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Old 12-19-2012, 07:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question 6 month old GSD bites only me

Well I am brand new to this site! Anyway I joined because I recently acquired a very skinny, very nervous 6 month old white GSD. I had been planning on getting a GSD pup in the spring, and I had been in contact with virtually every reputable breeder in michigan in preparation for my new addition. I had my heart set on a future litter of German working lines from a wonderful breeder. She had explained to me that although I was looking for a family companion and not a shcutzhund dog, every litter usually has a couple of pups with lower drives that would suit family life perfectly. And then she said if I wasn't interested in working lines, she could reccomend some really good german show line breeders. I was impressed with her honesty, and so I planned on getting a pup from her in the future. All that came to a screeching stop when a friend of mine told me about a dog for sale that she had seen in grand rapids. She told me he was a very sweet dog but WAY too skinny and fearful, so she had passed on him. I thought about it, and decided to take a dog out of a bad situation, rather than purchasing a dog from a wonderful breeder that I knew would wisely find homes for all her pups. So that's how I ended up with Apache. I have no idea what happened in his past, his previous owners couldn't have been more vague about his circumstances. I know he's 6 months old, and I know they claim to have gotten him from someone in their area. When I first got him home, I had to carry him up the stairs because he was so frightened of them he laid down shaking and refused to move. Needless to say, it hasn't been easy. He wasn't potty trained, and the simplest tasks like bathing him were terrifying to him. He had NO clue how to properly walk on a leash. Well, I've only had him two weeks, and he's put on about 10 lbs, and walks at my side on the leash with no tension, and is completely house trained. He runs up and down the stairs like its nothing, and I've bonded with him very strongly. He's my little shadow, loyally following me from room to room. He barks when he first sees people, but when I tell him it's ok, he promptly ignores the person. He doesn't show affection towards anyone but me; my children and my fiancÚ, he tolerates and ignores. He's NEVER shown any signs of aggression towards them, he just acts like they dont exist. If one of them tries to tell him anything he doesn't even look at them. With me he acts like a puppy. He's ears and head go down and his tail starts wagging like crazy when he sees me, even of I've just walked into the bathroom and out again. When I sit with him on the floor he comes straight to me and buries his head in my lap. He's do sweet and affectionate towards me, completely different than what he acts towards others. He has one thing that really bothers me. He bites me constantly. He doesn't do it to anyone but me, which leads me to believe its an affection thing for him. He never bites super hard, he just mind of clamps down on my arm slightly, and likes to hold it there.
He seems to do this when he's happiest, like when I get down to his level to pet him. I love him dearly, but I wake up with sore arms every morning! Why does he do this? And how can I stop it? He has no aggression. Like I said, he barks at strangers but he never tries to approach them. He will just stand by my side and bark till I tell him it's ok, then is instantly quiet. He will surrender his rawhides with no problem, and I have pet him while he was eating simply to gauge if he has food aggression, and it doesn't phase him at all. This biting thing is annoying though, I have to admit. I am glad he only does it to me, but still, although he's six months old, he's as big as a full grown female GSD, and he has a firm grip. He doesn't seem to have a prey drive either, we have a cat that he ignores just as thoroughly as he does everything else, so I don't think he views me in that way either. But since I've ruled out aggression and prey drive, that leaves me with no understanding on how to deal with this biting. Does anyone else have a dog that acts this Way? I am also worried about frightening him as he's just gotten his confidence back, and I'm not wanting to shatter that. I know this site is full of very experienced people who love the breed so any advice you guys have is very welcome!
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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thank you for saving him He sounds like he is really bonded to you, the biting, sounds like he's 'mouthing' you, (harder than you'd like but he probably doesn't realize it's hurting you)

And it could be an 'affection' thing, since it's not aggressive..My thoughts are, he just doesn't know it's hurting you and doesn't know it's not really acceptable.

With that, does he like toys??playing tuggie games?? Get a good tug toy, when he goes to mouth you, start playing with him with a toy..OR, if he's food motivated, keep treats on you (YUMMY high value treats!) when he puts his mouth on you, work on him to "leave it', as soon as his mouth comes off you, treat him//good boy!

