If your German Shepherd has been acting aloof, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be acting that way and what you can do about it.
So, why is my German Shepherd acting so aloof and distant? Possible reasons are that it is bored, previous owners mistreated it, you have inadvertently rewarded the behavior, illness, injury, not getting the right diet, fear, a lack of socialization as a puppy or it might be in its nature to be aloof.
There are actually a number of nuances that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd is aloof and distant. Once you have a good idea of the cause it will become easier for you to get it to stop.
Why your German Shepherd is aloof and distant
There will likely be some clues that come with each of the different reasons that it has been acting that way.
Below, I’ll explain why it might be doing it and what would make the individual reasons more likely.
The reason that it does it could be that it is bored. German Shepherds are a breed that are meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. When they do not get that much exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues.
Generally, German Shepherds are supposed to get at least an hour of exercise per day. If yours is not getting that much then it would be likely that it is contributing to it being aloof and it would help to make sure that it does start getting more exercise.
Mistreatment by previous owners
It could be the case that mistreatment by previous owners has caused it to develop behavioral issues. This would be more likely if you recently adopted your German Shepherd from a shelter.
In this case, it is likely that it will improve over the course of weeks and months. You can help the process by giving it exercise, training, feeding it correctly, giving it positive attention and by allowing it to be a part of the family.
The weather is too hot
The reason that it has been acting aloof could be that the weather is too hot for it. This would be more likely if it is normally less distant but it has become distant suddenly as the weather has become hotter.
In this case, it would help to make sure that it has access to shaded areas, a cool environment and lots of water.
You have inadvertently trained it to be that way
It might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to behave that way. If you tend to give it things that it wants when it is aloof then it will have learned that being aloof will get it what it wants.
Instead of giving it things such as toys, treats and positive attention when it is aloof, try to reward it when it shows signs of being less aloof and to follow the other tips mentioned below.
Illness or injury
It might be the case that an illness or injury has caused it to start acting aloof. This would be more likely if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured and if it became more aloof suddenly.
If it does seem like illness or injury might be the cause then the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Not getting the right diet
It might be the case that your German Shepherd has been getting the wrong diet and it might not be getting the nutrients that it needs or it might be causing it to be fatigued. This would be more likely if it became aloof at around the same time that you changed its diet or if it has a habit of doing things such as eating dirt.
You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding your GSD.
It might be the case that there is something that is causing your GSD to become frightened and to distance itself from people.
This would be more likely if it does it more in scenarios where it might be frightened such as when there are certain noises like construction works.
It would also be more likely if it started doing it more when something happened that could cause it to become frightened such as someone mistreating it or another pet passing away.
It might be the case that your GSD is naturally aloof. This would be more likely if it behaves normally otherwise and if it has been aloof since it was a puppy.
If your GSD has become more aloof as it has gotten older then it could be the case that it is simply because it doesn’t have as much energy to spare as it used to.
Lack of socialization as a puppy
If your German Shepherd didn’t socialize much as a puppy then it could be the case that it never learned to trust other people and dogs. This would be more likely if you know that it didn’t socialize much as a puppy or if you adopted it from a shelter.
In this case, it would also help to reward it when it is less aloof and to give it lots of positive attention in the form of exercise, training and by playing with it.
Dogs can get depression like humans do and the reason that it has been acting that way could be that it has depression. This would be more likely if it suddenly started acting that way after something happened that could cause it to become depressed such as another pet dying, moving homes or an owner leaving.
In this case, it might improve over the course of weeks and months. You can help by giving it positive attention, walks and training. If it doesn’t improve much over the course of weeks or months then it would help to get the help of a certified dog behaviorist in your area.
Things to consider
When trying to figure out why your GSD has been acting that way, there are many things that you can consider. Below, I will mention a couple of important things to consider.
When it first started acting that way
It would help to consider what happened at around the same time that your German Shepherd started behaving that way since it could be the case that an event occurred that triggered it to start doing it.
If it started being distant suddenly then it would be more likely to be due to things such as a change in its diet, someone mistreating it, illness, injury or a change in the weather.
Whereas, if it has always behaved that way then it would be more likely to be due to things such as naturally behaving that way, mistreatment as a puppy, a lack of socializing or you might have inadvertently trained it to be that way.
When it becomes more aloof
It would also help to consider whether or not there is a certain time that it tends to become more aloof.
For example, if it becomes more aloof shortly after being fed then it would make it more likely that there is an issue with its diet or that it is being fed too much. Whereas, if it becomes more aloof when a certain person is around then it might have a problem with that person.
What to do about your German Shepherd being aloof and distant
There are a number of things that you can do to get your GSD to stop doing it. The best thing for you to do with yours will depend on the cause. So, start with the option that you think would work best with your particular GSD. You will also likely find that a combination of the below options will work best.
Give it more exercise
As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that your German Shepherd is getting the right amount of exercise. If yours is not getting much then it would help to make sure that it does by walking it, getting a dog walker to do it for you or by training it to play fetch.
Avoid negative reinforcement
It would also help to avoid rewarding your GSD for acting aloof. Instead of giving it things that it wants when it does it, try to reward it when it shows signs of not being aloof and to avoid giving it attention when it is aloof unless you need to.
Use positive reinforcement training
One way to get your German Shepherd to show more interest in you 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.
Give it positive attention
It would also help to give it positive attention throughout the day by training it to behave the way that you want it to, giving it exercise and by playing with it.
Ensure that its diet is right
It could be the case that there is an issue with its diet.
You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding your GSD.
It is also recommended that you feed a German Shepherd between 1,272 and 1,540 calories per day unless your vet says otherwise.
Take it to a vet
If you are unsure of why your GSD has been acting that way, it has started doing it suddenly or it has been showing signs of being ill or injured then it would be best to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice and to rule out the possibility of illness or injury.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If your vet has not found any issues then another option would be to get the help of a dog behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to get help from someone with a lot of experience who will be able to give you tailored advice based on the actions of 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