If your German Shepherd keeps being clingy 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 being needy and what you can do about it.
So, why is my German Shepherd so needy? Possible reasons are that it wants attention, it was mistreated as a puppy, it has separation anxiety, it’s bored or that you have inadvertently reinforced the behavior.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd might be doing it. There are also a number of things that you can do about it depending on the cause.
Why your German Shepherd is so needy
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd does it will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be needy and what would make them more likely.
It wants attention
The reason why your German Shepherd is so needy 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 needier when you have left it alone for long periods.
It was mistreated as a puppy
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 needy 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 would also likely help to socialize it with friendly dogs and people when possible.
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.
If it does have separation anxiety then it would likely be needy because it is worried that you are going to leave it alone.
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.
German Shepherds are a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise. When they do not get much exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues.
Generally, it is recommended for German Shepherds to get an hour of exercise per day. If your German Shepherd is not getting that much exercise then it could be why it is so needy.
Related post: Ways to exercise your German Shepherd.
You have reinforced the behavior
It could be that you have been inadvertently reinforcing the needy behavior. This would be more likely if your method of getting it to stop being needy 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.
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 needy.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop being needy it would help to have a good idea as to what is the cause. Below, I will mention a couple of particularly helpful things that you can consider.
When it started being needy
It would help to consider when your German Shepherd first became need.
If it was not always so needy 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 needy then it would be more likely to be due to its nature or wanting attention.
When it becomes needy
It would also help to consider when and where it becomes needy. If it only seems to become needy in certain situations then it would be likely that it would have something to do with it.
If your German Shepherd becomes needy 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.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop being needy
There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to be less needy that I will mention below.
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 needy you would stop giving it attention when it is too needy and then reward it when it shows signs of being less needy.
You could also train it to sit or stay and then tell it to sit somewhere else when it starts being needy. 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
While positive reinforcement training can be highly effective in getting the behaviors that you want out of your German Shepherd it can also work against you. If your method of getting it to stop being needy is to give it things that it wants then it might have learned to keep doing it.
Instead, it would help to stop rewarding it when it becomes needy and to reward it when it is behaving the way that you want it to.
As mentioned above a lack of exercise could be contributing to your German Shepherd being needy.
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.
Give it attention throughout the day
Since your German Shepherd could be needy 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.
Take it to the vet
It might be the case that it is ill or injured. If it started being needy suddenly or it has been acting differently in other ways then it would likely help to take it to a vet.
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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.