As a certified dog trainer, I get a lot of questions about barking. And, there are a lot of assumptions about why this breed is so vocal.
Sometimes, the assumption is that they only bark for one reason. But I’m here to debunk that assumption today.
And I’ll share 6 ways I use to help my private clients and students in my membership stop their German Shepherd barking problems.
To achieve the best results in dog training, you always want to work through a problem systematically.
And if you want to modify your German Shepherd’s barking behavior like a professional while being kind and clear, these are the 4 steps to follow…
- Get clear on the real reasons your GSD barks.
- Understanding your dog’s body language.
- Knowing your dog’s ABC (this will make sense soon!)
- Your behavior modification options.
Why Does My German Shepherd Bark so Much?
Listed below are 7 real reasons why dogs bark. And it can even be a combination of these emotions and reasons.
- Breed-specific Function
But ultimately, your GSD barks because…
And that’s what we’ll go over today in this blog post.
I realize you’re here to find solutions to your GSD’s barking, and I promise you’ll get some excellent solutions, based on kindness and clarity in my behavior modification plans.
And, you’ll also learn how to help your dog use other avenues instead of barking.
But none of the solutions will matter if you don’t start with communication…
Body Talk – Reading Your Dog’s Body Language
If you’ve been in my world for a while via my blog, membership, Facebook group, or my email newsletter, or if you’re one of my clients, you already know that I teach a lot about canine body language or TEMP.
And I believe that if you want to solve your Shepherd’s excessive barking, you need to understand the “why” of your dog’s barking.
And that means you’ve got to get really good at reading what they tell you with their body and face.
Because even though they are barking, their entire body will tell you what the underlying emotion is that’s driving their barking behavior.
So by looking at their body language and the environment, you will understand the reason behind your GSD’s barking.
And ultimately, that will give you the feedback you need to pick the best solution.
In this next short video, you’ll learn some basics of canine body language.
The A B C of Barking
A B C is something we use every day in professional dog training to decipher, understand and help dogs make good behavior choices.
- Antecedent (trigger or cue).
Every behavior has a cue or a trigger that happens before the behavior. And a consequence that comes after the behavior.
And this is a really important concept for you to understand as you move forward in working on your Shepherd’s barking.
Although it might look like your GSD is barking for no reason, once you start doing some investigation you’ll find that there’s always a reason.
Because behaviors don’t happen in a vacuum or for no reason.
- It could be another dog.
- It could be a stranger passing by.
- It could even be a sound like the garbage truck.
These are all potential cues or triggers that set your dog off barking.
And then there is also a consequence that happens after they bark.
- The scary thing (stranger or garbage truck) goes away.
- You pet them.
- You play with them.
And if you cast your mind back to the beginning of this blog post, you’ll remember…
Your dog barks because it works!
Let me explain with a real-life example…
My friend Sandy is arachnophobic. And I’m not exaggerating either!
At the sight of a spider, Sandy will literally run barefoot for miles through the thorny Brambles of Mordor.
And once Sandy has run far enough, she feels safe from the spider – that’s the consequence of her running away or her behavior.
So Sandy will keep running away because her behavior makes her feel safe from the spider.
And it’s exactly the same when your dog barks at a trigger…
- Your Shepherd sees a stranger.
- They bark loudly, and the stranger moves away.
- Your Shepherd is “safe” from the stranger.
Below is a more detailed way to look at the ABC of any behavior, including your Shepherd’s barking…
A = Antecedent (the trigger or cue that puts the behavior into motion)
- You say “sit.”
- You see a green traffic light.
B = Behavior (the activity, action, or skill performed)
- Your “sit” cue causes your dog’s butt to go down.
- The green light causes you to push the gas pedal.
C = Consequence (the “payoff” can be wanted or unwanted)
- You reward your dog once their butt hits the ground.
- You go faster as you push the gas pedal.
Now let’s look at an example of a specific case I worked on with a client…
- Their GSD hears the garbage truck (Antecedent).
- Their GSD starts barking (Behavior).
- The garbage truck leaves (Consequence).
Now, the garbage truck didn’t leave because their Shepherd barked at it.
But, in their dog’s mind, the unwanted thing (the garbage truck) left because it was “scared away” by the barking.
And in the example above, if the consequence is something your dog wants (like for the garbage truck to go away), it’s reinforcing, and they will rehearse the behavior more and more.
What Triggers YOUR GSD to Bark?
So now that you have a good understanding of the A B C of barking behavior and your dog’s emotions through their body language, it’s time to start a list of what specifically triggers your GSD.
And the more specific you can be with creating your dog’s list of triggers, the better you’ll be able to help your GSD choose different behavior.
Here are a couple of ideas to start you off…
- A knock at the door.
- The doorbell ringing.
- The garbage truck.
- A novel object like a plastic bag.
- An ice cream van passing by.
- A lawn mower.
- Another dog barking.
- People walking by the house.
- Dog’s barking on the TV.
- Strange people on walks.
- Strange dogs on walks.
- Other dogs playing.
- A holiday decoration out on a walk.
- Being alone at home.
Below I’ll share how I nailed down a specific trigger my dog Lexi had.
Getting Specific on a Trigger
Lexi was highly triggered and would go into a barking frenzy when the garbage truck arrived on Friday mornings.
First, I tried to desensitize her to the truck sound, but that sound didn’t trigger her.
Then I thought it might be the backup beep the truck makes, but that wasn’t it either.
Finally, I realized the sound that triggered her was the hydraulic system lifting and tipping the bins.
Until then, I’d been trying to desensitize her to the wrong sound and wasn’t getting results at all.
The bottom line is, getting specific will help you pinpoint exactly what it is that triggers barking in your Shepherd.
What is the “Payoff” or Consequence for Your GSD Barking?
Next, you want to pinpoint what the consequence or “reward” is for your Shepherd’s barking.
In our garbage truck example, if the “scary thing” moves away, it’s a positive consequence for the dog.
If, for example, your dog is attention barking and you pay attention to them, that is also a positive consequence.
Remember that positive consequences will make the behavior much more likely to occur again in the future.
Now, armed with all this knowledge, you’re ready to dive into your behavior modification options to stop your German Shepherd’s barking problems.
The Behavior Modification Plan
When trying to deal with barking issues, a lot of folks use what I call, “throwing spaghetti” to see what sticks.
The problem I see with this is, it causes a lot of confusion for both the guardian and the dog.
If you want to help improve your GSD’s barking behavior, you’ve got to have a management plan and a training strategy.
What follows is the exact process I use with clients and members to help them resolve their dog’s barking problems.
Treat Any Underlying Issues
The first question you need to ask is, “Is there anxiety?”
This could be General Anxiety Disorder or Separation Anxiety.
Especially if you’re finding that your dog is barking at lots of triggers all the time.
If it’s present, it’s definitely something your vet should diagnose. So, it’s vital that you consult with your vet if you suspect an anxiety disorder.
Depending on how severe your dog’s anxiety is, your vet will talk you through the various options available to manage it effectively.
Below are some of the options your vet will discuss with you…
- Calming music.
- Adaptil or pheromone collars.
- Veterinary-prescribed medication or anti-anxiety treatments.
The next question to ask is, “is there a health issue?”
Think of something like a dog who experiences a dip in glucose levels in the afternoon.
This might cause them to bark like crazy at a specific time each day. And simply switching their feeding schedule to three times a day could solve the barking issue.
And the final question to ask is, “is there pain or discomfort?”
If you’ve ever experienced low-grade, chronic pain you know how it can affect mood and feelings of well-being. And dogs experience those same negative effects if they are in pain.
Your vet will be a great help here in doing a full exam to determine if your dog is experiencing noticeable pain on the pain scale.
Identify Your GSD’s Triggers
As I mentioned previously, be as detailed and specific as possible when you’re deciphering your dog’s barking triggers.
Here are a few more ideas to think about as you add potential triggers to the running list you’ve started writing.
- Garbage truck.
- Truck backup beeps.
- Mail carriers.
- Other dogs barking.
Prevent Triggers from Happening (where possible)
Now that you’ve got a list of your dog’s triggers, it’s time to put some management in place to prevent rehearsals.
This is the first big step to solving barking problems.
Because prevention and management are very helpful when you first start working on these problems.
Let’s say one of your dog’s triggers is a squeaky front gate. Simply oiling the gate regularly might be enough to stop their barking altogether.
If your dog likes to watch and wait at the window to bark at passersby, you could cover the windows with opaque window coverings.
This will still allow the light to come into the space but prevent your dog from seeing any people or dogs walking by.
And if your GSD is triggered by passersby chatting, you might consider music specially composed for dogs. This type of music reduced barking by 70% in shelters.
Change the Consequence (where possible)
As yourself, “can I set things up, so there’s a more positive consequence if my dog doesn’t bark than if they do?”
So for example if your dog barks at the mail carrier. Carry treats in your pocket and each time your dog starts barking, call them to you and deliver a treat.
In the beginning, it won’t be perfect, but over time your dog will head straight toward you as the mail carrier approaches to deliver your mail.
You will have to use high-value treats for this because barking can be a very valuable behavior for your dog.
This blog post will show you how to get your GSD to tell you what their highest-value treats are.
Desensitize or Counter Condition Your GSD to the Trigger
This is where the trigger doesn’t cause barking anymore because you’ve helped your dog learn a new emotional response to the stimulus.
In short, the trigger is not scary or worrying to your dog.
Let’s say your dog is triggered by the sound of your doorbell.
You could record the sound of the doorbell on your phone and while the sound is playing on the lowest volume, your dog experiences high-value treats.
When the sound plays, your dog gets a constant stream of high-value rewards.
When the sound ends, the rewards also stop coming.
How long this will take depends on how sensitive your dog is o their trigger.
Redirect or Distract
Here, you’re giving your dog something else to think about instead of the trigger they want to bark at.
This is one of my go-to methods with my private clients and their dogs have had a lot of success this way!
Some redirect and distract ideas are:
Bully sticks, Yak chews, or other long-lasting chews.
Food-filled toys like Kongs, Topples, or busy Squirrels. Ideally, you’ll want to fill and freeze these before offering them for a longer-lasting experience.
An interactive game with you like tugging or a game with a flirt pole.
Teach an Alternative Behavior
When I started my dog training journey with my first barky dog, Charley, I successfully taught an alternative behavior like the Speak/Quiet cue.
But it doesn’t work for all dogs and most times, it’s hit-and-miss. As I learned with my next barky dog, Lexi!
So as a certified professional dog trainer, I like to set people and their dogs up for success and so instead I recommend using the Consequence Change method.
It’s much more reliable and still teaches your dog an alternative behavior.
Sometimes Management is the Only Solution
This might not be something you want to hear, but the truth is, sometimes management is your only option.
For example, traveling with your dog in a crate if they bark at triggers passing your vehicle. If they can’t see the triggers, that might be enough to manage the barking.
Walking your dog early morning or late evening to avoid triggers. changing direction or moving off to the side if you approach a trigger like other people or dogs on your walk.
And if your dog’s trigger is low-flying planes and you live on a flight path, your best option might be to speak with your vet about natural calming aids.
3 Things that will Never Get German Shepherd Barking Under Control
Punishing your dog by hitting, kicking or a raised hand in the ‘ready to smack’ position. This will scare your dog and cause mistrust.
And in the case of attention-seeking barking, it may only reinforce the behavior.
Shouting at your dog will not make your dog stop barking.
In most cases, your dog will turn a deaf ear and continue barking.
Using a bark collar. This will cause your dog considerable pain and discomfort. It is not a proven method to stop barking.
It will also cause negative feelings in your dog. These feelings can be associated with a person or animal present when the shock is applied.
Hi, I have found all the comments and advice really interesting but have a question of my own. Two weeks ago we adopted our boy. He is 22 months old, not neutered. He was kept in a crate for up to 10 hours a day by his previous owner 🙁
He is extremely affectionate, well behaved when out, loves his ball play and runs, great with other dogs and people when out. Our only issue is that he gets over excited when anyone visits the house! As soon as there is a knock at the door he is barking and bouncing at the door. He is a very big boy so it can be a struggle to restrain him. If a visitor is invited in he continues to bark and wants to bounce all over them (which, due to his size can be intimidating!)
I am pretty certain this is excitement and adolescent behaviour as he LOVES attention from anyone and everyone! He doesnt understand that not everyone wants a 35kg GSD barking and bouncing at them :s Any ideas on how to curb this behaviour? Thank you
Thanks for your comment and question.
He’s likely over-aroused because he was never socialized correctly and slowly taught how to control his impulses with his previous owner. I mean the fact that they crated him for 10 hours at a time is just shocking!! I’m so happy to hear he’s with you now and I can tell you’re an attentive and caring guardian for him.
I’m going to recommend having a look through this post I wrote on how to stop a GSD from jumping. There’s a section on jumping on guests too and how to re-train for a more acceptable behavior.
That being said, I do think the ideal is to begin working on helping change his emotional responses around stimuli that gets him into a high arousal state. With some key strategies you should be able to achieve this pretty easily. Especially because his behavior is out of pure excitement and not due to a negative reaction or reactivity.
You can schedule an hour call with me where I’ll lay out the strategies and training plans for you to begin using right away. Here’s a link to my calendar for you to book a call at a time that suits you.
I was on the lookout for content on how to stop dog barking when I came across your page (Stop German Shepherd Barking Problems Once and for All) and I loved your ideas about pets. And I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I own a dog and recently my dog started barking too much which made me think of a solution for this. It’s not the first time I experienced this issue though.
Anyway, thank you for the great work. I really appreciate it!
Glad to hear you found this helpful. 🙂
I have an almost 3 year old male GSD called Aslan. I have had him since 8 weeks old and I am very much his Alpha. He tends to choose when to listen to me or not at home, which stupidly I would just shake off thinking, oh well we are at home!
When he was younger and until about 18 months old, I lived in a flat in a built up area in the centre of town. The living conditions were not suitable for both of us, but when I would take him for walks, he tended not to bark at people and most importantly dogs at all! I moved back to my family home when he was 18 months and have now been here for 18 months. I have a large family home and large family in addition to the family female Cockapoo (6 years old). The two dogs are friendly although the Cockapoo is quite naggy with him, but they are socialised together now and he loves all my family, I have a young sister who he adores. He has jumping up problems with just my mum, but I think that is due to adoration, he does a very high pitched whine/bark but is happy to see her always. This barking is not so much of a problem but I would love to get that under control – what would you suggest for this kind of happy/excited jumping an barking?
The main problem is that he barks at every dog he sees. I understand that most dogs do bark but being a GSD his bark is very loud and admittedly quite scary to other dog owners.
Considering he never used to bark at other dogs, I would attribute this change in behaviour to our Cockapoo, who barks at most dogs, the postman, people coming to the door etc.
When he barks at other dogs when we are walking, he is becoming more and more difficult to manage, and whereas at the start his tail would be wagging, bow he pulls and lunges when barking at other dogs. On occasions when I’ve tried to pull his harness to move his body to face a different direction, he has never snapped but I can tell he is incredibly nervous as I am trying to block his view of the dog. I used to just turn him around and walk the other way when we got close enough that I felt his body language change but I feel like he then will never be able to learn to stop barking at a dog if he doesn’t see/get close to any!
Aslan is not neutered, we had a terrible experience with the vets when I took him to be neutered about a year ago, and now they are saying it might not help with his behaviour to be neutered if he is nervous/aggressive.
I am due to start some behavioural training and hopefully social classes with a local registered trainer, but whenever I come home from a walk and he has barked aggressively at another dog, I come back deflated, embarrassed and quite emotional as I have been trying so hard to help him with this- he is such a loving and cuddly dog most of the time!
He loves cheese and sausages, but when he spots another dog he doesn’t care about the treats!
I have a head halter that I was going to train him to be able to wear but I would so appreciate some advice.
I might add, it tends to be be worse when he is on his lead, when he is off a lead he is not really bothered by other dogs in a field.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, I have read through the other user questions but I hope I’ve put enough information in.
Thank you for reaching out with your question.
To begin with, I encourage you to suspend walks temporarily until you start working with the trainer. If they are worth their salt and use positive reinforcement training they will work with Aslan to help desensitize him to dogs in small increments and teach a more appropriate behavior until he is able to walk again without reacting.
Suspending walks may sound terrible, but the best way to start working with this barking behavior is to prevent him from rehearsing it while you work behind the scenes with CC and DS to help change his emotional state.
In terms of the jumping on your mom, is she reinforcing the behavior in any way? Even saying “off” or “no”. Behaviors are built through reinforcement, so if Aslan is only practicing this with your mo, I’d say there is some kind of reinforcement happening there. To work on jumping behavior in a positive way, here’s a post with step-by-step instructions for jumping on family and guests.
I hope this helps get you started to help Aslan make better choices :). You can reach out to me via email if you’d like to set up a consultation.
Hi, I have a seven month old GSD who barks excessively along the fence when outside alone. It first started when she was about 5 m/o. She was outside during the night and she didn’t bark excessively but I had to start putting her in the garage (which she didn’t have a problem with as far as I’m aware) because there were many cane toads in the yard and reports of snakes in the area. After about a week of that when she was outside alone for too long she would start barking. It wasn’t too bad at first but its excessively been getting worse. I then found a cane toad in the garage with her so she now sleeps in my room with me. She’s just recently gotten in the habit of bolting for the side fence and barking as soon as she’s let outside (she’s even knocked the sliding door out a couple of times). Because of that I’ve now started taking her out on a lead so she can’t bolt instantly and then when she’s calm I let her off. She doesn’t bark excessively when I’m outside with her she’ll only bark every now and then. But as soon as I go inside for a couple of minutes she’s running up and down the fence barking. There have been cats, possums and rabbits along the fence a few times, but she chases them away super quickly. Sometimes I think it is an attention thing because if I’m watching her out a window where she can’t see me she’s just barking at the house. Most of the time however it is up and down the fence. I’m a uni student and have classes and work where I’ll be gone for hours at a time and don’t want to keep her locked in the house in fear that she’ll destroy things. I have now gotten a complaint from a neighbour and she said if I can’t get it under control she’ll call my landlord (who will most likely tell me the dog needs to go).
Thanks for reaching out with your question.
It sounds like you’re juggling quite a few things all at once there. And this kind of barking situation can add a lot of stress. It’s likely that this can be resolved with some smart management strategies and training. But I’ll need some more information and a deeper look at the situation to offer reliable solutions. So we can keep the neighbors happy and your girl with you!
I’d be happy to chat with you and help you find ways to resolve this situation via a consultation. You can get in touch with me via email, so we can set up a time for a quick chat.
I have 6 month old German shepherd that ties up outside and he constantly barks at people and at vehicles, I struggle with him when I take him out for walks, I was approached that I should get him a muzzle for him, and I strongly don’t believe in that for I tent to find it’s some sort of animal cruelty.. I tried everything with him, praising him and giving him treats for him to learn to be submissive but I’m pretty tired and have a sore lower back from holding him back when I take him for walks.. either than that he’s a fine dog <3
Sorry to hear you’re struggling while out on walks with your pup.
Muzzles are not designed to curb barking behavior, it’s designed to prevent biting. In fact, a properly fitted muzzle means a dog can still drink water and bark because it’s not supposed to sit tight enough to prevent a dog from opening its mouth. So a muzzle is definitely not the right tool for this situation.
It sounds to me like your pup is in a fear period right now which is not unusual at 6 months of age, and from what you’re describing it also sounds like you may need to employ the services of a trainer to help you work through this situation.
I recommend temporarily suspending walks. This will prevent your pup from practicing the behavior. In the meantime, you can offer him a lot of enrichment opportunities inside your yar with things like puzzle toys, hide and seek games and food stuffed toys like kongs. Do this while you’re doing research to find a good, positive reinforcement dog trainer.
A positive reinforcement dog trainer will help you understand more about how your pup learns, help you learn to train your pup, and help you manage the situation while your puppy learns how to cope calmly out on walks with small, short training sessions.
I’d be happy to make a few recommendations for trainers, just drop me an email and let me know where you are based and I’ll do my best to help you find someone in your area.
I really like your article, especially “barking on command” part 😀
Hello! I have a 3 yr old GSD male who stays outside. We recently had new neighbors move in (which he would be fine with as we share a fence with a park on the opposite side and he’s ok with people passing by). It’s the fact that they have 1 maybe 2 dogs. He’s not socialized (other than with my other 11 yr old chiweenie). But he always goes nuts when other dogs are at the park. I’ve recently tried having a command where he knows to come directly to me with a high value reward but I’m just starting (2nd day) and I’m not sure it’s working. I know I should be consistent but am I on the right track? Should he meet the dog(s)? I’m just afraid that if they become friends, he’ll try to break down the fence or dig thru to play. As of now, it’s just barking and running along the fence. Other dogs are quiet and aren’t aggressive towards him. I’m just the neighbor with the crazy gsd. Pls help!
Thanks for reaching out with your question.
I’d say yes, you are on the right track with training a specific recall cue and using a high-value reward.
Although along with this training you will need to put some temporary management in place to stop your boy from practicing the behaviors of running along the fence and barking when the other dogs are around.
The reason for this recommendation is two-fold. Firstly, running along the fence and barking at other dogs is highly rewarding and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else that’s more rewarding long-term. Secondly, the more he practices the behavior the more it’ll become a habit.
Temporary management is really about experimenting to find what tools work the best. It’s hard to tell what management will work because I have not seen the actual setup. But here are a few lines you can think along and experiment with.
