If your German Shepherd keeps hiding, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what you can do to stop it.
So, why does my German Shepherd hide? Possible reasons are that someone mistreated it, it is frightened of something, injury, illness, depression, it’s unsure of its environment, you have been aggressive towards it or that it is still young.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd does it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd hides
Each of the different reasons that your German Shepherd does it will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will explain a number of reasons why it might be doing it and the things that would make them more likely.
Someone mistreated it
The reason that it has been doing it could be that someone mistreated it. This would be more likely if it is adopted from a shelter but it would also be more likely if it started doing it after someone was recently aggressive towards it.
If it is adopted from a shelter then it would be likely that it will begin to hide less as it gets used to its new environment. However, you could help the process by training it, giving it exercise and playing with it.
The reason that it is hiding could be that there is something that is causing it to be fearful in the environment. Things that might make it become fearful could include noises like construction works, someone being around that it doesn’t like or if it has recently moved homes.
In this case, it would help to remove the thing that is making it become fearful if possible or to try desensitization training.
Injury or illness
If your German Shepherd has started hiding suddenly, it has been showing signs of being ill or injured or it has been acting unusually then it would make it likely to be due to an injury or illness. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Dogs are able to get depression like humans can and it could be the reason that it has been hiding. This would be more likely if it started doing it after something happened that might cause it to become depressed such as an owner leaving or another pet dying.
In this case, it might improve over the course of a few weeks. However, you can help by giving it positive attention in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. If it does not stop after a few weeks then it would help to get the help of a vet or a dog behaviorist.
It’s unsure of its environment
The reason that your German Shepherd has been hiding could be that it is in a new environment.
This would be more likely if you recently bought it as a puppy or if you just adopted it from a shelter. It could also be the case if you recently moved home but you have had your German Shepherd for a while now.
In this case, it is likely that your German Shepherd will hide less as time passes. However, you can speed the process up by spending more time walking it, playing with it and being around it calmly.
You are aggressive or emotional with it
The cause could be that you have been aggressive or emotional with it. German Shepherds were bred to work alongside their owners for hours daily so they are highly intuned with their owner’s emotions.
If you do get aggressive or emotional with it then it would help to be calm around it instead and to use positive reinforcement training to get the behaviors that you want.
It is still young
Sometimes German Shepherds will go through a more fearful stage when they are puppies at around the age of 6 weeks old. If your German Shepherd is a puppy then it could be the case that it is going through a more fearful stage and it is likely that it will stop in a few weeks.
You have inadvertently rewarded the behavior
It might be the case that it has been doing it because you have inadvertently reinforced the behavior. This would be more likely if your method of getting it to stop doing it is to give it attention, toys or treats.
Instead, it would help to train your German Shepherd to come to you and to redirect its behavior when you notice that it is about to start hiding.
Things to consider
When it first started doing it
It would help to consider when your GSD first started hiding since it could be the case that there was an event that triggered it to start doing it.
For example, if it started hiding after someone was aggressive towards it then it would be much more likely to be due to it trying to avoid that person.
Whereas, if it has always been doing it and it is adopted then it could be that it is trying to get used to its new environment.
When it seems to do it more
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it seems to do it more.
If you notice that it starts hiding in situations such as when there are fireworks then it would be much more likely to be due to it being afraid of the fireworks.
If it seems to be doing it at random times then it could be due to things such as illness or injury, depression, being in a new environment, you have inadvertently rewarded it or it is going through a fearful phase as a puppy.
What to do about your German Shepherd hiding
There are a number of things that you can do about your German Shepherd hiding. The best option will depend on the cause of it doing it. Below, are some options that you have.
Avoid punishing it
If you punish or reward your German Shepherd when it shows signs of hiding you might be reinforcing the behavior.
Instead, it would be better to avoid reacting when it does things that you don’t like and to use positive reinforcement training techniques instead of punishing it.
Be calm around it
German Shepherds are very responsive to their owner’s emotions. If you get emotional or aggressive around your German Shepherd then it will usually cause it to react itself.
When you are around your German Shepherd it would help to be calm with it and to avoid getting overly emotional or aggressive.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to hide. Instead of giving it things that it wants when it does it try to train it to come to you when you call it and to redirect its behavior when you notice that it is about to do it.
Give it exercise and play with it
One way to get your German Shepherd to become more comfortable would be to play with it and to exercise it.
You can play with it by playing tug of war, training it or playing fetch with it. Some ways to exercise it would be to walk it or to teach it to swim. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get at least an hour of exercise daily.
Reward it when it does not hide
The next thing to try is positive reinforcement training which is where you reward it for behaving in a way that you want it to.
To use positive reinforcement training to get your German Shepherd to stop hiding you would reward it with treats just before it starts to hide. Then, if it starts to hide, you would stop giving it treats until it starts to show signs of not hiding.
Get help from a vet or dog behaviorist
If you are not sure why your GSD has been doing it or you can’t get it to stop then it would help to get the help of a vet or dog behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to get expert guidance for your particular GSD.
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