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Hi there German Shepherd lovers, today we will be looking at the popular topic of German Shepherd Barking.
We will discuss why they bark and what can be done about excessive German Shepherd barking.
Do German Shepherds bark a lot? the answer is yes they do and very loudly.
After all, it’s a breed-specific trait, bred into them over hundreds of years.
It can be a pain in the butt at times, but excessive/nuisance barking can be curbed with training if it is done correctly and well.
Being fast learners the German Shepherd will usually pick things up quickly.
The GSD was originally bred as a herder and guard dog requiring them to bark for a purpose.
So we have to remember it’s not their fault when they bark excessively, they don’t know it’s not always wanted or necessary.
More recently the GSD’s strength and intelligence have led them to be used for police and military work and for guarding security, and specialized activity such as sniffing out bombs and drugs.
They are very loyal dogs and are very protective of their family pack, they are also very territorial. Unfortunately, this can become a problem with GSD’s if they are not socialized and trained as puppies.
This breed can develop aggression and bite if they are in the hands of inexperienced owners, positive training is needed so they can develop trust and confidence.
Barking, whining, and howling can happen for all sorts of reasons. The cause will need to be determined for a recommended training technique or adjustment to work.
For example, they may bark to initiate play or it can be due to hunger, fear, or discomfort, it’s not just down to a desire for them to guard and protect.
1) German Shepherd Barking – Why Does it Happen?
Reasons, why they bark, will fit into one or more of these groups, with some examples :
1.) PHYSICAL – The dog could be hungry or thirsty, too hot or too cold, in pain or uncomfortable.
2.) EMOTIONAL – Overexcited, anxious, bored, or lonely.
3.) ENVIRONMENTAL – Triggered by thunder, sirens, passing vehicles, or other animals/people.
Barking is used to communicate and bring something to your attention, for example, wanting to go outside for toileting, having an empty water bowl, or want to have a game and play.
This can happen when the environment they find themselves in just isn’t good enough. For example, they could be tethered up in a cold yard for hours, so they need to communicate that they want the situation changed.
This can happen if they’ve hurt themselves or it can be an indication of onset or current illness. Often, in this case, the tone of barking will be different or it may happen at an unusual time. Some older German Shepherds can suffer from a dementia-like brain disease when they get older, this can cause them to bark for no apparent reason.
Territorial & Protective
Since GSD’s are excellent at guarding, they will warn of any perceived threats as soon as they arise. Often the closer it gets the worse the barking becomes.
For example, this can happen when a stranger walks past the house, or from another animal rooting around outside.
Body language will often be aggressive with raised hackles along the spine, a raised tail, and with forwarding movements towards the perceived threat.
An action may include jumping up against a window when the threat is visible or barking when the doorbell rings to alert the family pack. The dog will find this rewarding as barking satisfies its natural guarding instincts.
Dogs can bark at people other animals or objects that they’re unsure of, or at things that startle them. This can include silly things, for example, one of our dog’s barks at pine cones that occasionally drop from a tree in the yard. The fight or flight response for example can occur on walks when the dog is leashed.
They may feel threatened by another dog approach, but they can’t escape (flight) anywhere so they show fear by barking (fight).
This is one of the most common signs when the dog is alone for extended periods of time. It often leads to destructive behavior that includes whining, pacing, digging, and chewing on things or messing in the house. In addition, it may bring complaints from neighbors due to a pet’s frequent or prolonged barking.
If you want to know more about German Shepherd Separation Anxiety, check out our FREE guide here called the ‘German Shepherds Expert Owners Manual That Every Owner Needs to Know’.
The German Shepherd appears in the top three breeds that are prone to boredom. This happens when their brains aren’t stimulated enough or given enrichment, not ideal for such an intelligent breed. This is another very common cause of barking and other associated negative behavior.
The barking arises from simply not having anything to do, which in itself provides some kind of stimulus under the circumstances.
Self-harm may also occur, with the dog biting or scratching an area of its body. This can become a compulsive habit if the situation isn’t resolved or stopped from developing in the first place.
Consider signing up to SuperChew to give them a new bunch of toys to play with every month, check them out here.