Visual barriers, like covering the part of the fence with something he is not able to see through. If this works, great! But keep in mind he may then start reacting when hearing the dogs on the other side and practice the same behavior.
If it’s at all possible you can remove him completely from that area of your yard to another area, like the front yard, if it’s fenced off.
Once you have a temporary management system in place to prevent him from practicing the behavior and reinforcing it, you can work on slowly desensitizing him to seeing and hearing the other dogs.
The visual representation in this article is an excellent example, just replace the “mailvan” with the other dogs.
Then I’d also highly recommend working through a training program with him. I’ve found that unsocialized dogs tend to react a lot to stimuli because they need more confidence.
Although the program I’m going to recommend will not help to socialize him with other dogs, it will build his confidence and this is a great help when it comes to working with dogs that have missed the socialization they need in the crucial socialization periods.
The program is unique because it uses games to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence and this way they learn the behaviors we want more of as well as making them confident problem-solvers.
I’ve written about the program, my experiences with it extensively and you can read about it in this article.
I hope this helps. But feel free to reach out to me here or via my email if you need more support.
Chat soon! 🙂
I have 6 year old male GSD. We have engaged a trainer when he was 5 months old. But, not much of use even after 5 months training. Then, , we stopped training. The problem is he barks at people, bicycle riders, two wheelers and cars. How to stop this barking and control him when going out.
Thanks for your question.
The first step is to temporarily stop taking him out and work on building up his confidence in lower distraction areas where he’s able to be further away from the stimuli that are causing him to bark excessively. If you can work inside your yard, where he can still see and hear passing people, cyclists and vehicles this will help.
You can implement the training steps detailed in this article to desensitize him to the sights and sounds while counter-conditioning him to a new behavior ie: not barking.
I have a 13 month old female and she barks all day. I have been trying to train her with the speak and quiet but she is not cooperative. I have two other dogs that don’t bark a lot (unless we get a delivery). My GSD loves to be outside. It barks at the wind, the snow, the trees, and usually at nothing. She refuses to come in when I call her. She has toys and we play with her three times a day for 30 minutes plus take her for runs (when the weather cooperates). I have an acre of land for her to run around on and she loves to be outside. I have tried everything to keep her engaged. She doesn’t really like treats of any kind, except cat treats but even those won’t change her behavior. This has been going on for 6 months now.
Thanks for reaching out here.
Based on when this started (around 7 months of age), I’m inclined to think this behavior has its ties in the fear phase dogs experience from roughly 6 months to 14 months old. This is the time period where their wolf-cousins start joining the hunting packs and so this fear phase is linked to survival. although dogs are not wolves, they still have some of the same wirings as their wolf-cousins.
Barking is a self-rewarding behavior and the more it’s practiced the more it’s reinforced. And a reinforced behavior is much more likely to occur in the future. Of course, it’s not possible to prevent dogs from barking altogether, but you can work on building her confidence overall. Which will in turn help minimize random barking as you have described.
You can do this in several ways, and I recommend using the following ways.
Continued socialization while keeping in mind not to expose her to situations that are overwhelming.
Also creating positive associations through counter-conditioning will help plenty. It’s likely that although it looks as though she’s barking at nothing, it’s actually something she’s heard, smelled, or seen. This step will be a long-term thing and you can spend a few minutes outside three times a day where you just hang out with high-value treats and follow the steps in this article – just replace the “mailvan” with whatever stimuli she’s reacting to.
Build her confidence even further through positive training. I highly recommend an online program I have used successfully for all my pups and rescues. It’s unique because it uses games as a way to tap into our dog’s intelligence, teach them what we do want, build confidence and problem-solving skills.
Then I’d also recommend a temporary management plan for the time being. In the case of a dog that barks at stimuli outside, this might be a longer-term plan, but with the view of reducing management as the behavior decreases and she grows in confidence. Without being able to see your physical setup it’s hard to give exact tips. But overall a management plan is to prevent a dog from practicing the behavior we’re trying to un-train. So for example, only allow her outside when you’re able to join her with treats for some counter-conditioning, or regular walks. It may also be helpful to get into some physical play outside where she’ll be around the stimuli that usually makes her bark but naturally distracted through play with you.
And lastly, in terms of her food motivation, it may be a case of her not seeing the treats as valuable enough. So check out this article on dog learning and scroll down to the section “The Power of Food in Dog Learning“. There you’ll find a fun experiment where you can get your girl to show you exactly which treats she finds valuable enough to work for.
And feel free to reach out to me here with any other questions you have.
my 19-month old male GSD, has a bad barking problem, but only with specific things. Like, he has a very aggressive bark fit when someone knocks on the door, but we are using the ‘quiet’ command with this and at points it is effective, but at other times, like when he is really riled up, the only thing to calm him down is putting him in this crate and telling him to be quite from there and ensure the visitor is not in his eye sight, or he will become aggressive and bark again. Arthur doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he just wants to bark and wants to jump up at them, but thats his personality. But obviously, most people dont want a barking, fully grown GSD bouncing up at them when they enter the house.
Another concern for us is that Arthur seems to start barking at some female dogs without any trigger other then them being present. Even using the quiet command with his, he just ignores it and carrys on barking. He is not so bad with other male dogs, but if they do bark at him, he won’t hesitate to bark back, but we can have more control over him if this is the case.
I dont know if this will help, but Arthur was well socialised as a puppy, we take him to puppy classes, still, which he really enjoys, but is beginning to bark more at, which does rile up the other dogs and cause the other owners some concern, which we dont want obviously.
Other context would be that, we have another dog, an 8 year old female Rottweiler, who does bark and is quite protective, but Arthur does seem to bark a lot more then her., We wonder if he is just trying to mirror her own bahaviour and the rottweiler breed traits?
The dog trainer from the puppy course has suggested us to go to a dog behaviour specialist, as he is just seeming aggressive when he barks, even know to him, he is just barking. Do you think this is a good idea?
Thank you for your questions.
Not having met and seen Arthur’s behavior it’s hard to tell if it’s an adolescent phase or something more. However, if Arthur is well socialized and experienced in training and displaying this kind of behavior, it might be a good idea to visit a veterinary behaviorist.
This will help to determine if there is an underlying health issue causing the behavior as well as chat to a specialized behaviorist about what you can do to help Arthur overcome this behavior.
A good veterinary behaviorist will tell you upfront if there is in fact something specific that needs to be worked on or not and you can have the health check at the same time.
I hope this helps. 🙂
Hello! I adopted a 12 month old German shepherd about a week ago and he is extremely smart! He already knows come, sit, lay down, stay, and working on heel. However, I do not believe he was properly introduced to other dogs in the first year of his life and it shows. He is very timid, even becomes scared (hair on his back standing up), and barks. Eventually, he understands that it’s okay if we reinforce that, but I was wondering if there is anything I can do to make it easier for him other than just continued exposure? I definitely want him to be comfy and confident around other dogs so I can take him with me places, just haven’t found anything great on approaches yet! Thanks for your time!!!
Thank you for your question and for opening your heart and home to your boy!
Since his socializing window has closed, the humane and safe way to teach him that it’s safe to interact with other dogs is through desensitizing and counter conditioning, as discussed in this article. From a positive training perspective, this is the best way.
Ideally, you want to start at a distance where he’s not exhibiting the signs of stress like raised hackles and barking. Once he’s not displaying those behaviors at the current distance, you can decrease distance a little. Keeping in mind that if he displays stress signs you’ve moved too close, and in this case move back slightly.
Feel free to reach out to me via email if you’d like to chat more about specifics or share a video with me of the behavior. That way we can dive a little deeper into how you can use these methods to help your boy.
Chat soon! 🙂
I have a two year old German Shepherd, I will let her outside and no matter what she will bark. This all started thanks to the dog next door that attacked her when she was a puppy. Now that dog has moved out an there is now another German Shepherd next door. We have tried things like a muzzle to a citronella caller and nothing has worked. I can’t restrict her access to the front porch because that’s how we let her in and out. She is driving me insane, is there anything I can do to get her to stop?
Thank you for your question.
When dogs have a bad experience like being attacked as a puppy it can have an impact on their behavior. You can certainly work to improve the situation but it will take a lot of management, enrichment and training. I speak from personal experience since my departed Charley had a similar behavior problem with barking.
The first thing I recommend is to put a management system in place to prevent your girl from practicing the behavior. This might be only letting her out when you or someone else is around to supervise her and redirect her attention to something else like a toy, quick game or a short training session with a few repetitions of a behavior she knows well.
It’s essential to manage the situation in a way that’s positive and prevents the practice of the behavior without punishing her. A muzzle is not really intended to prevent barking behavior. And citronella collars are particularly aversive to an animal with a highly sensitive olfactory system.
Barking is a highly self-rewarding behavior so along with the management steps, I would definitely begin offering her more enrichment opportunities which will stimulate her reward system in ways that don’t involve barking. I’ve written extensively on enrichment and enrichment ideas.
Training is another important step in helping dogs change their behaviors in a positive way. You don’t say how much training she’s had but it’s never too late to start or take a different approach. I recommend following a dog training program that I have personally used extensively to not only train my dogs but help them change the behaviors that were unwanted.
The program uses games to tap into the natural intelligence of our dogs. This not only stimulates and enriches them but it also teaches them what we do want instead of focusing on what we don’t want. My dogs have learned very valuable problem-solving skills through the program and my GSD Charley became a totally different dog once I began to take this approach.
I have written about my experiences and options about the training program in this article. And had the privilege of interviewing the trainer who developed the course. You can read about my experiences, peek inside the course and read more about the amazing trainer who developed the course in this article.
I hope this helps to get you started. Keep strong, stay positive and go one step at a time. Form someone who has been through a similar situation, I know it’s possible to help our dogs make positive choices and changes to their behavior.
Feel free to reach out to me anytime.
Chat soon! 🙂
First time German Shepard owner here. My boy Koda is three months old and has been crate trained by me. He hasn’t had a problem until now. Now when he goes to bed he barks non stop until someone goes into the room and turns on the light. I’ve tried telling my husband that that’s rewarding bad behavior. Which I don’t want. However we have noticed that while he has someone with him it isn’t the same as when I come home from work. He stops listening to my husband and barks and whines and jumps on the fence of his dog run. I know he has bonded to me and that bond is very strong but how do I get him to stop having severe separation issues and start bonding with my husband like he has with me? I take him for walks and play tug of war with him and get him to play fetch. But his barking has gotten worse. Please help
Thanks for your questions.
I think the first step in deepening the bond between Koda and your hubby is for them to spend time bonding through play, training, and grooming. I’ve found these to excellent ways to cement the dog-human bond.
In terms of the crate issues, does it help at all if the light is left on when Koda is in his crate? Or is it more a matter of Koda wanting a human in the room with him? Also have you tried to move the crate to a different position, room, or area? I ask because his sudden change in behavior could be because something is bothering him since he was fine with his crate previously. Perhaps some experimentation with different rooms, positions, or areas might reveal what the issue is.
Have to tried to teach Koda the speak/quiet command? This might help with excessive vocalization.
I have two dogs. The older one is a Black Lab male who is submissive to the younger female GS mix rescue. She gets very vocal when approaching other owners with their pets and appears to be protecting the lab. Once she gets to know the other dog she is fine but we can’t control who we come into contact with along a walk. Any suggestions?
Thanks for your question.
In many ways, male dogs are wired to be submissive to females in non-confrontational situations.
In terms of her reaction to strangers and strange dogs, it’s likely a confidence issue. A lack of confidence is something I see in rescue dogs a lot. This can be due to various reasons that rescue dogs inevitably experience before being rescued – neglect, abuse, instability in their previous homes, and a lack of the training required during key stages in their early development.
But all is not lost and you can certainly support and help your girl build her confidence over time and through some specific training. I highly recommend looking into an online dog training program which is the same one that set me on the path of confidence-building in my rescues.
The program is unique because it uses games to tap into the natural intelligence of dogs. This not only teaches them the most appropriate way to act in a situation, but it also boosts their confidence and turns them into problem solvers which is a skill that spills into all other areas of their lives.
I have written extensively about the program and my experiences with it. And I had the privilege of interviewing the dog trainer who developed the program and she shares some interesting insights that you might enjoy. You can read all about it here.
I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have. 🙂
I have recently adopted a 9 year old GSD who loves to bark when visitors come into the house/garden, or when she sees our neighbour over our fence. Even if the visitor is there for an extended period of time, she will eventually calm down but start again if the visitor stands up or comes in and out of the room.
I’m sure she is just trying to protect her new home as she doesn’t bark at people or other dogs when we’re out walking. I’m also hoping she’ll become more familiar with our friends and neighbours as time goes on but want to do something now to train her. I’m going to start the monster method ASAP – Will it be more difficult considering her age?
Thanks for reaching out with your question and congrats on your new best friend!
Sounds like your girl might have a case of low self-confidence. This is a normal occurrence with rescue dogs, dogs that were surrendered, and also dogs that lacked the essential part of training during their development phases.
I’ve worked with my own rescues to build-up and develop their confidence over time. It started with an online dog training program over 5 years ago and since then I’ve used this program to build confidence in not only my rescues but also in my pups.
I’ve written an in-depth review of my experience and opinions of the program. But in a nutshell, it uses games as a way to tap into the natural intelligence of our dogs. this not only boosts their confidence but also turns them into problem solvers and the skills spill into all areas of their lives. And to top it off, I’ve experienced a calmness in my dogs that they did not have upon first being rescues – changing them from the inside out.
I also had the privilege of doing a deep-dive interview with the creator of the program who is a dog trainer and one of my idols in dog training. You can read all about the program as well as read the interview here. I highly recommend checking it out and starting your girl on the path to confidence and calmness.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, I’m happy to help! 🙂
I have a female German Shephard, she’s 2 years old and she barks a lot. I know that some of it is because she wants attention but no matter how much I tire her out – going on long walks lasting up to 2-3 hours (the walks aren’t consistent as I’m a high school student and the only one walking her and the weather doesn’t allow for mid-day walks (she goes into the house at that time) and my parents won’t allow me to walk her at night)- she is still barking all night. (she is an outdoor dog) my parents are threatening that they will take her away if I don’t get it under control.
Thank you for your question.
Barking is a self-rewarding behavior and so exercise is not likely to reduce the barking.
There are a few things that come to mind.
Has she always barked this much? Or is this a new behavior?
Since she’s an outside dog, is she barking at nocturnal critters, other barking dogs, or cats?
Is there some way you can allow her to sleep in an outbuilding, porch, or veranda instead of outside? This might reduce the barking, especially if she is barking at nocturnal critters.
Feel free to let me know about the answers to the above questions so I can better assist you.
But in the meantime, I highly recommend teaching her the speak/quiet command, just to try and get some reduction in barking behavior. Ideally, you want her to reduce the practice of the behavior because the more she practices the more the behavior is reinforced. Of course, you’ll never get her to stop barking because it’s a natural behavior, but at a minimum, at least if you teach her the speak/quiet command you can ask for a quiet once she’s barked a couple of times.
But ultimately if she is an outside dog, she will bark at nocturnal critters and the best way to reduce this is to have her sleep in an enclosed area where she is less likely to be aroused by night-time critters.
Do get back to me on the above questions so I can better assist. 🙂
I have a 19 month old male shepherd who is exercises regularly, we play fetch and football too. But he reacts to noise and won’t stop barking, then starts attention barking then tries to grab me. If I put him outside for a time out he immediately calms down, lays down and is quiet. Rather than cure the problem can you offer help to prevent it please
Thank you for your question.
It sounds like a similar thing to what my female GSD used to do. She was easily aroused by sounds, movement, and generally anything that was not a regular occurrence. And any movement outside our property made her bark non-stop. No matter how much exercise she had this was how she reacted.
She was a rescue so she came with some other behaviors that started due to her past which you might not be struggling with. But what worked for me was to spend a lot of time training her which lead to boosting her confidence and so her behavior changed over time. I believe many dog’s react to noise and movement in this way because they lack confidence which seems counter-intuitive but in the case of my female, this was the issue.
I used an online dog training program that uses games to tap into our dog’s natural intelligence. It not only builds confidence but also helps dogs to become problem solvers instead of just reacting to everything. And the best part is that the skills they learn then spill over into all other areas of their lives.
I highly recommend looking into this program and I have written extensively about my experience with it and my opinions here. I now use this program to train all my dogs both puppies and rescues – no matter their age.
One exercise I found particularly helpful was the training on desensitizing a dog in front of a window which is something we struggled with a lot. Now she still sits and watches at the window but only infrequently barks, and it’s usually when there is a reason to bark. But each level of training in the program ties in with the previous one so by the end, you have a dog that wants to control their impulses instead of just reacting.
In addition, you could also teach him the speak/quiet command I detailed in this article. This is a pretty useful tool to help stop unwanted barking once it’s begun.
Feel free to drop me any questions or comments, I’m happy to help.
If you are getting complaints from your neighbors that your dog constantly barks and howls when you are not around, you need to do something about it. You cannot make the barking stop completely as it is a natural way of communication. However, you can try to control it with the help of certain training tactics that you have shared in the above post.
I have GSD and he is adorable but sometime he bark to express his emotions and doesn’t followed the instruction at all. Thanks for sharing the every detail about the barking problems & how to avoid it. I would suggest to opt for dog obedience training and it is really helpful in shaping your dog’s habits.
Thanks for your comment Sean.
I think it’s more than just dog obedience. For me over the years of study and experimenting, I think it’s more about teaching a dog concepts rather than expecting a robot which is a product of “obedience”.
I have tried to read all of the questions and replies. I have a male GS which lives inside with us. He is well adjusted and mostly behaved. He desires a lot if attention. Our barking issue is when we take him to doggy daycare. When we get there is starts ramping up his excitement. By the time I get him in the door he is barking like crazy. Many people fear this behavior when he is not aggressive has no issues with people or other dogs. He is simply so excited. Once he goes into the room with other dogs, he stops and they often comment on how loving he is. What are your thoughts about this specific barking? Thanks
Thanks for your comment.
I think you’re spot on with your reasoning that it’s excited barking. And I do understand that it’s something you’d like to curb since it does make folks think a dog is aggressive when in fact they are not.
I’d start by driving him to doggy daycare over a weekend, pulling into the parking lot and just sitting in the car rewarding for calm behavior. Do like 5 or 10 minutes and then drive home. Repeat the next day.
Then the day after, let him jump out of the car still on-leash, give some yummy rewards for calm behavior then back in the car. Do a few more of these and go home. Repeat the next day.
Then the day after jump out and walk to the door. Rewarding all the way for calm behavior.
The idea is you want to expose him to short bursts of each step in going to the daycare and at each step reward him for calm behavior. If he gets overexcited, take a break and try again tomorrow or later in the day. So it’s best to do these initial steps when the daycare is actually closed because you don’t want him to practice the over-excited behaviors.
At the same time when you’re at home teach your boy a “focus”. Here’s an article on how to do that. And also some information on how triggers and thresholds work in dogs. You might find it interesting in terms of your situation.
Feel free to drop comments in the section below if you have any questions about the steps I recommend.
Our Girl GSD is 9 Months old and doing well…
What our concern is sometimes during walk when off the lead she will bolt and no amount of recall or treats works?
im trying to understand what the triggers are for this?
Today after being in the park for 55mins of the lead, recalling brilliantly and was being given treats etc she decided to bolt out of nowhere and would not recall!!
She nearly got hit by a car today and was a very worrying situation!
Any Ideas are Very Welcome guys!!
Thanks for your question.
It sounds like you’re doing an excellent job with recall!
To ensure that your girl stays engaged you might consider making her time off-leash shorter. So instead of 55 minutes, make it 30 minutes then it’s back on-leash for a stroll. This will ensure that she doesn’t get over-aroused while off-leash which is likely the cause of her eventually totally disengaging and ignoring your recall.
Also, shortening the time off-leash will prevent her from practicing the choice of ignoring your recall. And you really don’t want her to practice this. But at the same time, you want to keep reinforcing and working on a solid recall.
So while she’s off-leash you can play short recall exercises where you call her to you, slip your hand into her collar (if it’s a collar do so under her chin to avoid tightening the collar around her throat) or harness, then offer her a super high-value reward, praise and then let her go back to playing/being a dog. It will help if you train a specific release cue for this exercise.
This will reinforce her coming to you when recalled because she will learn that it doesn’t mean the end of fun, in fact, it means that good things (high-value reward and praise) happen when she comes to you.
I hope these tips help, let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help.
I am happy to find your website as I am going crazy with my 11 month old GSD. She started barking for no reason at all when she was 5 months old and her trigger comes from the dogs at the neighbours. Every time they would go out they would start barking and Bella would join in and even though there’s no more barking going on she would just bark out of nowhere when she’s out at the back. The droplets from the roof after a heavy rain also causes her to bark non stop and it causes me a lot of stress as I cannot control her. We used the ultrasonic anti bark, beeping and the vibrate collar and as usual it did not work. I can’t always go to the back of the garden to do the “monster” training as I also have a 2 month old baby and my partner is away the whole day. She also barks when going out of the door for a walk or in the morning which is also irritating because of the high pitch and jumping up and down. When she’s walking outside on a leash she doesn’t bark at all only chases her tail for some reason. She barks a bit at other dogs because she wants to play but the owners of the other dogs refuses that their dogs play with Bella even at the fenced dog park! She’s very sweet and was bitten by a dog but that did not affect her at all. I am desperate and I need help with the barking at the back of the garden! What’s your advise?
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Thank you for your comment here.
Okay, so you’ve got quite a lot going on there at the moment.
