German Shepherds exhibit a variety of behaviors; air snapping is one of the most common. Air snapping involves your dog suddenly jumping and snapping his jaw at an insect, stranger, or you; this act may sometimes lead to dog bites. Hence, you may wonder why your dog exhibits this behavior.
A German Shepherd dog could be air snapping out of playfulness, boredom, frustration, aggression, or because they have a medical condition.
This guide takes you through all the details and tips on handling this situation.
Causes of air snapping in German Shepherds
Fully understanding why your dog is air-snapping is the first step toward finding a solution. Air snapping can happen for various reasons; if it occurs persistently in your dog, you need to look into why.
Dogs, including German Shepherds, are a playful breed of animals. You might notice that the only time your dog air snaps is when they are excited and playing on the field with you or other playmates. In this case, air snapping is harmless and only a sign your dog enjoys what they are doing.
However, this does not make it any less troubling, and it is okay to take measures to stop this activity in your dog.
You can play games that keep your dog’s jaws busy to prevent him from snapping at the air and showing his teeth while playing. You can also teach your dog to stop this behavior by giving them treats every time they refrain from air snapping.
Dogs love to explore, and German Shepherds, especially, are active work dogs. They love seeing the world and are fascinated by everything they see. However, when your dog cannot go on an adventure, they may create one for themselves instead.
You may notice that your dog watches a particular insect for some time and then snaps at the insect, or it could be any other moving object; these signs show that your dog is bored and can’t wait for the next exciting thing to happen. While waiting, they may become obsessed with this behavior.
Air snapping can become a compulsive behavior for some dogs.
To curb boredom, take your dog out on more walks, exercise them with games like fetching, get them puzzles, or provide them with more engaging toys. This should eliminate air snapping in your dog.
Do you know how restless and unstable you get when you can’t find your car keys and are frustrated? The same thing happens to dogs.
Your dog could get frustrated for several reasons—lack of attention, hunger, illness, or boredom. If it seems like they are not getting what they need, your dog may get frustrated and find snapping at the air one way to express their frustrations.
By paying more attention to your dog and meeting their needs, you can help stop air snapping. Anytime you notice your dog getting frustrated, you can help them find a distraction to place their focus on something else.
Your dog’s air-snapping behavior can easily be seen as aggression, especially when it is towards strangers or other animals. This aggressive behavior could stem from insecurity, fear, dominance, or the need to show territory.
To tell if it is aggression, notice if your dog snaps at the air before aggressively barking at a stranger or other animal.
When this is not properly handled, your dog may hurt someone. The best way to handle this situation is to get a professional to help with behavioral modification for your dog. This treatment from a professional will help eliminate this characteristic behavior in your dog, making them less aggressive towards strangers.
Certain medical conditions like a psychological or neurological defect in your dog might be another reason your dog snaps at the air. It could be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder or a seizure activity caused by some electrical issues in the brain.
These can lead to uncontrollable actions in your dog that involves twitching, shaking, and disorientation.
If your dog regularly uncontrollably snaps at the air, you should consult a veterinarian who would then run scans to ascertain your dog’s health status. Some other medical causes of this behavior are infections, allergies, and trauma.
Whatever the case is, your vet can educate you on the next line of action.
How do I stop my German Shepherd from snapping at the air?
The first step towards stopping your dog’s air-snapping behavior is to identify the cause of the behavior. There are numerous reasons why your dog could be air snapping; your dog could be anxious, hungry, bored, or being playful. Identifying why your dog snaps at the air is key to finding a solution, as it directs you on what is to be done.
If air snapping is caused by a medical issue, seeing a veterinarian is the best option.
However, if it is based on behavioral issues, then a dog trainer would help find a solution.
How do I help my German Shepherd deal with air snapping?
If air snapping is a result of aggressive behaviors, it is instinctual for you to want to find measures to help your dog deal with such behaviors to ensure no one gets hurt.
You can control your dog’s air-snapping behavior by being patient and re-training your dog to be less aggressive. While this may work for some dogs, others may need firmer control measures which entail seeking the help of professionals. You should get your dog some professional help when the following conditions occur:
- They are a threat to your safety and those around you.
- Controlling their aggressive behavior is difficult.
- Other pets or animals get hurt in their presence.
- Your dog’s air-snapping behavior affects your work, health, and other aspects of your life.
You should understand that getting professional help for your dog does not mean you are giving up on them. You are helping them get the best help possible.
A dog trainer or a behaviorist is skilled in handling behavioral issues like air snapping in dogs, especially when caused by aggressiveness or other psychological conditions. As professionals, they use several training techniques to manage your dog’s behavior.
How can I find a qualified professional to help my German Shepherd deal with air snapping?
Since it has been established that finding a dog behavior consultant can help curtail aggressive behaviors like air snapping in your dog, you may be wondering how to find an effective dog trainer or behaviorist.
The first thing you need to note is that you are looking for a trainer or behavior specialist with experience in dealing with aggressive behaviors in dogs.
There are various types of trainers skilled in various dog care fields. Hence, it would be best if you only considered those that have proven to work with dogs with similar conditions as yours. You can ask for recommendations from your friends or relatives who are dog owners, or you can ask your veterinarian for some suggestions.
These tips would help you find qualified professionals for your dog’s air-snapping behavior:
- A qualified trainer or behaviorist is concerned about your dog’s history as it helps to find the background of your dog’s condition.
- A qualified trainer will walk you through the plans or processes to be implemented.
- The processes used by a qualified professional are proven and effective.
- A qualified trainer or behaviorist shows openness and is not quick to judge you or your actions toward your dog.
- A qualified behaviorist should be able to show proof of experience.
Should I punish my German Shepherd for air snapping?
Punishment does not help your German shepherd deal with air snapping, especially when the feeling of anxiety, separation, or aggression causes it. Punishing your dog could worsen the situation as your dog may not understand why he is being punished, which could exacerbate the aggression.
Every time you notice your dog air snapping, you should understand it can result from several factors like your dog’s need to play, hunger, boredom, frustration, aggression, or medical conditions.
Sometimes, you may feel like ignoring it would make the situation go away; however, if air snapping is not appropriately addressed, it could cause hurt to your German Shepherd, you, or other humans.
Finding a solution to this problem is a priority for you as a dog owner, but there is no quick fix.
Managing this air-snapping behavior in your dog requires patience and all the love you can give to your dog, whether you are re-training your dog, visiting a vet doctor, or a trained behaviorist.