If your German Shepherd always seems to bark you are probably wondering why and what can be done about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might always bark and a number of things that you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd always bark? Common causes include excitement, fear, being protective, boredom and the behavior having been inadvertently reinforced.
There are actually a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might always bark and there are a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd always barks
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd always barks will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it happens.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might always bark as well as the clues you can expect to see.
A common cause for German Shepherds to bark is excitement. When they’re anticipating something is about to happen that they enjoy they’ll often bark to make sure it happens.
Scenarios when this might happen include when it hears you approaching the door, if you have a dog walker who just pulled up outside or if you’re about to walk it yourself.
If you want to stop this type of barking then an option you have is to wait for it to stop barking and then to reward it with what it wants when it’s being well behaved.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
The reason why your German Shepherd might bark a lot could be that it gets frightened.
This would be more likely if it barks when common things happen that would cause dogs to become frightened. Examples could include fireworks, sirens or thunder.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd fearful?
German Shepherds are natural guard dogs and they are naturally more protective than most other dog breeds. The reason why your German Shepherd always barks could be that it is being protective.
This would be more likely if it tends to bark more when someone is at the door, someone it doesn’t know is in the home or a person or dog it doesn’t know is approaching you when outside.
It has been reinforced
The reason why it barks a lot could be that it has learned that barking gets it things that it wants.
This would be more likely if your method of getting it to stop barking is to give it attention when you normally wouldn’t have been, to take it for a walk or to give it treats.
An alternative option would be to ignore it while it barks and then to reward it when it is being well behaved.
Another reason why it tends to bark could be that it gets bored.
This would be more likely if it tends to bark more when it is not doing anything and if it tends to bark at around the time that it usually gets to do something.
German Shepherds are meant to be very active dogs and it is generally recommended that they get at least an hour of exercise per day. If your German Shepherd is not getting an hour of exercise per day then making sure that it does would likely be a good start.
Another common time that German Shepherds will tend to bark is when they are hungry.
If your German Shepherd tends to bark at around the time that you give it food, it would be more likely that it is barking to remind you that it is time to give it food.
In this case, you could try waiting to give it food until it stops barking so that it learns not barking gets it food.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is barking because something is causing it to be in pain.
If this is the case then it would be likely that it would also whine at times. It would also be more likely that it would not have always barked so much and that it would only have started doing it recently after something happened that could have hurt it.
It wants attention
It could be the case that it always barks because it wants to get attention from you.
This would be more likely if it tends to bark when you have not been giving it much attention. It would also be more likely if you start to give it attention when it starts barking. In this case, it will have learned that barking results in it getting the attention that it wants.
How to stop your German Shepherd from always barking
There are a number of things that you can do if you want to get your German Shepherd to bark less and I will mention a number of them below.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training is where you reward the behaviors that you want to see with attention or treats.
To use positive reinforcement training to get your German Shepherd to bark less you would reward it with a treat whenever it stops barking or it shows signs of not barking.
You can watch how it is done in the video below:
Avoid reinforcing the bad behavior
While positive reinforcement training can be highly effective in getting it to behave the way that you want it to, it can also work against you.
It could be that you are inadvertently reinforcing the barking by giving it what it wants when it barks.
It would help consider what you do yourself when your German Shepherd starts barking and how that might be reinforcing the behavior.
Give it attention
If you think that your German Shepherd barks a lot because it is not getting enough attention then one option for you would be to give it more attention throughout the day.
There are a number of ways that you can give your German Shepherd attention that it wants in ways such as:
- Tug of war
Playing tug of war with your German Shepherd is a good way to give it the attention that it wants. German Shepherds love to play tug of war so you’ll probably find that yours will enjoy playing it too.
One way to give your German Shepherd attention would be to train it. Obviously, this will have the added benefit of getting your German Shepherd to listen to you when you want it to.
If you haven’t trained your German Shepherd before then you should start with the basics such as to teach it to sit and stay in an environment where there are not many distractions. You can then teach it harder things in locations with more distractions like a park.
- Play fetch with it
By playing fetch with your German Shepherd you’ll not only be able to give it attention but you’ll also be able to exercise it in an efficient manner.
- Doggy daycare
If you don’t think that you will have the time to give your German Shepherd attention then consider taking it to doggy daycare. By doing this you will be able to avoid problems such as having it misbehave while you are away.
Give it distractions
If you think that boredom might be what causes your German Shepherd to bark then in addition to giving it more attention and exercise you could give it some things to keep it distracted.
Some ways that you could give it distractions would be to give it toys to play with, things to chew on or puzzles games for dogs.
Take it to the vet
If you think that your German Shepherd could be barking because of an injury then the best option for you would be to take it to the vet.
It would be more likely that your German Shepherd has been barking due to illness or injury if it didn’t use to bark so much and there doesn’t seem to be any other reason for the barking.
Give it exercise
As mentioned earlier, German Shepherds are meant to be very active dogs. If your German Shepherd is not getting an hour of exercise daily then it is likely to be contributing to the barking.
There are many ways that you can give your German Shepherd exercise but some things that you can do would include:
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to bark less it would help a lot to understand what is causing the barking.
There are a number of different things that you could consider. Below, I will mention a couple of important things to think about.
When it started barking
It would likely help a lot to consider when it is your German Shepherd started to bark a lot.
If your German Shepherd has not always barked a lot then it would be likely that something else happened at around the time that it started barking that is causing it.
Some possible things to consider would be:
- If you moved home
- If it got injured
- If a family member moved away
- If another one of your dogs left
When and where it tends to bark
Another thing that would likely be helpful to consider would be the timing and location of the barking.
If it only seems to bark a lot in specific locations or in specific scenarios then it would be much more likely that barking is related to it.
Some things to consider would be:
- If it only barks when it is about to go out for a walk
- If it only barks when it is time for food
- If it only barks when you have not given it much attention
- If it seems to only bark around certain people
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