The first thing is that perhaps Bella has been affected by the dog bite more than she’s letting on. This kind of experience can be quite stressful for a dog and they often lead to behaviors such as obsessive barking and hypervigilance such as barking at the sound of raindrops.
You say she started this reactive type of barking at 5 months of age. Does this coincide with the time that she was bitten by another dog?
What I’d do in terms of the barking in the backyard is to manage the situation temporarily by only letting her out when you are with her to directly supervise. The idea here is to stop her from practicing the behavior. And then starting with the moster method when you are outside with her. It’s going to take some juggling since you’ve got a small baby but perhaps you could start a routine where you let her out when your baby is napping. Then as soon as you see her ready to react or bark at anything (neighbor’s dogs, leaves, squirrels etc) do the monster method.
This means she’ll have lots of short trips outside with you so she’ll still get her exercise and playtime but in bursts that are dictated by your napping baby. And in the times you’re outside you can practice the moster method.
I’d also look into teaching her the quiet/bark cue as detailed in this post.
We need some help. We have a 5y.o Swiss shepherd and a 10yr old labrador. Our shepherd barks a lot. Sometimes it is to get our attention. We can’t leave him outside for 2mins without constant barking. He reacts to EVERYTHING, leaves blowing on the ground,birds in the trees, people walking past the house,neighbourhood dogs, basically anything that moves. We’ve had complaints. We are home a lot and our dogs spend a lot of time inside, which is fine. They can come and go from the house when we r out which has helped a lot, they sleep inside. When we are home, he just wants to be with us all the time, which is mostly fine but the second he is outside, barking again either to get attention or in Reaction to something outside. We have some serious health issues and two young kids in our house, we have to come and go a lot and stress levels run high and time availability is short. He is terrible on the lead, not because he pulls, but he constantly barks and cries at every other house we pass with dogs. We take him to a huge off leash park most mornings so he gets a good run around. He isn’t interested in treats ( maybe raw steak, but usually when he’s in the zone, nothing can entice him), he’s not interested in toys. We can’t use Kong’s etc as he gives up quickly and our lab demolishes them. Bones work for and hour or so, but not always. He is a beautiful dog, he is great with our kids ( he loves them so much he howls whenever they cry, no matter the time). So he seems to have separation anxiety. So the biggest problems are when we aren’t there and when we have to leave him outside. We have no control over what happens when we r out so I really don’t know what we can do. Everything I read says minimise the triggers and positive reinforcement but we can’t do either of those if we aren’t there. He is super smart, but once you slack off on any command, he seems to think, ok those rules don’t apply now, and you have to start over. Our lab is so easy to train, but not this guy. Please help
It sounds like you’re juggling a lot! Dogs have a keen sense and tend to pick up on our emotions, both positive and negative. That being said here are some things you could and should do to help calm the situation.
Firstly, if you think your boy has Separation Anxiety, it might be worth getting him checked by a vet. Preferably one that’s more on the homeopathic and holistic side since a straight-up conventional vet is most likely going to recommend hard core pharma to mask the symptoms of SA rather than manage in the interim while you work to change your boy’s perceptions of the world around him.
Here’s an article I wrote on Separation Anxiety and things you can do to support a dog with SA while you train to change perceptions. In conjunction with the support of a vet, I recommend working with a behaviorist who uses positive reinforcement for one-on-one Separation Anxiety work.
The reason I recommend this is because SA does not get better if it’s not dealt with. And the best way to deal with it is to change your dog’s perceptions of the things (triggers) in the world that set him off, this includes being left alone.
In the meantime, you can do some work with him. And what I’d recommend is starting with the desensitizing and counter-conditioning training steps in the article I linked to earlier.
Here are the steps you can follow:
To begin with, start in a low distraction area, inside your home away from leaves and birds is probably best. The point is to avoid getting so close to the distraction where your boy feels the need to react because this will slow down the training.
When your boy is not reacting or if he’s just about to react (but hasn’t) offer him a high-value reward.
Do this every time, even if you misjudge the moment and he reacts. The idea is that over time the trigger (leaves, birds etc) predicts the reward.
After a while, wait and see if he looks to for a reward.
Then mark that with a click or ‘yes’ and give him a treat. Now the treat comes for looking to you when he sees or hears a trigger.
Be persistent and be prepared for things to go slowly you should notice less reactions to his triggers.
In terms of food drive when he’s in the zone, it’s not uncommon for dogs to refuse even their favorite food when they are over their threshold. If you want to learn more about thresholds (and triggers), this article will help with that.
In terms of drive when it comes to persevering with a puzzle toy like a kong, this can be built over time. Some dogs need encouragement to keep trying. While other dogs will go at it without much encouragement. Try different ways to encourage him to keep at the kong. Or perhaps you need to try stuffing the kong with something he considers a higher value. It could also be that he gives up on the kong because he’s over-aroused.
Also, I’d stop taking him for walks near other homes and dogs temporarily while you work on changing his perceptions of the world. Doing this will stop him from practicing the behavior which will help with training. Because the more he practices the behavior the more ingrained it becomes.
I recently was given a 14 month old GSD that will be trained to be a PSD. He stays outside in a covered kennel and barks for hours on end. I believe it’s for attention purposes. What is the best way to train him out of this or to address the excessive barking.
Thank you for your question.
With the limited information you give, it sounds to me like your dog is spending hours on end in his outside run. Which is not healthy and will cause things like barking and destructive behaviors. Please, could you give some clarity as to how long your dog is kept in his outside run at any one time?
What kind of enrichment, entertainment, training time and human contact does your dog get throughout the day?
Let me know more details based on the above and I’ll do my best to help. If you feel more comfortable emailing me, feel free to do so.
I have a 1 ½ GD girl who is generally well behaved and we had managed to get her barking under control. However, she became super agitated when there little kids around and becomes kind of a problem when families are visiting.
Another issue is that she is still like to nibble on people. She got better for a short period of time but it relapsed again and nothing seem to work in terms of training.
What should I do about this?
Thanks your help!
Thanks for your question.
Glad to hear you’ve got barking under control, that’s a major win!!
Is the agitation an “I don’t like children” reaction, or is it more an “I’m not socialized that well with children, so I’m cautious”? Or is it more a case of “I really want to play with these little people but I’m not sure how to approach”?
Either way, it is something you can desensitize her to. But because the situation involves children, I’d be more inclined to enlist the help of a behaviorist with this situation. Purely for safety sake because kids can and do excite dogs a lot because of their fast movements and high pitched voices. And an excited dog that’s not sure, can mean a sudden reaction that happens lightning fast. So for this specific situation, I’d definitely seek help from someone who can work one-on-one with your girl. And they will be able to get to the bottom of why it’s happening to solve the issue.
If you’ve been working on bite inhibition and consistently not rewarding biting or nipping behavior then what she could be experiencing is something called an extinction burst. It’s a phenomenon in dog training where the behavior you’re working to unlearn becomes markedly worse before it goes away. It can be easy for us to reward this behavior by responding verbally to a bite or nip. The best is to ignore a bite or nip and if she gets frantic while nipping/biting for attention or during play, put her in a time-out for a few minutes. Like a crate, playpen or sectioned off area. This is not meant to be isolation, so she should still be able to see and hear everything going on around her. It’s just a management tool to promote calmness.
Once she’s calm you can release her from the short time-out. I’d also continue with the bite inhibition games if you have been playing them. If not, check them out here and definitely look at playing the nose targeting game as a tool for bite inhibition. I like the build-a-bridge game too. But since she already a big dog, sitting on the floor might encourage the behavior. So if you want to try that game, rather sit on a low stool or low table.
I hope this helps. Let me know how you get on.
Gabriella, greetings from North Alabama. I skimmed all the replies, before I decided to ask my question, to make sure I wasn’t repeating something somebody else had already asked or said. I did find two or three common situations, but I still wanted to add my own flavor to the question.
We have a five-year-old German Shepherd male, that we’ve had for three years. We Live in a typical suburban subdivision with a fenced in backyard. Max flash is an inside dog, but as other people have replied, if he sees anybody go by the window, whether it be a child on a bike, the UPS truck, or another dog walking down the sidewalk with its owner, he goes crazy. Sometimes he will sense something while we are watching TV, and just get up in a flash, and start barking, and scare the wits out of us.
So, my version of a few other peoples questions is, if I give him high value treats, when he does things such as this to desensitize him, will that not tell him that every time he barks at a stranger outside, he gets treated? I understand the association between treats and seeing the mailman and not barking, but it almost seems as if he gets treated for barking. In addition, your desensitizing article above, mentioned showing him the mailman from a distance or the UPS guy and treating him. What about in the house, when he jumps up and barks at a kid riding his bike on the sidewalk? Do I get up calmly, give him a treat to distract him from barking and keep that up until it takes hold?
This is a good question!
The best way is to turn this into a game of sorts.
First, if your boy doesn’t already know what a clicker is, do a couple of sessions with him to teach him that a click means a food reward is about to be delivered. Here’s an article to get you going if you’re new to this. Your dog needs to associate the sound with a reward. You’ll know when he’s snapped it because the moment you click, he’ll look at you.
Next, check out this article on triggers and thresholds. This should give you a better idea of what’s going on with Max when he’s triggered. A trigger is anything that arouses Max’s attention. The focus training is also a great tool to have in Max’s repertoire.
To desensitize Max, the next step is to pick a window and chill there with Max until a trigger appears so a kid on a bike, a random passerby. The moment Max looks at the trigger, click and offer a food reward. Ideally, you want to do this BEFORE he gives out a bark. If he doesn’t respond to you, keeps looking out of the window or barks, don’t worry, it just means the setup is too challenging and consider moving further away from the window and try again at the new distance. Once he’s reliably looking to you, you can move closer to the window again.
If you want to speed things up, you can enlist the help of family or friends to walk by the window to facilitate your training. Over time you will be able to expose him to more challenging triggers at the window.
In the meantime, while you’re working on this daily, you might want to limit his access to the windows if possible through a physical barrier. Tethering him to you might be the answer, but just keeping the curtains drawn in the room he’s in can work too. This is only a management tool to help Max not to practice the self-rewarding behavior. Once he’s reliably not barking at triggers at the window you can remove the management systems.
I hope this helps to give you a clearer picture of how to approach this training. Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂
I recently rescued a 3-7 year old long-haired GSD, Oakley (I think he is around 4). He was very reactive when I first adopted him, but through consistent training, he is like a different dog. However, we live in an apartment building with thin walls, and his barking has become a problem. I know it is part of GSD’s nature to be guard dogs, but I am wondering if there are any techniques that would work best to curb barking when I am gone? It is mainly at the sound of the elevator or people talking in the hallway.
We walk over 8 miles a day, and he has bones and chews to pick from. Unfortunately he doesn’t like peanut butter, and it seems that he doesn’t interact with the bones when I am not there.
If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it!!
This is a good question!
The first thing is you have an advantage because you already know the sounds that trigger your boy, namely the elevator and people talking. Good for you, this is a big benefit!
So the first thing is to manage the situation. Managing a situation is merely a way to prevent or curb to the best of your ability the practice of the behavior of reacting to the sound of the elevator and people talking.
The most difficult part of managing a situation is doing so successfully while you are away. Because I’m guessing from your comment, that’s when your boy is the most vocal.
You can manage this in a number of ways, and the goal is to drown out the sounds that trigger your dog to be vocal.
Consider things like:
Adding things like white noise recordings.
Leaving the TV on.
Leaving the radio on.
Or even music designed for dogs.
But your active work will come into play when you are at home…
So when you’re home you should practice the following… You’ll need to be extra aware so that you can step in just before your dog starts being vocal about the sounds he’s hearing…
It might help to have one of the background noises I mentioned above to being with. As your boy progresses, you can lower the volume and eventually phase out the background noise completely. Although be prepared for the eventuality that you might always need to leave background noise on while you’re away. Which is totally fine!
Ideally, you want to catch that moment when your dog hears the triggering sound but BEFORE he gives his first bark. At that moment you start offering rewards for calm, quiet behavior. Of course, this is in a “set-up” training scenario. But above and beyond that, every time you see calm, quiet behavior (even if it’s not in a training session) reward this handsomely with praise and food rewards.
This might be easier with the elevator if you can spot the moment it makes its first sound. With people talking, you can enlist the help of friends and neighbors to set up a training session where they are talking outside your apartment and you’re inside working with your boy. Get them to start at the furthest distance from your front door and move closer only when your boy is offering calm quiet behavior.
This is how I’d work to desensitize and counter-condition a dog to triggering sounds. You can see a graphic explanation on how to do this in the article above. All you need to do is replace the mailvan with the sound of the elevator or people talking.
I know desensitizing a dog can take time, but it’s totally possible with time and patience.
Let me know how you get on and if you have any more questions.
Hi, we have a 9 year old German Shepherd female who we rescued 4 years ago. This girl has had limited socialisation and spent most of her life living under a house with limited outside contact. She is not good with strangers to the house, loves other dogs and apart from her barking (which I will come to) is brilliant in spite of her rough start. Since living with us she has been exposed more and more to the outside world, and while I recognise that Shepherds are territorial and protective, she barks constantly at any sound or anything she sees. Thankfully she’s getting a bit older and doesn’t bark at night unless there is something very wrong. She also has become a habitual fence fighter with our neighbours dog. We have secondary fencing in place, but she can still see the other dog but the fencing has helped a bit. But the barking! She almost has barking loops where she starts but can’t stop. She’s been vet checked and has slight dementia, eg. She has been known to get lost in the laundry, get stuck in corners, but not often enough to be overly concerned. She is not in the slightest treat or food oriented, so training her with food is useless, she loves pats and cuddles, but when she starts barking ignores everyone around her. She also has limited play, and although we have a 2 year old Shepherd, only chases him and ignores his attempts at play. Please please we have limited access to trainers, behavioural vets etc as we live in remote regional Australia. I have recently started her on clomicalm but no results as yet. Her barking today is over the top! Help.
Thanks for your questions.
Your girl sounds like a carbon copy of my girl Charley who crossed the rainbow bridge last year in May.
She had a similar background to your girl and also exhibited very similar behaviors. I learned from working with Charley that this kind of behavior can be directly linked to a past filled with neglect and abuse. Your sweet girl is lucky that she has you in her life to support and love her!
Charley was highly food motivated which did help and she loved hugs and pats too. I was so happy that later in her life she actually learned to play and enjoy toys, although she was always cautious of new toys to begin with.
Although your girl is not food motivated, you can achieve a lot by using what she loves (pats and physical affection) as rewards. Also, you could try to determine if there are any food rewards your girl regards as high value. Check out this article and scroll down to the section called “The Power of Food in Dog Learning“, there you’ll find a little experiment you can do to determine which (if any) food rewards your girl is willing to work for.
In terms of her barking behavior, you can try to teach her the speak/quiet command. It was helpful with Charley, although it took a while to get her to actually bark at me (which is needed for the training).
But something that helped Charley tremendously was working on training to boost her confidence. I found with her that dog’s who were abused and or neglected have poor self-esteem and a lot of their behaviors stem from fear due to this lower esteem.
I used a dog training program that taps into a dog’s natural intelligence through the use of games. And it was by far the most helpful tool that I had to help Charley come out of her shell and learn that the world is not always a bad place. I wrote about the program extensively and also shared my opinions. And I had the privilege of interviewing Adrienne, the professional dog trainer that developed the program. You can check out the program and my review here.
The thing with girls like ours, and what I learned with Charley is that some dogs (especially those that had a rough start) have limits. Charley had certain limits that I had to respect. One of those was that she was fearful of strangers. It did improve with time but sometimes there were visitors she just didn’t like. If a situation like this arose, I had a den that was specially for her where she could choose to go and get away from someone or something she didn’t feel comfortable around. This might be something you should consider.
But you can also work with her using some scientific training methods to help her in a force-free way to desensitize her to triggers and counter-condition with another response. Here’s an article to check out (although it’s on Separation Anxiety) it’s tool 1 and 2 which are the training methods I mentioned above that you can use to help your girl. Also, check out this article to get a better understanding of triggers and thresholds. It also has the steps I used to teach my dogs “focus”.
You know your girly inside and out, and although professional trainers are a great help, you can be successful in using force-free training methods to support and help your girl. Lastly, all the training methods and program I recommend are hinged on clicker training. If you’re new to this or need a refresher, check out this article on the subject.
Please feel free to drop questions in the comments section of any of the articles I’ve linked to. Or, you’re welcome to email me directly – check out this page for my contact email. I can totally relate to your situation with your girl and I’m happy to help where I can.
I like these tips hopefully they work for my family’s two GSD puppies. We have a seven month old male and a five months old female they are half siblings (same papa different Mamas.) The male, Kieran, fear barks when we bring people over especially when we had medical people for dad’s medical condition. It’s come to the point where we put him either outside or in the kennel when people come over until he calms down but he will start back up again when the visiting person moved either suddenly or just to stand up.
The female, Vienah, is his polar opposite she is fine with people in the house and typically barks when strangers are near the house or when she is startled. The biggest problem we have with her is that she adgitates out eldest dog a twelve year old male black lab begal mix. Often she shrinks to a walking crawl and lets out these whimper whines.
What am I to do?
Thanks for your comment.
Puppies go through something called “fear phases”. The first is from 8 to 10 weeks. And the second is from 6 to 14 months. One of my dog training idols wrote about these phases extensively.
And it might be that when the medical folks were around it kind of turned into a type of phobia or habit for Kieran to exhibit this behavior.
Ideally, your best way forward is to desensitize Kieran to visitors. Check back on this article at the section on Desensitizing and Counter-Conditioning. This method is force-free and will help Kieran overcome his fear. There’s a handy graphic which explains how to do this, just replace the mail van with Kieran’s trigger (visitors). To understand triggers, check out this article on triggers and thresholds. In it, I also share tips to teach a solid “focus” which is helpful when working on Desensitizing and Counter-Conditioning.
I also highly recommend for both Kieran and Vienah, that you continue to boost their confidence through training. Check out this dog training program which I use to boost my dogs confidence through training. It’s unique because it taps into the natural intelligence of dogs through the use of games. I’ve used it extensively for all my puppies and rescue dogs.
In terms of Vienah’s reaction to your older dog, this sounds like natural submissive behavior. My youngest dog Lexi, used to exhibit similar behavior with my senior dog Charley. She’s communicating to your older dog that she respects his higher order in the pack and that she’s no threat to him. Dogs communicate like this constantly with each other. You might also see her licking his muzzle which is a sign of respect and submission to him. And you’ll also likely see that he tries to dominate her. As long as he’s not hurting her, you should have nothing to worry about.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
I have a 6 month old male German Shepherd. I just started reading your training methods and I love them, and I can not wait to try them out!
I am a new German Shepherd owner. So far everything has been going well. We have been working on basic training. The only major problem that we are facing is when he comes into contact with other dogs. When I take him to the vet he is 100% fine until he sees another dog. We have a Labrador Retriever at home that he gets along great with. I have even tried to take him to another family members house and let him meet their Australian Shepherd in a safe and clam environment. He continues to do the same thing with every dog we encounter. He goes crazy, barks, gets scared, and puts his tail between his legs. I try to get his attention and calm him down, but he will not stop aggressively barking at the other dog. Do you have any tips to help stop this? I would love to be able to take my dog with me places and not have to worry about him getting aggressive with another dog.
Thanks for your comment.
It would be helpful for you if you have some idea as to why your pup is acting this way. For example…
He might have had a “bad experience” with another dog when he was younger.
Perhaps he is in need of more socialization (but more slowly).
Or this behavior might be from a natural fear period that pups experience.
Since our dogs can’t talk, sometimes it’s not possible to pinpoint the exact cause of their behavior. But there are ways to work on solving the issue regardless of whether we know the cause or not.
The method I recommend to help your boy overcome his reactivity to other dogs is a 4-pronged approach.
Desensitizing and Counter-Conditioning
This is a very powerful training method. And the graphic in this article describes exactly how to use this method to help your pup. Just replace the “mail van” with a strange dog, which is what triggers your pup. Using this method means you’ll have to start at a distance far enough away from another dog so that your pup can see them but is not actually triggered. If he’s triggered he won’t respond to the offer of food rewards. This article on triggers and thresholds will assist you in understanding how these affect your GSD. Also, using the steps to teach a “focus” command will be useful for both you and your puppy.
Socialization with various different stimuli and scenarios is essential to teach our dogs that regular things they’ll come across in their lives are safe. So definitely continue with socialization but with a slow roll and in the context of the desensitizing and counter-conditioning protocol. Keep a safe distance so your puppy is not triggered. Only decrease distance when he’s calm if he’s triggered at the new distance, then go back to the distance where he was calm. It may be a while before he’s comfortable to interact with other dogs at close range, but be consistent and eventually, he’ll react less and less until he’s able to interact.
Puppies go through two fear periods during their development. Some puppies experience this intensely while others don’t. The first period is from 8 to 10 weeks. The next period is from 6 to 14 months. The second one has a lot to do with their sexual maturity and the fact that if they were in the wild they’d need this genetically wired “fear” as a survival tool. During this phase, pups can become defensive and territorial. One of my dog training heroes has written an excellent article on these phases and gives some solid advice.
Boost Your Puppy’s Confidence
I’ve found that working with the specific focus of boosting my dog’s confidence has helped my recuse dogs overcome their fears of new things, dogs, people, and even sounds. The best way to boost a dog’s confidence is through positive reinforcement training and specifically using games as a training tool. I highly recommend checking out the dog training program I follow with all my dogs. It was developed by Adrienne, the same trainer who wrote the article on fear periods I mentioned above. I’ve written extensively on the program and my experience with it. I also had the privilege of interviewing Adrienne. You can check out my in-depth review of the program and the interview here.
