Talk With Your Veterinarian
If you have tried everything within your own power to manage your dogs aggression and it has not worked, dont give up yet. Your vet may be able to help you isolate the issue.
As weve covered, it could be due to an underlying medical condition, or it could be some other issue related to old age like joint pain.
Why Do German Shepherds Bark At Strangers
Before you learn how to stop your german shepherd barking at strangers, its important to know why they do it.
If you try to train them the wrong way then youre only going to end up confusing them. This is one of the reasons its so important to have a great training program.
So what are the reasons your german shepherd could be barking at strangers?
Are Some German Shepherds More Likely To Be Too Friendly
This is an interesting question and a subject worth touching on here. Back in the 18th century when the German Shepherd dog breed was first being developed, there was only one genetic line from which all GSDs were descended.
But today there are no less than three different genetic lines for the modern German Shepherd. This is because the GSD has been developed for different human goals: for show and for work.
There are two show lines, the American GSD and the German GSD. There is one working line, the working European line.
The working GSD lines have retained more of the original breeds aloofness and talent for tracking, herding, guarding, and protecting.
The American line, in particular, is most frequently bred to compete in dog shows and be a family pet. Breeders that specialize in companion canine GSD breeding are more likely to select breeding pairs based on friendliness than aloofness.
This means that if you have not yet chosen your GSD puppy, and your number one goal is to select excellent protection and guard dog for your family, be sure to seek out a breeder that specializes in breeding working GSDs rather than a pet or show GSDs.
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 dogs 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.
Diverting Attention In Public
For dogs who are overly excited, it is important not to let them continually engage in the barking. If you happen to be walking your dog, many other people may want to engage with them if the barking comes off as excited and nonthreatening, but you want to avoid rewarding your dog for barking for attention. Once your dog notices the stranger, the best way to stop this is to calmly turn around and walk in a different direction, avoiding any chance of engaging. Keep treats with you, that way you can reward your dog after they have stopped barking. After some practice, your dog will begin to learn that barking results in being unable to interact with the person. When your dog calmly approaches another person, reward them for their good behavior.
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My Dog Barks At House Guests
Dogs often bark when people come to their house, either out of excitement or to make them go away.
Sometimes its the doorbell or someone knocking that triggers the barking. If they are not excited to see people, their barking could be territorial, or it could be stranger danger .
My dog, Juno, doesnt like strangers, but is quite tolerant of people when we are out on a walk. However, when a stranger visits the house, she is faced with a forced interaction as well as an intruder in her safe space.
What can you do?
Another alternative that often works well, and worked for my old dog, Monday, was having her pick up atoy when someone knocks on the door.
She would often bark at house guests when they first arrived out of sheer excitement. But, having a toy in her mouth meant that she wasnt able to bark.
Always Use Only Positive Reinforcement Training Methods
Here, positive reinforcement basically means praise, pats, play and treats rather than punishment.
Not only does positive reinforcement always work much better than negative reinforcement but positive training is essential for an intelligent, large, strong breed like the GSD.
It is the only safe way to train your dog.
How Does A Dominant German Shepherd Behave
A dominant GSD essentially likes to be the center of attention and will do what it needs to do in order to establish that.
It is not acting in a way that is coming from a fear of some sort, instead it acts in a way that is an attempt to prove to the world that it is the leader and needs to be taken seriously.
Some behaviors of a dominant dog:
- One-upmanship: He will go to great lengths to show hes the fasted kid in class. Hell outdo other dogs when playing fetch and he will move another dog aside for your attention.
- Shows his strength: He will never give up on a game of tug of war, be it with you or another dog. He will show that he is stronger than the next dog or person each and every opportunity that arises.
- Stare downs: He is all about eye contact, but not as a sign of affection. His intent is to show you that he will not budge and that you should seriously consider submitting to him. He will do this with both people and other dogs.
- Mounting: He will, bluntly put, mount anything that he can. He will not discern between male and female, as this is not an attempt to mate, but more a showing that he is in control.
- Stealing food and toys: He may steal toys and food from other dogs just because he can and to show that hes in charge.One of my dogs used to just take bones away from my Rottweiller and go sit with them on his own bed. He didnt chew them, he just took them. That was the point he was trying to make I can and I will.