We insist on pictures of your new boy!!
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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He does love toys! Lol I have never seen a dog that enjoys toys more in fact! Thanks for the suggestion, I never even thought about just placing a toy in his mouth whenever r clamps on my arm! That's perfect! It's a very non violent way to handle the situation, and exactly the kind of suggestion that fits the situation. Thank you! And I will post pics as soon as I figure out how to do that from an iPhone lol. Thanks again! I'm going to get on the floor with him right now and try that out
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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And by the way I love the look of the dog in your profile pic... I go crazy over those sables the way car guys go crazy over Jaguars! My dream dog is a sable just like that one. This white boy has won my heart, but before I got him, I was planning on a sable. I told my fiancÚ I HAD to have a sable. Shallow of me but they are so beautiful and fierce looking. I know a lot of people love the tan/black red/black coloring, but I can't even look twice at them if they are standing near a sable!
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with what's been said. It sounds like he's really bonded with you, and it just sounds like he's showing his affection and potentially trying to "herd" you with his mouth. I'd tell him something like "OW!" very suddenly so he breaks his focus, and then switch it out for a toy, and when he takes that instead, praise like crazy.

As for getting him to pay attention to other members of your family, it's important for them to keep your puppy as engaged as possible while they're trying to maintain his attention and focus...i.e. high value treats (cheese, turkey, ham...mine loves cheerios!) and make a game of it! I've found that when I'm training with my GSD, a single treat per trick/command doesn't really cut it. I figured out that if he does something good, even if in the beginning it was simple, I'd give him 4 or 5 high value treats one after the other, and really try to engage him, and run around and keep his focus and attention by making training into a fun game for him, instead of a static exercise.

It sounds like you have a lovely dog, and a companion for life, it really is just a matter of being as consistent as possible with training, and not letting your blood boil when they're being a brat
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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thank you, the girl in my avatar is my 4 yr old Masi. I've had many gsd's over the years she is my first sable colored dog, altho I went for 'temperament' over color.

Good luck to you, he sounds like a great boy, and definitely try the toys/food rewards for not mouthing Keep us updated!
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Redirect, redirect, redirect! Toys will definitley be your best friend.

As an aside, I would recommend trying to work on his bonding with your family. It's probably not a big deal now because o fhis age, but if he goes through a bigger fear period or starts maturing there might be problems down the road.

Have them do some training or take over some duties for his care so he also bonds with them. I think it will be more fun for everyone!
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm trying to include a pic
Not sure if it worked or not! Ok I have been trying the redirect thing with him and I think he is catching on. I tried the 'owww' and he kind of tilted his head at me like I was crazy lol but it did work to get him to stop! When I hand him the toy to redirect that also stops him for a couple of minutes, I'm sure if I keep at it he will catch on, he's a smart boy and really tries so hard to please. That's why his potty training was so easy, the first time I caught him in the act I told him no and made him watch while I cleaned it up and took it outside and set it where I wanted him to go, and he never had an accident since! I sincerely see why so many people love the breed, although I think he is a lot lower drive than most GSDs. He's a very 'cuddly' looking dog, and my family is hurt by the fact that he has no interest in them. My fiancÚ has tried enticing him with treats and my kids try to get him to play with them. He will let anybody walk up and pet him, it's really odd though, it's like he looks straight through them. It honestly is the only time I've ever seen a dog go so far out of his way to ignore something. I had wondered if in m fiancÚs case Apache was just fearful of him, but he doesn't cower or avoid him, he just acts like he isn't there. I'm flattered and honored to be the object of Apaches affection but its also inconvenient since he absolutely will not let my fiancÚ take him out for walks and to go to the bathroom, so guess who it is taking him out 8-10 times a day to walk and go to the bathroom? Yours truly! My fiancÚ tried to take him out, but all the wonderful things Apache does for me on the leash, heeling and such, does not happen for my fiancÚ. I don't get mad, because if I am not willing to brave the cold Michigan weather for Apache, then I don't deserve him. But I feel guilty that Apache is so indifferent towards my family. Is there some kind Of treat that is like irresistible to dogs that I can have my family give to him? Right now I have a package of deli turkey that I use just for him for treats, is there something dogs are ecspecially partial to? I want everyone to love Apache the way I do, and right now, my fiancÚ marvels at how smart he is and how calm he is, but he hasn't formed that bond with him. I'm going to try everyone's suggestions again though, and see what happens! Thanks again everyone!
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Another pic of Apache, he's got some big goofy ears! I am not sure if he's going to grow into them or not, but they make me laugh!
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My Stella used to not really pay attention to anyone except me. She wouldn't listen to my dh and was a bit fearful of my son. But now she loves to play with both of them. We didn't really do anything special. They just kept playing and petting her and she finally figured out that they were fun! But the circumstances are not the same so I don't know if that would work for you....
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