I love taking my dogs out with me so I understand your desire to help your puppy overcome his reactivity. I hope this helps you. Feel free to drop any other questions you have in the comments, I’m happy to help.
I have a nearly 3 year old female german shepherd. She is constantly getting compliments about being a good girl, but she is very defensive of her turf at home and is quite defensive (of me) when out on walks.
It depends, some days she’s completely fine and especially in busier places she is completely good, even when dogs get in her face, but especially when it’s just me around (or no me around) and one stranger, she gets very excited and starts barking. I would say based on her posture, ears and the bark its a nervous bark, with a little hint of aggression. She’s never bit anyone or anything but she does charge and stop just before making it to people.
My plan right now is to buy a clicker, teach her speak/quiet, and do my best to take charge of these situations but am curious if maybe I need to take a more drastic approach or a different one entirely.
Thanks for your comment.
It’s so cool that you’re going to start clicker training. If you’re new to this method, check out this article on how to get started with clicker training.
You don’t mention what her early socialization was like. But it might help to start working on that more. The crucial time for socialization is the first 12 weeks of life. But because they change as they mature and can become “rusty” it can and should be refreshed during the life of a dog. As an example, I recently had to “re-introduce” my crew to babies. They have met babies before, but since they don’t come into regular contact with them, I needed to do some update training.
So once she understands what a clicker means you could start by rewarding any calm behavior you see. Even calm behavior when you’re around the house. This is called capturing. Essentially capturing any calm behavior with a click and reward. This will help her learn that you really like calm behavior and she’ll offer more of it.
Then ask friends or family to make scheduled visits to help her learn calm behavior on her turf as a start. Treat and reward her for calm behavior and ignore unwanted behavior. If you see she’s struggling to keep calm, move her further from your guests to the spot where she’s offering calm behavior then click and reward. Only move her closer once she’s totally calm.
Once she’s totally calm when folks visit, you can take the show on the road and follow the same training routine.
If you find she’s not progressing, you should then consider enlisting the help of an animal behaviorist that uses positive reinforcement.
Hope this helps.
I’m surprised no one has asked yet- but we have a 4 year old GSD who is a very smart boy. He knows upwards of 35 tricks and is generally a great dog. However, once every day and sometimes twice if we have packages delivered, he turns into a MESS barking at the window that faces the front where these delivery people/ mailmen. This includes bared teeth, snarls, etc. I would definitely say that the mail man and the UPS trucks are triggers.
We need help training him to where we control him enough to get him to calm down and stop. I read your tips and plan on enacting some desensitizing training with his favorite treat- bananas. I also plan on affectivly teaching him “quiet”. He knows it, but its usually being yelled at him and probably isn’t affective. My only worry with your techniques about turning scary situations into “happy ones” is that we wouldn’t want to train him into being happy if someone were to be breaking into our house.
Any tips would help! It seems like we are walking the line between German Shepherd watch dog and friendly house pet.
Thanks for your question, it’s a good one!
Dogs are context bound. For example…
If you train a behavior in the kitchen, it will need to be practiced in other areas in order for a dog to learn that the behavior is expected in other areas too.
In my experience, this counts in your favor when it comes to your concern about your boy and potential burglars… Teaching him that the delivery guy or mailman is safe, won’t automatically teach him that other people are safe too.
Hope this helps.
Hi! I have an 8 month old GSD who has always barked in his crate since we got him but recently over the past month or so we’ve gotten him to calm down somewhat. The problem however is that whenever someone new comes into our home it’s like he’s forgotten how to be quiet. I was wondering how we could fix this problem because it has gotten annoying but i’m also worried that he is gonna scare newcomers. Please help!
Thanks for writing. Some dogs are more territorial and even more wary of newcomers than others. Using the desensitizing and counter conditioning method in this article will help. And once he’s learned that newcomers or visitors are not a threat the new way of thinking will trickle down and the behavior should disappear.
I highly recommend checking out the training program by Adrienne Fariccelli which will help a lot with this kind of behavior. Her training takes the approach of working with games to teach our dogs the kinds of behaviors we want. I love her work and use the program myself for my own dogs. For example, I’ve taught them things like not to bark at the window at folks, bikes, cars and other dogs passing by. And after using her specific method, I have been able to use it over and over in other situations too.
If you want to find out more, here is a full review I wrote about the program. And I also did an in depth interview with Adrienne, so folks can get to know her better.
I love the program because it’s so positive and uses games instead of just boring behavior commands to teach. Let me know if you have any questions about it, I’m happy to help. 🙂
I have gsd 7months old he fab at training classes but whenever i walk him in street he barks at nothing then barks at other people n dogs hes started to try pull me yet in parks hes good as gold and will walk to heel ibe tried treats when not barking turnung him away and asking him to sit im at wits end to the point do i rehome him i get stared at by neighbours which doesnt help
Thanks for your question.
If he’s doing great in training classes around other dogs and people, it sounds like he’s going through a fear phase which ties in with his current age. The first phase is from 8 to 10 weeks roughly. And the second phase is from roughly 6 months to 14 months.
This phase is connected to their sexual maturity. And in the wild, it’s the age where they would begin to hunt with the pack so their fear instinct is important for survival. They are way more defensive and protective.
This phase will pass in due course. But you should continue with socialization. And importantly also continue with creating positive associations through counter-conditioning (the process is shown in the graphic in this article – simply replace the van with whatever it triggering him). You can also consider building confidence through a dog sport.
Since your boy will feed off your energy, try to keep calm during these episodes to avoid any unwanted trauma.
Hope this helps. 🙂
I have a 6 month old male who barks at things in the distance. He also barks in the car if another dog or person passes or he sees one in the distance.
Once the person or dog gets close enough or he is out of the car to see them he’s fine. He loves everyone. But there is no getting his attention and nothing deters him once he starts.
Thanks for your comment.
Dogs have fairly poor eyesight. According to Psychology Today, dogs have 20/75 vision, compared to our 20/20 visual acuity. So anything at a distance away is hard for them to make out. As the object gets closer they are able to make sense of what it is. I think this fact accounts for a lot of dogs barking at objects or people when they are at a distance.
The first thing I recommend is getting him to learn and understand a good ‘focus’ command. Teaching this will help you to get his attention in these kinds of situations. And another bonus is he’ll also learn to look to you for guidance in situations he’s unsure of.
I wrote an article about trigger, thresholds and focus which might help you with this.
Along with this I’d also work on desensitizing and counterconditioning. The graphic in this article is a great way to learn how to do this. You just need to replace the van in the graphic with whatever is freaking your dog out. The key is to start working with your dog at a distance where he’s not reacting to the trigger (person, car or dog). And once he’s calm at that distance, then move a little closer and continue with the training. If you move too close and he reacts, then move back to a distance where he’s calm.
This kind of training does take time, and the speed you work at will depend on your dog and how quickly he learns and stays calm. But it’s totally worth the time.
Hope this helps. 🙂
Hello, I just found this page and it seems great so far. We have 4 dogs in the house, an old female Boxer, 2 Huskies (male and female) and our German Shepherd (male) he’s our 2nd Shepherd a few years after we had to have a first put down for health issues. 🙁 Our GSD we have now we have had since he was about 8 weeks old and he is 2 weeks from his 1st birthday. He is great with our dogs and the 2 dogs that come visit us. We live a little in the country and he doesn’t see lots of other dogs. Growing up I would walk him off leash both on the neighborhood walks and in the woods but on leash jogging on the street. He gets plenty of outside, exercise, and tug of war time. He was very good off leash and especially in the woods. Now for some reason something seemed to of changed and does not like other dogs or people walking by me or my family. He will wait until they are close and then it’s all out war in his brain. He pulls so hard and is on his hind legs, barking and the hair is up all the way down his spine and then is “command deaf”. He won’t stop until he feels the area is safe it seems. He also does this routinely to one particular dog every night (I walk mostly in the dark) and it takes everything to hold him back. All this time my Huskies are minding their business just walking. I have no idea how to get this to stop and would love some thoughts on what to try. Currently I have tried to verbalize commands to stop this, I have grabbed the handle on his harness and walked past this property with his front feet a few inches off the ground while his hind legs are moving like the road runner trying to get to the other dog to what appears to show it who’s boss, and I have tried keeping his leash both short and log with the same results. I have brought him to a dog park to try to stop this and he barked his way to the gate. I could tell it wasn’t quite the mean bark he has on walks. Once in tried to jump on my back and wanted to leave for about 10 minutes and then was fine. This walk behavior those is considerably more aggressive. He is also the first dog I have had that is obsessed with me. Always on my side, at my feet, or has me in his sights just outside the room I m in. I leave or get p to go to the bathroom, his is right intended there.
Sorry to be so long winded but I wanted to get you the best picture ok his behavior to see what I am doing wrong and when I am doing it to help. Thanks in advance for you time to help with this.
Thanks for your question. It’s a good one and something lots of folks experience.
Our dogs go through something called “fear phases” during their development. And one of those phases is around this time. It can happen at any time up to about 14 months. Although, the ages at where this happens is not set in stone. And has a lot to do with sexual maturity.
This phase has a lot to do with what they would be doing in the wild. So going hunting with the pack for example. They are wired to want to stay close to the pack and they begin to understand fear as a means of survival. They are also more territorial and protective. None of this means they actually see us humans as part of a ‘pack’. It’s just their natural wiring for what they would do in the wild. And some dogs ‘act out’ less than others do. My male for example was tough, but my younger female at the same age was a breeze.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent unwanted behaviors from becoming habit and also for helping your boy through this phase.
Stay calm. If he lunging don’t tense up in your body or voice – he’ll pick up on it. The best thing here is to change direction and walk away from whatever it is that’s making him ‘act out’.
Desensitize. This is where you work at a comfortable distance from whatever his trigger is. So if it’s other dogs, work with him at a distance where he can see but is not reacting.
Counter-condition. This goes along with desensitizing. You can use the method in this article. The graphic in this article is a great guide. Just substitute the mail van for whatever is triggering him.
Triggers. This also goes hand in hand with desensitizing and counter-conditioning. Here’s an article that will give you the lowdown on triggers and thresholds.
Keep socializing. He still needs exposure to stimuli. And if you do this with desensitizing, counter-conditioning and keeping him below his threshold you’ll be successful.
Never punish. Always stay positive. Punishing any fear will cause more fear. Ignore the fear and allow your boy to investigate things at his own pace. Force-free methods like the ones I’ve mentioned will support him and over time he’ll become more confident.
Hope this is helpful. Drop me a comment if you have any other questions while you’re working on this. 🙂
So…I have a 18 month old female GSD who is very usually an amazing dog. She’s a little hyper but she’s usually really good. Lately, when we are getting ready to go to bed or leave for work, when we tell her to get in her kennel, she runs to her kennel and is fine while we latch it, however, as soon as we walk away from it, she immediately begins barking like CRAZY. When we tell her “no” firmly, she just barks more. If we ignore her she does stop, however, a couple of times, I have gone back toward her kennel to firmly tell her “no barking” and she will GROWL AT ME…quite aggressively, in fact! When I “challenge” her and make eye contact to reinforce that I am the “boss”, she loses her mind and barks and growls even more! When she is out of her kennel, she is a perfect angel and plays well with our other two dogs and, with the exception of just being a bit neurotic with her pacing and panting, she is even amazing with us.
We have a grandbaby on the way and my husband is very intimidated by her current behavior and I’m not really sure what to do at this point but I do NOT want her to be aggressive and someone get hurt or for us to have to get rid of her because of her actions.
Thanks for your comment and question.
What you’re doing by ignoring her barking when she’s in her kennel is spot on. Keep doing that. In my personal opinion though, doing the whole ‘I’m the boss’ thing is not necessary. Dog’s don’t like direct eye contact, if you watch dogs interact, you’ll notice that between them, they very rarely make direct eye contact with each other either. Unless it’s in a situation that’s about to go south and turn into a full on fight. In their set of communication skills that’s considered a threat.
I’m not a supporter of challenging a dog or trying to show them who’s boss. From what you’ve described it’s this ‘challenge’ that makes her react. If she’s doing the right thing by quitting her barking when she’s ignored, there’s no need to take any further steps.
Keep in mind this barking when she’s in her kennel is most likely a phase and should pass. They go through phases just like we do. But if you keep ignoring the behavior as you are doing, the behavior will taper down and eventually be eliminated.
I have just adopted an 18 month old German shepherd mix. He is starting to whine then bark even when we know he does not have to go out or if hungry or needs water. We have tried to ignore him but he just keeps going. When our grandson is here he starts whining and barking and chewing on the chair where we are sitting. We tell him no to sit down to go lay down but he just ignores us and keeps on with the bad behaviour?
Thanks for your question.
It’s very likely that your new friend didn’t get any training (or very little of it) where he was before. So his manners might need a little work.
If he’s not hungry, needing the loo or ill in any way, he’s whining and barking for attention. Often when a new dog comes into the home they get an overflow of attention and that quickly teaches them that they can demand it at any time. Of course it’s not a bad thing to give our dogs attention but it’s important for them to learn that they won’t get it if they whine or bark.
Your attempts at ignoring the behavior is on the right path. He’s going to do it until he realizes that it doesn’t work. So if he’s whining and barking and you finally give in and give him attention either by physical touch to pacify him or even by saying ‘no’ he’s got what he wanted.
So the best and only way to teach him that barking and whining gets him nowhere, is to do what you’ve done and ignore him. I know it’s tough, especially when it goes on for a while. But this is the only way to do it. And if you give in at any point before he stops, you’re reinforcing the behavior and it becomes more difficult to change.
But make sure that once he’s quiet he gets lots of love, affection and play. That’s going to quickly teach him that being quiet gets him the attention he really wants.
There’s something in dog training called an extinction burst and it happens while we’re un-learning an unwanted behavior in our dogs. It basically boils down to the bad behavior will increase just before it subsides. It’s usually at this point where things seem to be getting worse and what we’re doing is not working when folks give up. But actually it’s just before success happens.
So no matter how the barking and whining increases, it’s going to subside, just keep on ignoring the behavior. It might take a few days. But if you persist you’ll have success.
When your grandson is around is there a way that you can control the environment by crating your dog? The reason I suggest this is because you need to stop him from chewing the chair because it’s only reinforcing the unwanted behavior.
If you don’t have a crate, using some baby gates to section off a space for him where he can’t get to the chair. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be near you, it’s just so you can stop him from chewing on the chair. I don’t know what the layout of your home is but hopefully you can set up something like this where he’s still included in the family unit. Also keep in mind that when you do this the barking and whining is going to increase. This is because he’s used to getting attention when he does this when you tell him ‘no’, ‘sit’ or ‘go lay down’. But remember it’s an extinction burst and it’s only temporary.
I hope this helps.
We have a 4 year old female german shepherd, who has always been a barker. She will bark outside during the day for hours straight if left unchecked. Sometimes squirrels or other dogs are the cause, and sometimes its for no apparent reason at all except for boredom. We tried using a barking shock collar, which worked for about a year, however lately she seems to ignore the shock and barks through it. (We tested it, it still works). The barking is so bad during the day we are having serious issues with our neighbors. She sleeps inside at night, and luckily we haven’t had issues with night barking. Its mainly just outside all day long. She has toys and balls back there, but mostly she is alone all day while we are working, etc. She was well socialized and gets along well with dogs for playdates, however these are a few hours a week at best.
My main question – will the above techniques work on a dog that has been essentially barking for 4 years straight? I realize we messed up big time by not getting on this earlier. nothing we can do about that now.
Please help, we are desperate!
I can totally relate to what you’re going through. My female Charley was a constant barker too when I adopted her. I had very good results with the speak/quiet trick and she was 6 years old at the time. She almost 11 years old now. So, I would definitely give it a try with your girl.
But because she’s so keen on barking and because the habit was only dealt with when she was much older, I know she can slip back into it because it is so rewarding, I’ve made a few changes to her routine to prevent this from happening. Even although she has 2 friends with her, I leave her inside if I’m going to be away for a while.
If I’m going to be out all day, I get a neighbor to pop in and let her out for a potty break. But in your case, you might want to think about getting her into a doggy daycare while you’re at work.
And I do make sure to practice the speak/quiet command with her often, just to keep the behavior reinforced.
I hope this helps.
I have a 10 month old HAD, he is very well behaved and minds on most commands, except when someone is at the door, or comes in the house whether he knows us or not he excessibly barks. How do i train him not to bark at the ones he knows?
Thanks for leaving your comment.
So firstly, keep in mind that puppies do go through fear phases. It’s totally natural and it’s during this time that they might bark at things that before where no issue for them. But this phase does pass. For large dog it can be anywhere between the ages of 6 and 15 months.
But to keep this kind of barking to become a self-rewarding habit I do recommend teaching him the speak/quiet command. It should curb the problem right now since it’s a matter of you giving the quiet commend to stop the barking. And it’s also a great way to keep a handle on barking in the future.
Hope this is helpful!
First of all, let me tell you how much I appreciate your dedication: you answer almost all the comments!
I have a 7-8 months old GSD, kept outside (can’t bring her in, because of my dad). She has started to bark at night about 2 months ago, and since then, we’ve been unsuccessfully trying to break this habit. She barks mostly at other dogs barking, at sounds from neighbours, and at many other noises. She also sometimes wakes suddenly and starts a high-pitched extremely loud bark, I suppose that it’s fear-driven. We’ve tried different methods, such as going to her when she barks, applying a corrective tap, or teaching the “quiet” command – going to her when she barks, saying “quiet” and when she shuts up, giving her a treat.
I have the impression that this rewards somehow the behaviour, but I don’t know how I could curb this behaviour without going to her.
Do you think that desensitization would work in this case? Because I’m a little afraid to try to teach her “bark”.
Also, could this be a phase? Before her, we had another GSD that used to bark quite a lot when she was younger, but her barking got better when she grew up: she barked only at strangers and rarely at other dogs.
Thank you and sorry for the lenghty comment, but I’m quite desperate.
Thanks for your question.
You’re spot on about some of her barking being fear related. Pups go through fear phases, where they are easily spooked. Usually between 8 and 12 weeks and then again between 6 and 14 months. But with large breed dogs the age ranges can differ.
In most cases it’s just a phase that will pass, but because barking is self rewarding it can quickly form into a habit. So it’s essential that you keep a handle on it.
You’re going to have a hard time desensitizing to every little critter or dog voice in the area. But you can get a lot done by doing work to desensitize general sounds like vehicles, people talking, rustling leaves etc.
I do recommend the speak/quiet command. To make sure you don’t reinforce excessive barking just make sure you reward when you want her to bark. You’ll see that later in the training described in the article you only reward for one individual bark. So you’re working in the right direction.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.
I need help with my German shepherd dog.
Hey, I had some questions to see if you had any ideas for my barking situation.
I currently have a 3 yr old male german shepard. We live in the country where there are lots of wild animals prowling at night. I grew up with GSD’s and was aware of the barking. My dog, however, sleeps inside with me which I have not done before. He does really well most of the year, but around winter (January-March) time he becomes very vocal at night for attention. This change at night does seem to correlate with the coyote mating season. I am unsure of how to get him to stop attention barking to go outside all night. I cannot do treats/toys during the night since I also have a new young male yellow lab and they don’t always share well as they continue to become accustomed to each other.
Thanks and appreciate any input.
Thanks for your question.
It might help to make his bed/den in your house in a space that’s as far away from windows and doors. This will help reduce the sounds that are getting him barking.
Also, turning a radio on at a low volume will drown out a lot of the sounds. This helped me out a ton when I was raising pups.
Hope these tips help! 🙂
I have two GSD one male one female every time the neighbor dog comes outside they go at it constantly and wont stop barking. we have tried puppy training, the treat method, and muzzles. nothing seems to work any advice on how to stop this?
How are you using the treats? If you’re treating at the wrong time you could end up rewarding the barking behavior. If your dogs are already comfortable with barking you could use that to teach them the speak/quiet command.
I have a 4 month old GS puppy who liked to bark at night. I live in a townhouse with my dad so he is in his pin during the night. Once he starts barking I’ll come back down to shush him and he will quiet down. But once I leave back to my room he won’t bark for about 10 to 15 minutes then he starts back up. I don’t know if he got separation anxiety or since I work full time he just had to much energy. So do you think since he’s a little inside dog that the speak quiet thing would work for him. Cause it’s getting to the point I may have to get ride of him
Thanks for reaching out here.
So the first thing you should change is not go downstairs to shush him anymore. When you do, you’re rewarding his behavior. Dog’s are funny like that, they don’t make a distinction between positive and negative attention. So he sees you coming down to shush him as a reward.
This might mean you’ll have a couple of nights with incessant barking so prepare for that. Visit your neighbors and explain what you’re doing with his training. I’ll bet they will be happy to put up with it for a few nights to ensure the behavior stops. Also, try doing it over a weekend.
Soon, he’ll learn that his barking doesn’t make you come running and he’ll stop.
If you’re working full time and he’s not getting enough physical and mental exercise it can contribute to the barking because there’s pent up energy. So maybe take him for a good run or a long walk before work. And again when you get home. There are also great games you can play indoors to stimulate him mentally.
Also, setting time aside for training everyday is a great way to stimulate him mentally. I wrote an article on a cool toy that I use to get my crew using their brains to figure out puzzles. These are the kind of toys I’m speaking about. Check out my article and short video here: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/trixie-game-bone-puzzle/
And yes, I think the speak/quiet command will definitely work.
