If you want some peace and quiet at home, you’ll likely want a dog that fits that vibe. While nearly all dogs bark, the frequency and loudness can vary greatly. And given how big the GSD is, you may be wondering if they will cause a lot of noise.
German Shepherds can bark loudly and frequently, but only if they’re neither trained nor socialized. These two crucial aspects of a GSD’s upbringing will dictate whether your GSD barks all day long, or behaves in a more reserved manner. When properly trained, the German Shepherd only barks when needed or when they sense a perceived threat.
In addition to training and socialization, there are quite a few factors will determine how much your GSD barks. Continue reading to learn how to minimize the barking while keeping your German Shepherd both happy and anxiety-free.
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Do German Shepherds Bark More than Others?
Barking is not always undesirable in a dog. Rather, it really depends on the purpose of the dog. After all, a silent guard dog or watchdog likely wouldn’t be of much use. In addition, barking can be useful for say, a small herding dog.
But for owners who simply want a dog as a pet, barking can be a nuisance. And when it becomes a bit too excessive, it tends to drive owners crazy. For reference – in this article, we will refer to a dog that barks a lot as a “vocal” dog.
And when it comes to being vocal, German Shepherds have a tendency to express themselves slightly more than most breeds. But why is this the case?
I have a 17 mo. female German Shepherd. My difficulty is that she barks in the car at pedestrians and even passing cars.– Leadlady (GermanShepherds.com)
Well, all dogs with the exception of the Basenji (they “yodel” instead) have the innate ability to bark. It is how they communicate. But because German Shepherds are big dogs with a thick neck and thus, a big vocal cord, they’re able to produce loud and deep barking.
Combine their deep, louder barks with a higher frequency and you might have a problem on your hands. But, this does not need to be the case.
If you train a German Shepherd and socialize it early on, it will be less likely to bark. In fact, since German Shepherds are so intelligent, they respond extremely well to training.
So, we could even say that a properly trained and socialized German Shepherd tend to barks far less than other dogs. But when the training is ignored, you may have a dog that seems like they bark more than others due to their loud and deep barks.
4 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd is Barking
We have already mentioned how a lack of training and socialization can lead to an overly vocal shepherd in most cases. However, what factors can make the problem worse? And how does socialization and/or training come into play?
1. German Shepherds bark because of their territorial instinct
Almost all creatures have some form of territorial instinct, and German Shepherds are no exception. It is an instinct that most dogs possess. But because German Shepherds are natural guard dogs, this instinct is even more unavoidable.
Encroach on what they consider their turf, and they may feel an instinct to bark until you go away. In fact, German Shepherds are one of the more territorial dogs because they were bred to protect their people and home.
If you want a guard dog, this instinct can be cultivated to turn a GSD into the perfect sentinel. But if you want a quiet home environment, you likely don’t want your GSD barking at every person who walks down the street.
Generally, socializing a GSD early on should handle most of this. They’ll be more easy-going around both animals and people, making them less likely to try scaring them off with loud barks. In general, it makes them more comfortable around everyday stimuli.
But without proper socialization, their guard dog (or territorial) instincts will kick in and they may very well start barking at everything and anything that comes close to your home. Trust me, it’ll be a huge nightmare for owners to deal with.
2. German Shepherds bark when they’re bored
If your German Shepherd isn’t getting enough mental or physical stimulation, then you might notice an increase in barking. This is likely because your German Shepherd is bored out of his or her mind, and simply needs something to do.
If we are bored, we might take a nap. But a bored German Shepherd will more likely bark at birds, loud noises, squirrels, or shadows, simply for something to do. The key to keeping them from boredom is to keep them busy. Give them a “job” if needed.
German Shepherds need to be busy busy busy. That is what they are bred to do and love to do. A tired dog is a good dog.– Aldebono (ball-pythons.net)
In addition to training and socialization, exercise will be key here. A German Shepherd that receives the minimum 1-2 hours of exercise per day will be less likely to bark than one that sits at home all day or one that’s left in the backyard.
For this reason, we recommend owning a GSD only if you are prepared to commit to ensuring they get both mental and physical exercise daily! It’s not an easy assignment owning a German Shepherd, so be prepared for the commitment!
3. They bark when they’re excited
On the other hand, an overly excited German Shepherd might bark a lot as well. The good news is that this tends not to be a constant state.
Various factors like seeing a familiar friendly dog, getting ready for the a delicious treat, or greeting the owner can provoke excitement, and thus, barking. It’s similar to how humans may scream and yell when they’re excited.
Though these barks can be loud, they are less a sign of aggression and more a sign of a sudden mood boost or increase in energy. Even with training, there may be little you can do about this. But even so, there are ways to minimize this.
For these situations, you might want to focus on training your German Shepherd to bark less when they feel excited. Allowing some vocalizations is ok, as letting your German Shepherd express itself is still a very important thing.
But it is important to have trained your GSD to know when enough is enough. As with all training, the sooner and earlier you start on this, the better.
