Genetic Disposition To Bad Behavior
It has been scientifically proven that behavior has both genetic and environmental determinants. This fact is recorded in a study on the genetic segmentation of behavior traits in German Shepherds, which confirmed that multiple genetic and non-genetic factors influence canine behavior.
In simple terms, your German Shepherd may inherit genes predisposing them to aggression from their parents, which does not mean that you cannot tame the behavior through training. This is one of the reasons why its always wise to meet the parents of your prospective German Shepherd puppy.
What Is Anxiety In Dogs
A dog’s anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways. Vocalization, destructive behaviour, drooling, pacing, house-soiling, fleeing, aggressiveness at the time of departure, and depression are all examples of anxiety in dogs. Many cases of anxiety in dogs can be treated successfully. This is good news for pet owners, as anxiety can be very stressful for both the dog and the owner. Recognizing that a pet is not coping well is the first step, and there are many medications available to help dogs with their anxiety problems. After understanding the most recommended medications for anxious dogs you can make the right decision for yourself and your dog!
How To Treat Minor Separation Anxiety
- Dont make a big deal out of arrivals and departurestalk to your dog in a calm voice when youre leaving or returning.
- Establish a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog youll be back.
- Consider using an over-the-counter calming product that reduces fearfulness in dogs.
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Medication Might Help At Times
If you have tried all the ways listed above but none seem to be working, you might want to try some medication for your German Shepherd.
Just as humans require a doctors intervention from time to time, so do German Shepherds. It is always advisable to have a personal veterinary professional for your dog.
Getting them checked immediately when symptoms arise could help a vet alleviate the issue early on.
While medication should not be your first choice, it is sometimes essential that your German Shepherd receives medical attention for cases of severe anxiety.
Desensitise Your German Shepherd To Your Leaving Routine
German Shepherds are highly intelligent, so theyll soon figure out that picking up your keys means youre about to leave them.
So, the first thing you need to do is work on desensitising them to the triggers of your leaving the house. This is basically the routine you follow just before you go out.
The way to do this is to pick up your keys, put on your shoes, grab your bag but dont leave the house.
Just sit down calmly and read a book, watch TV or stick on a YouTube video for 10-15 minutes. Then reward your German Shepherd for staying calm.
Keep doing this several times a day and theyll soon start to take less notice of you putting your shoes and coat on etc.
Next, get ready to go out but go into the next room. Stay there for a few minutes and then come back to your GSD.
Dont make any fuss as you do this. Act like its no big deal, remain calm and try to play things down.
Then increase the time you stay in the next room until your German Shepherd is comfortable with this too.
Once they seem ok with this, you can then start leaving the house for just a few minutes before coming back to your GSD.
Once this is comfortable for them, you can extend the time slowly.
Building up slowly is a better way to get them used to being left alone. It does take time and patience for this training to work!
However, over time, theyll soon realise that the sound of your keys doesnt mean much at all and will stop reacting!
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Aggressive Behavior In German Shepherds
Aggression in dogs can be unpredictable and dangerous. It will often manifest in behaviors such as barking, growling, snapping, lip-lifting, and eventually lunging and biting. German Shepherd aggression may be directed towards both strangers and familiar persons or animals.
Dog aggression can be classified into different categories, including:
- Protective to protect family members
- Defensive when danger is perceived
- Territorial to protect their space or place with owners
- Fear as a result of anxiety or insecurity
- Possessive to protect possessions
- Social when a dog is poorly socialized
- Pain-elicited due to injury or medical conditions
- Self-directed when the dog harms himself
Your German Shepherd may manifest one or more of these aggressions for different reasons. Owner-related factors are the most responsible for dogs aggression, including lack of proper obedience training, pampering your dog, neutering/spaying, and spending little time with your pet.
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Treating Extreme Fear And Anxiety In Dogs
If your veterinarian diagnoses a simple fear, anxiety or phobia, they might prescribe anti-anxiety medication in addition to recommending management techniques and behavior modification exercises.
Your doctor will make recommendations based on your individual dogs fear trigger, or they will refer you to a veterinary behaviorist who can help your pet.
Most forms of treatment will be done over the long-term, and could possibly span several years. It generally depends on the duration and intensity of the clinical signs of anxiety. Minimum treatment averages four to six months.
Keep in mind that prescription medications are not right for every pet and are typically implemented only as a last resort in severe instances.
If your dog has extreme panic and separation anxiety and needs to be protected until medications can become effective, which can take days to weeks, hospitalization may be the best choice.
Otherwise, you will care for your dog at home and will need to provide protection from self-inflicted physical injury until your dog calms down. You may need to arrange for day care or dog-sitting.