Hope this helps you out. 🙂
Hi, I have a 5 month GS and whenever he sees another dog he barks very loud, we have tried everything to try stopping it but nothing has seemed to work. He barks if they are on a lead, on the other side of the road or walking past the house and he can see them. We have an older dog that also barks when he sees a dog, so we was advised to take them out separately to see if it’s the older one encouraging him to bark but this hasn’t work either. Any advice on how to deal with this would be much appreciated.
Thanks for your comment.
It’s likely that your older fur friend has encouraged the barking habit. But it’s not unsolvable.
I really recommend counter conditioning and desensitizing your GSD to other dogs. You’ll find the steps and a graphic in this post that you can follow. I also think the speak/quiet command will be useful.
Also, socialize him with as many dogs as possible. Consider joining a puppy class where dogs are taught to socialize.
My 8 month white German Shepherd named Walter barks at our neighbour (who’s scared of dogs). The neighbour walks through our land and our dog lurches forwards, hackles up, snarles and barks until he leaves. There is no talking to the neighbour to assist in helping him . How can I stop this? The neighbour wants us to re home him ?
Thanks for your comment.
Firstly, it’s kind of cheeky of your neighbour to insist on you re-homing your dog! It’s your dog and your land. And you’re not responsible for his fear of dogs. If he doesn’t want to help Walter get used to him there’s not much you can do to change his mind.
What you can do though it work with Walter to desensitize him from a distance. I highly recommend following the steps outlined in this post on counter-conditioning and desensitizing. Like I mentioned you’ll only be able to do it from a distance to the neighbour. And when you’re successful, Walter won’t react to the neighbour.
So if Walter is trained not to bark at the neighbour when he’s 10 or 20 meters away then he won’t bark. But of course if the neighbour comes closer Walter will most likely bark. But seriously, that’s not your fault. So don’t let your neighbour call the shots.
You don’t need your neighbour’s help for this. Simply set up your training sessions while the neigbour is walking through your lands. Since it’s your lands you can do whatever you like there. So use your neighbour’s walks through your land as a training session.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions while you’re working on the training. I’m happy to help. 🙂
I have an 11 month old male German Shepherd. When he was a puppy he was attacked by three dogs. We overcame that issue and he initially stopped reacting to dogs on our walks. That was 6 months ago. Now when people come over he aggressively barks and will not listen to my commands to settle down. I have tried having my guests meet him in a neutral space and give him treats and it doesn’t work half the time. He has started to become reactive to dogs and people on our walks now too. Nothing has changed in his environment to make him like this. He listens to my commands all the time except when others are around. I don’t know what to do and I’m afraid he’s going to bite someone because that’s how his barking and behavior had made me feel. I have tried all types of tricks and nothing seems to be helping!
Thanks for your comment.
Sorry to hear that your boy had a bad experience earlier in his life. It’s always traumatic for us too.
I’m pleased to hear you’ve overcome his reactivity. And since you’ve already successfully done so I think you might be dealing with a fear phase. It’s totally normal in dogs. And in large breed dogs this can happen up until 12 to 14 months.
Google has a lot of great information about fear phases in dogs. But this article is a good place to start.
Hope this helps.
Hi, I have a 5 year old GSD. She is perfect apart from when we go to let her out into the back garden. She runs at the door, barking, running round in circles and at times making sort of very loud yelping noises which sound as though we were beating her! We have tried ignoring the behaviour and making her sit quietly before letting her out but nothing seems to stop this behaviour.
Thanks for your question.
What is she like if someone is with her outside? Or if the door is open?
If she’s fine in these situations then you might be dealing with separation anxiety.
My wife and I have a 8 month old GSD. She’s great but has suddenly developed barking fits for no apparent reason to us. These fits go on for 1-5 minutes whether we are present or not. They have occurred in her crate, in place command next to us, and while we’re lounging on the couch; day or night. Each time there aren’t any apparent stimulus, we keep a fairly low energy house hold when we’re home and only amp her up when we go out for walks or to play.
We are wondering if this is a phase that she’s going through or if it may be due to her impending heat cycle.
Thanks for your question.
It’s likely a fear phase. It happens to pups around 2 to 3 months and then later, anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Large breed dogs experience it later than smaller breeds hence the large age range of 6 to 12 months.
Sexual maturity is likely the reason at this stage. They tend to be more reactive, act more territorial and be more protective. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. But I would steer clear of reprimanding or punishing.
The best response is to totally ignore it. Just blank her until she stops. Don’t talk to her, look at her or give her any kind of reward. Remember that dogs see negative attention like saying ‘stop’, ‘no’ etc as attention. So don’t reinforce the behavior.
I know the GSD has an ear piercing bark so it might be tough on your ears but it’s so important not to give the behavior any kind of reward. Even if you ask her to leave the room it’s attention and therefore reinforcement. And any kind of punishment will imprint on her because it’s a fear phase. It usually stays with them for life and can cause problems later. So avoid it at all costs.
Let me know if you have other questions.
I am in a terrible situation with my German Shepherd. First of all, I have Multiple Sclerosis. My shepherd Ziva is almost 7. I got her when she was 8 months and she had no training or socialization, and was mot treated well. For the past 6 yrs. I lived on 18 acres in the country. My husband also has an English Bulldog. The two of them live in seperate areas of the house because my husband doesn’t trust my shepherd though she has never been agressive with another dog. Three months ago we had to move and ended up in an apartment in the city. Ziva barks at everything. A cough, a foor squeaking, cars going by and the list goes on. She has added my husband to her “to bark at” list, and will even take a nip at him as he ealks away from her, but loves him to pieces if I am not around. I have tried everything. I am very attatched to her, and love her dearly. I don’t want to hsve to give her up but it has almost reached that point. I am desperate for any and all recommendations to help her stop this behavior. She is currently wearing a bark collar, but I have let the battery go because I don’t like them. I also sometimes use a muzzle to limit how loud she can bark. Between my husband and my downstairs neighbor, I feel pressured to give her up, and it would kill me to do so. Please feel free to email me as i know this is a complex problem. Thank you!!!
Thanks for reaching out. And I’m so sorry to hear about the tricky situation you’re in now.
I think you’re right that it makes sense to chat about this over email. So I’ll be in touch with you tomorrow.
I’ve sent you an email with my advice. I’m around for questions. 🙂
I have a 1 year 6 month year old male German Shepard , he is very obedient dog when he wants to be but when I take him for walks whenever another person passes he will bark and protect me but I don’t act nervous or scared I always try and take control but he only listens out side , when I have my parents come round or any friends he will just constantly bark and won’t stop for like ten minutes when they enter but when they stand up after a while he will bark and I will tell him to stop he will listen but doesn’t last long.
Has anyone got any advice for me to help me control of his barking other than that he is the most loving dog ever
Thanks for your question.
My advice is to teach your boy to go to his bed or a mat when visitors arrive. Dogs are den animals and feel safe and protected if they have a place to go and chill. Then once your visitors have been around for 10 minutes you can give him a release cue to come and greet your guests.
At this point you could hand them some treats and get them to ask for a behavior like sit, down high five or any other trick he knows. And when he offers the behavior they can treat and praise him.
This is what I do with my girl Charley, who has some issues with new people due to her bad past. It works very well.
I also recommend teaching him to focus, which will be super helpful on walks. To learn how to do this check out my article on triggers and thresholds. It’ll also give you insight into how and why your boy gets over excited.
I hope this helps.
Let me know if you have other questions.
We have a five month old GSD puppy named Indiana. Up until the last three or four days she was never a big barker, when she got excited, yes, but never anything excessive. She loves the car and other dogs, almost too much at times. She’s out in the woods running around everyday so she gets her necessary exercise. She was crate trained from the moment she came home and that was where she slept, it was never used for punishment and she never went in of her own volition unless it was to get a toy. She was tolerant of the crate and never barked there but we could tell she wasn’t a huge fan. We moved her up to our bedroom about two weeks ago to sleep on either the bed/floor as she is fully potty-trained and we thought she might like it better than the crate. Sure enough she did however the last three of four nights she has been barking sporadically throughout the night. Obviously, it’s quite a loud bark and can give us quite a start. I thought maybe she had heard a noise but she’s also been doing it in the evenings as well. We could all be sitting in the living room and then she’ll just start barking, hackles raised and clearly upset about something but we can’t seem to find out what it is. This is all very new within the last week so I’m not sure what might be causing this sudden change. She’s getting over a dose of kennel cough at the moment and has little to no interaction with dogs since she got it because we didn’t want it to spread. Is there anything here that gives you any indication of why she might be barking so much all of a sudden? Have we done something wrong somewhere I wonder?
Cheers, your info here is brilliant,
Hi Gabriella and thank you for sharing all this pretty useful stuff!
Please give me your opinion on my gsd problem.
He is 8 months old, thin though tall, started to chase his tail (but not to bite it) about 5 weeks ago, probably when we left the house and was alone (he barked a lot and several times we had to return home; then he was fine).
One month ago we gave him to a dog trainer for basic obedience and etc. After one week when we saw him there, his tail was thinner and not so hairy as before. We told the trainer about the problem and he told us to take him back home and there he would continue his training schedule. Now he is not chasing his tail so much, but he barks at night A LOT. He used to sleep in our veranda, but in Greece this is illegal, so we took him to a nice doghouse in our yard, yet some nights are terrible. He barks when other dogs bark from a distance, when he sees a cat, mice, people passing by, whatever; and, boy, is he vocal! I fear complaints from neighbors or even worse (poisoning).
Your article gave me some good ideas, but could you elaborate on the pair barking/tail-chasing some more?
(I forgot to mention, he fears the trainer very much, I think he is using force on the dog; btw, the trainer is the breeder we bought him from)
Thank you again for your contribution!
Thanks for reaching out with your question.
I think you’re spot on in suspecting that the breeder used force with your dog. It’s most likely that his tail looked worse when you brought him home from the trainer because he was under stress there. And the problem was not addressed. So my advice is not to follow anything he showed you if it involves force. You can rectify any fears he’s developed by using positive reinforcement.
You can read more about positive reinforcement in some of my articles. You might also like to read more about how dogs learn. And some basic commands and rules you can follow as well as thresholds and triggers in dogs.
Tail chasing is common, especially in pup. But it sounds like your boy is doing it because of stress. Have you checked his tail for anything that might be irritating it? Also, a checkup at the vet might be a good idea.
Other than that, if all looks good in terms of health I think using redirection is a good way to try and tackle the issue. The method in this article where redirection is used might do the job. But know that it will take time to break the habit.
Barking is tricky. Especially when it’s at night and for everything. It might work if you have some sleepless nights to try and desensitize and recondition him. But it’s not ideal. And there’s no guarantee that he won’t bark at a critter he’s not been desensitized to. The solution to the problem is usually to allow a dog to sleep indoors. From what I can tell, you weren’t experiencing this barking issue when he was sleeping on your veranda?
I totally understand your fear of poisoning. It’s rife here in where I live. It’s usually done just before a burglary so my reasoning is my dogs are safer and more effective indoors. Is there any way you could cordon of an area indoors if a dog house on the veranda is not an option.
I hope I’ve been helpful in some way. Let me know if you have other questions.
I have a 5 month old German shepherd and I’ve just taught him to “speak” we’re working on “quiet” now. But since teaching anytime any male is around he barks at them. Even after they’ve been at the house for hours already every once in awhile he will start barking again. When he’s barking he is so concentrated on barking and protecting that he won’t even look at me. He has a very intimidating bark and he almost seems like he’s going to bite the person. I will continue to do the training for “quiet” but is there anything else I should be doing?
It sounds like you’re on the right track.
I don’t think the new skill you’ve taught him and the sudden barking at males are connected. Pups go through ‘fear periods’ usually from around 6 months. But they taper down by the age of 12 months.
My advice is to not make too much of a big deal when he does this. Rather get the males involved in his training by arming them with a few treats and getting them to ask him to do some behaviors for rewards.
Thank you for this site, I have a 6 month old female Alsatian, she is very good and has been easy to train outside of her barking. It is a hit or miss thing with people, some she just strolls up to and wants petted and others she gives that snarl and bark that only an Alsatian can lol! It is obviously unnerving for the later group, she will go from an obideant sit at heel to crazy! I can usual get her back to heel and sit but can never stop the bark! I will definitely try this method!
They are a handful when they’re pups and they have minds of their own.
Let me know how you get on with the training. 🙂
We recently (about 4 weeks ago) adopted a 9 month old male GSD, and he seems to be a great dog – really sweet, super smart, great with our kids, and already trained in the basics. But we’re having 2 major issues that we’re kind of at a loss how to deal with:
1) He has separation anxiety, when we are home. He does not like to be outside while we are inside. He doesn’t fully bark at much, but he yelps, whines, jumps and scratches at the door and windows almost non-stop. He is fine when we are gone from home – our neighbor says he quits when he realizes we are gone, then he plays in the yard with his toys and our black lab. He’s fine when we are out in the yard with him. But if he knows we are inside he loses it. You would think he’s just used to constant attention, but I know the home he came from and his owners were gone alot, so he spent most of his time in a kennel or outside. We have been trying positive reinforcement with him – ignoring the behavior and then if/when he stops for a moment, stepping outside and telling him good boy and giving a small treat. We have him sit until he’s calm, and then go back inside and try again. It doesn’t seem to be making much difference. Any other suggestions?
2) Second issue is he wants to attack the cat. It’s like he loses his mind as soon as he sees the cat and he won’t settle down as long as he’s around. He was not introduced to cats in his previous home. I read your page on how to train a GSD to like Cats, and I think we were too hasty in our introductions with the dog and cat…Is it too late to go back and start over again following the steps you gave? Is there something else we can do?!
Thanks for your comment.
The fact that he was always outside with at his previous home could be the reason he’s so bent on being inside when you’re home.
You’re on the right track with ignoring the behavior. But I’d suggest actually setting up the situation with intent instead of trying to teach him while you actually want him outside.
So put him out and let him do his behavior. As soon as he stops, open the door and let him in. You don’t need to treat since you letting him is the reward.
Do this over time and increase the criteria by waiting longer and longer to open the door to let him in.
Hope this helps.
For your issue with the cat, I’ve written up the steps you can follow to get him used to cats. Check out the article here: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/how-to-train-a-german-shepherd-to-like-cats/
If you have other questions just drop them in the comments.
We adopted our GSD/Black mouth cur mix, Bailey, about 8 months ago, she is now approximately 16 months old. One of the reasons we chose her was because she was SO friendly with everyone at the shelter and they just loved her. She was a little hyper, but I knew that I could work with her. She definitely seems to have more of the GSD traits, including being very vocal! We made sure that we kept getting her out to be around other dogs and other people (we would take her to the pet store, the vet just to get her nails trimmed, drive-thrus, etc.) She was fine with other dogs until she got attacked by our neighbor’s dog who came around the side of the house one day, and every dog that she has met has snapped or growled at her. She was great with adults and kids. After about a month, she began growling at my brother when he would come and visit to the point where her hair would stand up and it sounded like she was going to attack him. He was able to go outside with her and walk her on the leash and all of the sudden he was her best friend. She still growls at him when he comes and visits and the same thing happens (she calms down after he takes her walking). It is so scary at first, though! The same thing happens with my ex-husband when I drop my daughter off and he comes up to the car. She goes crazy, growling, but then she calms down and starts licking him.
A couple of months after adopting her, we were at the pet store and this mom and daughter asked if they could pet her and I said yes. I noticed that when they stuck their hands out to let Bailey smell them she kind of pushed away from them and let out a soft growl. I was quite shocked since she had always let people pet her. Again, a few weeks after that we were at the vet for a nail trim and a young girl came up to pet her and she growled. Just recently, we took her to the vet for a check up, she didn’t have a problem with the 2 vet assistants but growled at the vet (she did not growl at him on her first visit).
What is going on? Is this a territorial thing now? Now that we’ve had her for a while is she being protective of us?
I have a 1 1/2 German Shepherd, Isabella. We got her as a puppy and I have been in love ever since. She truly is amazing BUT her barking is out of control. We have tried EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine to try to stop the barking but nothing has worked. She outsmarts the bark collars, e-collars, we even hired a trainer and it hasn’t even made a difference. She doesn’t listen to our corrections and we don’t know what else to do. We live in an apartment complex and she barks at other dogs even other people just walking. We have had people complain about her barking and everyone looks terrified when she starts barking because it is so loud and vicious, (you know the German Shepherd bark). Also, she only barks at other dogs we think because she wants to play, if we allow her to go over to the dog she is barking at she stops and isn’t vicious at all. Please help us! Any tips you may have please share them!
I got my 8 weeks old male GSD from a breeder who insisted not to take him out until he finishes all his vaccination. We followed it to a great extent and he only went out when there won’t be other dogs outside. He was quiet and scared of dog or people approaching him. There was a neighbor’s big dog that barked at my puppy every time he went out. After vaccination we took him to puppy classes, dog parks and he started barking, lunging at other dogs. I have tried positive reward method to ignore the other dogs. It works sometime, not all the times. What should we do? His behavior has made other dog owners scared, so we stopped taking him to parks or classes. We really need help.
My GSD keeps barking at our son. Will the monster technique work with that situation?
We have a 14 week old bitch gsd and she is barking at other dogs on walks, she plays well with our other dog and doesn’t show signs of agression with him but he is a very laid back dog. How are we to stop this barking at other dogs and what is the cause of it, is it play or aggression ?
Hi there, have been reading most of the barking comments and advice and cant find one for my specfic issue. My dog at 6 months came with a few issues, which we have sorted, jumping, nipping. I have recently meet a local lady who has 6 dogs, and 3 of them a obedience champions. Due to my dog being dominated at her first home, socialization was needed. In the beginning she was fine, we took our dogs and walked a deserted road. Due to the winter, we now use a field and walk around this. My dog has started to bark, continuesly, almost herding, after 40mins we both have headaches. I have tried, treating,taking her fav toys down, growling, nothing seems to stop it and its spoiling our walks. Some days are worse than others, it seems to settle once we all bunch up, but once we spread out again, she barks and barks. dont mind a little barking, but both my friend and I are at a loss to control it. Would you recommend the speaking hand training method??? I will try anything, cheers Sharon
Is she barking at and trying to herd the other dogs?
You don’t say whether she’s leashed or not, but dogs on leashes tend to bark at others who are off leash.
But either way, yes, I recommend teaching the speak/quiet command. But I suggest training it at home and not in the moment in the field. Home has less distractions and you’re in control of the environment.
I have an awesome 9 month old pup black GSD/cattledog blue heeler mix. He looks and behaves very much like a GSD. We live in downtown and he is very much acclimated to the different sounds, people, other dogs, etc. He walks very well on a leash. He is very friendly and loves to greet others with his slobbery kisses. Also, he is in obedience training once a week.
Only main problem I have is he barks excessively at dog parks and day care. I know he’s trying to grab other dog’s attention for play but a lot of the times it can be overwhelming for the dogs and the daycare personnel. At parks, I’ll stop his play session for a few minutes to get him to relax and release him for play. At his daycare, they’ll leash him as his timeout. The other day in daycare, my pup was excessively play barking at another dog. The personnel tried to place him on timeout and he snapped at her. I’ve never seen him exhibit that behavior and it worries me. His trainer is aware of this behavior but what else can we do to elimate this problem?
Thanks for leaving your comment.
If I were in your shoes I’d take a few steps back and start introducing him to playing one dog at a time. And then add more dogs into the mix as he becomes more relaxed. It’s most likely that he’s getting over excited because there are so ‘many friends’ and so little time!
As for the snapping at the day care, my question would be how was he approached? It’s not uncommon for a dog that’s way over their threshold to snap at something that’s coming out of nowhere and possibly at speed too. I don’t think his snapping was meant in a malicious way. He probably was just startled.
I have a 9 month old german shepherd and she barks at other dogs when ever she sees another dog she barks constantly. She also barks when she hears people or animals coming through the woods around us when we are out walking. If anything looks out of the normal she barks at it. Yesterday she barked at a pice of pipe that was lying next to the trail
Thanks for your question.
So pups go through ‘fear periods’ which is totally normal. The key is to use desensitizing and counter-conditioning a lot during these periods. There’s a great visual explanation in this article to show you how it works. As for barking at other dogs, has she been socialized with other pooches? If not, then you might need to use the desensitizing and counter-conditioning to help her along.
During these ‘fear periods’ just stay calm and relaxed. Our dogs pick up on our energies and if she feels you’re tense, she’s going to become more tense.
I have a one year old GSD who already did the obedience and attack training over 2 separate 40 days coursse. I have long working schedule so he is left alone for around 10 hours each day in the yard. Lately he stands near the fence when I leave home (my happy neighbors told me that ) and start barking at the chickens around 6 am. On a good day he would stop after 20 minutes of excessive barking, on another the barking could last for 3 hours non-stop. He has enough toys, a kong, raw bones to chew on a big yard to run around. I am not sure if it is an anxiety issue or just the chicken triggering him. Will restricting him in the yard will help with the barking? Or should i try the counter conditioning
Thanks for your question.
I think you first need to figure out if it’s the chickens triggering him or separation anxiety. If it’s not either of these, then counter conditioning is likely your answer.
But you’ll need to work with a process of elimination.
Is there a place in the yard where you can restrict him to where he can’t actually see the chickens? If so, do that and ask your neighbor for feedback. If your boy is not barking excessively it’s safe to say it’s the chickens triggering the barking. In which case you can create a setup where they are not visible to him. And start desensitizing and counter-conditioning.
