Yes, German Shepherd Dogs bark a lot.
There is absolutely no doubt that German Shepherd Dogs are very vocal.
They can whine in a way that cuts right through you. If you want a dog that hardly barks, a Bulldog or a Greyhound would be a better choice.
But most of us want German Shepherd Dogs that bark.
With German Shepherd Dogs, a Little Barking is a Good Thing
Your German Shepherd barks to alert you to potential dangers.
The trick is to get your German Shepherd Dog to bark appropriately and then stop, instead of barking at all hours of the day and night and driving you and your neighbors nuts.
German Shepherd puppies like the sound of their own voices. They will bark excessively—until they are trained not to.
Then barking becomes a problem again around the age of eight months, when your German Shepherd Dog is gaining more confidence in his role in the world.
Before we get into anything else, we’ll give you a simple tip for keeping your adolescent German Shepherd dog quiet.
Until German Shepherd Dogs are about eight months old, they are still teething. As you may find out for yourself, they love to chew on things.
Giving a German Shepherd Dog a chew toy as a reward for staying quiet (never as a bribe to stop barking) can go a long way toward training her to control her barking later in life.
Six Reasons German Shepherd Dogs Bark
Now let’s take a look at six reasons German Shepherd Dogs bark.
German Shepherd Dogs were bred for jobs that require barking
For German Shepherds, barking is a breed-specific function.
German Shepherd Dogs were bred to herd and guard cattle and sheep.
Barking is just part of their job description. It was an important part of the way they fulfilled their role.
Even now, when German Shepherd Dogs are pets, rather than working dogs, they still get satisfaction out of barking.
For a German Shepherd Dog, barking is self-rewarding.
It satisfies their natural guard instinct and burns off excess energy.
Female German Shepherd Dogs can be very territorial
A study at the College of Veterinary Medicine of Gyeongsang National University in South Korea found that female German Shepherd Dogs become especially loud after they have been spayed.
They don’t just get louder, they also become more aggressive about keeping other dogs and people they don’t know out of their territory.
But both male and female German Shepherd Dogs of both sexes and all ages tend to be very territorial.
Male and female German Shepherd Dogs instinctively keep threats away
German Shepherd dogs were bred to keep threats out of their territory, away from the cattle and sheep they were guarding.
The closer a threat to their cattle and sheep approached, the louder they would bark.
They also respond to threats with body language, including raised tails and hackles along their spines.
German Shepherd Dog Greeting, Begging, and Separation Anxiety
German Shepherd Dogs bark in greeting. They will come running to you, barking and wagging their tails.
They will bark to ask for something, such as food, to be let outside, or to go on a walk.
In these situations, it is important for the owner not to reward barking with the thing the dog wants.
And barking can be a sign of separation anxiety.
Accompanied by repetitive behavior, such as walking in circles, or destructive behavior, such as chewing up sofa cushions, barking becomes the primary expression of a German Shepherd Dog’s fear and anxiety about being left alone.
For a German Shepherd Dog, barking is a kind of language
The longer you live with your German Shepherd Dog, the easier it will be for you to recognize different kinds of barks.
There is an excited bark, a demanding bark, a fearful bark, an aggressive bark, and an “I’m barking because I can bark” bark.
There is also a surprised-bark. A toy that falls off a shelf, for instance, can cause your German Shepherd Dog to become surprised.
The natural response of a German Shepherd Dog to a surprising or startling event is to bark.
Three Things That Won’t Work to Stop Barking
Before we get into what you can do to stop excessive barking by your German Shepherd Dog, let’s consider three approaches that never work:
- Using a bark collar.Giving your dog an electric shock when he barks won’t teach him that barking is bad. It will teach him that you are mean. Your German Shepherd Dog cannot understand why some barks are good, like barking at burglars, and other barks are bad, like barking for attention while you are watching TV.
- Punishing your dog: Dogs don’t make the connection between what they are doing and the punishment they receive unless they receive exactly the same punishment, in five seconds or less, absolutely every time they bark, no matter why they are barking, where they are barking, or how important they think it is to communicate with you. Like shock collars, punishments don’t stop barking. They just give your dog reason to be afraid of you
- Joining in: Barking along with your dog is a form of attention. Attention is a form of reward. Making noise every time your German Shepherd Dog makes noise only gives them a reward for doing something you don’t like.
By now, there is probably an important question you want to be answered.
What Can I Do to Get My German Shepherd Dog to Stop Barking?
The better you understand your German Shepherd Dog’s needs, the easier it will be to stop excessive barking.
Make sure your German Shepherd Dog has enough to do
The first thing to do when your German Shepherd Dog is barking too much is to consider whether he is adequately stimulated.
The number one reason German Shepherds bark too much is they are bored. Barking may be nothing more than your dog’s way of letting off steam.
Or your German Shepherd Dog may be lonely, seeking attention, overly possessive, or overly protective.
But also make sure your German Shepherd Dog doesn’t have too much to do
Excessive barking may be caused by your German Shepherd’s alert system going into overdrive. Does your German Shepherd bark at everyone she can see through the window?
Does your German Shepherd bark at people he sees on your big-screen TV?
Stopping non-stop barking can be as simple as closing the drapes or giving your dog something else to do when you watch TV.
Make sure you reward appropriate silence, not barking
Owner behavior can encourage barking.
As we alluded to earlier, giving your dog a treat to stop barking sends the message that barking is good and earns your German Shepherd a treat.
