How to Teach a German Shepherd Not to Bark

Updated on June 27, 2019
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Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

German Shepherds, especially German Shepherds that are bored or territorial, can get into a habit of barking. This can make them a nuisance, not just to their owners, but to the people in their neighborhood.

No matter how much you love your dog and how friendly and responsible he is when supervised, there may be circumstances in which he barks and barks and barks and annoys both you and the people that live close to you. Barking can be a serious problem, but there are a few ways that it can be corrected.

Why Do German Shepherds Bark?

German Shepherds are naturally protective. They love having a job, and many GSDs take on the job of house defender, even if they are not trained to do so. This is one of the main reasons you may hear a German Shepherd barking, and while you may not love that your GSD barks at every person who comes to your door, this type of barking is usually not very disruptive. Why else might a German Shepherd bark?

A dog will bark if he is scared, excited, hungry, needs to go to the bathroom, is bored and wants your attention, is trying to alert you that there is danger in the area, if they are in pain, or they are expressing dominance. A well-trained dog will only bark if he senses danger in the area, as he knows that this is a good time to bark.

Unlike humans, who have many different ways to express themselves, German Shepherds have only one way: they can only bark. Do not automatically assume that if your dog is barking he is misbehaving. He is trying to tell you something. You need to teach him when it is alright to use barking to express his feelings and when it is not.

How to Teach a German Shepherd Not to Bark

German Shepherds are extremely fast learners, and they are always excited to please their owners. Teaching a GSD to bark, especially if you have already taught your dog other commands and skills, will be very easy. Here are the steps you should take:

Identify why your dog is barking

Knowing what is causing him to bark is an extremely important part of stopping this behavior. Is he barking because he is bored? Having separation anxiety? Is he threatened by dogs living in neighboring yards? Is he trying to alert you to individuals that he thinks are intruders (but are probably just people walking past your house)?

Do not yell at your dog to stop barking

Dog’s don’t speak your language. If he starts barking and you start yelling at him to stop, he isn’t hearing “Hey dog, stop barking!” He’s hearing, “I’m tense, too! Something is causing us both tension!” Yelling and screaming at your dog will not help him stop his barking behavior.

Understand what triggers separation anxiety

If your dog only barks when you are not home, this is likely due to separation anxiety. Finding someone to leave your dog with, making sure he has the exercise he wants and needs, and just in general, making sure he is completely happy, is a great way to prevent separation anxiety.

Establish yourself as the pack leader

You have probably already done this, but if your dog barks when he is hungry, because he wants something, or as a way to exhibit dominance, it is unlikely that he really views you as the alpha. When you establish yourself as the alpha, this type of barking behavior will stop.

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Invest in obedience training

If your dog does not stop barking when you tell him to (again, not when you yell at him, but when you give him the command you chose to indicate it is time to be quiet), it is time for more obedience training.

Dogs are going to bark; it’s what they do. They should be obedient enough, however, to back off when given the command. If he doesn’t do that, he needs to be taught a command that gets him to do that.

Acclimate your dog to the stressor

If your dog barks at the neighbor dogs, at the postman, at children who walk to school in front of your home, it is likely that he thinks these things are threats. You can convince him that they are not threats by introducing him to those people and dogs on neutral ground, like in the street out in front of your home.

How you teach your German Shepherd to stop barking will depend entirely on what he is barking out. In general, obedience training that instills him with a command that, when said, immediately ceases his barking, is the best option.

© 2018 Sam Shepards


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