If he’s still barking excessively, then I’d look at it possibly being separation anxiety.
Hope this helps.
I have a 14 week old german shepherd puppy. We are keeping him well socialized and his training is going fantastic! However, he is nipping and barking A LOT. I will be playing with him and eventually he starts nipping at my hands, so I make a yelp and walk away. After about 20 seconds, I go back and continue playing. This works sometimes, but other times he will follow me and start to bark at me and try biting at my feet and legs. I try to tell him no and walk somewhere else, but he continues to bark and bite me. I thought he might be excited while playing and that’s why he gets upset when I walk away because he wants to continue playing, but sometimes we won’t even be playing and he’ll start to nip a little. I try yelping and walking away like I usually do, but he still freaks out and barks and tries biting my legs and feet. I’ve tried everything and I don’t know what to do!! Do you have an ideas? Thanks!!
Thanks for your question!
In the past I used to recommend the yelping method as a way to show a pup that biting is off-limits. But I realized all it does is make them more determined to bite.
So I now recommend the games I’ve detailed in this article above. I always recommend starting with the build-a-bridge game. It’s a very simple game, but it’s super powerful.
It’s going to teach your pup to have human limbs in close proximity without biting. Once he’s mastered that you can use the other games to redirect him if he does go into a biting frenzy. But in my experience that rarely happens.
Hope this helps. I’m around for questions.
Our German Shepherd male is 5 months old. I recently picked him up from the farm where he has been with his mother the whole time. He is living with his brother from the same litter, who has more Husky traits. The Husky one doesn’t hardly ever bark, but my puppy sure does at night. I don’t know what he is barking at. We keep them outside all the time. I did try purchasing a wire crate for the garage, but when I put him in there it made it worse. We have tried “quiet”, “hush”, and going out there. My family is getting irritated with the dog, and I am afraid with me. I’m not sure what to do. He is my first dog in many years. Thanks for any advice.
German Shepherd’s are vocal. And he’s most likely barking at nocturnal critters. your dog with more Husky is less likely to bark since Huskies are not big barkers at all. If the are vocal it’s usually howling.
But going out there each time he barks will make him bark more because he’s being rewarded for barking. Firstly by you coming out and also because barking is self-rewarding for dogs.
If you want to crate him over night that’s fine. But putting him in the crate to begin with will make things worse. But if you hold out and ignore him barking in the crate it will eventually stop. Here’s a guide on crate training which will help you get him used to the crate.
Hope this helps.
I have a 15 month old male GS
He is left alone during the day.
In the morning he barks once to let us know he is awake and for us to let him out of his sleeping area. He will continue to bark once every minute until we let him out. The sleeping area is quite big.
Dog is fed. We go to work.
He has lots of rubber balls to play with which he loves a lot.
We Come home and play with the dog for a bit then dog self plays with his toys. Then he is fed and he is put back in his sleeping area.
There is no grass for him. Just pavement.
He goes on a walk every second day outside the backyard which is biggish.
Always on a lead. And he pulls to start with then relaxes a bit.
Tonight our neighbour came over who said the dog. Barks when he aren’t home. Like tonight at 630. He just barked for 10 minutes straight for nothing.
What do we do ?
Is it just boredom?
Curious as to the reinforcement monster method. From what I can tell my 2 year old GSD barks, and then expects treats every time. My question is won’t this then train the dog to bark for treats, or think he is being rewarded for protecting/warning me of a threat? I am not seeing any success with this, and slowly spending more money on treats. From my experience over the last few months it’s not working whatsoever.
A neighbor’s GSD constantly barks, at everything and anything, at us: the moment we open a window, open the back door, out working in the yard, etc. The GSD barking sets off all of the other dogs in the neighborhood no matter what. The barking is mostly during the daytime but also happens at night and early in the morning. The GSD has a fenced (chain link on our side) in yard, a doggie door. It has destroyed its (neighbor’s) screened in porch. The owners and their children never play with it and never take it for a walk/run. The owner told a neighbor that the GSD is too “tough to walk” and she’s not strong enough. This situation has gone on for many years, all seasons, but is particularly bad in the nice weather when we like to be outside.
Many calls to the dog officer don’t resolve any of the neighbor’s or their dog’s behavior. We refuse to spend our quality time indoors.
Any suggestions for a GSD Neighbor?
Thanks for your question. Sorry, I’m late with my reply, I just got back from vacation.
I’m sorry to hear about your situation and also about your neighbor’s dog. Of course her dog is going to be tough to walk if they never stimulate it by playing or walking. So when he does get out he’s going to pull and yank on the leash. And no wonder he’s busted the screened porch – he’s frustrated.
If they’re not making an effort even after numerous calls to the dog officer and they don’t want to spend time developing and stimulating their dog, it’s a dire situation.
One thing I would suggest is, if the fence between you and your neighbor is a chain link, perhaps you should consider covering it up with wood cladding. It’s obviously going to mean money out of your pocket but it will mean he can’t see you folks and that might reduce the barking at your every move.
If I were in your shoes, I’d approach my neighbor and offer to train her dog. All you need is 5 minutes 3 times a day. If you use clicker training he’ll learn fast. And once he knows what a clicker is and he’s got the basics of sit, down, stay etc mastered there’s nothing stopping you from teaching him the speak/quiet command in this article.
It might be your ticket out of bark-ville!
I wish I could be of more help to you, I feel your frustration.
Let me know if there’s anything else
Thanks for this tip! I’m going to begin workingredients on it with my 6 month old GSD, Ivy. She Barks at people who are already inside the house, and who have been there for our 12 hours or even up to 3 days. She turns a corner and begins barking at them. She keeps this up with men, not women, and only men with deep voices. She was never abused, but it’s looking that way. What’s going on with her?
German Shepherds are very territorial and they are also cautious of strangers, these are traits that make them exceptional guard dogs, service dogs and also guardians of sheep and the shepherd. It’s in their genes.
Has Ivy been properly introduced to these people? It’s important to do this especially with a GSD.
I would recommend using the method of desensitizing and reconditioning in this article. Introduce her to new people and ask them to take part in the introduction. Once you’ve broken the ice and done the initial intro, they can use food rewards to pay her for not barking at them.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend starting with clicker training. It’s really essential to have a way of communicating with Ivy to show her that she’s doing something right. Here’s an article I wrote on how to start clicker training.
I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, just drop them in the comments.
I just ordered two 2 female GS from a breeder in my native country. This i.e. my first time owning GS. That’s why I am seriously studying and wanted to know more learning from the experienced dog trainers. I do not want anymore losing a good friend.
I owned a Rottweiler , because of health issues and a Pomeranians. It brakes my heart, but now I am starting after so much pains for losing my two best friends.
I hope by reading your pages I can learn more from you…
Congrats on the 2 new pups! Sadly each dog breed comes with it’s own health issues, and I’m sorry to hear about your previous losses.
Taking on 2 pups from the same litter can be tricky so you’ll have your work cut out for you. But there are some great resources here and I’m always happy to answers questions.
I would like to recommend that you look into good solid positive reinforcement training courses. Especially since you’ve got 2 females and you’re raising them together. The GSD is a highly intelligent dog and needs plenty of stimulation. And also, they need to be trained with force-free methods and never with punishment.
If you’re interested in positive, force-free training I’ve written a review of a training program I use for my dogs too. It’s called Brain Training for Dogs and it’s created by Adrienne Faricelli (she’s one of my dog training idols btw). You can check out the review I wrote here. If you’ve got any questions, just let me know, I’ll help wherever I can.
Hey! I have a small problem with my GSD Zoe. We found her on a hiking trail, and she’s been here about 3 months. I consider her as mine since I love her so much, but technically she belongs to my grandparents. I’ve seen her 4 Times now (not counting days), and she loves me a lot. I like to walk her, give her treats, and especially pet her and play with her. But she has a problem; she’s very territorial.
She has a dog run outside, and I’ve been out there, with and without my grandpa. But recently at night I peeked my head out, and then she started barking as if she didn’t know me in a very mean way. I try to go out whenever i’m here, and only twice she has barked outside with me, but it still scares me a lot. Do you have any tips on how she will stop barking at me? I know she knows and loves me, and I want her to protect me too. I try to socialize with her in her run, but do you know anything else that might work? Thanks!
Thanks for your question.
So dog’s don’t actually have very good eye sight. Their strength is in their sense of smell first and then hearing. So if you poke your head out to check on her at night she most likely can’t make out who or what you are. So I’m not surprised at her barking at you – even in an aggressive manner, and you shouldn’t worry about it.
You don’t say what situation the other barking takes place in. But dogs often bark at their humans when they want to play. So if her tail is loose, wagging, her mouth is open and her eyes are bright – she wants to play and she’s excited.
Signs of barking that could be worrisome are; a high stiff tail, raised hackles, pulled back ears, wide eyes (where the whites at the top are showing), snarling or growling.
If her barking wasn’t like the above you have nothing to worry about. Although I would advise you against approaching her at night without making it very clear who you are through talking in your normal voice and if possible having enough light around so she can see who you are.
I hope I’ve been able to help you.
Any other questions just ask.
My 4 month old is calm and relaxed throughout the day but at night time he continuesly barks nonstop at myself and my mom. I walk him roughly a mile and a half every night once we get home he goes back to barking at us. What should I do?
Thanks for your question.
You mentioned that you walk him when you both get home in the evenings, is the whole family out during the day? If so, he might need more than the walk to feel stimulated. Have you tried giving him an interactive toy in the evenings after his walk? Something he can play with while he’s around you but not one you necessarily need to join in with.
A nice thing is you can fill the toy with a portion of night time food and give it to him. That way he’ll be getting his supper and working which is very stimulating. It’ll help him get rid of that extra energy.
I have a 5 month Shepherd Boy that is becoming super protective of me. We have two other dogs and they bark like CRAZY when people come to visit so Kaiser is now learning their bad habits. He raised his hair on his back and runs up to bark at anyone and then runs to me and sits. I don’t yell at him or try to correct him however I try to move his attention to his toys and play time. My concern is that I have Grand Children and I’m praying this is a phase but I’m really not thinking so. I have an obedience trainer coming this week especially for my Shepherd Kaiser. She will be working on my other two dogs as well for barking and non acceptance of people in my house right off the bat. Any advice to help Kaiser to be calm and let people come to my house?
Thanks for your question!
Your idea to have the trainer work with all 3 your dogs on this issue is the best thing. Dogs pick up habits from each other so you’ll want all 3 of them to learn a new behavior to unlearn the current one.
The process you’ll need to use is called desensitizing and reconditioning. So basically desensitizing them to the door bell or knock at the door (this means teaching them that every time they hear that noise something good is going to happen). Then reconditioning another more appropriate behavior (like sitting, going to their beds or another designated area). It’s best to start as far away from the trigger (doorbell, door knock) as possible and work to move closer over time.
Just make sure your obedience trainer uses only force-free training and positive reinforcement. If there’s anything like prong collars, shock collars or flooding (forced exposure to the trigger that’s making the dog freak out). Then get another trainer.
I hope this helps.
I have a three year old male GS that is driving me to my wits end with his barking. He is my fifth GS so I know a bit about their habits. I got him when I retired so he has been with me constantly. He is excessively needy. Has to have constant attention, when he does not get it he stands and barks at me. He has several Kong toys (the only ones he does not destroy) but does not play with them alone, I have to participate. In the morning the Kong is the first thing on my lap. My robe looks like I tied it to the bumper of my car and drove 50 miles. He has several triggers outside the window, someone walking down the street, sees a dog, etc. but usually shaking a penny jar stops the barking. He is fully socialized at the dog park so I don’t understand the over protectiveness of our house. He also gets so excited when we are on the way to the dog park that I could not drive if I did not have a seat belt harness on him. I am reluctant to try to teach him to “speak” when it is all he does. Help!
Thanks for your question. I was on vacation and thought I’d have internet and then didn’t! So sorry for the late reply!
This boy being your 5th one, it’s great that you already have so much understanding of the magnificent breed!
I understand your reluctance to pair the speak and quiet command when all your boy seems to do is bark. But it really is a great way to put an end to a lot of unnecessary barking. Charley my 9 year old was a heavy barker when I got her at 6 years old. It’s made a huge difference. I’d definitely give it a try, since the can of coins only stop the barking temporarily, so it’s not a solution. And loud unexpected noises can actually bring on more barking and fear. So I never recommend that method.
I have a 22 month old German Shepherd who constantly barks at any incoming vehicles or person(s) into the house. I understand the need to alert us that someone is here, however; when we tell him enough is enough I need that to be enough. His bark is absolutely ear piercing and drives me insane.
I have tried shouting which obviously has had zero positive effect. I have tried saying nothing at all and giving him zero attention hoping this would show him I am not interested in his barking. I have tried to steer his attention by getting him to grab a toy or get a treat but he is far more interested in standing at the door barking continuously until we allow him out to see what is going on.
I am at my whits end and don’t know what to do anymore!
Barking is self-rewarding and so sometimes ignoring it won’t make it go away. As you’ve already figured out shouting makes no difference either. And toys, I imagine are just getting him more excited. I recommend using pairing the speak and quiet command to teach your boy that he can bark in these situations but when you ask for a quiet, it means enough.
This sounds weird, but you can use his barking to your favor. A lot of owners don’t have this benefit because their dog’s are barking at night or when they’re away. And even when encouraged, some dogs refuse to bark at their owners. So those are situations where it’s very difficult to teach the speak/quiet commands.
You’re going to need high value treats for this training because you’re asking him to stop doing something that’s especially rewarding within itself. And you also need to be aware that there’s something called an extinction burst. This means the behavior will get worse before it changes. Don’t give up when you see this happening. It’s totally normal and you’re actually almost at the point you’re aiming for.
I hope this helps.
I have just moved to a new place and my 2 year old GS has taken to barking at the next door dog at night. The barking is worse if he has missed out on his daily jog (regrettable but sometimes happens when I am busy with uni). Although I try to keep him entertained with bones, affection and his Kong, he is unhappy with being now an outside dog. I am not sure if the tips in this article apply to this scenario..
I think he barks to get attention and to communicate that he is unsatisfied. Any tips on other ideas on how to meet his needs?
He’s probably barking for a number of reasons. It’s a new place, he has pent up energy when he misses his exercise, the new dog next door, being an outside dog will take time to get used to.
Barking is a self-rewarding behavior so it’s vital that you try to nip this in the bud as soon as possible.
I understand that things get busy it happens to us all. But I know my bunch get mischievous when they don’t have their daily game of fetch. A tired dog is a good dog in most cases. S that’s the first thing I’d change. Even if it means getting up and hour earlier. GSD’s are working dogs and the need is still very strong in them.
Is there a way you can keep him away from the area where he barks at night? If he’s going to a certain place at the boundary wall for example, can you keep him away from there at night? This is something that works well to break the habit. I’ve worked with dogs who needed up to 6 months of not doing the behavior and then actually stopped doing it. I know this is a difficult scenario to set up but it does work in most cases.
I also suggest giving the speak, quiet method a go. Since the behavior is new it could work. And if he’s barking at the dog next door while you’re at home it’s the perfect opportunity to try the desensitizing and reconditioning method as well as the speak and quiet method.
Since barking is so rewarding you’ll have to try a bunch of stuff until you find something that works. And in all honesty it’s that way with any behavior that you want to modify. What works for one dog might not work for another.
So, if you decide to try out what I’ve detailed here and you get stuck, drop me a comment here and I’ll help you hash out some other ideas.
Hi, I have been scouring the internet in desperation, looking at different training methods to try and find a solution to an issue I am having. I was almost going to go with Doggie Dan when I stumbled on your article. I have a 2 year old German Shepherd/ Akbash cross “Angus” He is a beautiful boy. Well behaved, obedient, very intelligent, gentle, very much loved member of the family. The problem is car rides…he gets so unbelievably excited in the car it makes taking him anywhere borderline painful. He doesn’t necessarily bark, he just can’t settle, yelps and whines with such loud high pitched sounds. As soon as you slow down it gets even worse as if he is saying “oh boy oh boy are we here are we here, where are we where are we” I am surprised my husband and I still actually have working ear drums. We take him as much as we can knowing it definitely is not going to get any better if we always leave him at home but we find ourselves extremely frustrated. We try not to yell at him but it is very hard to keep calm. We also know he can pick up on our “uncalm energy” Any advise or tips you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your comment.
Angus seems like he’s crossing his threshold during car rides and that’s why he’s having a hard time learning to keep calm. Think of it like a university math problem for someone in junior high. The junior high student need a whole bunch of building blocks before they can solve the math problem.
And it’s the same with dogs. I’ll give you a quick rundown of how I think you can work with Angus. But I’d first like to direct you to this article on triggers and thresholds in dogs and how you can use them to your dogs advantage.
Before you start working with Angus on his vehicle manners, the first thing I suggest is teach him the focus command in the article I’ve directed you to.
Once you’ve done that and he’s reliably focusing you can move onto the actual training.
Keeping those building blocks in mind first break down in your mind the step by step process you folks go through before going for a car ride with Angus. And then reintroduce car rides all over again. This time taking it step by step.
Going slowly will help Angus learn to keep calm, not bark, whine or yelp and most importantly it’ll set him up for success. This last part is so important for any kind of dog training.
So first you need to determine at which point he gets beside himself before a car ride. Is it when he see the leash? Is it when you put your shoes on? Is it when he hears the rattle of the car keys? Is it when you open the car door? Is it when you shut the car door? Is it when the engine starts? Is it when you back out the driveway? Once you start paying attention to this you’ll probably notice his excitement starts way before the actual car ride.
Wherever that point is, that’s where you start. Once you know this you create that moment.
I’ll use the example of the keys rattling here, but you can apply it to any point at which Angus becomes overwhelmed with excitement.
So for example if it’s when he hears the keys rattle, take the keys as if you’re going to leave.
If Angus starts getting excited, as for a focus and wait for him to calm down, then reward him. Don’t make too much of a verbal fuss, so even if you’re super proud of how good he just was, this is one of those times you need to save the kisses and cuddles for later. Then carry on with something else. And a few minutes later, come back to the scenario and repeat. Try not to overdo the amount of time you do this in a session. But do sessions often.
Once Angus is calm when he hears the keys rattle, you can safely take him to the next step. Like for example opening the car door. Again here, repeat the steps I described above in each scenario asking Angus for focus. Rewarding for calm behavior and moving to the next step only once Angus is totally calm 100% of the time.
Doing things is little steps like this might take some time but it’s the best way for you and Angus to keep driving trips calm and happy.
I hope I’ve answered your question. If you have more questions, feel free to drop it here in the comments. I’m happy to help.
We have an 11 month old Shepherd (Stella) and a 2 year old Husky (Samson)… they are the best buds, but we have always had huskies and have never had to deal with barking issues. Our problem has come up in the past 6 months, and unfortunately we had/have no idea it is a problem as Stella never barks while we are home. She & Samson play a lot and ONLY while we are gone does she bark at Samson. Usually it is when he has had enough of her and he can get up onto our trampoline for a play break. She cannot get up there so she playfully (and annoyingly) barks at him until he gets down. According to our neighbors, it can go on for hours. We are frustrated because on a rare occasion she does bark at other dogs or deer near our fence while we are home, it takes one call to her and it immediately stops. She doesn’t bark AT our neighbor or their dogs (according to them), so I must assume it is generally directed at Samson and she is annoyed by his lack of attention or enthusiasm to play more. We did put up an ultrasonic birdhouse device near their fence to at least direct the barking away from them, but it’s still loud even on the other side of the yard… Aside from removing the trampoline, what can we do to help this situation as we have yet to witness it and can’t fix what we don’t actually see happening…
Thank you for your insight,
That is a tricky one!
You could try removing the trampoline but it might not make a difference. If Samson’s tried he could very well lie in the middle of the lawn and ignore Stella which will most likely also make her bark. And if I know Huskies, he’ll just keep on ignoring her if he’s not up for a game.
I think the key here is to teach Stella to be okay with being ‘alone’ although she’s not alone. that way, when Samson’s had enough and wants a break, Stella is independent enough to keep herself busy.
So first, I think it’ll be useful to get Stella used to playing with some interactive toys by herself. You probably already have a bunch of toys but if you haven’t added a Kong to the collection yet you should. This Kong is especially great as an interactive toy. What I usually do with these is make a banana and organic peanut butter mix, stuff it in the toy and pop it in the freezer. Then just before I leave I hand one to each of my dogs.
The mix is really great tasting and they’ve got to work pretty hard to get the mix out. It’s great mental stimulation for them which tires them out way more than physical exercise does.
Of course there are a whole bunch of other interactive toys that are safe, this is just one example.
The next steps are more tricky and are generally used for dogs with separation anxiety. But I believe it’ll be a fix for your situation too.
The key to this is baby steps, and I mean really, really slow moving from one criteria to the next.
The first step is to remove Samson from the equation for a short while. So, that means taking him inside out of site. Only do this for a very short while to begin with like 5 second. Hand her a yummy stuffed toy before hand. You’ve got to make sure you let him out BEFORE she starts yelping or barking. If you let him out after that, you’re reinforcing the behavior and it’ll get worse.
Once she’s comfortable with say 5 seconds then increase to 8 seconds, then 10, then 15 etc. I’m suggesting very, very short time frames because it’s a really slow process that needs to be followed. When you up the time and she immediately starts becoming uncomfortable then go back to the point where she wasn’t freaking out and keep it there for a while before moving forward.
