German Spitz puppies can definitely bite. As almost all puppies German Spitzes, too, have a tendency towards mouthing and nipping type of play when they are young. However, biting is not acceptable behavior for an adult German Spitz dog. Nor should these dogs ever be aggressive.
Even though a German Spitz puppy is tiny it really hurts when he bites. If you have ever had a puppy you know how sharp those baby teeth can be! They can easily make a hole into your blouse and they can easily create a wound on your skin. My German Spitz Mittel puppy once bit me on my cheek so that it began to bleed.
Most of this is just play. It is nipping and mouthing that is typical to puppies and it is all normal. However, a puppy can learn to bite to defend himself, which can become problematic as the puppy grows up. If biting becomes a habit when your German Spitz is still a puppy it can lead to your dog biting even when he is an adult. And that’s when it becomes more serious.
Let’s dive into this topic to find out why your German Spitz might bite in the first place and if so, what could be done about it.
Why does your German Spitz bite?
I mentioned earlier that puppies have a tendency to bite. It is normal behavior at this age. They are not simply biting you but they are biting everything that they see. They explore the world by tasting and taking everything into their mouths. Even when they do not intend to hurt you they do, because their baby teeth are so sharp.
But what if an adult German Spitz bites, what could be the reasons behind it?
Your dog is sick
One reason behind a biting habit is medical. Especially if your German Spitz has never bitten before but his behavior suddenly changes I suggest you first research your dog’s health. Do you think he might be sick? Some bone/joint-related issues especially may be really painful but also very hard to notice, so I suggest you will first take your dog to the veterinary clinic to be checked up.
You have probably been sick yourself some time. Do you remember how awful it was? Maybe you were a bit cranky, too? When you are not feeling well it often gets us in a bad mood. We may be short-tempered, impatient, or downright angry. Dogs are exactly the same. When they are sick they don’t have the patience to tolerate things the way they normally do, and once they lose their patience they might even bite.
Once your German Spitz has been examined and found to be healthy, then you may go on to thinking what else could trigger this behavior.
Your dog is scared
When a dog bites it is often interpreted as if the dog is angry while in reality, the real reason behind it is fear. This can easily happen with a German Spitz that is somewhat suspicious of strangers by nature. New people and situations can scare your German Spitz which can result in biting behavior.
Sometimes it is not just strangers that can cause this to happen, but your dog may get scared even in your own home if he gets startled. Therefore you or your children should never sneak up on your dog or wake him up from sleep. When startled, the first reaction of your German Spitz could be to bite, and if he bites, he does it fast.
Your dog is being possessive
Possessiveness about food, toys or even people is a common problem among dogs in general, but not so common among German Spitzes specifically. However, German Spitz, too, can get possessive just like any other dog, so this is something to pay attention to.
This problem can easily develop from an innocent situation: your dog is eating his food and for some reason you or your kid takes the food (or a toy) away from him. Your dog will learn that a human approaching is not a good thing because he may lose what’s valuable to him.
Your dog may start protecting his food/toys by using other methods first but in the end, if nothing else works, he will resolve to bite. In the worst case scenario, a dog will show his teeth to warn as soon as you approach, and then if you keep coming closer, he will bite. In this case nobody is able to get close because everyone knows that the dog will bite if anybody approaches. You usually need a professional dog trainer to be able to solve a situation this bad.
One reason that makes certain dogs bite is prey drive. They see something, like a child, run fast by them and they get an instinct to run after and bite. This is not common with German Spitzes. While these dogs may have a little bit of prey drive that makes them run after, they will not usually bite. If you are interested in reading more about this topic, go ahead and read my article: Do German Spitzes Have Prey Drive?
Maternal instincts may cause your bitch to bite even when in normal circumstances she would never do such a thing. Mothers can be protective of their babies, especially if a stranger comes into the house to play with the puppies. This is, of course, a special circumstance.
Sometimes your German Spitz may decide to bite in situations that he is uncomfortable with, like grooming and nail clipping. There may be fear if he feels like something bad might happen to him, but it may be as simple as wanting to get away from unpleasant situations. If he’s been able to avoid nail clipping this way once, he will try the same approach again.
What can you do to prevent your German Spitz from biting?
