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German Shepherd Corner

Stop German Shepherd Barking Problems Once and for All

German Shepherd barking can become a problem for a variety of reasons.

But as dog owners we’d be unreasonable to expect our dogs never to bark. Dogs are made to bark, it’s an essential method of communication that dogs can’t do without.

Get German Shepherd Barking Under Control

The trick is rather to get excessive barking under control.

Before we can work on how to get German Shepherd barking under control…

Let’s first first wrap our heads around the reasons why dogs bark.

6 Reasons for Excessive German Shepherd Barking

Breed-Specific Function

All dogs have a breed specific function. In your German Shepherd’s case it’s guarding and herding.

In a working environment barking is the way your German Shepherd fulfills this role.

German Shepherds also find barking self-rewarding. It burns excess energy and satisfies your dog’s natural guarding instinct.

Because of this, excessive German Shepherd barking is a problem many owners struggle with.

Protecting their Territory

Dogs are territorial and will without fail bark at a threat to his territory. Often as the threat moves closer the barking will become more intense.

Your German Shepherd’s body language will be aggressive like a raised tail and raised hackles along the spine.

Alarmed or Startled

Sometimes your dog will bark at a sound or an object, usually when he is startled.

For example: my male GSD was once startled by a date that fell from a tree onto an object he was investigating.  Although the sound wasn’t loud it startled him into barking.

Saying Hello and Playing

This is always a happy bark accompanied by tail wagging and running around.

Asking for Attention

Some dogs will use barking to communicate if they want something.

For example: the need to go outside, asking for food or playing. In this case there are certain times an owner should not reinforce barking.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a subject all on its own. In most cases it is excessive barking accompanied with compulsive behavior. This could be; running in circles, pacing and destructive behavior.

Are you a kind and loving trainer?  Check out these force-free training programs for your German Shepherd.

3 Things that will Never Get German Shepherd Barking Under Control

Problems with German Shepherd BarkingPunishing 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 will only reinforce the behavior.

Shouting at your dog will make him think you’re joining in with the barking. Shouting 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 shock is applied. This equals aggression.

By now you’re asking:

What should I do to get rid of German Shepherd Barking problems?

Using a paired or opposite cue is the most effective method to get rid of German Shepherd barking.  There are two different ways you can use this technique.

So how does this work?

#1 Teach Your German Shepherd to Bark on Command

Teaching Your German Shepherd the ‘speak’ ‘quiet’ cues. Speaking or barking on command is method that is also associated with trick training. But it’s just as effective in altering excessive barking behavior.

To begin with, the trick is to only reward your dog when you want him to bark. This will ensure that you don’t reinforce the excessive barking.

6 Steps I used to alter Charley’s excessive barking…

  • Get your dog excited. Throw his toy, jump up and down or make barking noises. The point here is to get him over-the-top excited!
  • Once your dog is barking open and close your hand as shown in the pictures – this is your hand signal. Do this while saying the word ‘speak’.
  • Mark and reward each time your your dog barks.
German Shepherd barking: serise of hand signals for training

Teach ‘speak’ with hand signals and curb German Shepherd barking

german shepherd barking hand signal

German Shepherd Barking: Use Hand Signals to teach your dog to speak

Note: This is one of the few times giving a hand signal and a voice command from the start is a good idea.

Your German Shepherd will soon make the connection. You can learn more about Mark and Reward.

Note: If it takes a while just be patient and persistent. Some dogs are shy when it comes to barking at their owners.

Once your dog ‘gets it’, the next step is not to reward for more than one bark at a time. Mark and reward is important to show him you only want one bark.

Once your dog fully understands the ‘speak command’ it’s time to teach the opposite cue, ‘quiet’.

  • Follow the same steps by getting your dog excited and revved up. This will make him bark.
  • Once your dog is barking put your open hand just in front of his nose. Now say the word ‘quiet’ in a firm but kind voice.
  • The second your dog stops barking mark and reward his behavior.

Your German Shepherd will soon have the ‘a-ha moment’. He’ll quickly make the connection that ‘quiet’ and your hand signal means ‘stop barking’.

#2 Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization

Counter-conditioning and desensitization also work on the principal of pairing.  In this case you’ll pair something your dog regards as good – like cheese – in the presence of the thing that’s causing your dog to bark.

  • So your first step is to pin-point the exact thing that makes your dog bark.  Like the postman, motorcycles, joggers, cyclists etc.

Let’s use a mail van in this example…

  • The next step is to start counter-conditioning your dog in the presence of the mail van.  It’s important to start at a distance your dog still feels comfortable at.

If you get too close, too soon it might feel like waterboarding to your dog.  She could become more agitated and even fearful, so go slowly.

  • Keep a close eye on your dog’s body language.  If your dog starts barking, immediately call her attention to you and treat her.

Your treats MUST be high value – more valuable than the satisfaction of reacting to the mail van.

If you want to find out which treats your dog finds the highest value, check out my post on dog learning and do the little experiment.  Your dog will let you know which treats she likes best!

Follow these steps and be consistent, as your dog becomes more desensitized, you can move closer and closer to the mail van.

