If your German Shepherd keeps itching itself 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 keep itching itself? Possible reasons are that it has allergies, fleas, an injury, it’s compulsive behavior, boredom, anxiety, something being stuck in its fur or it might have just been itchy if it just did it once.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd might be doing it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd keeps itching itself
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd keeps itching itself will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and the signs to look for.
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your German Shepherd to itch itself. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).
It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that your German Shepherd started to itch itself. For example, if it started doing it when you started using a new shampoo on it then it would likely have something to do with it.
If it has been itching itself due to a rash then it would be more likely that it would have been itching itself in one specific area. Another sign of this would be if it has been losing fur in one specific area due to itching, biting and licking at it too much.
The reason why your German Shepherd has been itching itself could be that it has fleas.
This would be more likely if it has been itching itself in multiple areas of its body and the itching isn’t just confined to one area.
If fleas are causing your German Shepherd to itch itself, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by doing things such as:
- Washing the bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets and throwing the bad
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Applying a spray, pellet or non-toxic treatment for the yard
- Treating your German Shepherd with a monthly preventative
It could be the case that your German Shepherd has been itching itself compulsively. This is where your German Shepherd has an irresistible urge to repeat a behavior despite there being no apparent cause.
This would be more likely if your German Shepherd has been itching itself excessively, if it has done it over weeks or months, it has caused damaged itself and if it bleeds.
It would also be more likely if it started itching itself excessively when something happened that would cause it to develop a compulsive behavior.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
German Shepherds are supposed to get a lot of exercise. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get an hour of exercise every day. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including itching themselves.
If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise and there is not a medical cause of the itching then making sure that it does get exercise will likely help a lot.
It might be that there is something that is causing it to get anxious or stressed that is causing it to itch itself a lot. Things that might cause it to get anxious would be if someone moved away recently, another pet died or if you recently adopted it.
It might also be the case that it has some separation anxiety. This is where being left alone causes your German Shepherd to become anxious.
This would be more likely if it shows obvious signs of becoming anxious when you are about to leave such as pacing, barking or crying. It would also be more likely if it only seems to itch itself when you are not around.
The cause of it itching itself could be that an injury is causing a part of its skin to be itchy. This would be more likely if there are obvious signs of it being injured such as it not walking normally or a cut. It would also be more likely if it started doing it when something happened that could have caused itself to get injured.
If it does appear to be injured then taking it to the vet would be the best option.
There is something stuck in its fur
The reason why it itches itself could be that there is something stuck in its fur.
This would be more likely if you can visibly see that there is something stuck in its fur and if it has not been biting itself for more than weeks.
It was just itchy
It is not uncommon for dogs to itch themselves occasionally, if it just did it once then it could be the case that it was just a bit itchy at the time. However, if it has been doing it repeatedly over a prolonged period then it would make it more likely that it is due to a different reason.
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop itching itself it would help to have a good idea of what might be the cause. Below, I will mention some things that you could consider.
When it first started itching itself
If it started to itch itself suddenly then it would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that it started happening.
Some things that might have happened could include:
- You started using a different shampoo on it
- Someone stepped on it
- You started noticing fleas around the house
When it does it
It would also likely help to consider the timing of when your German Shepherd itches itself.
For example, if it only seems to itch itself 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 does
How often your German Shepherd itches itself will have an impact on the most probable causes of it itching itself.
If it rarely does itch itself 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 a rash, fleas, compulsive behavior or an injury.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop itching itself
Below, I will show you a number of things that you can do about your German Shepherd itching itself a lot.
Take it to a vet
Often, a dog biting itself will be something that a vet will be able to deal with since a dog itching itself often has an underlying medical cause such as a rash.
If you are unsure of why your German Shepherd has been itching itself or you think that it might have a medical cause then the best option for you would be to take it to a vet.
Give it exercise
If the vet has verified that there is no medical issue then it would help to make sure that your German Shepherd is getting enough exercise.
You can do this by walking it for an hour per day, teaching it to play fetch or by getting a dog walker to exercise it for you.
Avoid negative reinforcement
Negative reinforcement training is where you give your German Shepherd what it wants in order to get it to stop misbehaving. The problem with this is that it will teach your German Shepherd that misbehaving will get it what it wants so it does it more.
If your method of getting your German Shepherd to stop itching itself is to give it things such as treats, toys or attention then it could be causing it to do it more.
Instead, you could try rewarding your German Shepherd when it does not itch itself. When it does itch itself you could try avoiding giving it what it wants if it seems to be doing it to get something from you. You could also try spraying it with a bitter spray to prevent it from wanting to do it.
Make sure that it is not due to shampoo
It could be the case that the shampoo you use on your German Shepherd is causing it to be itchy. This would be more likely if it only itches itself when you have recently put shampoo on it. In this case, it would help to change the shampoo.