Pent Up Energy
The GSD is very active with high levels of energy, they require 1 hour + of exercise daily. If they don’t receive sufficient exercise this can lead to aggression, destructive behavior, or escaping to explore beyond the home/yard.
This occurs when a dog becomes over-exuberant when greeting or playing. The barking in this case can increase to become more frantic and can include tail wagging and spinning round in circles.
Responding To Other Dogs/ Animals
If other dogs or animals in the neighborhood or in the yard can be heard, this will often set the dog barking.
Not Socialised Enough
This is common in dogs who are left alone for long periods of time, those growing up in isolation, or for some dogs that are or have been pounded. This can often show up with the fight/leash response mentioned previously.
Training, if carried out incorrectly may encourage barking even more. For example, it may not be good or consistent enough, or it may be confusing to the dog. Certain methods may also bring about fear and aggression if not carried out positively.
2.) How to Control German Shepherd Barking
Dogs will always bark as it’s their natural form of communication.
So it’s going to happen and obviously, it can’t be stopped completely, neither should it be. The aim is to try and get excessive barking under control.
Things that Don’t Work
The first thing many owners do when their pet starts to bark is to shout at them to stop, often loudly and repeatedly.
It’s kind of an understandable reaction when the barking is irritating, but it’s the wrong one and it doesn’t work.
The reason for this is most dogs will think you are joining in too and are barking alongside.
It’s also possible that they won’t even hear you either since GSD’s have one of the loudest barks amongst breeds.
Inflicting any kind of physical punishment on a dog is not acceptable, it can make them fearful, anxious, untrusting, and aggressive.
Also raising a hand in a ‘’deterrent smack position‘’ will frighten the dog and cause mistrust.
Use of a bark collar is not advised, it is not a proven way to stop barking and will cause pain and negative behavior.
It can reinforce aggression towards people /animals as the shock is applied when they are around, so their presence is associated with pain.
Things That Do Work
There are several different suggestions listed below to try, success may be variable from one dog to another.
If various methods are tried and don’t appear to work, consider paying for a qualified and professional trainer/behaviorist to help.
This is ideal to start from puppyhood, apart from helping to deter destructive behavior and assist with toilet training, it can help curb barking.
The puppy/adult dog will soon learn that they will not be released from the crate until they stop barking or making other noises.
Increase Daily Exercise
Top up the dog’s daily exercise routine, the current one may not be adequate enough.
The dog may need to expend more pent-up energy through longer walking or off lead activity.
All dogs benefit from mental stimulation they can get bored just like us.
For highly intelligent dogs like the German Shepherd, they need extra stimulus to get their brains working.
The stimulus can be gained socially through interactions with other dogs/people.
Or by being out in different environments to stimulate senses of hearing, sight, and smell.
Mental/psychological stimulation in the home can be provided with a variety of dog toys, puzzles, and chews.
German Shepherds also enjoy learning new commands and tricks, they learn quickly and will enjoy interactive communication with you.
The simplest way to stop or curb the barking is to simply remove the dog from the situation.
For example, bring the dog inside if they are barking in the yard, put them in another room, or close curtains if distractions outside trigger them.
They can be distracted by also by getting them to lie down if possible, or by throwing an object for them to fetch.
Desensitise to Stimulus
This starts by gradually getting the dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark.
Start off at a distance from the trigger and move closer feeding tasty treats along the way, until the animal, person, or object has passed.
Most dogs like attention, and if they’re clever like the GSD they can train their owners on-demand to get it.
By barking until the owner complies.
If the dog barks to get attention fold your arms, turn your back, and walk away.
They will soon learn that attention barking has the opposite effect.
However be sure to differentiate this from a real need they may have, like wanting to go out and pee.
Always make sure that the pet gets enough stimulus by physical exercise/mental enrichment as this may satisfy them and avoids attention-seeking behavior.
Use Calming Techniques
Place a hand on your dog’s shoulder, do not speak or make eye contact.
Hold the collar with the other hand to keep the dog in place.
With a calm unemotional voice say ‘’Relax’’ and once the dog has done this remove the hand.
The Quiet Command
This is a technique that sounds counterintuitive at first since the dog is taught to speak/bark before being taught to stay quiet. This can be discussed in more detail in the following link here.
