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Hello, I have a 7 week old German Shepherd puppy named Maksim.
I got him when he was 5 weeks old, far too early I know but that is a different story entirely. At first he was a calm sweet little boy who cuddled with me and needed me with him just to go to sleep, which I assume was because he was so young and missed his mother. He would even let me cradle him like an infant, I didn't think he had a dominant bone in his body BOY WAS I WRONG. About two weeks ago everything started to change at first he was just a little more rambunctious and rowdy which I associated with him stepping into the "toddler" stage. Now he bites me all the time, not just mouthing, but actual biting, when I try to play, when I walk, when i try to teach him something, all the time! If i try to put him on his back he fights and acts like I'm trying to kill him. He defies me. He thinks he is the alpha and nothing I do seems to help. When he bites, I get up and ignore him, I always make sure to walk through doors and into rooms first, I never loss a stare down with him, I am doing everything I know to assert my dominance without being to aggressive. I feel like he hates me and that upsets me. This isn't my first rodeo training puppies, it is though my first time training a German Shepherd. I feel like his behavior is MY fault and that I am not doing something right for him.
 

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Your puppy is neither defiant nor dominant. He is simply a puppy. Check out the puppy section on this board. There is lots of excellent information and also lots of threads just like yours with strategies for teaching bite inhibition (very important for a pup who has left his litter so young) and dealing with an energetic young pup!
 

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He's still just a baby and figuring out this strange world. There are a lot of happy positive ways to deal with the landshark phase. I strongly suggest reading the puppy sections of this forum especially http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/puppy-behavior/85888-puppy-biting-teaching-bite-inhibition.html

I know when I first brought my puppy home I was miserable and thought I was doing something wrong, nope it's a GSD thing. I wouldn't worry about the whole "dominance, pack leader" business, first concentrate on establishing a solid bond and the respect will follow.
 

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The problem is one that he missed that critical time with mom and litter to begin bite inhibition. The second is he's a GSD pup, and they are just like that. You have to adjust your thinking and way of dealing to what he is. I don't think he's being dominant, just typical. An alpha will assert himself in a different way than this. When a vet tells you that you have the alpha, then you can worry about that. He sounds typical to me.
 

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You have a baby dog who should still be with his mother.
What you are saying is equivalent to calling a human infant defiant for crying and pooping in his diaper.
What you are doing by rolling him is scaring him to death. To dogs, this is really frightening because being rolled on the back is what happens before another dog delivers a death bite to the throat. So yes, he does think you are trying to kill him.
Please do yourself and your dog a big favor and study puppy behavior, so you can understand what your dog is doing and act accordingly.
You need to build a bond and trust now.
Ditch the alpha thing and do some reading in the puppy section of this forum. He doesn't hate you. Dogs have no idea what hate is.
 

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I feel like his behavior is MY fault and that I am not doing something right for him.
With good reason.

As others said, toss away the "alpha" notion. Don't "stare him down", he's a 7 week old baby.
It is not his fault he was taken too soon from his mama, and you've now got to make the best of it.

It's NORMAL for puppies to bite. What would he be doing with his siblings right now, puppies do not play "go fish", they bite to play.

Please build a relationship of trust with this puppy and stop thinking he hates you.

He needs to bite to learn about the world. Give him play opportunities to do so.
 

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I'm with everyone else and recommending you do a complete mind shift to loving your normal tiny puppy instead of obsessing over the mistaken belief you are seeing defiance and 'alpha' behavior.

I'd take some time to really look through Welcome to the GSD/FAQ's for the first time owner - German Shepherd Dog Forums in general and http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/welcome-gsd-faqs-first-time-owner/162230-engagement-key-training.html in specific. Also tons of great stickies in The Puppy Place - German Shepherd Dog Forums

:wub:
 

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between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks is when the puppy does the most amount of BONDING with you, please dont waste this period by being focused on the negatives.

