A german shepherd barking can become extremely tiring extremely quick. If it’s not the loudness of their bark booming through your home, then it’s your next-door neighbors complaining about it. Either way, you’re going to need to do something ASAP.
If you’re wondering what you can do about a german shepherd barking then you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about a german shepherd barking. Including why they do it, how to stop it, how to prevent it and most importantly what NOT to do!
Why Do German Shepherds Bark?
Before you train your german shepherd to stop barking, it’s important to figure out why they’re doing it in the first place. Often different causes require different methods of training. So here are some of the most common reasons a german shepherd barks.
It’s Built Into Them
When you think of dogs that bark, german shepherds are often one of the first breeds that come to mind. And there’s a reason for this.
It’s because it’s been bred into them over hundreds of years. They’re born to be herders and guard dogs which means they needed to bark in the past.
And while it’s not their job anymore, they don’t know that. This is one of the underlying reasons most german shepherds bark.
To Protect Their Territory
Being territorial, it’s not uncommon for german shepherds to bark when they think their territory is being threatened.
This can be when they see a stranger walk past the house or another animal. In some cases, they’ll even bark if they’ve heard a noise close by.
A german shepherds body language can often let you see if their barking in a territorial way. For one, you’ll notice they’ll have raised hackles. And on top of this, they’ll also move towards the threat and may jump up against the window when they see it.
(Have you ever wondered if german shepherds make good guard dogs?)
Your german shepherd may also bark when they’ve been startled by something. A common example of this is when a doorbell rings. All of a sudden, they’ll go into defense mode and begin barking to alert the rest of their pack (you or your family).
They’re Saying Hello
Some german shepherds bark when they’re greeting you. This is more common in puppies and tends to carry on if you encouraged the behavior when they were young.
This type of barking also has other signs of greeting as well, such as a wagging tail, whining and jumping onto you.
When They Want Something
Some dogs bark when they want something. For example, if they need to go out in the garden or have some more water, then they may bark to let you know.
If your german shepherd does this, then it may be alright to let them keep doing it. After all, it’s going to help you understand their needs better without having to guess.
Just make sure you’re not reinforcing this behavior when they do it. Otherwise, it may turn into barking that you don’t want.
If your german shepherd is suffering from separation anxiety, then barking can be one of the most common signs.
As well as barking, they may also whine, dig, chew on things and show other destructive behaviors. It’s important to remember they’re not doing this to spite you, they’re doing it because they’re anxious.
If your german shepherd is suffering from separation anxiety then you should take them to a vet to get their advice.
Another extremely common cause of barking and other negative behaviors is when your german shepherd is bored or lonely.
When they become bored and lonely they’ll look for ways to entertain themselves. Barking is just one way, however, they may also show other signs, such as destructive behavior. In some cases, they may also hurt themselves by constantly biting or scratching an area of their body.
A Medical Problem
Sometimes your german shepherd might bark if they have a medical problem. This will normally be if they’ve hurt themselves, but it could also be indicative of an illness.
As well as this, when some german shepherds get older they can suffer from a brain disease similar to dementia. This can cause them to bark for no reason, even if they never did it when they were younger.
If you think that your german shepherd has hurt themselves or they’re ill, then you should take them to the vets ASAP.
A Poor Environment
German shepherds may also bark if the environment they’re in isn’t good enough. For example, if you’re keeping them tethered up or out in the cold all day. This is their way of letting you know that they’re uncomfortable in the situation and it needs to be changed.
They’re Responding To Other Dogs
Sometimes your german shepherd will bark if they’re responding to other dogs they can hear barking. This could be dogs in the neighborhood or another dog that’s in your house.
In fact, I had a dog that never used to bark at all until we got a rescue dog. The rescue dog always used to bark at new people and it was only a matter of time before my old dog started doing the same thing.
How To Stop A German Shepherd Barking
Fortunately, if your german shepherd is barking there are plenty of ways you can stop them. However, the method you choose should depend on the reason your german shepherd is barking.
Here are some of the best ways you can stop your german shepherd barking.
This is the most obvious one, the best way to stop your german shepherd from barking is to train them.
And the best way to do this is by finding the right training program. Not only will it help you stop your german shepherd from barking, but it will also teach you how to stop other negative behavior as well!
The training program I’d recommend has to be Brain Training For Dogs. It has tons of great reviews, and the best part is it’s kind to your dog as well!
Instead of using discipline to train your dog, you’ll use positive reinforcement, and reward them for their good behavior (instead of punishing them for bad behavior).
