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Air Snapping

4143 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  thor wgsd
I was just reading through a thread and this term was mentioned.
Shayla did this a couple of weeks ago and I took it as an attitude thing as I was ignoring her while she was trying to push me around in my chair. She is a very strong minded girl and gets right in my face when she wants something.

Telling her 'off" and "get off" doesn't work when she gets like this so I normally just spin my chair so my back it to her and she gets the picture.

She kept doing this the one night - so I held her paws for about half a minute and told her off.

She sat down on her haunches and "air snapped" at me twice to use the posters terms.

Is this normal for all GSD's and is it an "okay, Im frustrated" attitude from her or just an unhappy attitude cause she wasn't getting what she wanted right at that time?
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I fostered two females. The older more dominant one would snap at the air when the younger one kept bothering her. They never fought but it was more of a "i don't want to play type thing."

It can look very agressive because their large teeth and the loud snap it makes but I would think 80% of the time it's just a back off warning. Unhappy attitude.
My female has done this to other dogs and people, though not recently thank goodness. While it *looks* aggressive, she has never actually bit someone and has very good bite inhibition when playing with or correcting other dogs. My trainer told me NOT to correct the air snap because it's considered a warning, not a bite. If I correct it, then the next time she is pushed she will go straight to a bite. Instead, I've paid close attention to what is going on when she does this. That way, I can learn to work on her triggers, desensitizing her to whatever makes her "snap" and managing the environment so it doesn't happen.

I don't know if this is significant or not, but I've never heard my dog growl. The air snap or just curling her lip seems to be her warning of choice. She is just not vocal, doesn't growl and bark at other dogs. Sometimes this is stressful for me because most humans don't know what to look for as far as warning signs of a dog getting stressed. My in-laws think it's funny to tease their Cocker until he starts growling ferociously. If they tease Kenya, the miss all the signs leading up to the air snap, such as her avoiding eye contact, turning her head away, her mouth closing shut and her face tensing up. Hence most of them are no longer allowed to TOUCH my dog or go near her unless I explicitly say so. They just aren't dog savvy enough. Growling sure can sound aggressive too but sometimes I feel it would be easier if she just growled rather than used all these facial expressions as her warnings. Luckily, I've gotten really good at "reading" them and managing them appropriately. I've also done TONS of training and socialization with her so things that made her fearful in the past are no longer issues. There are one or two in-laws I still don't trust around her, but the rest of them I've been able to teach to "read" the signals and also worked on socializing her with so many people. The air snapping thing hasn't been an issue for us in a long time, but I wouldn't be surprised to see her do it again in a new, stressful situation. I will be watching for it when we get our new dog...
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Normal for Bretta. She does it when she's excited and impatient. So at mealtime (cause she has to sit/stay before I release her to eat). As well as at the startline at our agility trials (when she has to sit/stay until I release her).

No aggression for Bretta with behavior. Just a 'let's go go go, and now now now'.
Both Kacie and Onyx do this when playing with each other, teeth bared and growls with snapping but they know better than to really bite each other! It is a bit intimidating when I am in bed and sleep in past 7:00 they jump in and start in. I then tell Onyx to get a toy so she has something to occupy her mouth! They do not do this behavior when playing with us. I am dogsitting a GSD(who lives without other dogs)and she is getting the dynamics of this air snapping play, she also has been doing it, but the dogs get what is going on, though I supervise diligently
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Originally Posted By: wrenny

It can look very agressive because their large teeth and the loud snap it makes but I would think 80% of the time it's just a back off warning. Unhappy attitude.
I don't believe it was an aggressive thing and it didn't seem aggressive at the time....which is why I was wondering if it was a
frustration thing because she felt she needed something at the time and I was ignoring her because she was up and in my face to tell me.
Dexter dose the air snap thing too, mostly when he is frustrated or barking or overly excited never in an aggressive manner (hes only a pup) When i was training him to speak he kept air snapping, so I trained it out with a clicker as a Whisper trick, and the speak separate its very cute. I got the idea from my first trainer who's agility cattle dog would do the whisper it was so impressive and everyone in the class wanted to learn it. However not all dogs do this, I almost think its a herding breed thing, so if your dog keeps it up why not mark that behavior and make a cool trick out of it.
That's a great idea! My pup does that as well sometimes when he is supposed to speak so shouldn't be too hard to make that a separate trick!
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