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Spartan is growing into a wonderful and loving puppy... there's just one problem that is a real worry for me: he's VERY mouthy.

When it comes to hands, feet, and extremities, the method of yelling OW! in his face loudly gets him to back off pretty easily. Unfortunately, the problem is that he is very nippy when it comes to necks and faces. I know that puppies will try to elicite the food response from adults of their species by licking and nipping at their mouths, but I'm worried he'll really hurt someone.

Any advice for stopping this?! I don't want my baby to have to wear a muzzle because he can't control his nippiness!
 

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nothing to fear except for the nip. when my boy was going through the nipping stage i would hold him by the scruff of the neck, raise my voice and say no biting. then i would pet his lips or put my hand in front of his mouth. when nipped again i would repeat my first step. when licked i would praise him and treat him. now he's 1 yr. old and considering he nipped my fingers this morning i not sure if my method worked. i feel asleep on the sofa last night. this morning around 6:00 am he started licking my face while making that whinny sound. as i sat up i put my hand out to get him out of my face. he gave a bark and grabbed my fingers. i knew what he wanted. he wanted to go out. nipping is something they do. your dog will grow out of it.
 

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This question has been asked by many of us before, so don't worry, we all go through this stage! There are a few things you can try because not all dogs are the same and do better with one method over the other.

What I like best is redirection. I use positive reinforcement training, and there's nothing negative about redirection, so it's perfect for my needs. All you need is a toy and when he bits, make he release whatever it is that he is biting and stick a toy in his mouth. PRAISE him if he starts chewing the toy. If you want you can certainly turn this into a command, such as "Toy". I know other members have done it, and I've heard it can be quite useful.

Another method is the squirtbottle. Some puppies LOVE water, and if that's the case, this will not work for you. On the other hand, some pups hate the water and this might work best for you too. Even just the sight of the squirtbottle will deter the pup from nipping sometimes.

Yet another method some use is rolling the lip under the teeth for a slight pinch. This is to teach the pup that nipping hurts.

Clamping the muzzle is another method used, and adult dogs in a pack will do it to the pups. Note however that they give PLENTY of warnings before they do this.

On a side note to all of this: Puppies are little babies and you need to take it slow and easy with them and not get physical.
 

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I would not get physical at all, redirect the nipping and keep your face out of the line of fire. I did not let anyone put their faces close when Ava was small, the urge to nip is too great. Turn your back on the pup and ignore them completely until they settle and then give praise.
 

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oh how I feel your pain. I am covered in scratches from those puppy teeth. My pup seems to think I am his favorite chew toy. I have tried the ow thing I have tried the ignore and walk away. He just follows and gets me from behind, I have tried redirecting with a toy he takes the toy spits it out and continues chewing on me. Its only about 10 minutes total through out the whole day..but its 10 minutes of ****. I dont know what to do either. So basically I am no help but wanted you to know your not alone..
 

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Nipping is just a part of the puppy stage. I've just learned to accept it, and also set up my boundaries. Mine seems to nip at the ones around the house that will let him. It's improtant to let him know that it's not okay to nip. But you also have to praise him when he's not nipping.

For me, I redirect him, with a tennis ball. It takes his mind off the nipping and makes him want to retrieve the ball.
 

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Hello,,,as I mentioned before,,,we have a 8 week old GSD. It was early morning, I had no shirt on, carrying little Yeager to the patio door ,he looked up at me then clamped down on my nipple. Not the nicest good morning kiss I have ever had !!!! My wife laughed for an hour at me. I can;t wait till she gets it !!! I'm just useing a firm "NO" then try to have one of his 310 toys ready to hand him. We have two older dogs also , they take the majority of the abuse and sure let little Yeager know when they have had enough. Best of luck with your little snapping turtle. Have to love'em, your cup is only half full with out mans best friend .
 

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This is a multi-pronged issue in some ways, so my answer is going to be long:


First, I don't ever believe in being even SLIGHTLY physical (or even negative, using "No's") when a puppy (esp a young puppy) is simply acting on his instincts. And mouthing is completely instinctual.

Now, for redirecting. There's offering a puppy a toy. Then, there's redirecting. Redirecting is much more persuasive. It means saying to the puppy in a language he will understand that the toy is the ONLY option he has and then generously rewarding him for playing with the toy.

When my high drive European lines GSD was a pup, he was a little shark. But my Dh and I always carried stuffed toys in our pocket and had them stashed EVERYWHERE in the house. Pretty much, every time Campeche opened his mouth in that menacing way that only a GSD puppy can, we popped a toy into his mouth and said "Toy! Good Toy!" with a happy sound in our voices. Then we played with him and the toy for a while. Often, we would even give him a tiny snack to go along with playing with the toy.