Not only is this more fun for you and your dog, but it’s also a more effective training method!
(Read an in-depth review of Brain Training For Dogs.)
Exercise Them More
Another great way to stop your german shepherd from barking is to exercise them a lot more. As you can tell from their lean bodies and energetic nature, they need a lot of exercise naturally.
Ideally, you should be letting them off the lead for at least an hour a day, although this isn’t always possible. When this isn’t possible, make sure you’re at least taking them out on the lead and spending some time playing with them so they’re tired.
Some great games to play include tug of war and fetch.
Acclimating your german shepherd to what’s making them bark can be a great method for getting them to stop.
The best way to do this is by slowly introducing them to the perceived “threat”. For example, if they always bark at people walking past your house, then take them outside and introduce them to people (this can include people you know, but your dog doesn’t).
If you keep doing this eventually they’ll start to see that people aren’t a threat to their territory and they’ll be less likely to bark.
On a broader scale, you should also remember to socialize your german shepherd as well. Especially when they’re puppies. Socialization is one of the best things you can do to stop them from barking later in life.
To socialize them make sure you’re taking them out as much as possible. And also, when they are out, try introducing them to lots of different stimuli.
Here’s a full guide on socializing your german shepherd.
Reward Them When They Don’t Bark
Rewarding your german shepherd when they don’t bark can also teach them how to stop barking unnecessarily. To do this wait for a time when they normally bark, aka when the postman walks past.
If they don’t bark, give them lots of love and attention and a treat if you have one to hand. If you keep doing this, eventually it will begin to click in their head that when they don’t react to stimulus, they get rewarded.
And it doesn’t just have to be when they’re not barking at a person. Anytime your german shepherd doesn’t bark when they normally do, then reward them!
Change Their Environment
In the early days, it can often be a good idea to change your german shepherd’s environment. For example, if they always bark when they see birds in the garden, then keep the blinds closed, so they can’t see them.
When they bark due to sudden noises, then try turning the sound up on your tv or moving them to another room where it’s quieter. Doing things like this can stop the barking in the short term while you start training them.
Spend More Time With Them
German shepherds are social creatures; they can’t be left alone all of the time. If you’ve heard that your german shepherd is barking when you’re not around then you should try to spend more time with them.
It can be difficult when you’re working a full-time job, but german shepherds should never be left alone for hours at a time. If you do need to leave them alone, make sure you tire them out sufficiently first.
Give Them Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys are a great way to entertain your german shepherd when you’re not around (and when you are around as well).
KONG‘s, for example, can keep your german shepherd entertained for ages. And all the time their mind is being entertained, they’re not going to be barking.
White Noise Machines
If you notice that your german shepherd barks when they hear noises, then a white noise machine can be helpful. (Especially when you’re not around.)
Because they only have one sound they can often drown out or reduce the effects of sudden noises on your pup!
(You can normally pick one up off Amazon for a great price as well!)
Bring Them Inside
If you leave your german shepherd outside all day, then they’re probably barking because they’re lonely or bored.
They’re not supposed to be left outside all the time, so bringing them in might fix the issue. Not to mention that they’re going to be sheltered better from the cold and safer in your home.
(If your german shepherd likes being outside, here’s what you need to do during the winter months.)
Take Them To Doggy Day Care
Once again, if your pup is barking when you’re not around then it’s probably because of boredom, loneliness or separation anxiety.
My dogs go on a dog walk with other dogs once a week and they absolutely love it! Not only is it going to keep them entertained, but it’s also a great way to socialize them as well!
These are a little bit iffier, but some people swear by them. If your german shepherd suffers from anxiety in particular, then allegedly, they can help calm them down.
They work by diffusing the pheromones of a female dog into the home. This, in turn, makes your dog feel safe and like they’re not alone, calming them down.
However, this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, and there’s not much evidence that suggests it actually works.
Set Up A Nice Spot For Them
If your dog is suffering from anxiety when you’re not there, then it can be a good idea to set up an area for them where they can feel safe.
Buying them a crate, and placing blankets over the top and nice bedding inside can provide your german shepherd with a nice little shelter they can feel safe in.
A crate like this in a quiet area of your house can work wonders for calming them down. And you don’t have to lock them in the crate when you’re not there. Just a safe spot for them can make them feel better.
Ask Them For An Incompatible Behavior
Another great method is to ask your german shepherd for an incompatible behavior. For example, next time they bark, show them a treat and tell them to sit. Once they sit and they’re quiet, feed them a treat.
