If your German Shepherd has been being nervous 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 so nervous and what you can do to stop it.
So, why is my German Shepherd so nervous? Possible reasons are that it was mistreated when it was a puppy, it has separation anxiety, you recently adopted it or you’re in a new home, you get emotional around it 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 so nervous. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd is so nervous
Each of the different reasons that your German Shepherd is nervous will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and the things that would make them more likely.
The reason that your German Shepherd gets nervous could be that someone mistreated 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.
If it is nervous because it was mistreated as a puppy then it is likely that it will become less nervous as it becomes more comfortable around you. However, it would still help to train it to be less nervous using the tips mentioned below.
A common reason that German Shepherds will get nervous is that they have some separation anxiety. This is where they get nervous because they do not want to be left alone.
This would be more likely to be the reason that your German Shepherd gets nervous if it only seems to get nervous 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 nervous.
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 nervous 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 nervous as it gets used to its surroundings.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
You get emotional around it
German Shepherds will react to the way that their owner is behaving. If their owner gets highly emotional him/herself then it will likely result in the German Shepherd becoming nervous or reactive 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 using the tips mentioned below.
You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior
It could be the case that you have accidentally trained your German Shepherd to behave that way. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things that it wants when it gets nervous such as attention, treats or toys.
Instead, it would help to train your German Shepherd to be less nervous using positive reinforcement training and to try to avoid rewarding it for being nervous.
Someone left or another pet passed away
Another thing that can cause a German Shepherd to become nervous 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 nervous 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, to give it lots of exercise and toys to play with.
Not enough exercise
German Shepherds 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 nervousness.
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 nervousness.
It is still young
It is common for German Shepherds to go through a more nervous 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 nervous. A good way to do so would be to use positive reinforcement training where you reward it when it shows signs of not being nervous or it does things where it is not nervous and it normally would be.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid all the time?
Things to consider
Before getting your German Shepherd to be less nervous it would help to have a good idea of what is causing it. Below, I’ll mention a couple of things that you can consider.
If it started being nervous suddenly
If your German Shepherd has suddenly become nervous 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 nervous.
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 nervous
Another thing to think about is the timing of when it gets nervous. If it gets nervous in specific situations then it will likely tell you a lot about the cause of the nervousness.
If it gets nervous when you are about to leave then it would be likely to be separation anxiety where it doesn’t want to be left alone.
Whereas, if it gets nervous when a certain person is around then it would be more likely that it is being caused by that person.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop being nervous
There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to be less nervous 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.
Reward it when it is not nervous
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 nervous you would reward it with treats just before it starts to become nervous. Then, if it starts to get nervous, you would stop giving it treats until it starts to show signs of not being nervous.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
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 nervous is to give it things that it likes then it is likely that it has learned that being nervous results in it getting things that it wants.
Instead, you could try to reward it before it becomes nervous and then wait for it to stop being nervous and reward it again.
Avoid being emotional around it 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 nervous.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you can’t figure out why your German Shepherd is so nervous or you can get it to stop being nervous then one option you have is to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to get expert help tailored towards your particular German Shepherd.
Avoid leaving it alone for long 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, perhaps by quickly coming back at lunch, then it would likely help to reduce its level of anxiety.
Most Recommended For German Shepherds
Best German Shepherd Training Program
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.
Best German Shepherd Guide
Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.