If your German Shepherd has been clingy lately then you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it.

This post will show you why your German Shepherd does it and what you can do to stop it.

So, why is my German Shepherd so clingy? Possible reasons can include being mistreated by previous owners, separation anxiety, wanting attention or that you have been inadvertently rewarding the behavior.

There are actually a number of things that you can consider when trying to understand why your German Shepherd is so clingy. Depending on the cause there are also a number of things that you can do about it.

Why your German Shepherd is so clingy

Each of the different reasons that your German Shepherd is clingy will likely come with a number of clues.

Below, I will mention a number of reasons that your German Shepherd is clingy and the signs to look for.

It was mistreated when it was younger

It might be the case that your German Shepherd was mistreated when it was younger and now it does not like being left alone. This would be more likely if it was adopted from a shelter.

In this case, it might start to become less clingy as it gets older and you can still do the training tips below. If it is bothering you then you could also consider getting help from a dog behaviorist.

It has separation anxiety

It could be the case that your German Shepherd has some separation anxiety. This is where being left alone causes it to become anxious.

This would be more likely if it starts to show signs of being anxious when you are about to leave. Signs of being anxious could include crying, pacing or being destructive when you’re gone.

In this case, it would help to avoid leaving your German Shepherd alone for long periods and to periodically check up on it if you can.

You can watch this video for some more tips on how you can deal with its separation anxiety if it has it.

Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?


German Shepherds were bred to work alongside their owners. With that being the case, it is to be expected that your German Shepherd will look to you for direction. This can also result in it seemingly being clingy.

Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you

Wanting attention

The reason that your German Shepherd is so clingy could be that it wants attention from you. This would be more likely if you tend to leave it alone for long periods such as when going to work. It would also be more likely if it becomes more clingy when you have left it alone for long periods.

You have been reinforcing the behavior

It could be that you have been inadvertently reinforcing the clingy behavior. This would be more likely if your method of getting it to stop being clingy is to give it something that it wants such as a toy, attention or a treat.

If that is the case, then you could try positive reinforcement training which will be discussed below.

Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid all the time?

Things to consider

Before getting your German Shepherd to stop being clingy it would help to have a better understanding of what is causing it. Below, I will mention a couple of particularly useful things to consider.

When your German Shepherd started being clingy

It would help to consider when your German Shepherd first became clingy.

If it was not always so clingy then it would help to think about what else happened at around the time that it started to do it.

Things that may have happened could include:

  • You moved home
  • Someone left home
  • Another pet died
  • Someone was aggressive towards it
  • Your schedule changed

If it has always been very clingy then it would be more likely to be due to its nature or wanting attention.

When it becomes clingy

It would also help to consider when and where it becomes clingy. If it only seems to become clingy in certain situations then it would be likely that it would have something to do with it.

If your German Shepherd becomes clingy when you are about to leave then it would be more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it when you have not been around it for a while then it would be more likely to be because it wants something from you such as food, attention or exercise.

What to do about your German Shepherd being clingy

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you reward your German Shepherd for acting the way that you want it to.

To use it to get your German Shepherd to be less clingy you would stop giving it attention when it is too clingy and then reward it when it shows signs of being less clingy.

You could also train it to sit or stay and then tell it to sit somewhere else when it starts being clingy. I have written about how you can train your German Shepherd to stay, in the past, here.

You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

If you tend to give your German Shepherd things that it wants when it is clingy then it may have reinforced the behavior. Instead, try to reward it when it is being less clingy and to give it positive reinforcement training.

Give it attention throughout the day

Since your German Shepherd could be clingy because it wants more attention it would help to give it attention spread out throughout the day.

Ways that you could give it attention would be to train it to do things such as to sit, to play games such as tug of war with it or to give it more exercise.

Give it lots of exercise

German Shepherds are a breed that is supposed to get a lot of exercise. When they do not get a lot of exercise it can cause behavioral issues such as being overly clingy. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get at least an hour of exercise per day.

If your German Shepherd does not get much exercise, at the moment, then it would likely help a lot if it were to. You can give it exercise by walking it for an hour, teaching it to play fetch or having a dog walker do it for you.

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