If your German Shepherd has been chasing shadows, you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd does it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd chase shadows? Common reasons can include being anxious or bored or having compulsive behavior.
There are actually a number of things that you can consider when trying to understand why your German Shepherd chases shadows. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd chases shadows
Each of the different reasons that your German Shepherd chases shadows will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons that your German Shepherd might chase shadows and the signs to look for.
It could be the case that something is causing your German Shepherd to become anxious which is making it do things such as chase shadows. This would be more likely if it only seems to do it when things happen that would cause it to become anxious.
Things that might cause it to become anxious could be:
- The sight of you preparing to leave for work
- Thunder, sirens or lightening
- Someone being around that it does not like
- Being ill or injured
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?
German Shepherds are a breed that should get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd gets an hour of exercise per day. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including shadow chasing due to being bored.
If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise then making sure that it does will likely help a lot.
Related post: Ways to exercise your German Shepherd.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is chasing shadows compulsively. This is where your German Shepherd has an irresistible urge to repeat the behavior. This would be more likely to be the case if your German Shepherd has been chasing shadows repeatedly over the course of weeks or months.
It would also be more likely if it started chasing shadows excessively when something happened that would cause it to develop behavioral issues.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
It was just playing
It might be the case that it was just playing when it was chasing shadows. This would be more likely if it is still a puppy and it only did it once. If it has been doing it repeatedly then it would not be normal behavior.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop chasing shadows it would help to be sure of what is causing it. Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things that you can consider.
How old it is
It would help to consider the age of your German Shepherd.
If it is just a puppy then it would make it more likely that it was just playing at the time. However, if it has been chasing shadows repeatedly then it would make it more likely that there is something else that is causing it.
If your German Shepherd is older then it would make it less likely that it was just playing and it will be important to figure out the cause if it has been doing it repeatedly.
When your German Shepherd started chasing shadows
If your German Shepherd started chasing shadows suddenly then it would make it more likely that it has been doing it due to things such as a rash, injury or impacted anal glands.
Whereas, if it has been doing it over a longer period then it would be more likely to be due to compulsive behavior, separation anxiety or boredom.
When it does it
It would also likely help to consider the timing of when your German Shepherd chases shadows.
For example, if it only seems to chase shadows when you are leaving or while you are not around then it would make it a lot more likely to be due to separation anxiety.
How often it chases shadows
How often your German Shepherd chases shadows will have an impact on the most probable causes of the shadow chasing.
If it rarely does it or if it’s a puppy and it just did it once then less likely to be a problem and it was probably playing.
If it does it a lot then it would make it more likely to be due to things such as anxiety, boredom or compulsive behavior.
How to stop your German Shepherd from chasing shadows
Since it can be quite impulsive, getting your German Shepherd to stop chasing shadows won’t be easy. However, there are a number of things that you can do that I will mention below.
Get help from a vet
If your German Shepherd has been regularly chasing shadows then the best option for you would be to take it to the vet. This will help to rule out compulsive disorder and anxiety.
Train it to do other things
One option you have is to train your German Shepherd to do things such as to sit or to lay down on command. Then, when your German Shepherd starts to chase shadows, you could tell it to sit.
I have written more about how to train your German Shepherd to go down on command in the past here. You can use the same technique to teach it to sit as well.
Avoid reinforcing the behavior
If you tend to give it things that it wants in order to get it to stop chasing shadows, it could be the case that it has learned to do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, try to avoid rewarding the behavior and get it to sit or to lay instead.
Give it exercise
As previously mentioned, a lack of exercise can cause German Shepherds to develop many behavioral issues. If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise then making sure that it does would likely go a long way in improving its behavior.
Some ways to give it exercise would be to walk it for an hour, to teach it to play fetch or to have a dog walker do it for you.
Give it attention
Giving your German Shepherd attention throughout the day should help in getting it to chase shadows less by reducing its anxiety and boredom.
You can give it attention by playing with it, training it or exercising it. This should have the added benefit of getting it to be better behaved at other times as well.
Give it other toys to play with
You can also give your German Shepherd toys that it can be distracted with instead of chasing shadows. You can give it puzzle games, things to chew on or just traditional dog toys to keep it occupied.
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Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient dog, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now.
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Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.