Distracting Your German Shepherd
This normally works best for territorial dogs, however, it can be used with all different types of barking.
The key to the distraction technique is to distract your dogs attention before they even see the person theyre going to bark at.
There are a few common ways you can distract your dog. If youre walking your dog with an extendable leash, or not on a leash at all, when you see a stranger approaching, begin throwing a ball for them
Your german shepherd will be so distracted trying to get the ball, that he wont pay attention to the stranger approaching.
The second method is best used when youre walking your dog on a lead. Take out some treats and let your dog know you have them. However, dont let them eat them. Keep your German shepherds attention on the treats until the stranger has walked by.
Once the stranger has walked by you can then feed your german shepherd and congratulate them for being good.
Both methods can work even if your dog has started barking already. When your dog is barking firmly say the word you want them to associate with not barking before distracting them.
Once theyve stopped barking say the same word again and reward them. German shepherds are smart and pretty soon theyll understand what the word means.
When they have a good grasp of what it means, begin using it every time your dog is barking. If they stop barking reward them. Keep doing this until the command has sunk in deep enough.
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Your German Shepherd Is Being Provoked
Sometimes, no matter how much training and socialization you provide and how hands-on you are in your German Shepherd dogs life, they will get provoked by something or someone.
When a GSD is provoked, barking is a natural and instinctive response.
While a well-trained German Shepherd is less likely to get provoked, if the circumstances are perceived as being extreme, it can still happen.
Examples here include these types of situations:
- The nearby presence of a female dog in heat.
- Another dog getting too close to the fence.
- A dog-ignorant person taunting or teasing your dog.
- The sudden appearance of a squirrel or another trigger animal.
Most Common German Shepherd Behavioral Problems
Before we dive into the most common behavioral problems associated with German shepherds, I think its important to look at where the breed has actually come from.
Over the last century, German shepherds have been used for tracking, search and rescueespecially for the police and protection and guarding. So, its no surprise that a lot of the issues are in this exact area.
They have been intentionally bred for traits such as fierce loyalty, intelligence, and strength.
This leads to one of the first common problems for German shepherds, which revolves around aggression and the need to protect. Its very possible that an untrained German shepherd would be likely to bark or lunge at other dogs or people, especially on his own property.
Its not at all that this type of dog is being mean or nasty. In fact, from the dogs point of view, he believes hes just doing his job of protecting his family or territory.
Its a very, very common problem, and, at the end of the day, it is what the German shepherd has been bred to do a lot of the time.
The good newsthis behavior can be untrained. Or even better yet, if youre working with a German shepherd puppy or a young German shepherd, you can easily avoid this behavioral problem. And in case you are wondering, this does not automatically mean, that if you ever really do need help, that they wont rise to the occasion!
Once again, with some basic training and a good sturdy harness, this behavior can be easily prevented.
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How To Stop A German Shepherd From Barking At Other Dogs
So, now you know why your German Shepherd barks at other dogs, how do you stop it?
To stop your German Shepherd from barking at other dogs, distract him with treats BEFORE he starts to bark. Work on obedience training and positive reinforcement and encourage him to focus all his attention on YOU. He will quickly learn to stop barking before he has any contact with other dogs!
Training a dog isnt something you only work on during puppyhood. In fact, you should work on training your German Shepherd for at least a few minutes every single day, even once he reaches adulthood.
When your German Shepherd gets a little too excited when he sees other dogs, he might impulsively bark at them. The best way to handle these situations is to distract your German Shepherd with food or treats, offer positive reinforcement, and enforce obedience training.
The best time to correct unwanted barking is BEFORE it occurs!
How To Train A German Shepherd To Be A Guard Dog
German Shepherds will usually take to being a guard dog naturally. It’s important to train them to be obedient. Learn how here.Many dogs are natural watch dogs their bark is sufficient to alert their owner to something unusual, and the alarm they set up is a deterrent. In addition, dogs who will fight if their owner is genuinely attacked do not have to be made aggressive to do so. Training a dog specifically to be a guard dog is hazardous and potentially creates a liability for you. Misguided attempts to make a dog aggressive through abuse will only backfire because the dog will not be loyal to someone who treats them harshly, and if the dog wrongly bites someone you will be at fault. Never train dogs who are basically fearful or out of control. Such dogs may not respond appropriately in non-threatening situations.