You said that you know that 5 weeks was too young, but that is a different story, Im sorry to be the one to break it too you, but its the same story, the entire reason your puppy is so bitey, is because it missed 30% of its life, that it should have spent with its litter mates, to learn bite inhibition. This means that your 7 weeks old puppy, is 30% less developed than an 8 week old who is only just leaving his litter mates. I got my puppy at 7 weeks and worried about her biting a lot.

you now have to teach your puppy that bitting is not ok, or if you dont mind him bitting, that he must be gentle on soft human skin. I did the latter, because my dog likes it when I put my hand in her mouth, when she would bite gentle, I would tell her good girl and give her strokes, when she bite too hard, I would remove my hand and say "AHH AHH!", if she got rouwdy, I would tell her no and leave the room. i believe soft biting is the easiest and least frustrating way of teaching your puppy, because they dont have hands like we do, they do everything with their mouths, imagine how frustrating it would be for you to spend the whole day with your arms by your side, and then everytime you tried to use your hands, someone told you off?

if your puppy is an alpha, he will challenge you between the age of 14 and 18 weeks, there is no way of knowing right now if he is or is not an alpha. But pinning your puppy to the ground is not a good way of ascerting your dominance right now, its a good way to break the bond between you and your puppy.
 

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your pup is doing what pups do. stop putting him
on his back. you don't have to establish dominance
over your pup. dominance and alpha are overrated.
with proper training, socializing, feeding and spending
quality time with your pup everything will fall in order.
 

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between the ages of 7 and 12 weeks is when the puppy does the most amount of BONDING with you, please dont waste this period by being focused on the negatives.

You said that you know that 5 weeks was too young, but that is a different story, Im sorry to be the one to break it too you, but its the same story, the entire reason your puppy is so bitey, is because it missed 30% of its life, that it should have spent with its litter mates, to learn bite inhibition. This means that your 7 weeks old puppy, is 30% less developed than an 8 week old who is only just leaving his litter mates. I got my puppy at 7 weeks and worried about her biting a lot.

you now have to teach your puppy that bitting is not ok, or if you dont mind him bitting, that he must be gentle on soft human skin. I did the latter, because my dog likes it when I put my hand in her mouth, when she would bite gentle, I would tell her good girl and give her strokes, when she bite too hard, I would remove my hand and say "AHH AHH!", if she got rouwdy, I would tell her no and leave the room. i believe soft biting is the easiest and least frustrating way of teaching your puppy, because they dont have hands like we do, they do everything with their mouths, imagine how frustrating it would be for you to spend the whole day with your arms by your side, and then everytime you tried to use your hands, someone told you off?

if your puppy is an alpha, he will challenge you between the age of 14 and 18 weeks, there is no way of knowing right now if he is or is not an alpha. But pinning your puppy to the ground is not a good way of ascerting your dominance right now, its a good way to break the bond between you and your puppy.
I'm just curious, but how will a pup assert dominance at that age? Like, what does it look like at that age compared to a regular crazy puppy? I've had people tell me my 12 week old pup might be trying to assert dominance, but I know he's quite submissive. People just don't understand gsds can be a little sharky, esp compared to toy breeds...

I don't really have concerns about my dog, just would like the info, esp so I can explain it to others when they say how aggressive my pup is.
 

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I'm just curious, but how will a pup assert dominance at that age? Like, what does it look like at that age compared to a regular crazy puppy? I've had people tell me my 12 week old pup might be trying to assert dominance, but I know he's quite submissive. People just don't understand gsds can be a little sharky, esp compared to toy breeds...

I don't really have concerns about my dog, just would like the info, esp so I can explain it to others when they say how aggressive my pup is.
A couple of websites classify the dates differently, but this period is called the seniority classification period, where the puppy tries to determine its social status in the pack.

Developmental Stages

If a puppy wants to be the Alpha of the pack (and bear in mind, most dogs are happy to be subservient) it is in the Seniority classification period (again this website says its between 10-16 weeks, I have heard other periods).

Here is a good website to spot dominant dog behaviours

Recognizing Dominant Behaviors in Dogs

What is also good to remember is that GSD's are bred for work. This means that to be good at their work, they must display some degree of confidence (for example in Shutzhund). This can often translate into dominance, however I 100% believe that you can have a confident dog that is submissive to its owner, so a lot of the things on that list would NOT be classed as negative for a working dog, for example carrying themselves with a proud gait.
 

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Here is a good website to spot dominant dog behaviours

Recognizing Dominant Behaviors in Dogs
Not sure I agree with all of that - most if not all of those can be explained by things that have nothing to do with dominance:

Below are some common behaviors dogs display when they believe they are above humans. Keep in mind that a dog does not have to display all of these behaviors to be in a dominant frame of mind. Sometimes an alpha dog will only display a few of the behaviors at random times, depending on what the dog decides it feels like doing at any given moment. Smarter dogs tend to challenge the pack order more than dogs of average or below-average intelligence.

Stubborn - OR, a dog that doesn't fully understand what's expected of them (has the command been fully generalized?)