Once they’re used to doing this you can up the ante even more. Bring the source of their barking closer and closer towards them, and if they start barking don’t reward them and try again.
How To Teach Your German Shepherd Quiet
One great thing you can do is teach your german shepherd ‘quiet’. This command can be used every time you want them to be silent, such as when they’re barking when they shouldn’t be.
However, before you learn to teach your german shepherd how to be quiet, you’re going to have to teach them how to speak.
Teaching Them To Speak
To teach them to speak do the following:
- First of all, trigger barking in your dog. This can be by getting them excited or showing them something that normally causes them to bark.
- When they bark say “speak” or whatever you want the command to be. Once you’ve done this, give them lots of attention as a reward. (German shepherds enjoy barking anyway, so it may not be a good idea to give them a treat.
- Keep doing this, and eventually, they’ll begin to associate the command you give them with barking.
Teaching Them To Be Quiet
Now that your german shepherd knows how to speak, the next step is to teach them to be quiet.
- Start getting your german shepherd to speak. Do this a few times until they’re excited again and keep barking.
- Now place a treat under their nose and say ‘quiet’. When they stop barking feed them the treat.
- Keep doing this over the course of a few days and after a while, they’ll soon learn what quiet means, and more importantly, that they get a positive experience from it.
While this is just a brief explanation, you can get more in-depth training from Brain Training For Dogs!
(‘Speak’ and ‘Quiet’ can also have hand gestures attached to them as well to increase the effectiveness. When you want your german shepherd to speak open your hand, and when you want them to be quiet, close your hand.)
See A Vet
If your dogs barking is excessive then you should take them to see a vet. Not only will they be able to give you more advice, but they’ll also be able to refer you to behavior specialists in your area.
In some cases, your vet will also provide your pup with medication. This is most common with dogs that are suffering from anxiety and can help calm them down. However, most of the time this is for more severe cases.
What Should You Avoid Doing?
While there are lots of things you can do to stop your german shepherd barking, there are also some things you’re definitely going to want to avoid doing. In fact, some of these things can even make the problem worse.
Don’t Shout At Them
When you shout at your dog, you’re not going to get them to stop. In fact, this sort of behavior normally encourages them to carry on. Oftentimes they think you’re going to be joining in with them.
In some cases, shouting at them will only reaffirm to them that there’s something wrong, and they’ll begin barking more.
Don’t Give Them Attention
It’s very easy to reward your dog when they’re barking without even realizing it. If you give your dog any sort of attention then they’re going to see it as a reward for their behavior.
Some german shepherds would rather have negative attention than no attention. So when your german shepherd does bark, make sure you don’t give them a lot of attention. Instead, clap your hands while avoiding eye contact.
Don’t Let It Become A Recurring Problem
The longer your german shepherd barks, the harder it’s going to be to stop them. As the behavior becomes more and more ingrained, you’re going to have a much more difficult time getting them to stop.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to start a training program with your german shepherd early on. So they know how to act from a young age.
Don’t Encourage Them To Bark
Sometimes you’ll tell your german shepherd to stop barking at one thing, but let them bark at another. Doing this is only going to confuse them and they won’t understand when they can and can’t bark.
You may think it’s fun to get them excited and let them bark, but by doing this you’re only reinforcing the habit in them.
Never Hit Them
You should never under any circumstances hit your german shepherd or hurt them in any way. This is the worst thing you can do to a dog. Even if hurting them stops the behavior, you’re only planting seeds of mistrust and fear in them, which is going to bring about much worse behavior later on.
So make sure you never hurt your dog when they’re barking.
Don’t Use A Muzzle
Sometimes it can be tempting to muzzle your dog when they don’t stop barking, but this isn’t good for them. Not only is it going to make them unhappy, but it can also become dangerous. If you keep them muzzled on a hot day for example, and they can’t drink, then they may end up becoming dehydrated.
As you can see, there’s a lot to know about how to stop your german shepherd barking, as well as why they do it and what not to do!
If you find your german shepherd barking a lot, the first step to fixing it is finding the cause once you’ve found the cause you can begin trying to stop it in the best way you think.
You’re going to find it a lot easier to stop them barking with a great training course like Brain Training For Dogs.
If you liked this article make sure you check out the rest of the website! Some helpful articles you might like include:
- German Shepherd Barking At Night
- German Shepherd Barking At Other Dogs
- German Shepherd Barking At Strangers
- How To Stop A German Shepherd Puppy Barking
Have a great day!