If you are considering adding a German shepherd to your family, you probably have done a little research on the breed or are already familiar with this wonderful dog.
The shepherd’s loud booming bark can turn many right around in their tracks and give them a fright. This is perfect if that someone is trying to break into your home, but not so good when guests arrive.
In this post, I will give you some reasons why German shepherds bark, if they are always barking aggressively, and how to stop German shepherds from barking.
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Why Do German Shepherds Bark?
German shepherds were originally bred as herding dogs, so they have this natural instinct in them to keep everyone together.
Their way of keeping the sheep all together in the flock was by barking, gathering, and herding the sheep. This way none would get lost or be able to run away.
German shepherds were also protective, keeping wolves or any other creatures away from seeking sheep as their prey.
As humans, we use our voices and words to communicate with each other. We can say when we are hungry, tired, anxious, angry, etc.
German shepherds and all dogs do not speak, at least not the same language we do. They may be able to communicate with each other, but not with us and in our way.
Barking is a German shepherd’s way of communication. Although their deep thunderous bark may always seem to be a warning, as if they are barking aggressively, this is most often not the case.
The more you come to know your German shepherd, the easier it will be to decipher what all the barking is about. Listed below are some clues about what all of that barking means.
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Sometimes the barking your shepherd will exhibit simply means they need to go out and do their “business.” Usually, they may first try to get your attention by staring at you, pacing, or standing by the door.
If you don’t notice these subtle hints, then a few sharp barks will get your attention. If you ask, “do you need to go out?” the answer will most definitely be a bark.
Barking can also be a display of excitement, especially while playing. If your pup loves their walks or going out anywhere with you even on errands, just getting your coat on can be a signal for some excited barking.
Getting your shepherd’s leash can also create quite a frenzy and mentioning that one golden word, “walk,” can cause them to bowl you over with ecstasy.
When you are walking your shepherd, as you approach people your pup knows and even a person with a dog, this can create a staccato of elated barks because they are happy and demonstrate their friendliness.
This friendliness will also be shown when you have guests, by barking, tail wagging, or even jumping. Some of your visitors may not mind this warm welcome, while others may not be as happy with a large dog jumping on them and barking.
Training your German shepherd to be a well-mannered greeter will go a long way to preventing fright and injury.
Your German shepherd may also be barking in a protective, territorial way. German shepherds are very loyal to their families and want to protect them at all costs.
When walking your shepherd, they may bark when approaching people or dogs, but not in a friendly “hello” type of bark. It will be more of a warning bark. This may be good or bad depending on how you feel about it.
If you live in a neighborhood where walking alone is dangerous then your German shepherd will definitely be a deterrent. No one needs to know that perhaps your shepherd is really a big baby and wouldn’t hurt a fly. On the other hand, no one can ever be certain that even the mellowest dog won’t protect you.
When dogs are faced with an attack on their owner, they may go all out to defend you. If, however, you are not happy with that constant barking when approaching anyone, then some help with training is needed.
Your German shepherd may also bark to alert you of danger, whether real or not. They will probably bark when the doorbell rings, your garbage can blow over, or even at something you don’t even hear.
Remember, they have excellent hearing. Don’t ignore their warning if you think there may be an intruder. Most times an intruder will hear their bark and go the other way!
For German shepherds, barking aggressively could pose a problem. unless it’s for a definite reason like to protect you. You will be able to tell the difference between aggressive barking and happy, excitable barking.
Their barking will be a lower-sounding bark and growl. Their body language will be more alert and the hair will stand up on their back. They may even show their teeth. If your pup has never acted like this, be aware.
Dogs generally sense when something is amiss with people they come in contact with. If your shepherd is continually showing aggression to you, family members, or anyone that comes to visit, there may be behavioral issues to deal with.
Lack of socialization
If your German shepherd was not socialized properly from a young age, then barking may be a day, all-day occurrence and can lead to aggression.
German shepherds are usually very social dogs, but if not socialized as puppies they can view any situation or people as a threat.
Boredom and attention
Your shepherd may be barking because they are bored or want attention just like a child. This can happen if they are left alone too often and it can lead to separation anxiety.
This can cause all-day barking and destructive behavior. Your neighbors will likely alert you to the barking.
Health issue or pain
If your shepherd has a health problem that you are unaware of or if they are in pain, this may be causing excessive whining and barking.
If your pup seems to be barking way more than usual, have your veterinarian check them out. They can’t talk, so you must do the talking for them.
How To Stop German Shepherd Barking
One thing you will never do is totally stop German shepherd barking and you may not want to. If you do want your pup to alert you to danger and protect you if need be, you don’t want them to never bark.
Barking is in their blood, but constant barking can get on everyone’s nerves. Listed below are some tips on how to stop German shepherd barking or at least keep it to a minimum.
Make sure your German shepherd gets plenty of exercises to keep that excitement down a notch and so they don’t become bored and seek attention. If your pup is tired it will be quieter.
If your shepherd continually barks at strangers when walking and you don’t like it, use the distraction. You can let them carry a toy or ball in their mouth while walking which may help.
You can distract them by throwing a ball or showing them a treat when someone approaches.
When using the treat, let them know you have it but they don’t receive it unless they are calm and don’t bark. Always give plenty of praise for calmness and they’ll soon get the idea.
Make sure to socialize your German shepherd puppy to as many people and situations when they are young as to avoid so much barking and excitement when older.
When walking your German shepherd and friends approach, if they go ballistic with jumping and barking, simply turn around and walk away.
Don’t do so in a mad aggressive way, just turn and ignore. They’ll soon get the idea that bad behavior means no attention at all.
When guests come to your house and your pup’s barking and excitability practically knock people down, instruct your visitors to totally ignore your pup.
When they are calm, then they can be greeted. Always encourage calm behavior.
A few other barking deterrents are listed below.
- Keep your curtains closed if your pup barks at everyone that passes by.
- Ignore them if they are simply barking for attention.
- Use a spray bottle with water and say “no,” while giving them a spritz.
- If they always jump on you and others when entering your house, keep a metal cookie sheet handy and drop it on the floor each time they jump and bark. They won’t like the loud clatter and will soon stop.
- Bark collars are available that either spray a citrus scent or give them a small shock each time they bark.
- For any barking that is identified as aggressive barking, especially if it is becoming more frequent, obedience training or behavioral therapy should be started.
Keep in mind, that you will never totally get the bark out of your German shepherd. Their bark is part of the way they communicate with you.
If their barking at times is not acceptable, then try some of the tips listed above. This way your shepherd will communicate with you when necessary but in a well-behaved, well-mannered way.