If various methods have been tried and don’t appear to work, consider hiring a qualified and experienced trainer/behaviorist to help.
Owners will benefit from their tips and guidance and be more confident in their approach and application of training techniques.
For example, a great source is the amazing Brain Training created by Adrienne Farricelli, a CPDT-KA dog trainer created here at BrainTraining4Dogs.com
3) German Shepherd Barking At Night – A Whole Different Challenge
German Shepherd Barking at night can pose an entirely different challenge while you’re trying to get some sleep the night before work, here are some hints and tips which when combined can significantly reduce or completely stop any nighttime barking.
Puppies At Night
It makes sense that newly acquired puppies must be treated very sympathetically when they’re brought home.
At first, they will have lost the comfort of their mother and siblings and will feel lost without them.
It’s best to use a crate to keep them secure and prevent them from wandering.
It’s likely that they will need to be toileted at some point during the night until their bladders become stronger.
So it’s best to make this the exception early on, for night time interactions with the puppy.
In the beginning, let the puppy sleep close to you in a crate next to the bed.
On the third night put them by the bedroom door, on the fourth night a little further down the hall, and so on until they come to be in their permanent area after a week or so.
Make sure to site the crate in a quiet area that’s not too hot/cold.
They may still cry at this time and it may be difficult to resist comforting them, but they really need to be left to settle and learn the permanent routine.
Exercise During The Day
Allowing a pet adequate exercise during the day will tire them out, with expended energy.
So later on they will most likely sleep well and not bark or whine during the night.
Considering looking into a GPS & fitness tracker for your dog’s collar so you can monitor how much exercise they are getting vs how much they need, FitBark.com is the best place to check them out.
Night Time Routine
Set a regular nighttime routine, so the dog learns when it’s time for bed and sleep.
If there is no clear routine they may not settle and could bark or make other sounds like whining or howling.
Odd sounds during the night may cause the dog to growl, whine, or bark.
For example, they may hear scurrying mice in walls, critters raiding the trash, and other suburban wildlife like foxes or raccoons.
Or it could be due to weather disturbances such as thunder and lightning.
Move the pet to an area away from possible noises and close blinds/curtains to avoid the effects of lightning flashes.
Feeling Bored or Lonely
Dogs are pack animals and may feel unhappy on their own at night, this will be more evident if they’re left for long periods during the day.
Often they may howl at this time, but they can also bark.
In the end, it may be the case of settling the dog nearer to your room for example, outside on the landing or in the bedroom itself.
It’s down to the individual owner and what they feel is best for them and their pet.
Sleeping Arrangements Changed
This can happen often if a dog has been allowed to sleep in a bed alongside a person, then they are moved to a crate.
They will miss the comfort in this case the pet may need time to adjust.
Make sure they have a comfy bed to sleep in, otherwise they will constantly be looking to sleep with you in your bed.
Orthopedic memory foam beds are a must-have for GSD’s, a lot of owners love the beds made by MyKopeks.com, check them out here.
Something else wrong?
Sadly the older GSD pet may succumb to similar conditions that humans face, this includes a canine brain disease similar to dementia, as mentioned previously.
This can cause a pet to start barking during the night when they didn’t previously do it.
Establish if you think there’s something wrong for example, it could be a bladder infection.
If you’re interested in more general German Shepherd health information, check out our blog on 8 Proven German Shepherd Health Tips.
Seek veterinary advice if you’re unsure and think there’s a possible problem.
All German Shepherd owners should consider buying a DNA test for their dog to find out if they are going to struggle with any hereditary diseases and get ahead of them quickly. Get yours here at EmbarkVet.com.
On another note, as an owner are you worried about German Shepherd joint & hip problems? If so, get our FREE guide called ‘The Experts Guide to Avoiding Joint Problems in German Shepherds’ Here.
Conclusion To German Shepherd Barking
German Shepherds are naturally vocal dogs, but sometimes we can see that German Shepherd barking can become excessive.
We have looked briefly at some of the reasons that may cause this to occur, during the day and night.
Some reasons can be rectified by making simple adjustments, and others will involve simple training.
As owners, we have lots of information available to us regarding training, and if we do hit a few stumbling blocks there are always professionals on hand to help.
We hope you found this article useful.
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Thank You for reading.