Are you planning to bring home a German Shepherd? Now, this dog breed has evolved to be hard working.
You should know these dogs are highly intelligent, watchful, energetic, and need to be kept busy with a job or activity. So, you need to be up to the task of taking them out for exercise and keeping them entertained.
Coming to the question of do German Shepherds bark a lot? Oh, yes, they do. It is like second nature to these dogs.
A German Shepherd’s bark can go well beyond 85 decibels. For humans, noise in the range of 60 to 70 decibels is considered normal. So, a German Shepherd does not only bark a lot; it can also bark real loud.
Let us go through the reasons behind this barking and how you can calm down the dog.
Do German Shepherds Bark a Lot?
Yes, these dogs can bring down a horse with their barking.
According to AKC, German Shepherds are a breed that belongs to the herding and working group of animals. These dogs were specifically bred as herding dogs. Their characteristics, such as protective nature, trainability, and quick responsiveness, were given priority. Barking is how they fulfilled the responsibility of being a herder.
They are prominent figures in royalty, government, and law enforcement offices. Over the years, the German Shepherds have continued to be hard-working, loyal, and energetic. They need an outlet to let loose their energy and use their intelligence. They are also very local animals.
German Shepherds are highly-trainable. Barking is part and parcel of bringing this breed home, though you can employ methods to control this behavior based on its cause. So let us get right into it.
Why Do German Shepherds Bark? – 7 Reasons and Solutions
Dogs barking is like humans talking; that is how they communicate. But, if the barking gets too much, you need to understand the reason behind it to best help your dog.
Here are some reasons why German Shepherds bark and techniques you can use to stop the barking.
1. The Territorial Bark
A German Shepherd is extremely protective and vigilant. The trait is seen as an advantage in guard dogs, though it can turn them possessive and territorial. For them guarding their territory is almost like a natural instinct.
So, if they see a stranger entering your house, the dog can start barking loudly. Or, if they can see through the fence in the backyard or through the nice big French windows, you can expect a lot of barking.
German Shepherds will start showing territorial behavior right from birth. Initially, as puppies, their soft whining and barking may seem cute, but as they grow into their full size, they can look quite intimidating.
So, you must start training these dogs early on. Stay away from shouting and negative reinforcements. Such behavior can make them more aggressive.
You must consistently train them to obey your commands of ‘sit’ and ‘stay.’ Do not let them charge towards the door. Draw curtains during the day or use filters on the window to block their view.
Identify what triggers this territorial behavior, for example, the ringing of the doorbell. Then, reward the German Shepherd when it ignores this trigger.
2. The Dog Feels Alarmed or Threatened
If the dog feels there is even the slightest possibility of danger lurking close by, it will start barking. It is its way of warning you of the possible danger. A German Shepherd’s bark can be so loud and fierce that it can stop intruders (or your innocent friends) right in their tracks.
The dog is affectionate and loyal towards you. It does not know whether the visitor is friendly or dangerous. Show the dog that the visitor is a friend and can be trusted. If you are relaxed and smiling in their company, the dog will pick up on this behavior.
When the dog calms down, give them a small treat. This tells them their calm behavior is appreciated. It is best to introduce German Shepherds to family and friends once they learn to obey basic commands. So, at least you will be in a position of control if the situation goes awry.
3. Separation Anxiety
A German Shepherd is fiercely affectionate and loyal to its human families. They love you, and, naturally, they would like the feeling reciprocated. However, if you plan on leaving the dog home alone for the majority of the day, you should consider a different breed.
German Shepherds need to be around people. The dog understands when you are leaving and will start barking excessively to stop you.
First of all, consider bringing a German Shepherd home only if you have the time and energy to tend to their needs. They need attention; they need people around them. Leaving them alone for long hours can trigger aggressive behavior in this dog breed.
You can use counterconditioning techniques to treat separation anxiety in German Shepherds. Your dog is afraid of you leaving. So you need to turn this scenario into something positive.
For example, when you leave the house, you can give the dog a treat or puzzle they enjoy, which will keep them busy for a long time. Over time the dog learns you leaving them alone is not such a bad thing.
If you do not have any alternative to leaving the dog alone, start with short sessions. First, let the dog get accustomed to being alone. You can then gradually leave them alone for longer periods.
Please note that separation anxiety could be pointing to a significant health issue. So, it is best to discuss this behavior with your vet.
4. Barking Out of Boredom
A German Shepherd has high energy levels. They love to play. It is also an intelligent animal that is highly adaptable. Apart from physical exercise, taking care of your dog’s mental needs is essential.
An under-exercised dog will get easily restless and bored. This is especially true in the case of athletic and hard-working German Shepherds.
It will look for ways to release its pent-up energy. And this release can turn aggressive or destructive for the owner. For example, the German Shepherd could resort to excessive barking, chewing, or destroying objects inside the house.