Prevention is the key to all doggy behavioral problems. It is always best if no problems even occur. It is far easier to get a dog to behave in a correct way at once than to try to make him forget about a bad habit that he has already learned.
When you first get your German Spitz puppy/dog, start forming a relationship with him. Try to bond with him. This happens naturally when you do things with your dog. Train your dog the basics: teach him to sit, stand and lie down. Teach him cool tricks (there are great tricks in the Tricks and Tips section of this blog)
Maybe you could have a hobby together like K9 nose work or agility? Is there a doggy school near you where you could go to?
Play with your dog and let your dog know that even if you touch your dog’s toys nothing bad will come out of it. Socialize your German Spitz well.
The more your dog has seen of the world and the more people and places he has seen, the less fearful he will be. Once your dog knows that a stranger does no harm he is more likely to ignore him. If your dog is uncertain in a new situation he may begin to bark, maybe even bite if things escalate.
Socializing is especially important to German Spitzes because they can be suspicious of strangers to begin with. Getting used to all types of people and situations helps them cope with all of their day-to-day lives.
Getting used to new things also applies to all kinds of grooming procedures. Your German Spitz needs to get used to all of those so that you are able to perform the tasks without worries of your dog possibly biting you. Ideally, this is done when your German Spitz is still a puppy. If you have an older dog that does not like to be groomed, then my advice to you is to go slowly, very slowly.
In case your German Spitz bites, what can you do?
When prevention fails and your German Spitz does bite, you first need to think of reasons why this is so.
In the earlier chapter I mentioned health problems. If this could be a reason, take your dog to a vet.
Maybe your dog bites because he is afraid? Then whatever you do, don’t be angry at your dog. Your erratic behavior would only make your dog be afraid of you and that’s the last thing you want.
If your dog is afraid, the two most important things you can do in this case are the ones described in the previous chapter:
- It is never too late to socialize. You can get even an older dog used to new things as long as you do it slowly and persistently.
- Teaching your dog new things is always a good idea. Once your dog feels like he is doing the right thing and gets lots of praise for the right kind of behavior, he becomes more self-assured and therefore, feels less fear. Because of this, he will feel less need to bite.
- Do not force your German Spitz into anything he doesn’t want to do. If you notice that he is afraid, introduce new things little by little taking as much time as it needs.
If your dog is possessive over his food you first need to tell your kids not to approach your dog while he eats or interfere with him eating in any way. Then you can start the rehabilitation process.
If you can approach your dog while he eats, try adding something extra tasty into your dog’s bowl. This is how he gets a reward every time you go near him. Your German Spitz will soon learn that a human hand near his bowl is actually a great thing because it brings him something really yummy. With enough repetition, your dog will learn in no time that there is no reason to guard his food.
Is German Spitz aggressive?
Aggressiveness towards humans is not an accepted characteristic within the German Spitz breed at all. While these dogs may be a bit hesitant towards strangers they should not be aggressive in any way.
Please, go ahead and read my article: German Spitz Temperament: Are They Good Pets? There I have written a chapter specifically about aggressiveness within this breed.
When you read this article you may get the impression that German Spitzes bite. That’s not true at all. They are very friendly dogs and great pets and they even get along well with kids. However, it is certainly possible that your German Spitz decides to bite, it is not unheard of.
If your German Spitz bites, you should first start thinking of reasons why. It is not the time to start blaming your dog and definitely not the time to put your German Spitz to sleep, no no! If this article is no help, ask help from a professional dog trainer who can come to your home and see for himself what the situation is like. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I have a book that I suggest you go read: It is “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals” by Turid Rugaas. It is a great book about understanding your dog and his signals better.
Most of the time biting is the last thing your dog wants to do but he is given no alternatives. Your dog may be giving signals of distress and dislike but nobody understands him (e.g. your dog may yawn, turn his head to the side, lick his lips, eventually even growl). When nothing else works, then he bites. People may see this as a sudden change even though the dog may have been trying to tell for a long time that something needs to change.
Please, go ahead and read the book. It might change your whole outlook on dogs!
Biting is always something to be taken seriously especially if you have children in the house. Luckily, German Spitzes are not generally dogs that easily bite, if given proper socialization. Give your dog regular exercise and keep him happy. That’ll naturally prevent most of the bad habits. If something still happens, seek for help. It is not a good idea to worry on your own.