If your German Shepherd is afraid of other dogs then you are probably wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you why your German Shepherd is afraid of other dogs and what you can do to get it to be less afraid.
So, why is my German Shepherd afraid of other dogs? Common causes are a lack of socialization as a puppy, being mistreated by other dogs in the past and having a submissive nature.
There are actually a number of things that could be causing it to be afraid of other dogs and there are a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd is afraid of other dogs
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd is afraid of other dogs will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be afraid of other dogs and the signs to look for.
It didn’t get to socialize as a puppy
A common cause of German Shepherds being afraid of other dogs is not getting enough socialization with other dogs as a puppy.
This is because a German Shepherd will be naturally curious when it is a puppy and it is the time period where it learns about what to trust and what not to trust. If it does not get to socialize with other dogs as a puppy it will not get to learn to trust other dogs.
This would be more likely to be the cause if you know that it did not get to socialize much as a puppy or if you adopted it.
It was mistreated by other dogs
Another possible reason why it is afraid of other dogs is that another dog was aggressive towards it and now it does not trust other dogs.
This would be more likely if it didn’t use to be afraid of other dogs but it suddenly became afraid after another dog was aggressive towards it.
The reason could be that it is naturally submissive around other dogs. This is something that would be less common in German Shepherds but it can happen.
This would be more likely if it is not afraid of dogs that are not so aggressive or that are smaller than it.
Signs of submissive behavior can include lowering itself to the ground, laying on its back or hiding itself behind you.
It could also be the case that it is naturally not very trusting of other dogs.
This would be more likely if it was able to socialize with other dogs as a puppy and if it is also afraid of other people, that it does not know, as well.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid of everything?
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to be less afraid of other dogs it would help a lot to understand why it is afraid of other dogs.
Below, I will mention a number of things that you can consider when trying to understand why your German Shepherd gets afraid of other dogs.
When it becomes afraid
Considering whether or not it always gets afraid around other dogs or if it gets afraid only at certain times or in certain environments could help.
If it only seems to get afraid when you are in a certain location, with it, then it would suggest that it is something in the environment that is causing it to get afraid. One possible reason could be that it was mistreated by another dog, in that location, in the past.
If it seems to be afraid in all locations then it could be that it was not able to socialize as a puppy or it is naturally submissive. However, it could still be that it was mistreated by another dog especially if it was not always afraid.
If it becomes afraid around all dogs
Another thing to consider would be whether or not it is afraid around all dogs or only some dogs.
If you notice that it is only afraid around larger dogs then it would suggest that it is because it is being submissive. In this case, it would likely help to try positive reinforcement training (mentioned below) when it is around larger dogs.
If it seems to be scared around all dogs then it would likely be that it is either naturally not trusting of other dogs or it didn’t socialize enough as a puppy. However, you will still be able to try the training techniques mentioned below.
How old it is
It would also help to consider the age of your German Shepherd.
If it is still young then it could be the case that it has not had enough positive interactions, yet, with other dogs in order to learn that most of them aren’t dangerous. In this case, it would help to continue to let it be around other dogs and to positively reinforce it when it is well behaved around them.
If it is older then it would be more likely that it was either mistreated or it did not socialize enough when it was younger. Even if it is older, you will still be able to do the things mentioned below.
If it was always afraid of other dogs
One last thing to consider is whether or not it has always been afraid of other dogs.
If it was not always afraid of other dogs then it would be much more likely that it is now because another dog was aggressive towards it. In this case, it would help to socialize it with other dogs that are friendly when possible.
How to get your German Shepherd to be less afraid of other dogs
There are a number of things that you can do to try and get your German Shepherd to be less afraid around other dogs that I will mention below.
The first thing to try to do is to allow it to be around other friendly dogs as often as possible.
If it does not get the opportunity to be around other dogs very often then it will be more difficult for it to learn not to be afraid of them.
An effective way to get your German Shepherd to be less afraid around other dogs is to do positive reinforcement training.
This is where you positively reinforce behaviors that you want to see.
To use this to get your German Shepherd to be less afraid around other dogs you will want to reward it with treats or attention whenever it does something that shows signs of not being afraid.
For example, if your German Shepherd normally hides behind you when it is around other dogs but one time it does not or it was hiding and it comes out then you would reward it with a treat.
Another thing you can do is to reward it with treats whenever you are near other dogs and it is being well behaved. By doing this you will be able to get it to associate other dogs with positive things.
You can watch the video below to see how a dog trainer was able to train a German Shepherd to behave a lot more naturally when around other dogs. She uses a number of positive reinforcement techniques in the video showing how effective it can be.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
Avoiding reinforcing behavior you don’t want
While positive reinforcement training can be very effective in getting the behaviors that you want it can also work against you.
When trying to get your German Shepherd to be less afraid of other dogs, try to avoid rewarding it when it does show signs of being afraid. Instead, it would be better to avoid giving it any attention or encouragement.
However, it is also important not to punish it when it shows signs of being afraid since this can also worsen the behavior and cause it to have other behavioral issues.
See a dog behaviorist
If you are unable to get it not to be afraid around other dogs then it would be an option to see a dog behaviorist in your area to see what they think you should do.
Allow it to socialize as a puppy
While this may not be very useful for you now, with your current German Shepherd, for future reference it would help a lot if you can get your German Shepherd to socialize with other friendly dogs often as a puppy.
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Best German Shepherd Training Program
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.
Best German Shepherd Guide
Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.