What To Do When German Shepherd Barking Becomes a Problem

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So your German Shepherd sure does bark a lot and you are wondering if it’s normal? Why is their bark so loud? Not to mention how in the heck to get them to stop barking! 

Here’s all the info you will need to learn more about the GSD bark, their behavior, and more. 

two german shepherds sitting next to each other in the grass on a fall day

German Shepherds are known for being attentive, loyal–and for their habit of frequent barking. Their reputation for being a bark-heavy breed can be linked to the two critical factors: the nature of the German shepherd breed and a lack of proper training and behavior correction.

Do German Shepherds Bark A Lot?

Yes. German Shepherds do bark more frequently than other dog breeds. This breed is ‌a lot more vocal, whether they are barking at their owners, at people or objects outside the house, or they are barking during certain events, such as walks or visits from other people.

German Shepherds were bred to be livestock dogs that herded and guarded valuable livestock. This means that the breed was designed to be vocal, as they needed to be loud enough to both herd animals and alert farmers of potential danger to their flocks while scaring away potential predators.

However, most modern German Shepherds are not working dogs; they are companion animals living in homes, where loud, frequent barking is not considered a valuable trait.

Why Is The GSD Bark So Loud?

Besides being known for more frequent barking, German Shepherds are known for a distinct barking sound. Their barking sound is low, loud and can sound quite aggressive. The primary reason ‌a German Shepherd’s bark is so loud is because of their breeding history. Since the breed was intended to herd and guard animals, it needed a loud, forceful bark that guided livestock while also scaring away wild animals that might harm sheep and other livestock. Unfortunately, this intense and resonant bark clashes with the companion lives that most German Shepherd dogs live today.

We should note that German Shepherds have a distinctly different bark when they are still puppies. A German Shepherd puppy will have a bark that is higher in pitch and can sometimes even sound shrill and pitchy. As the dog grows older, their tone will deepen, creating the distinct, intense bark that we know the breed for today.

german shepherd laying down in the grass with an orange ball

How Do I Get My German Shepherd To Stop Barking?

Due to the nature of the breed, you can never “stop” a German Shepherd from barking completely. However, you can train and correct your dog’s behavior until they are less likely to bark constantly, which is a concern for this particular breed.

What Does It Mean When A German Shepherd Barks?

There are two factors at play here: behavior issues causing excessive barking and lack of training and socialization.

First, you need to rule out any potential behavior issues that are causing excessive barking. These issues include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Boredom and lack of stimulation; if your dog does not have enough physical and mental engagement throughout the day, they are likely to bark. Remember, because their instinct is that they are working dogs, they will get bored quickly just being a companion. 
  • Physical problems; dogs communicate by barking, and one thing that they might be trying to tell you  is that they aren’t feeling well. If your dog has an injury, visible or not, they may start barking more ‌to express that they feel hurt or sick. This can be ruled out by taking your dog to a veterinarian.
  • Feeling lonely or wanting attention; German Shepherds were meant to be around humans and livestock all day, so if they are alone for most of the day, they will become lonely and bark more often. It is best to avoid leaving German Shepherds alone for hours at a time, especially regularly. In some cases, this attention seeking behavior can come with negative consequences, such as digging or chewing.
  • Territorial; These dogs are very protective of their owners and their home turf. Sometimes their bark may indicate they feel like they are in danger or maybe even their family is in danger.
  • Startled or surprised; They will also bark if loud noises or unexpected movements suddenly startled or surprised them. Remember to teach children and adults that they shouldn’t surprise dogs, especially dogs as powerful as German Shepherds.

If your German Shepherd is barking excessively, you should carefully consider if any of the above behavioral issues apply to your dog. If they do, work on correcting that issue and you should see a drop in the frequency of your dog’s barking.

In addition to the above behavioral issues, you may need to engage your German Shepherd in more training and stimulation. This will help them ‌learn how to behave better around other people and animals. 

For instance, if your dog feels anxious around people–even those who aren’t posing a threat–it can lead them to bark aggressively out of fear. If they are properly socialized, they will know that they don’t need to bark at these people, which ‌will decrease the frequency of barking.

Finally, your German Shepherd may bark because they are excited and happy! Dogs communicate through barking, and barking isn’t always a negative expression.

a trainer holding a collar next to a german shepherd dog

Can German Shepherds Be Trained Not To Bark?

Yes, but you need to be realistic about the outcome. While they will never stop barking completely, they are very intelligent, which means they accept training well. 

The benefits of professional bark training for this breed is that you can work with a professional who has experience working with dogs and sometimes even specifically working with German Shepherds. You can expect costs to range from $50-80 for a single standard obedience class; around $30-50 an hour for personal training; and several hundred dollars a week for an obedience school.

Read on to the next section if you are thinking you may tackle the training yourself. 

Training Your German Shepherd to Bark Less 

Before we go over the ways you can train your Shepherd to bark less, here are a couple of things you should avoid doing. 

Punishing with negative reinforcement – Yelling loudly, hitting, and showing aggression towards your dog is never a way to train. Sometimes this can actually cause their behavior to be worse, become skittish of their owners, and even cause them to attack you because they feel threatened. 

E- Collars – While some choose to train with shock collars, it is very important that if you go that route, it should be done properly. Those who to choose to start shock training blindly may cause the German Shepherd to be more angry and increase negative behaviors. 

Simple Commands 

Start simple if you decide to train your dog yourself. Get them to play with toys so they are rowdy enough, they bark. Then choose a word or hand signal that moving forward you will use when you want them to stop barking. Eventually, they will put two and two together. Be sure to reward them with praise when they stop barking, so they associate that with the command. 

With Treats 

You can also achieve the same result with treats, and maybe even quicker. Wait for an event to happen where your GSD starts barking when you really don’t want them to. For example, when your neighbors are walking by and your dog barks, give them a treat. Soon, they will stop the barking and will obey without even having to eat a treat. 

Consistency is key when it comes to any kind of training, whether it’s behavioral or even potty training. If you are using treats be sure it’s something they like. The treat has to be way more valuable than the situation that is causing them to bark. 

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