And so you build the time lapse up to longer and longer. Until she’s happily keeping herself busy without Samson around. In the meantime while she’s learning you could possibly consider an automatic interactive toy to keep her busy when Samson’s chilling on the trampoline. They are pricey but could be worthwhile to keep things quiet while you work through this training I detailed above.
I hope this helps you. If you decide to go this route, let me know how it goes and if you have questions, drop them in the comments below.
I have a 1year old german shepherd when she was younger she heard a dog bark which made her break of her lead and run home but on her way home she got her paw run over and ever since then when meeting a dog she barks aggressively goes to bite the other dog but when I start walking with the other dog and there owner she is fine starts playing with them she is very good dog off and on lead listens to me when she is called back it’s just this problem I can’t get her to stop
Thanks for your comment.
I sounds like meeting new dogs triggers your girl and it could well be that it has to do with what happened to her. But the fact that she quickly warms up to her new found friends tells me this should be an easy fix for you.
So I just mentioned triggers and they play an everyday part in our dog’s lives. I really recommend reading my article on triggers and thresholds.
It’ll give a good understanding of what goes on in your girl’s head and I’ll show you how you can teach her a simple focus command to help her look to you for guidance in situations where she feels uneasy.
If you’ve got questions, just drop them in the comments of that article, I’m happy to help.
Hi. Reading all these comments is super helpful. My partner and I got a 5-6 mo old shepherdor from a rescue. Our dog, Violet, is now around 10 months. She is overall a great dog. She definitely seems to be more Shepherd than lab. Our biggest issue seems to be that she will seemingly randomly really lose it at people. She will bark and the hair on her back goes up. Most people she is really sweet. Our biggest issue there is she lunges at people. But with the barking there must be a logic to it, but I certainly don’t see it. We were walking home the other night and a man was stopped on the street. As we approached her hair went up, head down and barking. I’d appreciate any ideas.
Thanks for your question.
Did the rescue give you any information about Violet’s background? I ask this because it’s possible that her seemingly random disliking in people actually follows a pattern.
Do these people have any similarities like height, build, hair color, voice etc? It might help if you keep a journal of this for a while to see if you can discover a pattern.
Charley reacts in a similar way to what Violet does when it comes to older men who are tall with broad shoulders, deep voices and light hair. She came to me as a rescue at 6 years old and I’m pretty much convinced that she was abused by a man who fits the description I just gave. It took me a while to figure this out about Charley and keeping a journal really helped.
Until you’ve determined whether there’s a pattern and what the pattern is, you should consider getting a harness/collar and leash to give people a heads up that Violet is still in training.
I’m suggesting the training one instead of the nervous or caution one because you’re still working on figuring out what triggers Violet, so not point making it worse than it is. Also, when people see that a dog is still in training they are more likely to ask before approaching, keeping things safe. Which is a good thing for you and Violet right now.
Please let me know what you discover by keeping a journal.
Any other questions, just drop them in the comments below.
hey. my german shepherd is a full grown dog by now. we have given him guarding training. but he barks excess in the night especially if he sees cats and one of my neighbours pet dog around. my and also the neighbours are having problems because of that. please help me how do i stop him from barking at night.
Was your GSD guard dog trained by a professional? If so, the best route is to ask the professional to assist you in dealing with this problem.
Otherwise I recommend working with your dog to desensitize and recondition your dog. You will have to put in a lot of commitment and time and also realize that no dog will 100% never bark at another animal. I really recommend going through this article again and using the methods in it to start working with your dog.
In the meantime, is there any way you can enclose your dog in an area where he can’t see any cats or dogs during the night?
I recently took control of Bandit a 10 month old German Shepherd we live in a block of flats and my next door neighbour hates Bandit because he jumped up at the neighbour to play and know the neighbour is scared of him when he barks or anything, is there anything you recommend to stop him barking at my neighbour. he also barks crazily at any other dog he sees which is starting to annoy other dog owners where they have said there reporting him for being an aggressive dog and he is not.
Bandit sounds like a feisty boy! And the GSD is a vocal dog, so this behavior is not uncommon.
I recommend going through this barking article a few times to familiarize yourself with the techniques I described. Curbing barking takes time because it’s a natural behavior for dogs. You’re going to teach Bandit when it’s okay to bark and when not.
I also recommend reading this article on how dogs learn it’ll give you a clear picture of the psychology behind teaching dogs and with the methods in this article on barking you’ll be able to teach Bandit the social grace you want him to have.
Hello, I have a female German Shepard and she is just over a year old. My wife and I bought her right after our wedding at 8 weeks. I was active duty at the time, and wasn’t aware of my duty stations rules on shepards so a friend watched her for 8 months. Unfortunately, this friend is a cat owner and showed my dog too much attention. So now my Shepard has an expectation to have constant attention from us as well as having bad habits praised through constant attention. She’s great in a controlled environment, but she has bad social skills and is a compulsive barker. She’s a great dog but she seems more interested in receiving attention then obeying commands. Any advice on how my wife and I should proceed would be much appreciated! Thank you so much for your time!
Sounds like you’ve got your hands full – for now.
First, you’ll have to hold off on any training to curb barking. If she’s not listening to basic commands now, you’ll never get her to respond positively to any vocal curbing training. You’ll need to work on this last and put up with the barking for now.
I don’t like to advise owners to ignore their dogs, except to curb jumping. But your pooch has learned some bad habits and you’re right to want to set things back on track. So, if she comes to you or your wife to initiate attention, ignore her. Only give her attention when you initiate it. Start with this now. It’ll take time but she’ll soon understand that attention is not on tap.
I’ll mention here that there’s something call an extinction burst in dog training, it means the behavior gets worse before it goes away. Just persevere and be patient with her and the situation.
Now for the rest…
First, teach her one basic behavior. I’d go with the sit behavior because it immediately requires her to calm down. A calm dog is easy to work with. You’ll need to make yourself exceptionally interesting and exciting because she’d rather get attention than respond to commands. Pick high value treats. Check out this article on how to do that. I suggest reading the whole article, it’ll give you a great picture of how dogs learn. Also, check out my clicker training article, it’s an excellent way to train dogs.
Now your strategy will be to ask her for a sit command each time you or your pooch initiates attention. So for example, you call her over for a cuddle and ask for a sit. And the same for when she initiates, ask for a sit first. If she doesn’t respond, don’t ask again. Just ignore her. Asking for a sit is making her work for something she wants. It’s not cruel. The GSD is a working dog first and foremost. And dogs like to work and need to work, even if it’s as simple as a sit.
Then you’ll need to start teaching other basic behaviors, once she’s got this all mastered. And you can also start working on curbing barking. This article above will give you plenty of pointers and techniques you can use.
I hope this helps.
My 6 month old German shepard will bark as we go into the dog park on leash at nothing or people or dogs, whatever. He will keep barking for about 3 mins when we are in the dog park. Really for no reason, he is not a mean dog or aggressive. It just seems like random barking. He then settles down and doesnt bark at anything after that. Any ideas how to control this in public?
It sounds like your boy is barking out of pure excitement. He’s super happy to see dogs and people around. But these people, dogs and environment is sending him over his threshold.
Thresholds and triggers are very interesting and if you know how they affect your dog you’ll be able to work with him to control his impulses. Check out this article to get a better idea of how these work.
And then, you can use the methods in this article on barking to help him get control of his impulses and keep him within his calm threshold.
I hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions.
Hi i have 2 german shepherds one a female who’s 1 year and a male that’s 8 months and everytime my neighbor get his dogs outside they freak out and they dong listen to me when i call them so is there anything i could do so they stop barking and teaching them to come when i tell them to?
If they are not listening when your neighbor’s dogs are out it’s got a lot to do with their triggers and thresholds. Check out this article to learn about these and how you can work with them.
Then I recommend using any of the methods in this article on barking to teach both your German Shepherds not to bark for no reason.
I hope this helps.
Hello, I have recently brought a 5-6 months old german shephard dog. She doesn’t try to harm me or my nephew but always tries to bite my daughter who is younger. Also, she barks non stop once she sees her. Earlier she used to be friendly with her but not now.
Thanks for your question.
I need a little more information so that I can better help you.
Is your GSD barking aggressively? Or is it more a herding instinct? You can tell if it’s aggressive. Baring teeth, growling, snarling, tail high and body hair raised.
When you say he’s trying to bite her, is he actually snapping or lunging towards her or is he staying at a distance and barking.
Also, when your daughter and your GSD were friends is there any chance she could have hurt him accidentally or done something that he didn’t like?
Drop your answers in the comments and lets see if we can figure out what’s going on.
I have a 11 month old German shepherd/husky mix and I try to take him to the dog park to socialize and get his energy out, but every time I take him he barks non stop. From when he gets there until we leave he barks. Everyone finds it super annoying and I feel like I can’t even take him to the dog park because everyone just gives me looks and then starts commenting on how he barks so much. They think he is aggressive, but he’s never tried to hurt anybody or anything. He is the sweetest dog I’ve ever owned. He barks and runs around with his hair up and I don’t know why he barks nonstop or how to keep him from barking at the dog park. He also does it at the vet, but he rarely barks at home.
GSD/Husky mixes are quite popular and there are a few regulars here that share their lives with this interesting mix.
It’s difficult to give you an answer set in stone without knowing if your boy has been socialized before or not. Whether he has or not, this method can be used for either.
Socializing usually happens from as young as 6 weeks. The sooner, the better. Young pups are much easier to socialize, they learn play etiquette and how to ‘play fair’. Socializing an older dog, even at 11 months old is a little more tricky.
It sounds to me like your boy is barking at the dog park because he wants to play, but he might not have learned play etiquette. So his natural instinct is to bark.
Firstly, I recommend ignoring all those people at the dog park. People can be silly sometimes and quickly forget how much work they had to put into their own dogs.
If your boy has never really been socialized with other dogs before now, you’ll need to take a whole bunch of steps back right to the beginning.
Being around so many different dogs might be overwhelming so I suggest introducing him to 1 dog first. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who can bring their dog over to your place so that your boy can get used to mingling with another dog.
Once he’s comfortable with 1 dog, you can introduce him to another dog. And then have him hang out with both dogs together. That way you build up his tolerance for triggers like other dogs and excitement.
If you’re interested in finding out more about triggers and thresholds check out this article.
And I really recommend using a reconditioning and desensitizing method to introduce him to other dogs like I explained above. Just check out the graphic in this article above.
If you get stuck or have any other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.
I hope this helps. 🙂
Hi. Just wondering how you would suggest teaching ‘speak’ etc to a GSD who doesn’t bark while playing or at me – only at anyone who comes to the door. It’s very intimidating
It’s not unusual for some dogs to be shy about barking at their owners, so it does make teaching your dog to speak a little more tricky.
You say the barking at anyone who comes to the door is intimidating, so I’m assuming that’s the behavior you want to break. If that’s the case, I’d suggest that you rather use the desensitizing and reconditioning method in this article. Trying to teach your dog to speak when he/she is barking at someone at the door will reinforce the barking.
There’s a very helpful graphic in this article that explains exactly how to desensitize and recondition your dog. Check it out and if you have any other questions about it, just drop them in the comments.
I have a 4 year old female German shepherd. She chronically barks at the neighbors black lab through the fence line. It wouldn’t be so bad if the bark wasn’t so aggressive. I have issues walking her in my neighborhood with other dogs 9-10 times she will react with the same aggressive bark and pull when seeing another dog even with the prong choke collar on. A lot of times I try to walk her at odd hours to avoid confrontation. I live near the beach and would love to take her places with me but this behavior makes it difficult since she weights almost as much as I do and the barking is too aggressive for the public. I’ve tried socializing her with dog parks at a younger age but about a year or two she got attacked ( ear pierced)at the dog park and ever sense then I’ve seen this behavior towards other dogs. She’s definitely biased towards certain dogs. All advice will be helpful.
It’s Gabriella 🙂
Did these reactions start after the dog attack?
If so, it’s very common for a dog to turn dog reactive after an attack.
Or, has she always been dog reactive?
If it’s been a problem for the 4 years so far, it could be that she needed more socializing as a puppy – some puppies do, especially the territorial German Shepherd.
But, I’m going to assume option 1.
I know a lot of owners feel they are somehow responsible for their dog being attacked. But there are so many other factors involved in what causes something like this. There’s nothing you could have done in that moment, without possibly having your hand removed by the jaw snap of either dog.
Dogs communicate their feelings through body and facial expressions. The owner of the attacking dog either doesn’t know or ignored the signals their dog was sending.
So to empower yourself it’s so important to learn to read signals dogs are sending. They constantly communicate. With us and each other.
The first thing is, stop using the collar. The thing most dog owners don’t know about these things, is they play a BIG role in making your dog MORE reactive. It’s super great that you’re looking elsewhere to find a solution.
Avoid all gadgets that emit a pulse, shock or anything of that kind.
Your dog might, if she hasn’t already begin to associate the shock with the dogs she’s already reactive to.
Again, even more in the case of a breed like the German Shepherd which is naturally territorial. They were bred that way to protect the sheep the shepherd and the territory around it. To do that they had to survive scraps with predators that were not scared away.
You won’t stop the reactivity that way, it’ll only get worse. If you are able to get the dog reactivity under control with a prong collar, you’ll put yourself in a position where you’ll always need it.
Rather dump that whole plan and work with your dog using force-free methods. Recondition your dog, teach her that other dogs are okay. Set your dog up for success by doing this very, very, very slowly. It’s going to take time.
If you’ve used a trainer that suggested a prong collar, get a new trainer.
I’m going to be frank with you, dog reactivity is serious. The fact that your girl is ignoring a strong negative stimulus (the shock from the prong) tells me your situation needs a professional trainer.
I can give you advice but I’m not there to observe. I was able to work with my dog Charley on her dog reactivity but I was present to see what is happening and where was going wrong.
I’m a firm believer that everyone can train their dog. But with a behavior issue like dog reactivity/aggression, the smart move is to get someone professional on site, with you. I think that’s crucial to helping your dog overcome her dog reactivity. I’d suggest getting a certified dog trainer.
I suggest you find a trainer in your area that uses ONLY force-free kind methods. Especially because there’s aggression involved.
An experienced trainer will help you work with your dog to recondition and desensitize her. The end result, will be that you can go with your dog on those long beach walks with other dogs and people around. Just the way you want it to be.
Getting a certified trainer in is an investment in your dog, and in you.
You also need to face the fact there’s a possibility you might only get your dog to 85% or 90% comfortable. The fact that she’s picky about the dogs she reacts to makes me think they look like the dogs which attacked her. Same build, height, features etc. But again, if you read your dog’s signals you’ll know when she’s saying “okay, I’m seriously uncomfortable here – let’s move on”. A certificated trainer can help you learn this.
Where are you located? I could ask around for recommendations in your area. Just let me know in the comments.
Sorry I couldn’t give you the perfect solution. I hope you’ll go the professional trainer route. It really is the best answer.
What a splendid site this is! I have a 14 month old GSD from retired military search and rescue blood lines that have gone on to show in crufts (im in the Great Britain) I have had her since she was 7 weeks old, and her socialisation and puppy classes started when she was 10 weeks old, continued until she was 6 months old so the whole magic window period was utilised thoroughly along with sensory socialisation in the form of sound disks that have hundreds of different sounds on like thunder and fire works etc.
By the time she was 8 months old just about every useful command was hard wired and she was pretty much a perfectly well behaved GSD, immidiately sitting down if a child approached and wanted to have a fluffing (which she absolutely adores, she has been brought up with my own 3 children and loves little people).
The problems started when she started her adolescence. Its not a case of all her training has gone out the window, i was expecting some resistance as i have had dogs my whole life, but its the barking. she dosent bark at night, or all day, only barks and whines for 3 to 5 minutes when she is left alone in the house before she self calms and stops all vocalisation completely.
Im using distraction with her ball and reward (throwing it for her) to deal with people walking past the house but if some one comes to the house all hell breaks loose. Being a 35 kilo GSD she terrifies people when she barks at them, so i have to put her in the conservatory while im letting the person in or taking the delivery or talking to the post man etc.
Because she is in the conservatory she cant see me, which of course makes it worse. i dont know what the correct way to train her to not go postal when people come to the door. also she has started pulling on her lead incredibly strongly over the last 6 to 8 weeks or so. (i use a harness rather than a collar as i feel it is healthier for her wind pipe. i also know that if a dog pulls on a collar it makes them pull harder by reflex.)
She is un fixed until early next year, would that have anything to do with her behaviour?
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated as i dont want to train the wrong response in and make both of our lives more difficult by creating a new problem by fixing the other problem!
Thank you so very much
Thanks for sharing where you’re at.
I’m so please you find my site useful – means I’m doing something right!
Wow! Your girl is super smart – a typical GSD!
In my opinion hormonal changes due to a female nearing or in heat does have an effect on behaviour. Some people say females become more territorial and/or aggressive after being spayed. But I’ve seen no evidence of this in my 2 females. Charley was spayed at 6 years and Lexi at 6 months. But both females are dominant in the dog pack and were so before spaying. My male is very chilled out and a gentleman so mostly he’s not too phased about the girls telling him what to do.
However, your GSD has obviously already had her first heat. If she hasn’t had her second heat – she will soon. The behaviour change during the first heat was not so obvious because a 6 or 7 month old female is still very much a pup. So taking into account her hormonal changes before and during her heat AND the fact that she’s a teenager could play a role in this sudden change in behaviour. The behaviour changes are due to the instinct to protect amoungst other things.
If you consider in what situations she’s exhibiting barking behaviour – when non household people are around – it’s not a permanent change but rather due to hormonal changes. She’s barking at strange people which makes me think it’s territorial barking. GSD’s are also naturally territorial to a degree, if you think about what function the are bred for. Protecting herds and shepherds. But if it’s not controlled, it could become self-rewarding. And like you said, then you have another problem on your hands.
Another point is, you are a very important part of her environment, so she will want to protect you. If she can’t see you when there’s a stranger around it’ll freak her out and bring on the barking.
Also, like us humans, if for example we don’t practice the math skills we’ve acquired, we will become rusty. And it’s the same with dogs. The training’s not out the window as you say, just needs a little refresher.
So I think you’re on the right track with distraction. But going a step further and implementing the counter conditioning and desensitizing will help the refresher along. If your girl is also food driven I’d use some really high value treats like steak or cheese or something she doesn’t get often.
This is going to take some careful planning on your part…
If you’re going to have an Amazon delivery keep an eye out for the delivery guy. Before your girl knows he’s there, just pop out and ask him if he’ll help you out. You’ll be amazed at how willing people are to help if you tell them you’re training your dog.
Ask him to wait 30 seconds before ringing the bell or knocking. You be ready with treats and your girl. Just before he rings or knocks start distracting your girl with the treats. You’ve got to be quick enough to offer treats before she even thinks about barking. If she does bark, don’t open the door. Wait until the barking subsides and ask her for a complicated behaviour – of which she knows many!
Then try again.
Obviously, you can’t keep the delivery guy there all day so if she fails the task again, let it go until your next opportunity.
You can follow these same steps outside your home. I lived in the UK for 8 years so I know how much the English LOVE dogs. I’ll bet if you ask some passers buy to help out they would love to.
Be prepared to take a few steps forward and then one step back. If your girls fails, go back to the point where she succeeded.
I hope this answers your questions. If you have any others as you go, just drop them here in the comments.
I have an eight-month old Bohemian/German Shepherd girl and she will not stop barking while outside. She chases squirrels and barks. She chases my cats and barks. She barks at the deer. She’s inside at night and during the day (because I can’t leave her out as she barks). I’m not sure how to densensitize her to all the wildlife moving around here. I live in the middle of several hundred acres of bush with lots of wildlife — and I love my wildlife. The incessant barking is insane. Mostly I desperately need her to stop chasing and barking at my cats.
Thanks for sharing where you’re at.
My suggestions are too long to answer in a comment so, I’m going to send you an email.
Just reply to the email with any other questions you have.
I have a 5 month old GSD, Piper, that can be very vocal. She only barks when she is in our fenced in yard. She will bark at the neighbors getting into their cars or anyone walking by the house. The interesting thing is that she doesn’t bark when I have her on leash. I know this is a territorial thing but I believe it is beginning to frustrate my neighbors…particularly when we let her out at night (10:00pm ish) or in the early morning. Last night I resorted to putting her on leash in the yard to ensure she didn’t bark. I also have a 12 year old Bassett Hound who begins to howl…but only when Piper gets her going. Any suggestions on top of what you have listed would be helpful.
Wow! I can just imagine the music Piper and your Bassett make! But I know it’s not fun when it’s happening.
I just want to take a step back to Piper’s barking at the movement by the neighbors and passersby…
There is no other way to stop this behavior than by desensitizing and counter conditioning I mentioned in this article. Focus only on one trigger at a time. If you want to know more about triggers and thresholds, read this article.
So for example, work on barking at the neighbors getting in and out of their cars. I would ask my neighbors to help with this to set up short formal training sessions. It’ll be beneficial to them if Piper’s barking is frustrating them.
You might need to do more training sessions than if you were teaching a regular behavior. This is because barking at your neighbors is self-rewarding for Piper.
In a nutshell what I’d do is the following:
Ask your neighbors to get in their car while you’re there with Piper.
You’ll need high value treats here, this is also because her behavior is self rewarding. You need to make the reward high value enough so that she’ll be willing to work for it. There’s a section in this article called ‘The Power of Food in Dog Learning’ when I show you how to let Piper tell you what her favorite treats are.
Follow the steps shown in the desensitizing and counter conditioning graphic in this article.