In other words, we didn't hand him a toy and expect him to play with it on his own. We put a soft fluffy toy in his mouth. I personally like fluffy toys that are bigger than the puppy mouths because the pups can't do anything for a second because their mouths are stuffed full. Soft toys can't hurt new teeth, and they're a little harder to spit out. That gives me a second to get on my knees and rub him all over and thus reward him "Good Toy!" I'm not saying "NO!" Rather, I'm saying "Yes!" to a new behavior.

It's always easier to teach a dog a new behavior that we want than to extinguish a behavior we don't want. Puppies like learning new things, and they like it when we're happy. They love playing with us. If your pup spits out the first toy, quickly put another in his mouth. Then give him another. Then another. Quickly, he'll learn that his only option is to play with a toy.

This showed our pup that there is a better option than attacking or our hands and feet, or whatever other thing he was planning to attack (in my house, it was our senior dogs). Toys mean that we would play with him and that was fun, and he made us happy doing that. What a win-win situation!

It didn't take Campeche very long to figure out that HE could bring US toys. (which we responded to by saying "Toy! Good toy!" and stopping everything to play with him...at least, for a while...) He went from being menacing and causing a ruckus to instigating productive play. How great is that? That's the great thing about GSDs. It doesn't take them long to figure things out. They want to be with us. And they like when we're happy and playing with them. We just have to show them how.

Our current pup started out nearly as mouthy as Campeche, and she's already figured out that it doesn't do much good to attack us. So she brings us a toy, drops into a play bow and if I don't notice her, she follows around and stands in front of me, doing sits and downs, which have also gotten her positive rewards in the past. "Hey! I'm here, and I'm not attacking you! Play with me!" It's pretty cute.

With puppies, bad behavior is always redirected to good behavior in my house. The puppy learned what she SHOULD be doing. How else do they learn what is expected of them? A trained adult knows what "come" means, and they know what they're doing when they ignore me calling. That's when I use the word No, and I go out and bring them back into the house (in the rain and mud, grumbling the whole way). But a puppy? We have to train them what we want first. Nature tells them to nip and bite. We have to explain to them in terms they understand that this is not acceptable. We can do so gently by showing what what we want them to do INSTEAD.

The thing is, pretty much every GSD pup nips and bites. They don't all have dominance issues, so why would someone respond with dominance? They're herding dogs. It's what they do. We just have to train them to do something more constructive with that instinct. You don't need to handle it physically as though it's a dominance issue, just show them they can get your attention and have fun doing it.

Many of the other owners in our all breeds puppy class are covered in scratches and bite marks. We aren't. We aren't geniuses. We just learned from Camper that there's a better way to do it. A GSD pup will nearly always win a battle of wills (or you'll smash their spirit trying). You have to out-think them. They want your attention. Give it to them on YOUR terms.

In addition to redirecting when the pup is mouthing, make sure you're managing you're pup's whole "life situation" so that he doesn't feel the inclination as much. You've probably noticed that there are certain times that your puppy gets more mouthy than others (my puppies always get really mouthy when it's about 9:30 at night. In other words, when they should be in bed. My trainer who specializes in puppies calls this the woo-woo hour, because pups often get the zoomies at this time of night. So, she recommends, put puppy to bed early. No reason to keep "the baby" up just because you're staying up later.

Mine will often get this way about 2pm because they're tired (especially on weekends, when there's a lot going on). So they get 1pm naps. Pups can get too mouthy if they haven't received enough physical exercise or mental stimulation during the course of the day. Make sure he's getting *appropriate* exercise during the day and evening and stimulation. Playing games with you is stimulating. Add in hide and seek, and some "find it" games as well. Physical exercise should include walks appropriate to his age, and what we would call "cardio" exercise -- running, bouncing, bopping around. Unforced, of course, but let pup burn off some of that energy! And lots of undisturbed naps in between for a growing body, and a growing brain as well.

Finally, one final thing, JD's dad raises a very good point. We need to remember to reward our pups (and adult dogs) when they're just hanging out doing what we want them to do (lying there quietly, playing with a toy or chew). We often give them attention (negative attention, but attention nevertheless) every time they do stuff we don't want them to do. But we ignore them when they're doing EXACTLY what we want. When pup is being good, you should whoop it up, get on their level, fork over snacks, possibly a new toy and a minute or two of attention. Then go back to whatever you were doing. THAT is how we train dogs to be good quiet calm dogs.
JD's Dad!

Good luck!
 
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