Barking is a dog’s method of communication. When it becomes excessive then you have a problem.
When it comes to German Shepherds because they’re bred as herding dogs, they really like to bark, and bark, and bark…
The solution isn’t to make the barking stop completely, as it’s a natural way of communication and in the case of German Shepherds it’s a trait this breed hasn’t given up over the generations. What you can do is to find a way to control it. This can be done with the help of specific dog training techniques.
But before you can do that, you need to know the reason your GSD is constantly barking.
- 6 Reasons For Your German Shepherd’s Excessive Barking
- It’s a breed specific trait
- Guarding their territory
- Something startles him
- He wants your attention
- Boredom and Separation Anxiety
- These 3 Things WON’T STOP Your German Shepherd’s Barking Problem
- An Easy To Learn Dog Training Routine That Will Get Your German Shepherd To Stop Barking
- How to teach your German Shepherd to bark on command
6 Reasons For Your German Shepherd’s Excessive Barking
It’s a breed specific trait
Like I said, German Shepherds are herding dogs. They’re a high energy breed that likes to talk a lot. Barking is their way of fulfilling their role. They also have a powerful guarding instinct which also doesn’t help. Excessive barking is something that all German Shepherd owners have to deal with at one point in time.
Guarding their territory
GSDs are very territorial and will bark at anything that threatens their territory. Your dog’s whole attitude changes as the threat comes closer. The barking will become louder and more intense and his position will be more aggressive. Most of the times the threat at which your German Shepherd is barking is going to be another dog or a stranger.
Something startles him
A lot of times, German Shepherds will bark at a sound or an object. If he hears a car engine, the doorbell, another bark or just people walking by he’ll most likely start to bark. This goes back to the fact that German Shepherds have a strong territorial instinct and barking allows them to feel in control of their environment.
When you’re playing with your dog sometimes he might start to bark if he’s getting too excited. If he’s barking when you’re playing with him it’s good because he’ll burn a lot of energy. Although German Shepherds don’t tire easily, your dog won’t have that much energy to keep barking for no reason later on.
He wants your attention
If your dog wants you to let him outside or to feed him, most likely he’ll start barking and won’t stop until you do what he wants. Probably the most annoying situation is when your German Shepherd wants to wake you and will keep barking until you’re out of bed.
Boredom and Separation Anxiety
Boredom and separation anxiety are common causes for your dog’s excessive barking. A lot of dogs start to bark during the night or when you’re at work and they’re all alone. Sometimes the barking is also coupled with destructive behavior like chewing shoes, pillow cases, etc.
Ok, so these are the most common causes for a German Shepherd’s excessive barking.
There are a couple of training techniques you can use to control your dog’s barking, but first here’s what you shouldn’t do in this type of situation.
These 3 Things WON’T STOP Your German Shepherd’s Barking Problem
Using a bark control collar. Although there are many dog owners who use these, I feel that it’s cruel and it can cause your dog significant pain and discomfort. The worst thing about it is that your dog will begin to associate the pain he gets from the shock with whoever is near him at that moment.
Punishing your dog. Whether it’s kicking or hitting your dog or just raising your hand at him, punishment is a very bad idea. It causes mistrust and in the case of barking for attention, it would only make it worse.
Shouting. When you’re shouting, your German Shepherd probably thinks you’re just barking back. Most likely he’ll keep barking as if nothing has happened.
So now that you know what not to do, here’s what you should do to get rid of this problem once and for all.
An Easy To Learn Dog Training Routine That Will Get Your German Shepherd To Stop Barking
Training your dog using paired cues isn’t hard at all. In our situation, the paired or opposite cues are “bark/be quiet”. There are other paired cues you can train, like left/right, nose/paw (touch something with the nose or with the paw), etc. But for now, let’s stick with the bark/be quiet cues.
How to teach your German Shepherd to bark on command
Ok, so let’s assume your GSD is already barking. If he’s not just do something to provoke him, this won’t be hard since he is a barker.
Once your dog started barking you give him a visual cue like opening the palm of your hand in front of him coupled with a voice command which can be “bark” or “speak” or whatever you want it to be. Reward your dog with a treat.
After he eats the treat provoke the bark again or wait until he starts barking and do the visual cue and voice command again together with rewarding him.
What you’re doing is you’re provoking the bark and reinforcing it. Do this until your dog begins to associate your cues with barking.
Now it’s time for the “be quiet” cue.
It’s very simple.
While your dog is barking, at the same time you give him the vocal command to be quiet close the palm of your hand right in front of his nose to startle him. The moment he stops barking reward him.
Keep at it until your dog gets it. German Shepherds are extremely smart and they’ll make the connection pretty fast.