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How to Stop Your German Shepherd from Barking: Advice, Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

german shepherd barking

German Shepherds are loyal, energetic, and affectionate working dogs that have a lot going for them personality-wise. A common problem that German Shepherd owners are faced with is the amount of time this dog breed spends barking at seemingly harmless people or animals.

The truth is the German Shepherd is a protective dog breed and barking is a way of communicating that they think something is up. Before reprimanding them for this natural behavior, it is better to find positive ways to discourage unwanted barking.

This article will help you control your German Shepherd when it comes to barking and other similar behaviors.

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Why Do German Shepherds Bark So Much?

German Shepherds have been bred for the sole purpose of protecting their owners and hunting other animals as prey. Even though they have been domesticated to fit into a suburban home, these dogs still carry their instinctive traits with them. Even though the neighbors may be complaining about the chaos they are causing by barking, it is important to understand the meaning behind this behavior before you take actions to control it.

You see, your dog does not know that barking is disturbing you and other people. Barking is one of the most prominent vocal ways they can communicate to their owner. Although barking cannot be translated for humans to understand, it is important to your dog.

Whether your dog is trying to tell you that they do not like the cat, or that they do not appreciate the stranger entering your home (even if it’s a welcomed guest), your German Shepherd will communicate this through barking, yapping, and even howling. They do not mean to cause harm or disturbances; in their eyes, it is part of their protective and loyal nature.

german shepherd barking close up
Image Credit: Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay

How to Stop German Shepherds from Barking at Strangers

Firstly, it is important to note that German Shepherds are natural guard dogs who love to protect their families. So, by an unfamiliar guest entering the house, your German Shepherd is bound to freak out. Barking is then used to take the stranger off guard and make them scared of your dog. Although this sometimes works, it can be annoying if your German Shepherd does not stop barking the entire time this stranger is in your house.

This uncontrolled barking is undesirable in certain circumstances, it is wanted in cases of burglary or to alert you of potential danger. This makes it essential to handle the situation in the right way because by discouraging and punishing your dog from barking in unfamiliar situations, you are risking yourself and your family if the case was serious. You want to opt for positive reinforcement and avoid locking them outside, in a room, hitting, or shouting at them in this situation.

These are some helpful steps you can take to control your dogs barking:
  • Let your dog sniff some of the strangers’ items before letting them enter the premises. This allows your German Shepherd to become familiar with the person before being shocked by them entering the house. You can also give them treats during this time to ensure they know that you are happy with them smelling the items.
  • Explain to the person how to treat the dog. Remember this is your dog’s territory and home too, they only have the best interest at heart. Make sure that the visitor knows how to handle being around a protective dog breed. They should never go into pet the dog right away or be at face level where they can be bitten.
  • Get the person to ignore the dog upon entering. This can be done by avoiding eye contact, not speaking to the dog, and making no interest to touch the dog. The dog will get bored soon and figure out they are not a threat.
  • If your German Shepherd barks at strangers during a walk, try to avert their attention by speaking to them and ask the stranger to completely ignore your dog.
german shepherd leaning over the fence
Image Credit: Nate Tribbs, Pixabay

How to Stop German Shepherds from Barking at Other Dogs

This is also a natural reaction for your German Shepherd to display. The only difference between other dogs and people is that dogs can understand what your dog is trying to convey by barking. Unfamiliar dogs will cause your German Shepherd to become protective over you. Larger or more dominant dogs can also cause your German Shepherd to bark out of fear.

To discourage this behavior, a few steps should be taken:
  • Do not allow an aggressive dog to enter the premises. This will frighten your dog and may even be potentially dangerous.
  • Let your dog smell the scent of the other dog on your hands. Use a light-hearted voice and gentle actions to show that you are okay.
  • Place the two dogs on leads to ensure that they are not able to get to one another while they are in a protective barking state. This can lead to fighting.
  • Ignore the dog that is being barked at and stroke your dog to show that it is going to be okay. If their neck fur is standing up, they are most likely scared and need reassurance.
  • Speak gently to both dogs and allow them to sniff each other once they have calmed down. This should only be done if their tails are wagging in excitement to meet each other.



What to Avoid When German Shepherds Bark?

Allowing the stranger to give them treats

Do not allow visitors to give your dog treats or food. Burglars use this tactic to poison dogs upon entering the house. Teach your dog not to accept food from strangers, just like you would do with children.

This also applies to not giving them a treat when a visitor is in the house. This may encourage them to bark at people because they associate the treat with barking.

man giving a german shepherd a bone treat
Image Credit: Nicky Rhodes, Shutterstock

Removing their vocal cords

You should never have your dog’s vocal cords removed without a valid medical reason. This only confuses the dog further and is used solely for the owner’s benefit.

Negative reactions (pushing, shouting, hitting, fearing, time-out)

Do not punish your dog for barking. This can include having strangers push them away, hit them, run, or act in fear or even put them in time out. This only makes your dog confused and does not help the situation. It can make it worse.

woman teaching german shepherd to keep paws on floor
Image Credit: marcin jucha, Shutterstock

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Barking may be an unwanted habit in your German Shepherd but identifying and taking control of the situation as the owner is one of the most beneficial ways to stopping unwanted barking. If you are worried about your dog’s constant barking, you should consult a canine behaviorist to gather further information on what you can do.

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Featured Image Credit: PDPics, Pixabay

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