Why Do German Shepherds Nibble On You? (Is It Normal?)

  • By: Justin
  • Date: April 13, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Does your German Shepherd’s nibbling drive you crazy? 

You’re not alone. This behavior can be really irritating. To find a solution, firstly, you should understand why they do it. 

German Shepherds dogs often nibble and use their mouths due to their herding background. GSDS dogs nibble naturally, especially when they are excited or seeking attention. However, some may find it strange.

In the rest of this article, I will uncover 10 other reasons why German Shepherds nibble and how to put an end to it forever!

Why Do German Shepherds Nibble On You?

Key Takeaways:

  • Nibbling in German Shepherds is a common behavior that various reasons, such as play, teething, attention-seeking, boredom, frustration, discomfort or anxiety, lack of socialization, health issues, and affection, can cause.
  • Understanding the root cause of nibbling is essential to address it effectively.
  • To stop a German Shepherd from nibbling on you, use voice commands, avoid encouraging jumping-up behavior, teach your dog new behaviors, use positive reinforcement, socialize and play with your dog, exercise them, use a deterrent, seek professional help if necessary, and be patient and consistent in your training.

10 Reasons Why German Shepherds Nibble On You

Nibbling in German Shepherds can be caused by various reasons, and it’s essential to understand these reasons to address the behavior effectively. 

Here are ten reasons why German Shepherds may nibble:

1. German Shepherds Are Known As A Mouthy Breed:

Puppies and older German shepherds use their mouths to explore and discover new flavors and textures. Nibbling is a natural behavior for them. (1.)

2. Play:

German Shepherds may nip at you during play to initiate or engage in play. This is their way of having fun and interacting with their owners.

3. Teething:

German Shepherd Puppies may chew or bite on objects to relieve teething pain. This is a normal part of their development.

4. Attention:

German Shepherds may nibble or bite to get attention from their owners, especially if they have learned that this behavior gets results.  Giving your German Shepherd’s attention is essential to discourage this behavior.

5. Boredom:

They may nibble or bite out of boredom to entertain themselves. Keeping your German Shepherd mentally stimulated and providing enough exercise can help reduce this behavior.

6. Frustration:

GSD may nibble or bite when frustrated or unable to achieve a desired outcome. This can signify a larger behavior issue that needs to be addressed.

7. Discomfort Or Anxiety:

GSDS may give small bites or nips to express distress or anxiety, especially if they cannot communicate their feelings through other subtle signals.

Paying attention to your German Shepherd’s body language can help you identify the root cause of the behavior.

8. Lack Of Socialization:

German Shepherds that are not socialized properly may need help understanding appropriate play behavior. Socializing your German Shepherd from a young age can help prevent this behavior.

9. Health Issues:

Dogs may nibble or bite due to underlying health issues or pain. If the behavior persists, taking your German Shepherd to the vet for a check-up is essential.

10. Affection:

German Shepherds may nibble on their owners to show love, particularly if they have a close bond with them.

Providing your German Shepherd with enough attention and affection throughout the day can help reduce this behavior.

Why Do German Shepherds Nibble  picture

How To Stop A German Shepherd From Nibbling On Me

Here are some practical tips to help your DOG from nibbling on you.

1. Use Voice Commands:

When your German Shepherd jumps up and bites you, use a firm and an assertive voice to say “No” or “Stop” to indicate their unacceptable behavior.

This should be accompanied by a quick withdrawal of your hand or limb that they are nibbling on. (2.)

2. Avoid Encouraging Jumping-Up Behavior:

Avoid making eye contact with your German Shepherd, pushing them away, or giving them attention when they jump up and nibble on you.

This helps to reduce their excitement and shows them that this behavior won’t get them what they want.

3. Teach Your German Shepherd New Behaviors:

Train your dog to sit or lie down on command. This will help them learn self-control and give them an alternative behavior to jumping up and biting.

4. Use Positive Reinforcement:

Reward your German Shepherd with praise, treats, or a toy when they display good behavior. This will encourage them to repeat this behavior in the future.

5. Socialize Your German Shepherd:

Introduce it to different people and animals to help them develop good social skills.

This can reduce their excitement levels when they meet new people and reduce the chances of them jumping up and nibbling on them.

6. Play With Them:

Engage your German Shepherd in fun games like fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek. This helps to burn off their excess energy and reduce their excitement levels.

7. Exercise Your German Shepherd:

Take your dog for regular walks or runs to help them release excess energy. This can reduce their excitement levels and help them learn to relax.

