If your German Shepherd is not very affectionate towards you then you are probably wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why is my German Shepherd not affectionate? A common cause is a lack of socializing as a puppy. Other, possible causes include being poorly treated by previous owners, illness or injury, fear or naturally being less affectionate.
There are actually a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might not be affectionate and there are a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd is not affectionate
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd is not affectionate will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might not be affectionate and the clues and signs to look for.
The reason why your German Shepherd is not so affectionate could be that it was not treated well by its previous owners.
This would be a lot more likely if you adopted your German Shepherd from a shelter. However, it could also be the case that the person you bought it from did not give it much attention as a puppy.
This would also be a lot more likely if your German Shepherd has always not been very affectionate. If it stopped being affectionate suddenly then it could be the case that someone it lives with currently has been mistreating it. However, there are some other possible causes of a sudden lack of affection that will be mentioned below.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
Illness or injury
The reason why your German Shepherd has not been showing much affection could be that it is ill or injured.
This would be more likely if it stopped showing affection suddenly and if something recently happened that might have caused it to be ill or injured.
In this case, if you think that illness or injury could be the cause then the best option for you would be to take it to a vet.
Fear can cause German Shepherds to be less affectionate.
There are many things that could cause a German Shepherd to be fearful but some examples could include:
- A certain person, that it does not like, being around
- Another dog, that it does not like, being around
- Fireworks, sirens or thunderstorms
- Being in a new location
- Having been mistreated by someone or something recently
If your German Shepherd did not previously lack affection but it suddenly started to then it could be the case that it is frightened of something. It would help to consider what happened recently that might cause it to feel that way.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid?
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is naturally not very affectionate.
This would be more likely if it has always been that way and nothing else happened that may have caused it to be less affectionate.
As dogs get older they will, naturally, become less affectionate since they will have less energy to show affection with.
This would be more likely to be the reason if your German Shepherd is getting older and it has gradually become less affectionate over time.
One possible reason why your German Shepherd does not tend to show much affection is that it is bored.
This would be more likely if it tends to show a lot of interest in you when it is about to do something exciting such as go out for a walk but it doesn’t show much affection when there is not much to be excited about.
Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get at least an hour of exercise a day. If your German Shepherd does not get much exercise at the moment then making sure that it does would likely help a lot.
Lack of socialization as a puppy
A common cause of German Shepherds being fearful or not showing much affection naturally is a lack of socialization as a puppy.
When German Shepherds are puppies they develope many of their characteristics. If a German Shepherd puppy does not get many opportunities to interact with people then it will not have as many chances to learn to be interested in them.
Dogs can get depression, like humans do, and it could be the reason why your German Shepherd has not been affectionate.
This would be more likely if it used to be affectionate. It would also be more likely if it suddenly became less affectionate after something happened such as if it lost a friend, you moved home or a family member moved away.
Things to consider
Before trying to deal with your German Shepherd’s lack of affection it would help a lot to understand why it is not so affectionate.
Below, I will mention a number of things that you can consider that should help you to figure out why your German Shepherd does not show so much affection.
If it has always not been affectionate
Considering whether or not your German Shepherd has always lacked affection would likely be helpful.
If it has only recently stopped being affectionate then it would make it more likely that it is due to things such as:
- Being mistreated by someone
- Being mistreated by another dog
- Being ill or injured
- Being depressed perhaps due to another dog or family member not being around anymore
- Being in a new location
In this case, it would help to reduce its exposure to whatever might be causing it if possible. It would also help to do the tips mentioned in the section below.
If your German Shepherd has always not been affectionate then it would make it more likely that it didn’t get to socialize much as a puppy, it was mistreated as a puppy or it is naturally not so affectionate.
If it is more affectionate at certain times
It would also help to consider whether or not it is more affectionate at certain times or locations.
If you notice that it seems to show a lot more affection when you are about to walk it then it would suggest that it’s environment is not stimulating enough for it. In this case, you could give it more exercise and get it more things such as dog toys to keep it stimulated.
It could be showing affection towards you that you are not realizing
It could be the case that your German Shepherd does show you affection but you haven’t been able to tell.
Examples of ways that your German Shepherd might be showing you affection would be if:
- It keeps the pace with you when out on a walk
- Comes to you when you call it
- It follows you around
- It noses you which is where it sniffs you with its nose a lot
- It doesn’t like it when you leave
- It licks you
- It jumps up at you
- It leans on you
How to get it to be more affectionate
If you want to get your German shepherd to be more affectionate then there are a number of things that you can do that I will mention below.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
One way to get your German Shepherd to show more affection is to do positive reinforcement training.
This is where you reward behaviors that you want to see with treats or attention.
If you want to get it to be more affectionate then you would reward it with a treat when it does things that show signs of being affectionate. For example, you might reward it with a treat for coming and sitting with you.
Avoid positively reinforcing behavior you don’t want
While positive reinforcement training can be very effective in getting it to display behaviors that you do want it can also work against you.
It could be the case that you have been inadvertently rewarding it when it does things that show signs of not being affectionate.
For example, it might be the case that you reward it with treats when it is not sitting with you.
If you want to get your German Shepherd to be more affectionate then it would help to reward it specifically when it shows signs of doing things that you want it to.
Avoid punishing it
Punishing your German Shepherd can also cause it to be less affectionate and it can cause other behavioral problems as well such as distrust.
If your German Shepherd does not do something that you want it to then, often, a better option would be to ignore it and then reward it when it stops misbehaving and starts showing signs of doing what you want it to do.
Spend more time with it and show it more affection yourself
Another thing to consider is that it might not know that you want it to be affectionate. This would be more likely if you do not show it much affection yourself.
If you want to get your German Shepherd to be more affectionate then it would help to show be affectionate towards it yourself when you can be.
Give it more exercise
As mentioned above, German Shepherds are meant to be active dogs and they are meant to get a lot of exercise daily. If they do not get a lot of exercise then it can lead to behavioral issues.
If your German Shepherd is not getting an hour of exercise a day then it would help to make sure that it does. You can do this by walking it for an hour a day, teaching it to play fetch or having someone walk it for you if you can’t yourself.
Take it to the vet
If your German Shepherd has suddenly become less affectionate then it could be because it is ill or injured.
If you think that it might be due to it being ill or injured then it would help to take it to a vet to see if it is something serious that needs to be dealt with.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If the lack of affection is bothering you and you can’t get it to be more affectionate towards you yourself then one option would be to get help from a dog behaviorist in your area.
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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.