A German shepherd dog should not be selected to receive training as a guard dog unless the dog is basically friendly, stable and clear-headed, and has been well-socialized.
Walk your German shepherd dog on a leash around the perimeter of your property regularly to identify your territorial boundaries. Do not allow your dog to bark at people who are outside your property. Do not allow your dog to chase people under any circumstances.
TIPS & WARNINGS
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The Person Is Behaving Strangely Towards The Owner
When someone is behaving oddly around the owner, the dog will pick up on this and often times decide to not have anything to do with that person. A dog will pay attention to many details such as tone of voice, body language, and interactions with the owner.
If the other person is seemingly angry or aggressive towards the owner, the dog in turn will begin to bark at that person or simply avoid interacting with them. The person could also just be ignoring the owner or keeping distance, and the dog will pick up on these cues and avoid them.
Age Of Your German Shepherd
When your German Shepherd becomes 4 months old it starts to bark at sounds or things. Some may be late or some may be early in that case.
Also when your German Shepherd is old, it does not react to things that it used to be. It may develop a hearing problem with the age as a result it will not bark. Your German Shepherds age can be a big reason for not barking.
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Is It Possible To Train A German Shepherd To Never Bark
Since German Shepherds are known to be a more vocal breed in general, you will want to establish the difference between a normal and an unusual level and volume of barking.
So aiming for the goal to eliminate barking is not just nearly impossible but would likely result in a very emotionally unhealthy GSD. If you need a dog that does not bark, the German Shepherd is not the right breed for you.
So now you know that the German Shepherd dog is more vocal. You also know that training can help resolve barking issues.
Theyre Greeting New People
German shepherds dont just bark at people when they think theyre in their territory, they also bark when they greet people.
However, if your dog is barking to greet people then their body language will be a lot different too, compared to when theyre barking for negative reasons.
If your german shepherd is barking at people hes greeting then normally there will be positive body language associated with it as well. This includes a wagging tail, running in circles, jumping up, licking and pulling on their leash.
While this kind of behavior definitely needs to be dealt with, just remember that you have a really good-natured pup, who just needs a little bit of training to learn how to meet people properly.
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Step : Increase The Timing Of The Quiet Command
Keep practicing the quiet command by increasing the length that your dog is quiet and the timing of your reward. The goal is to have longer periods of quiet in-between rewards and praise.
Repeat the techniques learned in Step 4, letting your German Shepherd bark two to three times, then moving towards them and giving the quiet command.
Repeat this procedure regularly over a period of several days until your dog starts understanding what the command means. Your goal is to have your German Shepherd stop barking at strangers almost immediately once you say the quiet command for as long as you need.
Give the quiet command and wait for a longer time before rewarding your GSD with treats and praise. Gradually extend the waiting period to five seconds, then 10 seconds, then 20 seconds and then 30 seconds and longer.
Finally, work up to the minute mark for the waiting time until the reward.
This is a long time for a dog, so have patience and keep working up to a longer and longer quiet time before offering your dog the reward.
Learn How To Stop Your German Shepherd From Barking At Strangers The Right Way
The best way to learn how to stop your German Shepherd from barking at strangers is to use a complete training program that helps your dog to understand whats expected and wanted.
Most importantly, stay consistent in your at-home German Shepherd training and dont expect results overnight.
Changing a self-rewarding behavior like barking at strangers can take weeks or months of diligent practice.
Many forward-thinking German Shepherd owners, like yourself, who want to teach their dogs to listen to them and avoid unwanted behaviors with positive training did so by joining an online training program that uses scientifically-backed protocols found in the online Brain Training for Dogs program.
Imagine learning how to control your German Shepherd with kindness, compassion, and science. The step-by-step obedience videos help teach your dog to listen to you and, with time and training, to listen to your quiet command and stop them from barking at strangers.
Take a moment to look over the online training program and learn how to use brain training for better behavior.
You and your dog deserve a break from their barking to have some fun!
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