If your German Shepherd is a puppy, take them out for short walks. Have a separate play session planned in a safe, enclosed area. For a grown-up dog, you cannot skip an hour of walking or running regularly. It would be preferable if you could devote two hours to their exercise.
Your German Shepherd would love it if you could switch up the exercise routine. You can visit a dog park for a change, go hiking, or go swimming. They like to find objects, so planning a treasure-hunt inspired game will be fun for both the dog and you.
You need to fulfill the dog’s mental stimulation needs as well. Invest in chew toys, rope toys, balls, and discs. There are puzzle toys available wherein you can hide treats in small compartments. These toys can keep the dog company when you are not around.
5. Aggressive Barking
Do not expect German Shepherds to be open and caring towards other animals. Their behavior is decent when around other dogs. The behavior can go downhill quickly if the dog is not trained or socialized early on.
If the dog does not like the company of other dogs, it will not hesitate to let them know. The dog will also push or show mounting behavior to assert its dominance.
You will have to train the German Shepherd to remain calm in public situations. When going out for walks or jogs, always have the dog on a leash. Instead of exposing them to many dogs at once at a dog park, start small.
Set up a play date with a family member’s, friend’s, or neighbor’s dog. Supervise their interaction. If the dog is well-behaved, show them some love and a tasty treat. Then, gradually and consistently expose them to the company of other dogs.
If your German Shepherd is strong-headed and stays aggressive, seek help. Some professional trainers can help control your pet’s behavior problems.
6. Happy Barking
Do German Shepherds bark a lot? Yes, they do, but not all reasons are a cause of concern. Dogs can give into barking to show how excited and happy they are. If a family member has been away for a long, dogs will greet them with lots of kisses and barking.
They could also start barking if you give them their favorite treat or toy or when their favorite visitor comes to meet them. Dogs enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and they express their enjoyment by barking.
Well, your dog is happy to see you; let them show their love. Barking is a behavior that is ingrained in a German Shepherds DNA. You may get them to stop barking in some situations. But they are dogs; you will have to make peace with a certain level of barking.
Shouting at the dog when they are happy will confuse them. They will eventually calm down.
You can instead work on their obedience training to control their barking. For example, once you give the command, ‘quiet,’ and your dog stops barking, give them a reward. Your dog will then make the connection between the command, action, and result.
7. Barking Out of Suffering
If your dog starts barking more than normal, it could be a symptom of a health issue. German Shepherds are prone to issues such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and arthritis. They could also experience sudden boating, which could be life-threatening for this breed.
Your dog may have also got hurt while running or playing. Look out for symptoms such as swelling, bleeding, difficulty walking, or weakness.
If other physical or mental symptoms accompany your dog’s excessive barking, it is best to consult with the vet. This is why it is important to always keep an eye on your dog’s behavior.
What Techniques to Avoid When Training a German Shepherd?
Training a German Shepherd requires patience, effort, and repetition. These dogs are eager to please their human parents; they need just a little bit of help from you.
Here are a few training techniques you should avoid.
Aggressive and Violent Behavior
Understand that barking is inherent to German Shepherds. Your shouting will not help the situation. It will only make matters worse. Your dog will continue to bark. And if you resort to violence, be warned.
German Shepherds are sure loyal, but they might charge at you in extreme cases if they find themselves in a threatening situation.
Using Negative Reinforcement
If you punish the dog every time it barks, this will only reinforce the barking behavior. Using products like a muzzle or a barking collar is not an effective long-term solution. Barking collars are cruel for dogs as they cause discomfort whenever they start barking.
Giving Up on the Dog
Yes, German Shepherds can get territorial or aggressive. But with training, they can learn to control such behavior. You need to devise an exercise and training routine that you and the dog can consistently follow. It is much easier to label the dog as ‘bad’ than to be patient with them.
What are Helpful Tips to Train a German Shepherd?
With German Shepherds, the period from 8 weeks to 2 years is crucial to their training. Below are tips that can help you train your German Shepherd:
- Socializing before the age of 16 weeks can help prevent problems such as barking at family members and friends. Introducing them to new situations early on helps build confidence.
- With crate training, puppies can learn to stay on their own. This training can help avoid separate anxiety issues in the future.
- You can start obedience training from the young age of 3 months. If need be, enroll them in doggy behavior classes.
- When they showcase an undesirable behavior, instead of punishing them, use diversions. Break the cycle and prevent the behavior from repeating. Understand their triggers and follow the solutions mentioned above.
Remember, constant and consistent training can go a long way.
Do German Shepherds bark a lot? Yes, they do. Territorial behavior, lack of socialization or training, separation anxiety, boredom, aggressive behavior, or even excitement and happiness could be the reason behind their barking.
As a responsible pet owner, spend time understanding the cause behind the barking. You can then take corrective action, avoid triggers or train the dog better to handle undesirable behavior.
German Shepherds and barking go hand-in-hand. If the above solutions do not help your dog, please reach out to a professional trainer or vet.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.