8. Use A Deterrent:

Try using a spray bottle filled with water to squirt your German Shepherd when they jump up and bite you. This will help them learn that this behavior is not acceptable.

9. Seek Professional Help:

Consult a dog trainer or behaviorist if your German Shepherd’s nibbling behavior persists.

They can help you identify the underlying cause of the behavior and provide effective solutions.

10. Be Patient:

Changing a dog’s behavior takes time, so be patient and consistent in your training.

Remember to reward good behavior and remain calm and assertive when your German Shepherd jumps up and nibbles on you.

Why Do German Shepherds Nibble On me

German Shepherds Nibble FAQ

Below are some commonly asked questions German Shepherd questions

Is Nibbling A Sign of Aggression In German Shepherds

It’s crucial to know that nibbling, mouthing, and nipping are all common dog behaviors. However, sometimes these actions can signal aggression issues. 

It can be tricky to differentiate between playful mouthing and potentially aggressive behavior, so keep a close eye on your pup’s behavior and body language.

If your puppy starts to get aggressive while biting or causes any harm, like breaking the skin or bleeding, it could mean they’re trying to establish dominance. 

If that’s the case, you must address the behavior and prevent it from escalating. Consider contacting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can help you better understand and address the issue.

Related Article: 5 Ways To Make Your German Shepherd More Muscular

Why Does My German Shepherd Nibble On My Arm?

Have you noticed your German Shepherd nibbling on your arm or other body parts? 

This behavior is typical in young pups, but older adult dogs also may still do it sometimes. Let’s understand several reasons why!

Nibbling is a type of play. It strengthens the bond between you and your pup and stimulates their senses. Nibbling also helps your GSD to stay calm and get your dog’s attention.

However, if your pup nibbles too often or roughly, you must guide them. 

Redirect their attention to toys that meet their needs, and use reward-based training like clicker training or positive reinforcement to teach them what’s acceptable. 

Consistency is key – set boundaries early so your pup knows what not to do!

Also Read: Will A Bobcat Kill A German Shepherd?

Why Puppies Are Often The Biggest Nibblers

German Shepherds love to nibble when they’re young. This occurs more often when they’re introduced to a toy or something new. GSDs love to have chew toys because it helps them learn about the textures and scents other animals around them.

All dog breeds have this tendency of nibbling, though German Shepherds are often the biggest nibblers due to their curiosity.

German Shepherds puppies, chewing can be destructive, but owners should understand that it’s part of growing up with their pup. Through this behavior, puppies gain valuable experience in life skills. 

Training should start early so your pup can learn to control its biting impulses. An effective reward system based on positive reinforcement should also be implemented to encourage good puppy behavior.

Also, check out this related post: Why Are German Shepherds So Clingy

Why Do German Shepherds Nibble On Itself?

Why do German Shepherds nibble on themselves? 

It’s a puzzling behavior that owners may wonder about. Nibbling could be used for self-soothing or comfort. 

It could also be due to itchy skin or boredom from lack of stimulation. Medical causes, such as skin disorders with irritation and fleas/ticks, could be the culprit.

If you’re worried about your pup’s biting on itself, you should contact a vet to find out the underlying issue. 

That way, you can protect your pet’s health and stop worrying about why German Shepherds nibble!

Why Does My Dog Nibble Me With His Front Teeth?

There could be a few reasons why German shepherds nibble with their front teeth. 

It could be a way to show affection and trust, especially in puppies. This behavior is also known as “corn cobbing.” 

Nibbling allows Germans Shepherds to play, explore objects, and scratch an itch. 

However, If you let your GSD  teeth on you is not generally recommended as it may encourage biting behavior. 

If the nibbling is too hard or aggressive, training may be necessary. 

Related Article: The Top 5 Dog Doors For German Shepherds


German Shepherds nibbling is not usually a sign of aggression or bad behavior. It is often caused by boredom or anxiety. 

They use their mouths to explore and play. Owners should redirect this natural instinctive behavior with proper training.

Provide your German Shepherd with some alternatives, such as appropriate chew toys. Teach basic commands like ‘sit’ or ‘wait’ when they are feeling overly excited or overwhelmed. 

This will reduce the intensity and frequency of nibbling. 

Positive reinforcement methods should be used for training. 

Moreover, always consult with a professional trainer. It’s important to know that a Well-informed owner can guide their dogs on how to express themselves.

Justin- Writer & Chief Editor of Bestwatchdogs.com


Justin is a protection dog enthusiast. He has years of experience teaching and training dogs. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned. Read More

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