The faster you give your dog a treat to be quiet, the stronger the association between barking and rewards for good behavior.
You can train your German Shepherd Dog to stop barking too much (and it isn’t hard)
One way to train your German Shepherd not to bark excessively is to set up a situation in which you know he will bark, such as when someone comes over to your house.
Invite a friend over. While you are waiting for your friend to arrive, put your dog on a leash.
When your friend arrives and your dog starts barking like crazy, give the leash a firm tug and tell your German Shepherd “Quiet.”
The tone of voice is very important here. It’s never a good idea to shout a hysterical “Shut up!” or “STOP!!” or “NO!!” for excessive barking.
Keep calm. Speak to your German Shepherd Dog in a calm voice.
Then give your dog a treat for staying quiet for at least 10 seconds, not before.
As we have mentioned before, you cannot bribe your dog to stop barking, but you can reward your dog for staying quiet.
Don’t reward the behaviors you don’t want
When your German Shepherd Dogs bark at you to get your attention, ignore them. Don’t let them follow you around the house or around your yard barking at you.
Leave the room and close the door behind you, so you make sure your dog does not get the impression that barking is rewarded with attention.
You also need to ignore your German Shepherd Dog when barking turns into nipping or biting.
Tell your dog “Stop” in a calm but firm voice, move your hands and legs so they can’t be bitten, and leave the room. Don’t let your dog follow you.
Of course, if your dog is obviously trying to get your attention to alert you to real danger (you’ll be able to tell this from the tone of their bark), respond to the danger to relieve your dog’s anxiety and for your personal protection.
Keeping your German Shepherd Dog calm outdoors
If your German Shepherd Dog barks at other dogs when you take them for a walk, carry lots of treats.
When you see another dog approaching, hold a treat in your hand and allow your German Shepherd to smell it, but not eat it.
Redirect your dog’s attention to you and to the treat, away from the other dog If your dog stays silent as the other dog passes, give them the treat.
Speak and Shush Technique
Another tried and true method of persuading German Shepherd Dogs not to bark so much is the Speak and Shush Technique.
Start by teaching your German Shepherd Dog how to behave when guests arrive
When your German Shepherd Dog barks to announce the arrival of a guest (whether it is someone you know or someone you don’t) give them a pat on the head and speak a few words of praise after the first few barks.
Let your German Shepherd get the need to bark out of their system. If your dog continues to bark, tell them to “Shush.”
Enlist a friend to play the role of a pretend guest for training
Like humans, German Shepherd Dogs can get carried away with the sound of their own voice.
You can enlist the help of a friend, someone who does not live with you, to help your dog overcome this natural tendency.
Ask your friend to stand outside your door. Get them to say “Speak!” or “Alert.”
This may feel a little silly, but it’s all part of the training session. Then your friend rings the doorbell or knocks at the door.
Teach your German Shepherd Dog it’s OK to bark to announce the arrival of a guest
Then when your German Shepherd Dog barks a few times, you say “Speak!” Praise your dog profusely.
Next, dangle a treat in front of them and tell them “Quiet!” or “Shush!”
If your dog is motivated by food, he will stop barking immediately because of this simple fact: It is physically impossible for dogs to sniff and bark at the same time.
Your German Shepherd Dog will eventually learn when to bark and when to be silent
Praise your dog again as he sniffs the treat.
Work with your friend to do this training several times a day, and your German Shepherd Dog will learn to bark when someone comes to the door and you say “Speak!”
Eventually, your dog will learn to bark after your request but before someone knocks on your door or rings your doorbell.
What’s even better is that your German Shepherd Dog will learn to be quiet when you give the “Shush!” command, expecting another treat.
Don’t run out of treats
It’s important, of course, not to run out of treats.
There is a limit to how many treats you should give your dog every day, preferably no more than about 10 percent of their total diet.
You may have to give your dog kibble-sized treats if you need to do this exercise a number of times a day.
It helps not to overfeed your dog at mealtime so they remain food-motivated for training.
When do you start Speak and Shush Training? How long does it take?
The best time to start Speak and Shush Training is when your German Shepherd puppy is about 20 weeks old.
Continue training the command with some help from your friends until she gets it right 10 times in a row.
Canine psychologist Stanley Coren estimates that it will take a German Shepherd just five times to get the command right the first time.
The great thing about German Shepherd Dogs is that they are wonderfully intelligent, in the same league as Border Collies and Poodles.
German Shepherd Dogs learn best when they are taught the same lesson in different settings.
It’s fine to use the Speak and Shush method with different friends helping you and at different entrances to your home.
In fact, it helps to mix up the settings for performing the command.
How to make sure Speak and Shush Training lasts
To make sure Speak and Shush Training sticks, focus on just learning the command during your first training session.
Then allow your kids to be playing, your TV to be blaring, and maybe dinner to be cooking when your friend knocks at the door.
German Shepherd Dogs who learn even with distractions have longer memories of their training.
Progressively increase the amount of time you expect your German Shepherd to stay shushed before they get their treat, five seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and so on, up to 30 seconds.
They will get more and more accustomed to holding back their barks to get the treats and attention they crave.
You can channel your German Shepherd Dog’s natural instinct to bark
You can use Speak and Shush Training to channel your German Shepherd Dog’s natural tendency to bark into a way to keep you safe at night.
Train your dog to “Speak” when she detects a prowler, or when someone is approaching you on a dark street.
Your German Shepherd can learn to bark just enough to give you a warning without giving your location away or disturbing your neighbors.
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