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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #4
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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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 ---> http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/welcome-gsd-faqs-first-time-owner/162230-engagement-key-training.html 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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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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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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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Abby still air snaps at 2.5 years. She does it when she is frustrated because she wants something she can't have or she is trying to tell us something.
It is usually accompanied by a high-pitched "HUMPH".
 

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Ruger air snapped last night at me when I told him to stop roughhousing with another dog. It doesn't bother me, but he doesn't do it that much.
It's a bit like a kid thumbing their nose after you discipline or stop them somehow from doing something.
 

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I think I know exactly what you are talking about. My dog, Dux, is a 9 week old wgsl and he is the most headstrong/willful dog I have very encountered! I have had him for a little over a week and he started doing this action on the third day.

I would compare this "air snapping" to a child sassing a parent because of the attitude he takes on. This is a completely different scenario than a puppy getting a little too mouthy or excited, which is how some others have explained it to this point. It's like he is in a drive state - completely focused - and directing this mean unchecked aggression back towards his owner.

For us (me and my wife), these episodes seem to happen without any provocation. For example, we were all on a walk the other day and out of the blue Dux turned around, snarled, raised his hackle, and bit her ankle puncturing the skin. We were mid-walk and not playing or anything. When my wife grabbed his scruff to pull him away he released, backed up, and started chomping "air snapping" back, Cujo style! We are still trying to figure out what sets this behavior off and also how to get him to control it.

For now we immediately pick him up, end the walk, play time, etc and put him back in his pen. We are just hoping these are some growing pains, temper tantrums, hormones or something he will grow out of...soon. Or maybe it is him exerting dominance, testing his boundaries and figuring out his order in the pack - I really have no idea.

Let me know if you find any remedies...

On a happier note, the yelp noise has really helped curb the playful hand and leg nipping!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
@moss26

Yes!! I'm glad someone is going through the same thing. Well...kind of haha. I can tell you that it does get better, the scruff thing does work, and that it helps to tell them to do something while you have them firmly by the Scruff (like sit or down) so they know that calm, submissive behavior is so much more appreciated. Also, like you mentioned, time outs help. I have also been playing with him ALOT more, and the air snapping only happens now when he was play instead of when he's just being (excuse my language) an ass. He's gotten a lot better at it :) I hope everything works out for you and your wife!!
 

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Mine does it when she's going to give you a kiss mostly--sometimes if she's "mouthing" something she might do it too...it has dwindled quite a bit because she scared the heck out of my son the first couple times and a harsh no has worked so far...if only that worked for the jumping:(
 

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same problem.

My 15 week pup is a gem except for this one problem! He will 'snap', not bite, snap which is definitely NOT ok. He only does it when I have friends over at night and he walks up to them while they are sitting and snaps at them to get their attention and then snaps the SECOND that they stop petting him. There seems to be a lot of opinions but no actual answers on how to correct them other than the scruff grabbing which has been said to confuse them because they are just trying to play...who knows. Others have said to make them hold a ball in their mouth. Seems logical exept for the times that he doesnt want to hold a ball in his mouth for 3 hours while friends visit. and the other is to keep a lead on him in the house and yank it to give him a negative correction, this also sounds like a great idea but to bad for me, I dont live in a small apartment where I can reach his lead at all times. Anyone have any other suggestions? Lately when he does it and i see it or hear my friends get scared I stand up real fast, puff my chest, give a mean look and tell him no in a deep tone. This seems to somewhat work except for the fact that when I correct him he is already walking away and has already commited the "crime"....:help:
 
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