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Living And Management Of Fear And Anxiety In Dogs
If your dog is on medications, your veterinarian will want to conduct occasional blood testing to make sure your dogs body can process and eliminate the medications appropriately.
If behavior modification does not work over the long-term, your veterinarian may want to modify the approach. If left untreated, these disorders are likely to progress.
You will need to help your dog with behavior modification exercises and teach your dog to relax in a variety of environmental settings. Encourage calmness when your dog appears distressed. Distract him and redirect his attention, following the plan your vet has set for you.
Fearful or anxious dogs may need to live in a protected environment with as few social stressors as possible. They do not do well in dog shows, dog parks or large crowds.
And remember that not all dogs are calmer when crated some dogs panic when caged and will injure themselves if forced to be confined. Absolutely avoid punishment for behavior related to fear, phobia or anxiety.
Contact your veterinarian for a referral to get professional help with your dogs behavior modification.
Be Patient With Your German Shepherd
Helping your German Shepherd overcome their separation anxiety can take a long time.
There will be some days that youll make more progress than others, but its crucial youre patient and consistent each day.
Never scold or punish your GSD for behaving in this way as its out of their control. Theyre not doing it intentionally to be bad, its just because theyre feeling anxious and unsure.
The only way to make progress with dog training is through positive reinforcement. Rewarding good behavior and ignoring the bad!
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Signs Your Dog Is Stressed And How To Relieve It
Stress is a commonly used word that describes feelings of strain or pressure. The causes of stress are exceedingly varied. Perhaps you are stressed out by your job, you become nervous when meeting new people, or you get anxious when your daily routine is disrupted.
To reduce stress levels, you may seek comfort in several ways. Maybe you find solace in the company of a trusted friend. Perhaps you relieve stress when occupied by routine chores like cleaning the house. Or maybe you blow off some steam with physical exercise.
“Our dogs can become stressed too.”
Our dogs can become stressed too. Since we know how stress makes us feel, we certainly want to help alleviate our pets stress as well. However, our dogs do not voice their feelings, slam down the phone, or have a tantrum, so how can we tell they are stressed? The signs of anxiety in dogs are often subtle. In fact, some stress-related behaviors mimic normal behaviors.
How To Stop Destructive Chewing In Adult German Shepherds
As with the causes, the remedies for excessive-destructive chewing in an adult GSD can be diverse. These will include:
- Retrain your dog if you think basic training was poorly done during puppyhood. You may want to consider the services of a professional trainer, however, its good to know that its never too late to train a German Shepherd.
- Find ways of keeping your dog busy when you are not around. You can consider giving your dog a bone to chew on. If you do, go for natural or synthetic ones that will not break into pieces and risk choking your dog whilst he is alone. You may find this article helpful:Can German Shepherds Eat Bones? What People Get Wrong!
- Ensure your GSD has the recommended 2-hour exercise daily, which could be distributed into walks and/or runs in the morning and evening, and play and games at other times.
- Ensure that the home environment is conducive to your GSDs well-being it does not subject your pet to unnecessary anxiety and stress.
- If you think that your dogs chewing is more than just the usual bad behavior , consult your vet for a medical examination to eliminate the possibility that your dog is suffering from OCB, which could also be genetic.
- Redirect your German Shepherds bad chewing habits by using a selection of chew toys. If youre not sure what to get, head over to this article, 15 Best Chew Toys For German Shepherds to see the ones I recommend and which my dog uses.
Read more:How to Stop a German Shepherd From Chewing
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Hormonal Effects And Gonadectomy
Testosterone is often associated with aggression in male dogs. This study discovered that other hormones could be the underlying causes of aggression in dogs. Oxytocin , a hormone associated with social bonding and sexual reproduction, and Vasopressin , which regulates the volume of extracellular fluid volume and renal handling of water, can negatively impact dog behavior.
Gonadectomy is the generic term for the surgical removal of the male testes or female ovaries. Many owners believe that neutered/spayed dogs are less aggressive. However, research results from a large sample of over 13,795 dogs show that this is not entirely the case.
This fascinating study showed no significant increase in aggression in gonadectomized dogs EXCEPT those neutered/spayed between 7 and 12 months of age. Scientists still do not know the reason for this.
The bottom line is that hormonal dynamics in German Shepherds can be an underlying reason for your dogs behavior problems.
Symptoms Of Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs cant tell their owners in words if they are feeling stressed and anxious, but there are some signs to watch for in the form of troubling or even aggressive behaviors. According to Michelle Burch, DVM, from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, some of these behaviors may include:
- Excessive barking, howling, or whining
- Trying to hide or escape
- Destructive behavior
These behaviors are normal under some circumstances, but can be clues as to how a dog is feeling. Signs of anxiety can range depending on the severity from mild to severe, Dr. Burch says. Anxiety and fear can also change depending on the situation.