I found this explanation of these steps in picture form on Facebook.  If you’re new to this technique this is an excellent resource to understand the process.  (I wasn’t able to find the source of the image to provide the correct attribution).

counter-conditioning and desensitizing german shepherd barking problemsThe pairing technique is a super effective tool to have in your training toolbox.  You can use it to change behaviors in the most kind and humane way.

If done correctly and always with your dog’s well-being in mind first and foremost, the chances are very good that you’ll curb your German Shepherd barking.  And your dog will have learned a neat new trick to show off with!

Image Source: if this is your image please contact me for correct attribution.

Tug of war is a great way to exercise and stimulate your dog.  Check out these safe tug of war toys.

Do you worry about your best friend getting lost?  You can keep tabs on your pooch with a GPS tracking system.

99 comments… add one

  • Dan

    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?
    Dan
    Ps its 3.30am now.

    • Hi Dan!

      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.

      Chat soon.
      Rosemary

      • Rash

        Hi Rosmary

        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

        Regards

      • Stella Barkley

        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.

  • greg

    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!

    • Hi Greg,

      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.

      Regards,
      Rosemary

  • Elkay

    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.

    • Hi Elkay,

      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.

      R

  • Katie

    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!

    • Hi Katie,

      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. :)

  • Maryke

    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.

    • Hi Maryke,

      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.

  • Perla

    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!

    • Hi Perla,

      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.

      R

  • Kerry

    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

  • Stefan

    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

    • Hi Stefan!

      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.

      https://germanshepherdcorner.com/go-amazon/puppy-kong-toy

      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.

      Remember:
      Baby Steps
      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,
      Rosemary

  • John

    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

    • Hi John!

      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!

      Regards,
      Rosemary

  • Kyle

    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.

    Thanks

    • Hi Kyle,

      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.

      Chat soon,
      R

  • Amanda

    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.

    • Hi Amanda!

      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.

      Chat soon,
      R

  • Ian

    Hi
    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

    Ian

    • Hi Ian!

      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…

      For example.

      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.

  • Jenna Phillips

    Hey Dan,
    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.

    Thanks,
    Jenna

    • Hi Jenna!

      It’s Rosemary :)

      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.

      Here’s why…

      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.

      BUT…

      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.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Gail

    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

    • Hi Gail,

      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.

      Chat soon.

  • Elicia

    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.

    • Hi Elicia,

      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. :)

  • Arundeep

    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.

    • Hi Arundeep,

      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.

  • Nasr

    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?

    • Hi Nasr,

      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.

  • Alice Erickson

    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?

    • Hi Alice,

      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.

  • Austin

    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!

    • Hi Austin!

      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.

  • Sarah

    Hi,
    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.

    • Hi Sarah!

      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.

  • Tanvee

    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.

    • Hi Tanvee,

      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?

  • Meghan Maurus

    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.

    • Hi Meghan,

      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.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Jasmine

    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

    • Hi Jasmine,

      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.

      – Rosemary

  • Tammy Navarro

    Hi:)
    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,
    Tammy

    • Hi Tammy,

      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.

  • Sharon

    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.
    Thankyou

    • Hi Sharon,

      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.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Kai

    Hi,
    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?
    Cheers!

    • Hi Kai!

      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.

      – Rosemary

  • Brittney

    Hello,

    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!

    • Hi Brittney,

      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.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Kathy Korst

    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!

    • Hi Kathy,

      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.

  • Mary Ferguson

    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?

    • Hi Mary,

      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.

      Chat soon.
      Rosemary

  • Nick

    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?

    • Hi Nick,

      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.

  • 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!

    • Hi Jackie!

      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.

      Chat Soon
      – Rosemary

  • Ray

    hi !
    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…
    Thanks!
    Ray

    • Hi Ray,

      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.

      Chat soon,
      Rosmary

  • Janelle Barns

    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?

    • Hi Janelle,

      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.

  • Jillian

    Hello,
    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

    • Hi Jillian,

      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

  • Chris

    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.

  • Hi!
    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?

  • Nancy Taylor

    Hi Rosemary,

    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.

    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,

      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.

  • Natasha

    Hi Rosemary,
    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!!

    • Hi Natasha!

      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.

      Chat soon.

  • Mark

    Hi Rosemary

    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

    thank you

    • Hi Mark,

      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.

  • Trist

    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

    • Hi Trist,

      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.

  • Marianne

    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?

    • Hi Marianne,

      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.

  • sharon Burling Claridge

    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

    • Hi 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.

  • Tora

    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 ?

  • Robin

    My GSD keeps barking at our son. Will the monster technique work with that situation?

  • sumu

    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.

  • Alexa Pugliese

    Hi Rosemary,
    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!

    Thank you!!!

  • Amanda

    Hi,
    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?

  • 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?!
    -H

    • Hi Heather,

      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.

  • Gavin

    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!

    • Hi Gavin,

      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. :)

  • Brittney

    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?

    • Hi Brittney,

      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.

  • Dryanax

    Hi Rosemary 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!
    Dryanax

    • Hi Dryanax!

      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.

      Rosemary

  • Charlotte

    Hi Rosemary,
    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,

    Charlotte

  • Kelsey

    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

    • Hi Kelsey,

      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.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

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