If your German Shepherd has been making noises when you leave, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why it might do it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd bark, howl and cry when I leave? Possible reasons are that it has separation anxiety, it wants to pee or eat, fear or you might have inadvertently trained it to make noises when you leave.
There are a number of nuances to consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd does it. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it will become a lot easier to get it to stop.
Why your German Shepherd barks, howls and cries when you leave
Each of the different reasons that your GSD does it will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will explain why it might be doing it and what would make each of the possible causes more likely.
The reason that it does it is likely to be because it has separation anxiety. This is where your German Shepherd does not like being left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to become anxious.
This would be more likely to be the reason if it shows signs of being anxious when you are about to leave by doing things such as pacing, becoming destructive, whining and barking, howling or crying.
It would also be more likely if it acts differently while you are away by doing things such as destroying things, howling or becoming very anxious.
You have inadvertently rewarded the behavior
It might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to become noisy when you are about to leave. If you tend to give it things such as more attention, treats or toys when you are about to leave then it could have learned that being noisy will get it what it wants so it does it more.
Instead of giving it things that it wants, when you are leaving and it’s being noisy, try to reward it when it is being well behaved, to ignore it when it is not if possible and to follow the tips below.
It wants to pee or eat
It could be the case that it starts to become anxious, when you are leaving, because it knows that it will be a long time until it is going to be able to go outside to pee again.
This would be more likely if you don’t tend to let it out to pee before leaving, if it is desperate to go outside when you get back and it would be much more likely if it sometimes pees inside when you’re away.
In this case, it would help to let it outside to pee shortly before leaving and to come back quickly, when possible, so that you can let it outside again.
Likewise, it could also be the case that it wants to get fed. This would be more likely if you don’t tend to feed it until you get back. In this case, you could try feeding it before you leave so that it doesn’t have to wait too long before being fed.
It could be that something is causing it to be afraid when you are not around. Things that might make it afraid could include noises like construction works or possibly someone else or another pet being around that it does not like.
In this case, it would help to try and figure out what it might be afraid of and to remove it from its environment if possible. Other options would be to have your GSD stay in a different area or to do desensitization training.
The reason that it does it might be because it knows that it will have nothing to do for a while. German Shepherds are a breed that are meant to get a lot of exercise daily. When they don’t get that much it can cause them to develop behavioral issues.
Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day. If yours isn’t getting that much then it would likely help to make sure that it does. It would also likely help to give it exercise shortly before leaving so that it will be more tired while you are away.
Things to consider
When trying to figure out why your GSD has been acting that way, there are many things that you can consider. Below, I will mention a couple of important things to consider.
When it first started doing it
It would help to consider the timing of when it first started becoming noisy when you leave since it could be the case that there was an event that triggered it to start doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly then it would make it more likely to be due to things such as if you stopped letting it out to pee before leaving, you stopped feeding it before leaving, you stopped giving it exercise before leaving or you inadvertently rewarded it for being noisy one time.
If it has always been noisy when you leave then it would make it a lot more likely that it is due to separation anxiety. However, it could still be the case that you inadvertently trained it to do it from an early age.
When it seems to do it more
If there is a certain time that it seems to get noisier then that would also be something to consider.
If it does get noisier at certain times then it would help to consider what is different at those times. It could be that there is a certain person around or that you tend to leave it for a longer period at that time.
If it seems to get noisy all the time when you leave then it would also be more likely to be due to separation anxiety.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop barking, howling and crying when you leave
There are a number of things that you can do to get your GSD to stop doing it. The best thing for you to do with yours will depend on the cause. So, start with the option that you think would work best with your particular GSD. You will also likely find that a combination of the below options will work best.
Deal with its separation anxiety
It would also help to deal with your German Shepherd’s separation anxiety if it seems to have it.
To do this you would need to gradually get it used to being without you for longer and longer periods. You would do this by:
- Initially making it seem like you are about to leave and then to reward it for not becoming anxious
- Leave for a very short period and then reward it for not being anxious again
- Leave for longer and longer periods rewarding it for not being anxious each time.
Make sure to let it out to pee before leaving
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it is having to go too long before being able to go outside to pee. This is why it would help to make sure to let it outside to pee before leaving and it would help to come back quickly to let it outside again.
Feed it before leaving
It would also help to feed it shortly before leaving so that it doesn’t have to wait too long to be fed.
Make its environment comfortable while you are away
It would help to make sure that the area that it stays in is comfortable for it so that it will be easier for your GSD to fall asleep or to keep itself occupied while you are away.
You can make the area more comfortable by giving it a comfy bed, keeping the room cool and by reducing any noises that might bother it.
Give it distractions
One option you have is to give it lots of things to be distracted with while you are away. Things that you could give it would include puzzle games for dogs, bones or chews to chew on.
Crate training is where you teach your German Shepherd to learn to be comfortable inside of a crate designed for dogs.
If you crate train your German Shepherd in the right way it will give it a space where it can feel safe. This will give your German Shepherd a space where it will be able to feel secure without you being around.
Give it exercise before leaving
As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that your GSD is getting enough exercise. It would also help to give it exercise shortly before leaving so that it is tired while you are away. You can exercise it by walking it or getting a dog walker to do it for you.
Getting it to play fetch shortly before leaving would also be a good way to quickly wear it out.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you are unable to figure out why your GSD has been doing it or you cannot get it to stop then consider getting the help of a certified dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so you will be able to get expert help tailored towards your specific dog.
If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd Handbook