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How To Budget For Your Dogs Anxiety Treatment
According to Rovers Cost of Pet Parenthood Survey, you can expect to budget anywhere between $10-$500 for products and services relating to anxiety remedies for your dog.
The price of anxiety treatments can feel steep, especially with recurring costs like vet visits and medicationsbut weve found investing in quality solutions is better in the long run. One way to reduce the drain on your wallet is to take it slow: instead of buying a lot of toys in one style, try just a few different models at a time until youve found the right fit for your dog.
Minimize Difference Between Owner Presence And Absence
To decrease the impact of owner departures, owners should not change noise levels , lights, or gates when leaving. This includes minimizing ownerdog interactions prior to the owner leaving and then returning. A white noise machine can help muffle outside noises and provide background sound rather than silence. In addition to, or instead of, white noise, classical music or talk radio can be provided.
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Diagnosis Of Anxiety In Dogs
In order to effectively diagnose anxiety in a dog, they must be evaluated by a vet. Their behaviors, including their daily eating routine, urination and defecation habits, social interaction, physical exercise, and sleeping habits, should all be reported to your vet.
If your dog repeatedly exhibits one or more signs of anxiety, have them evaluated by your vet so they can be properly diagnosed. A vet will have a better understanding of the right course of treatment and if the anxiety is related to a disease or disorder of another part of the body.
Anxiety in dogs is common, and its not something to be taken lightly. In a recent study, 73% of dogs expressed anxiety-related behavior.5 These behaviors can have a huge impact on the dogs quality of life, which is why its so important to find the right course of treatment for your pup as quickly as possible.
Use Food Toys To Distract Your German Shepherd
Food toys and puzzles like Kongs, treat balls and long-lasting treats can help distract your German Shepherd while youre away from them.
Kongs can be filled with dog-safe peanut butter or meat paste. Natural treats such as bully sticks or pigs ears can also be great options.
Thisll take their mind off being on their own. Not only this, but it helps create a positive association between the treat or toy and being home alone.
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Breeds Prone To Separation Anxiety
If youre a German Shepherd parent, you probably alreadyknow that this breed can be extra clingy. In general, high-energy working dogs ordogs bred specifically as companions are more likely to experience anxiety whenleft alone.
Some of the most common breeds that are prone to separation anxiety include:
- German Shepherd
Gear And Toys For Dog Anxiety
A lot of anxiety-reducing gear is about two things: 1) safety and 2) distraction.
For example, one way to help a situationally-anxious dog feel safe is to create a comfy, dog-designated area thats just for your pup. It could be a room, a crate, a pen, or just a quiet corner with their favorite blanket or plush toy. When your dogs trigger is imminentfor example, if a storm is rolling in, or if youre about to leave the househelp your pup get settled in that space and offer a special toy, something they dont get at other times.
The ideal anxiety toy will be something that requires some brainpower, consumes a dogs attention for a significant amount of time, and engages their instincts. With repetition, a dog can come to associate their trigger with positive things, like a safe spot and treats, instead of scary ones.
Gear usually requires some trial and error not every toy or safe spot appeals to every dog. But we think the experimentation is worth it, since finding the right gear is like having an ace up your sleeveits a trusty solution that you know wont let your pup down when theyre under pressure.
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Hyperactivity In German Shepherds
Scientists have likened the features of hyperactivity, or scientifically Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in dogs to those manifesting in human children.
German Shepherds with ADHD will portray behavior problems such as hyperactivity, inability to pay attention, being easily distracted, impulsiveness, poor social skills, aggressive responses, fear, and sensitivity to noise.
The consensus seems to reign about the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in ADHD. Concerning genes, the German Shepherd has been named among breeds most prone to ADHD. Research has also listed some of the environmental factors impacting ADHD in dogs:
- Level of affection received from the owner
- Number of social contacts
- Frequency of walks and playtime
The German Shepherd Dog is naturally a high-energy dog, and the presence of ADHD can make life difficult for both the owner and the dog.
Hyperactive German Shepherds may be uncontrollable during walks, manifest excessive leash-pulling, become overly excited when removing the leash or returning home, and be difficult to engage in obedience training.
How To Stop Separation Anxiety In German Shepherds
Although German Shepherds are prone to separation-related behavior, you may prevent and its development and stop it by implementing a few strategies.
To stop separation anxiety in German Shepherds, socialize and train your dog from an early age and exercise him before leaving. Leave him where he feels relaxed and comfy, keeping departures low-key, and leave lots of toys and distractions. Practice short trips first and never use punishment.
Lets now dive into more detail on these techniques and others to prevent and stop separation anxiety in your German Shepherd
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