! They do it at meal times. They do it when training. And they do it when we play out doors. Normal. PLAY behavior.

So to scruff and correct isn't the right 'behavior' from us.

Much better that WE LEARN TO PLAY RIGHT, so teach them to use the toy not our body parts. Frankly, I ignore the air snapping, it's just snapping uh..... the air?

I prefer to do more of this ---> Engagement - Key to Training to teach and train my pups to stay close rather than do the 'easy' thing and that confuses with the scruffing and correcting.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for all your help guys, I never experienced a puppy "air" snapping so I wasn't sure if he was being aggressive because I'm new to the breed. What would you guys say are agressive behaviors to look out for in a young puppy? I want to be on my toes because Ryker is starting puppy classes soon and the trainer likes to know what we specifically want to work on. Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2012, 04:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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snapping at the air when in a playful mood is normal behaviour in pups.
And often in adult dogs. My 4yo male GSD will sometimes do air snapping when he waits next to the door to go for a walk - cute as **** as he snaps and then stares at me like "Well, let's get going!, NOW"
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Our Hayden does this - she's just a little over a year old. It seems to be a nervous/excited play reaction. And when she "snaps" at the air, you can really hear her teeth clacking. Once she get's the ball (or the lunge whip with the shred of toy at the end of it), and we really start playing or training, she stops.

So... is she likely to outgrow this (and her frenetic enthusiasm to be everywhere the cats are in the house - with several cats, that means she's on the move a lot, lol)? I would think if she kept it up all her life, it could end up doing damage to her teeth.
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Herding breeds tend to be very mouthy, it's all they know. And all dogs explore and communicate with their mouths.

People often forget the "shepherd" aspect of German Shepherd Dog!
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