If your German Shepherd gets anxious 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 getting anxious and a number of things that you can do to stop it.
So, why is my German Shepherd so anxious? Common causes are that it knows that you will be gone for a long time when you leave, someone left home or another dog passed away, it is still young, a lack of exercise or you being too emotional around it.
There are actually a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might get anxious and, depending on the cause, there are a number of things that you can do about it as well.
Why your German Shepherd is so anxious
There are a number of reasons that a GSD might be anxious and each of them will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons that your German Shepherd could be getting anxious and the signs to look for with them.
A common reason that German Shepherds will get anxious is that they have some separation anxiety. This is where they get anxious because they do not want to be left alone.
This would be more likely to be the reason that your German Shepherd gets anxious if it only seems to get anxious when you are about to leave and if you tend to leave it alone for a long time. In this case, it knows that you will be gone for a long time which is why it gets anxious.
If your German Shepherd does have some separation anxiety then it would help to try and avoid leaving it alone for long time periods by periodically coming back when you normally wouldn’t.
You can also watch the video below on some more tips on what you can do about your German Shepherd’s separation anxiety.
A new home
Something that can cause a German Shepherd to become anxious is if it has recently moved homes.
This would be more likely if you recently relocated or if you recently adopted your German Shepherd.
In this case, it would help to show your German Shepherd around as much as possible. It is also likely that it will begin to become less anxious as it gets used to its surroundings.
Someone left or another dog passed away
Another thing that can cause a German Shepherd to become anxious is if someone moved away or if another pet passed away.
This would be more likely to be the reason if your German Shepherd suddenly became more anxious at around the same time as either of those two things happening.
In this case, your German Shepherd will likely begin to improve with time. However, it would likely help to spend more time with it yourself and to give it lots of exercise and toys to play with.
You are emotional around it
German Shepherds will react to the way that their owner is behaving. If their owner gets highly anxious him/herself then it will likely result in the German Shepherd becoming anxious as well.
If you have a tendency of becoming erratic, anxious or emotional around or with your German Shepherd then it is likely having an impact on its behavior.
Instead, it would help to be calm around your German Shepherd and to train your German Shepherd to be calm as well.
The reason that your German Shepherd gets anxious could be because it is fearful.
This would be more likely if it tends to get anxious at specific times where things happen that might cause it to get anxious or fearful. Common causes can include fireworks, sirens or thunder.
However, it could also be the case that there is another person or dog that it is fearful of. If it is then it would be likely that it would become anxious when they are around.
A change in its schedule
German Shepherds are working dogs that like to have a regular routine. If your German Shepherd’s schedule has changed then it could be what is causing it to become anxious. This is because it will be unsure of what is going on.
Ways that its schedule might have changed could include a change in the time that you take it for a walk, when you feed it or when you tend to go to sleep and wake up.
Someone has been mistreating it
The cause could be that someone has been mistreating it.
This would be more likely if your German Shepherd is adopted. If there is someone that is still mistreating it then it would be likely that it would get anxious when they are around.
A lack of exercise
German Shepherds are dogs that are meant to get a lot of exercise. Generally, it is recommended for a German Shepherd to get at least an hour of exercise per day. If a GSD does not get enough exercise then it can cause it to develop behavior problems including anxiousness.
If your German Shepherd is not getting much exercise then making sure that it does would likely be very helpful in improving its behavior and reducing its anxiety.
It is still young
It is common for German Shepherds to go through a more anxious phase when they are puppies. If your German Shepherd is still a puppy then it is likely that it will improve over time.
However, now would be a good time to teach it not to be anxious or afraid of things. A good way to do so would be to use positive reinforcement training where you reward it when it shows signs of not being anxious or it does things where it is not anxious and it normally would be.
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop being anxious it would help a lot to know exactly what is causing it. There are a number of different things that you can consider but here are a couple of particularly useful things to think about.
If it has become anxious suddenly
If your German Shepherd has suddenly become anxious then it would be a lot more likely that there is something that recently happened that is causing it.
It would help to consider things that happened at around the same time that it started to become more anxious.
Things that might have happened could include:
- Eating something it shouldn’t have
- Getting injured in some way
- You relocated
- Another pet died
- Your schedule changed
- You changed its diet
When it becomes anxious
Another thing to think about is the timing of when it gets anxious. If it gets anxious in specific situations then it will likely tell you a lot about the cause of the anxiety.
If it gets anxious when you are about to leave then it would be likely to be separation anxiety where it doesn’t want to be left alone.
If it gets anxious when a certain person is around then it would be more likely that it is being caused by that person.
What you can do about it
If you want to get your German Shepherd to be less anxious there are a number of things that you can do.
Reward it when it shows signs of not being anxious
The first thing that you can 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 be less anxious you would reward it with treats just before it starts to become anxious. Then, if it starts to get anxious, you would stop giving it treats until it starts to show signs of not being anxious.
Avoid rewarding its anxiety
While positive reinforcement training can be highly effective it can also work against you.
If your method of getting your German Shepherd to be less anxious is to give it things that it likes then it is likely that it has learned that being anxious results in it getting things that it wants.
Instead, you could try to reward it before it becomes anxious and then wait for it to stop being anxious and reward it again.
See a dog behaviorist
If you are unsure of the cause of its anxiety an option for you would be to see a dog behaviorist in your area. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored to your specific German Shepherd.
Avoid being highly reactive yourself
As mentioned earlier, if you are highly emotional with your German Shepherd then it will be too.
When you are interacting with your German Shepherd it would help to be as calm as possible and to focus on training it not to be anxious.
Avoid leaving it alone for long time periods
If your German Shepherd seems to have some separation anxiety it would help to avoid leaving it alone for extended periods. If you can, periodically, check up on it then it would likely help to reduce its level of anxiety.
You can watch the video below for more tips on how you can get your German Shepherd to be less anxious.
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