Headstrong and willful - see above

Demanding - Could also be because such behavior has been inadvertently reinforced in the past

Pushy - see above

Begging - see above

Pushing a toy into you or pawing in order to get you to play with them - see above

Nudging you to be petted - see above

Sitting in high places, looking down on everything - OR, maybe the couch is more comfortable than the floor :)

Guarding a human from others approaching. People like to call it “protecting” but it's actually “claiming”—dog owns you. - Resource guarding can come from lack of confidence, it's not necessarily an "alpha" behavior

Barking or whining at humans which many owners consider "talking" (without a command to do so). - Again, could have been inadvertently reinforced in the past

High-pitched screams in protest of something dog does not wish to do. - OR it could be a leadership and/or training issue, lack of clear and consistent expectations of the dog, leading to frustration

Jumping or putting their paws on humans (without a command to do so). - OR it could be lack of training, and/or behavior being inadvertently reinforced in the past

Persistence about being on a particular piece of furniture when asked to stay off (dog owns it) - see above

Persistence about going in and out of doorways before humans - OR the dog has never been trained to wait at doorways

Persistence about walking in front of humans while on a lead - OR the dog may have not been trained to walk properly on leash

Persistence about getting through the doorway first - Already mentioned

Refusing to walk on a lead (excludes untrained puppies, dogs with injuries or illnesses) - Assumes that only puppies have been untrained to walk nicely on leash without pulling

Nipping at people's heels when they are leaving (dog did not give permission to leave) - Could be many reasons for nipping that have nothing to do with not giving permission to leave

Not listening to known commands - OR the commands have not been fully generalized and proofed to all situations, and as such are not quite as "known" as we may assume

Dislikes people touching their food - OR it could be a training issue, resource guarding either caused by the owner or not prevented with proactive training

Standing proud on a human lap - ??? If I sit on the floor my dogs will come over and either stand near/on me or sit near/on me because they know they're going to get some love!

Persistence about being on top, be it a lap or stepping on your foot - I think WAY too much is made of this

Persistence about where they sleep, i.e. on your pillow - It's soft and comfy and it smells like YOU! :wub:

Annoyance if disturbed while sleeping - There could be any number of reasons for this, none of which have anything to do with dominance

Likes to sleep on top of their humans - See above about dogs liking being close to their people

Licking (giving kisses) in a determined and focused manner - Both my dogs are huge lickers, and neither of them are particularly dominant. Assertive, bossy and determined, yes, but not dominant. (Halo!!!)

Carrying themselves with a proud gait, head held high - My dogs do that when they're happy and pleased with themselves, like when they've got a toy they especially like. You should see Halo prance around with her flyball tug!

Not liking to be left alone and getting overly excited upon the human’s return (see Separation Anxiety in Dogs) - This especially is not dominant behavior. Dominant dogs are confident, not anxious.
 

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Wow, that dog dominance article is NOT something I would hold up as a paragon of current insight on dog behavior. Debbie covered it very well so I won't repeat, but suffice it to say MOST dogs don't want to be "in charge" and will happily become a good soldier in the presence of a fair and just leader.
To the OP, see if you can find a good puppy kindergarten class. This is a class meant to teach social and play behavior with a bit of manners thrown in, it is NOT your traditional beginners obedience class. That will come after in most cases.
If you will post where you are, or add your location to your profile then you might get some others local to you who can steer you toward a good trainer or school.
 

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I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying.

Your puppy is not dominant nor is he being defiant. He missed critical development with his mother and littermates. It is not easy, nor is it right, to raise a puppy on it's own younger than 8 weeks. You have your work cut out for you.
 

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Yea, I have a 10 week old girl that I got at just short of 8 weeks. She LOVES people, and can be such a joy, but she is definitely a little landshark, and HATES being told no. When I tell her no, she usually gives a little bark/growl and goes after whatever it is she wants, or me, if I happen to be in her way (and I have lots of little war wounds to prove it). She's part of a working line pedigree, so I expected the mouthiness, and I'm not too worried about her being aggressive because all schutzhund competition dogs have to be tested for obedience and temperament (which all in her line were competition dogs). I am somewhat relieved, however, that someone else is going through this as well. For the first week, I thought I'd brought home the "wrong" dog. It'll probably get worse before it gets better...just have to be consistent, and give him LOTS of outlets for his energy! A worn out puppy is a well-behaved puppy. Haha.
 
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