Ask you neighbors to sit quietly in the car for 30 seconds and then get out.
Again follow the steps in the graphic.
I can’t say how long Piper will take before she has her ‘aha’ moment. But take my word for it, if you do this right and stay consistent she will get it.
Once she’s mastered that move to passersby. Just follow the steps above. Here you can ask friends or family to help by walking past the house.
You should also generalize the behavior. So do the training at several spots along your yard fence.
In terms of Piper’s silence when she’s on leash in the yard…
I’m assuming that when you put her on the leash like last night she’s only able to move in a certain area? If so, it’s keeping her from getting close enough to the trigger to be triggered.
You might consider giving her a place to sleep which restricts her movement around the yard at night. My bunch have their beds on our veranda. So they still see and hear what’s going on but they can’t get directly to the trigger, like a nocturnal animal or barking from other dogs, that might make them bark. They’re still warm and protected from the elements.
They also still have access to the kitchen area if the wish. They’re also much less likely to be triggered inside the house. Unless there’s something seriously wrong like and intruder.
If you could set up something like that for Piper it should sort out the problem of barking at night. Or, you can use my above suggestion as a temporary solution while you set aside time slots during the night where you take her out and use the counter conditioning method. Once you know she’s desensitized and conditioned to most nightly triggers you can put her out again.
This last step will take a lot of commitment and a few weeks of being tired. I like my sleep, so I’d go with option one. But the choice is entirely yours.
Let me know what you decide and how you get on.
Wow, thank you for this. 6 weeks ago my shepherd grandson moved in with us.
Sarge is not yet a year and his primary family, my daughter and fam, relocated 1800 miles away to a pet unfriendly rental house. We will fix that. Take care
You are very welcome, I’m please you found this useful.
Please feel free to leave a comment here with any questions you have about these techniques. I’m always happy to help.
All the best with Sarge – it sounds like he’s in good hands!
I have a 7 week puppy that barks every time he’s in his cage. Last night he kept me and the wife up all night long with his barking. Is there anything I could do to stop him from barking when he’s in his cage. Thanks
Thanks for your question.
At 7 weeks your pup is young and when they are this young they crave constant contact. Remember, he’s just been taken away from his mom and his litter mates, so it’s his firt experience at being alone sometimes.
You don’t say in your question, but have you spent time conditioning him to like his crate? If not, that’s most likely the reason for this barking. He feels alone and he’s calling for your attention. Keep in mind, dogs are social beings. But you canteach him to love his crate with a little work and patience.
So, how do you go about doing this…
First, I’d suggest you read this article: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/dog-learning-lupos-guide-german-shepherd-learns/. This article will help you understand how your German Shepherd learns. It’s a good foundation to work from. And follow up with this one: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/how-to-use-a-dog-clicker-to-train-your-german-shepherd/.
Your goal is to condition and desensitize your boy to this crate so he sees it as safe and fun to be in there. He’s got to learn that being in his crate means good things.
German Shepherds are super intelligent and you can start with clicker (marker) training as young as 6 weeks.
First, teach your boy using clicker training. Have some high value treats and a clicker, or you can use your voice instead of a clicker. Clickers are easier for beginners.
In a training session, each time your boy goes anywhere near the crate immediately click and reward. Keep doing this for a few training sessions. Keep the gate closed for the first few sessions.
Then move to the next step. Which is to open the gate of the crate. Each time he goes anywhere near the opening, click and reward immediately. Do this for a few training sessions. If he goes into the crate BOUNS! Click and reward. Only rewar if he’s near the gate.
Your next step in the process is to click and reward when he enters the crate. Don’t reward for anything else, just for enetering though the gate. You can also encourage him to enter by tossing one treat at a time into the crate. If he enters, click and reward with a bunch of treats.
Once he’s comfortable going inside, start feeing him his meals in the crate. You won’t have to click and reward here.
After these steps, when you see him in his crate, click and reward. Keep the gate open so he can move in and out as he pleases.
Next close the gate and click and reward (check out the reinforcement schedules in the article on dog learning). Follow them from the easiest to the more difficult. This way he won’t anticipate the treats and it sets you up to start reducing and finally not using treats.
The last step is to close the gate and reward your pup for staying in the crate for longer and longer periods. Use variable reinforsment scheules here as he progresses.
This whole process will take time and you should be patient for as long as it takes.
Eventually your boy will be quite happy in his crate.
If you are not able to be in a training session, you can take kong toy and fill it with organic peanut butter. This will keep him occupied while you can’t spend time with him.
Here’s a link to kong toys from Amazon. https://germanshepherdcorner.com/go/amazon/kong/large
You might want a smaller size since this one is for grown dogs. this one might be more appropriate.
I use this organic peanut butter. https://germanshepherdcorner.com/go-amazon/organic-peanut-butter
Note: Don’t use peanut butter with any salt or artificial sweetner. Xylitol is poison for dogs. So always stick to organic.
Once you get started and you have any other questions, I’m happy to help so just drop me a question in the comments here.
Always set you dog up for success
Celebrate his small victories. With a bunch of treats, praise or a toy if he’s very prey driven.
All the best,
I have 3 gsds and they’re all barkers, I’m struggling as I’ve found a lot of methods that work whilst they’re separated but nothing that works whilst all together….
Kaiser (10 month old entire male) – barks at other dogs on lead, in the car and if walking past the house (will also try to chase) cats whilst in his crate, but he is fearful
Koda (9 month old entire female) barks at everything, anything at all, if another dog on lead she screams more than barks, barks at dogs and people and cars in the car and tries to chase whatever it may be whilst in the car, cats whilst in her crate, I’ve found she isn’t fearful and winds the others up for the sake of it
Bear (7 year old fixed male rescue) he barks at cats or if the other 2 bark
My main issue is once one starts they all start, Koda is the worst as she’s totally wired, the other 2 get over it quickly and quieten down but she doesn’t
We have a 4 month old GSD who’s been living with us now for 3 months, and he lives in his own house outside ours. He’s never barked while we were inside or at night before, but now he is gradually and more consistently taking up barking and for no specific reason. He barks for around 5 to 10 minutes every hour or so. My brother and I seem to think it’s because he wants our attention, since he mainly does it after around 5 minutes of us leaving him to go inside the house .. how can we make it stop? Thanks!
Thanks for sharing your situation here.
As you know, barking becomes self-rewarding for a dog if left unchecked, so you’re on the right track to nip this in the bud now.
Dogs are very social and like to be around us so when there’s separation some dogs become vocal and some even become destructive. I think you and your brother are right to a degree that your pup is barking because he wants to hang around with you. But boredom could also be a factor. Your boy might actually be showing signs of separation anxiety.
So let’s deal with boredom first…
When your pup is alone, does he have toys to keep him occupied? If so, then you might want to consider different toys to what he has now. I always recommend Kong toys because they are safe and strong. They also stimulate dogs mentally and for the highly intelligent GSD this is important. Kongs can be filled with yummy treats like kibble or peanut butter (the organic kind only). Your pup will have to ‘work’ to enjoy the treat and this will take his mind off barking.
Now for the separation issue…
You’re going to have to take a few steps back to start this training and you will need patience because baby steps are the key to getting this right.
Spend a few minutes with your pup and then leave the area to go inside. Stay away for only a few seconds and then return. Again, play or pet your pup for a few minutes. Then leave and go back inside the house and stay out of sight for the same few seconds as the first time. Do this at least 5 times in this fisrst session.
Then the following day follow the same steps but stay out of sight just a little longer before returning to your pup. Keep upping the time you are out of sight over at least 2 weeks. Soon you’ll notice your pup will make peace with you leaving him because he’s been conditioned to know that you’ll return. Your brother will also have to follow the same steps, but only one of you should practice at a time. So for example, once your pup is comfortable with you leaving him for an extended time then only can your brother start following the steps.
Let me know if anything is unclear, I’m happy to help.
Hi. My 21 month old girl Luna barks a lot at night and early morning. She barks especially at the back fence. If I go outside and listen, I can almost invariably hear some small dog in the vicinity yapping its head off. I think this is what sets Luna off. She is quite a nervous dog, and also very protective of me. My other dog, 5 year old Michael, doesn’t seem much bothered by the yapping, and seldom barks at night. Luna also still has a very irritating yapping bark when she’s exited, but amplified. I am already getting trouble from some neighbours. Can you suggest anything short of spending the night outside to counter condition her, as it’s difficult to tell just where the little dog is yapping! I have an outside bark control device that emit ultrasonic sounds when it picks up barking, but it seems to have little effect on her. She just exhausts the battery.
Thanks for sharing your situation here.
It sounds like you have your hands full there with Luna!
German Shepherd’s are renowned as very vocal dogs which in itself can be difficult to manage since barking is self-rewarding. And on top of that, the little dog barking doesn’t help. And I agree that spending the night outside is not the ideal situation.
Have you considered allowing Luna to sleep inside? This was the only way I could get Lexi, my GSD/Collie cross to stop barking. It might be an initial adjustment but to get Luna out of the self-rewarding barking and avoid further trouble with your neighbors this could be a viable option.
As a side note, I see you’re from SA, so it might even be a safer option to keep your pooches indoors at night since poisoning and stealing of dogs is so rife.
Thanks for the tips! I have a working line Shepherd. His siblings all do Shutzhund. Mine knows all the basics of Shutzhund and lots of other things. He knows the word quiet but cannot contain himself sometimes. His actual barking isn’t an issue. It’s his high pitched screaming when he’s excited that I can’t get under control. He knows what quiet is- he does better getting quiet when using the remote shock collar (I’ve been trained on how it use it and he’s been conditioned since a puppy on it. We use the vibrate setting.) Basically he knows what I’m asking but he’s so amped up he can’t help himself and because it’s self rewarding it makes it very difficult to control. Any tips? He’s like a toddler that needs to learn how to self regulate. Thanks!
Thanks for your comment!
You don’t say how old your boy is but he sound like my boy Ze was when he was younger. Males often take much longer to mature than females. He’s turning 3 in September and he’s only just started calming down, even with daily training and lots of stimulation he could be wild at times depending on whether he was reaching the top end of this excitement threshold. And I think that’s the key here…
There are obviously certain things like toys, attention or activities that send your boy into over-excitement. The first step would be to identify these and then work on one at a time to get him under control. Clearly he’s a bright dog to have the basics of Shutzhund mastered so if you play your cards right and take baby steps he’ll pick it up quickly.
Barking and excited barking is self-rewarding as you said but one thing that counts in your favor is that he’s doing these behaviors in your presence as opposed to when you’re away.
In my opinion perhaps you should ditch the shock collar when it comes to helping your GSD get his excitement under control and consider using positive reinforcement. If you’ve been using the collar to get him under control and he’s still not, perhaps the collar is not the right tool for the job. It’s going to make life difficult if you’ve got to use the collar to calm him down for the rest of his life. My article on how dogs learn might be useful here.
Please don’t see my suggestion as a judgement on your decision to use a shock collar, although I don’t agree that they are an effective tool, the decision to use them lies with each individual owner.
I hope this helps. 🙂
We have the same problem as Dan above, two brothers they live outside, adult dogs we are on 2 acres (Australia) they are both very protective of the fence line and are barkers at the best of times but in the last month or so one has taken to barking early mornings mostly around 2 am and 4am in the middle of the yard at or Near the side fence, now he does hate our neighbour on this side for some reason and barks constantly at him whenever he hears him in the yard, well they both do, so not sure what he did to them as the other neighbour dosent bother them at all and they have sheep, geese and all sorts in their yard ? and we had to block them getting right up to the fence it was so bad. BUT I doubt the neighbour, who is elderly is out in his yard at these times doing anything and I cannot see or hear anyone next door when we get up and we probably have all sorts of creatures running around at night and in our trees, but this is really becoming a massive problem causing lack of sleep for us getting constatly up to quiet him down and it seems to have become a habit now every single morning and as we both have work to go to, we have even thought of finding another home for him as its just becoming unbearable, his brother dosent do this or join in this routine not does our Jack Russell, they are sound asleep. So I cannot really see any of your suggestions could work for us. But we are at our wits end with this.
Yes, the kind of barking you’re having to deal with is one of the most difficult habits to break. It is possible though but you should also prepare for the reality that it’ll be something you need to manage as opposed to making it disappear completely. I say this because barking is self-rewarding and the 2 of them together might just be more encouraging. But I’m not saying separate them, they will most likely bark more if you do.
Do you know if your neighbor has teased them at any stage? Also, there might be something in your neighbor’s yard that’s winding them up. Perhaps a nocturnal creature? And it’s worth noting that getting up to quiet them down is probably making the situation worse, because you’re giving them attention which rewards them further.
You could take some time off work and work with your dogs during the times they bark (yes, I mean between 2 and 4 am!) using the counter-conditioning and desensitization technique in this article. It’s by far the technique that will work the best for your situation. I know this might sound crazy but you’ll have to get to the bottom of this since you can’t be loosing sleep.
I hope my crazy suggestion works, let me know.
Thanks for the help with my barky GSD puppy!
Just found your site. These seem like excellent tips and I can’t wait to try them! I have a 3.5 year old girl, Abby, who I adopted from the local humane society about 1.5 years ago. Like many german shepherds she is super smart, loyal and great with my family. I’ve owned a number of dogs but this is my first shepherd and I really have come to love her. However I’m fairly sure she was not socialized when she was a puppy because She is aggressively scared of everything (e.g. people walking, riding bikes, someone ringing the doorbell etc.). She is MUCH better than when we got her but One of our many challenges is she goes crazy w/ barking when I have her in the car and she sees other dogs outside the car. This sometimes even occurs when it’s just a person walking on the sidewalk (she has this super loud “sonic bark”! It can be painful in a car with the windows up). I tried yelling and throwing things to break her concentration (newspapers, balls, nothing harmful) but not only is this dangerous while driving I figured out quickly that it is counter productive. I’ve now started praising her (“good girl”) if she doesn’t bark at someone (positive reinforcement) but this is hit or miss. Should I try the Monster method? Will it work while I drive? Maybe I can throw tasty treats over my shoulder? Thank you for your help I look forward to engaging on your site!
Yes, teaching Abby that something good is about to happen when she’s in the car and people, dogs etc pass by. The monster method works really well for this. But I’d like to suggest that you do this using baby steps, both for your safety and Abby’s. What I mean is, first take a short ride, say down the road and have someone else take the wheel. That way you can be the one who works with Abby. Use the monster method and slowly progress to longer and longer rides. It’s easier for dogs to learn things this way and it’ll put less stress on her.
I can totally relate to your situation with Abby. My girl Charley was severely abused and never socialized. She came to live with me as an adult and I still work with her everyday to overcome her fears. Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help.
I watched an episode of “it’s the dog or me” on YouTube, the dog had the same barking problem in the car. It was solved by covering all Windows in the back and a divider separating the front and back with a blanket covering so the dog can’t see out the front while driving and then opening the front blanket a little bit at a time, as soon as the dog barks block off all view again. Do this over an over until the dog realises everytime it’s barks it dosnt get to look outside. Worked well and was fixed it 1 car trip.
Yup Victoria Stilwell is one of my dog training idols! I’m currently getting certified in dog training through her academy. She really has a knack for figuring out how to work with an individual dog and I love that she firmly believes that not all dogs learn in the same way.
we have two male G Shepards from the same litter they are about ten months old. They live outside. At night they continually bark, loudly. It wakes me and I’m sure half of the neighbourhood. I have read about the speak, quiet training method but I don’t see how this is going to keep them quiet at 2.00am. Can you provide any further ideas?
Ps its 3.30am now.
German Shepherd’s are very vocal dogs. And because they were bred to guard sheep, barking is part of their nature, unlike Huskies for example that very rarely bark. Like you said, the solutions here are not practical for you.
The thing with barking though is it’s self reinforcing, so the mere act of barking is a reward for a dog.
I think the first question you should answer is, are your dogs constantly barking only at night or during the day too. If it’s only at night, they could well be barking at something that attracts their attention. Like nocturnal creatures in your yard. Are they barking at a specific place? Like a certain corner of your yard. Or at the front or back of the yard? If it is something like small animals or specific spots in the yard, you can find a pattern, and then set a plan in place to break this pattern. Like for example, restricting their access to certain areas.
They could also be joining in with the barking antics of other dogs in the neighbourhood. This can be a little more difficult to control since you can’t really control what other dogs are doing. But you can give them things to keep them busy which might help.
I’m sure you know how intelligent GSD’s are and if they don’t have something to stimulate their minds they will bark, dig and be generally unruly if they’re bored.
Do they have interactive toys to keep them busy at night? You could stuff Kongs with all-natural peanut butter (avoid the type with xylotil). If I want to keep my German Shepherds busy, I pop those Kongs in the freezer and hand it to them a few hours later. They stay busy for hours trying to lick out the peanut butter. You could also try cow heels. Don’t confuse these with cow hooves which are very dangerous. Ask your butcher for cow heels. These are very nutritious, filled with marrow and gelatin. I give them frozen and raw.
Another tactic you can try is to separate the 2 boys. Keep one in the front and the other at the back, for example. It might keep them from psyching each other up to bark. And then you can offer them interactive toys like above. I’d only separate them as a last resort. Since there is a chance that if you separate them it might increase the barking.
I know this kind of situation is frustrating especially when you’re up at 3.30am looking for answers. And no one wants unhappy neighbours either. But it’s worth taking the time to observe your boys and put a plan into action.
Let me know how you get on with these suggestions, we can always try to hash out other solutions if these don’t work. But like I said, first observe your boys and try to pinpoint where and why they’re barking.
I have 14 month old female GSD that sleeps outside. I never had any issues for 13 months with excessive barking the only time she would bark is when people would try to access our property. She came into season for the second time now and all of a sudden she started to bark at night. With the first heat there were no excessive barking. She has finished the heat cycle and still barks at night, I take her out for a 2 kilometer walk\run daily. Please advise what I can do
I have 2 GS sisters from the same litter and I am having the same problem with mine. They bark and bark all day and night. It’s driving me crazy.
I have an about 15 month old female GSD that sleeps in a crate. She runs around all day, but while in her crate at night, she barks constantly with no intention of stopping. I’m going insane!
Were you able to do through crate training with her? If you did, you might consider experimenting with the crate in different places/positions. There might be something bothering her where it is currently like lights, moving shadows from outside plants.
It’s definitely worth re-shaping her behavior to like the crate more and moving it to different places to experiment.
I have an 8yr old GSD and I was having trouble with night barking and pacing the fence line. We tried sensors to keep him away from certain areas, they seemed to work for a week, but I’m sure his need to bark outweighed the sensor and so he continued to bark. We contacted a dog trainer, he said to try a putting him on the laundry of a night with a radio on very softly. Now he rarely barks of a night and I have actually let him sleep outside occasionally and his barking was not excessive. However he mainly sleeps in the laundry of a night and listens to his little radio, while we have a good night sleep. We only investigate his bark if he has a low growl and high pitch barking we ignore, as this can become a “oh you are all up now so I’ve got your attention” anyway if you can contain your dog in the laundry it is easier to control what bark you will investigate and what bark you will ignore. Wear some ear plugs yourself and be consistent and you will see great results.
Try covering the crate with a dark cotton sheet and put a little radio on softly bedside the crate. You can buy a cheap battery operated one. I bought one for $10 dollars in Kmart. The cheapest and most effective thing to calm your GSD. Also dear antlers work a treat and keep your GSD occupied with something to chew. I do not feed my GSD canned food as they are filled with additives and preservatives that only adds to anxiety in your dog. I only feed him good quality dry food and add mixed veges myself. You can use frozen veges, takes 4 mins. in microwave. or add a cup of cooked rice or pasta. Also a raw egg occasionally mixed through the dry food is good for their bones and coat. Also I have found whatever I do with my GSD I have to be consistent and they love routine.
Thank you Dan for commenting about your neighbors. I have a neighbor who has a German Shepard and it is oftentimes that the dog is barking throughout the night. I’m glad that you are looking at ways to decrease the barking. My neighbor told me that dogs bark, thus it’s fine for the dog to bark in the middle of the night. If the neighbor would had stated he is making efforts to decrease the barking, I would feel better. Do you have any suggestions on ways to talk to the neighbor? It has been going on for 2 years and the dog is within five feet of where I sleep. It makes it difficult to have a completely quiet sleep. I know the other night, I thought that the dog was doing well at not barking, then it was 4 a.m. and the dog started barking. I was completely awake. I’ve been debating about reporting the neighbor to the city, but I don’t want it to be a situation where the neighbor becomes rude to me. I looked into double pane windows, but discovered it is more expensive than what google stated. The dog barks at everything, right now the neighbor dog is the only one barking in the neighborhood. I don’t understand, do my neighbors enjoy the sound of their dog barking? I tried those devices that make irritating sounds to dogs to decrease the barking, but I do not think that is working.
Thanks for your comment.
It’s a really tricky situation and I can relate since one of my neighbors has 10 dogs in an urban yard. And she does absolutely nothing about the constant barking.
I’ve tried everything and finally, I did find sonic bark devices that work reasonably well. Of course, when there are 10 dogs barking the device is useless, but it does stop them from starting up one by one, which when this happens they end up in a barking symphony.
I know the devices are working because when their batteries run out I immediately notice the barking picks up again. To be honest, this is not my first choice to facilitate living in harmony with my neighbors and her dogs, but it curbs a lot of their barking and helps keep my sanity. These are the devices I’m using, I got them off Amazon.
I hope this helps you somewhat to get relief. 🙂