4. German Shepherds can bark because of aggression or anxiety
Though these can be different sensations for your German Shepherd, we decided to include them in a single section. After all, both of these emotions are signs that a German Shepherd might not have been socialized properly.
Keep in mind that German Shepherds are prone to high anxiety. This is especially true when it comes to separation anxiety. These dogs have the instincts to protect their owners, so their whole lives tend to revolve around them. I wouldn’t be happy either.
And often, a German Shepherd’s aggression is simply an expression of a dog’s anxiety.
In addition to socialization, another way to lessen your German Shepherd’s anxiety is to ensure it isn’t left home alone for long periods of time. With no one in the house, your GSD not only can grow bored (and bark more because of that) but they might feel anxiety.
This is one reason why German Shepherds are great for families. Large families are more likely to have someone at home at various points in the day, which can comfort a German Shepherd. But the more people, the merrier!
4 Wrong Ways to Stop the Barking
Calm, compassionate training and early socialization are the best ways to tone down your German Shepherd’s vocal nature. These methods work with a GSD rather than against it, and aim to increase its joy while decreasing anxiety.
Below are some methods to 100% avoid when it comes to stopping a dog from their barking. Not only will these methods increase stress, but they may even make the problem worse in the long run. It may seem “easier,” but don’t do it!
Instead, the best approach will always be to use positive reinforcement and calm consistency. Treats or encouragement are far more effective in training than harsh words or punishment. The same goes for all animals, and not just German Shepherds.
1. Do NOT Use Shock Collars
One of the core tenets of behaviorism is that reward works far better than punishment. Shock collars, also called “bark collars” may slowly teach a dog not to bark, but at a great cost. Fear is almost never the way to go with a GSD.
The pain and discomfort from the collar can lead to increased anxiety and aggression, which may show up in other behavioral issues. This may also lead to trust issues and hurt the relationship of the owner and dog.
Punishment may discourage one behavior, but it does so at the cost of overall well-being and the psychological health of the dog. As easier as it is to click a single button to stop the barking, we do not suggest this at all.
2. Do NOT Overly Rely on a Muzzle
There is a time and a place for muzzles, but extended use of them can impair breathing and increase anxiety in your German Shepherd. Plus, the moment you take the muzzle off, you’ll have a scared or hurt dog that may very well start barking.
Instead, when needed they should only be used for short periods of time. Otherwise, these muzzles can especially impede your shepherd’s ability to cool down through breathing and panting.
But if you do find yourself needing to use a muzzle at any point, we strongly advise to choose a high-quality one that will be comfortable for your dog. Always be aware of your German Shepherd to see if they are struggling to breathe.
3. Do NOT Shout or Punish Your GSD
Using aggressive behavior on your end will only serve to make the behavioral problems of your GSD worse. Sure, shouting at your dog might stop them from barking in the moment, but it will only raise their overall anxiety and aggression.
This means you are only contributing to the problem of their barking rather than working to solve it. We advise against this short-term fix. Instead, use a patient, consistent, and compassionate effort toward training your German Shepherd.
It may take more time and effort, but it will be (by far) better for you and your dog in the long run. With some positive reinforcement and plenty of treats, your German Shepherd will show huge improvements rather quickly.
4. Do NOT Resort to Surgery
Out of all the methods in stopping a dog from barking, this may be the most ridiculous one. And yes, it is painful for your German Shepherd. At the same time, it doesn’t actually solve the core psychological reason your GSD is barking. Plus, it’s expensive.
All of these reasons together should be more than enough to convince you not to take this route. When you surgically remove your dog’s larynx, it might decrease the sound of their barks, but at great cost to your canine companion.
Instead, we again stress that training is the way to go. If you are willing to spend the money on a surgery, it is a better idea to instead hire a professional trainer to work with your dog.
The cost will be comparable and will produce better, more humane results. How would you like it if your parents surgically removed your ability to speak? This is more or less, the same.
German Shepherd Barking Facts
Before diving into the many reasons why a German Shepherd might bark, let’s start with a foundation of understanding this breed’s bark. Here are the barking facts.
Age: Most German Shepherds may start sounding out proper barks around four months of age. However, they will start vocalizing as early as 2-4 weeks old.
Since they start so early on, it is also vital to properly socialize them during this period. Helping your German Shepherd know when to bark and when to stay calm will carry lifelong benefits for both the owner and the dog.
Noise Level: If you have ever heard a German Shepherd bark, you know they pack an auditory punch. It’s not even unusual for their barks to exceed 85 decibels, which is past the noise level considered safe for human ears.
With such an intimidating bark, it comes as no surprise why this breed makes such a great police dog or a deterrent against potential intruders. The German Shepherd’s bark can literally send terror into the hearts of all criminals.
Share in the comments below what your situation is like with your German Shepherds. Do they bark a lot or are they silent as a mouse? You can also share tips or tricks that you used in training your German Shepherds to vocalize less!
- Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? – Yes, the barking may be a concern, especially if you have younger kids. However, there are ways for both children and a GSD to thrive in a household. Here’s what you need to know.
- Are German Shepherds Easy to Train? – Training is the key to keeping your GSD from barking a lot. But you may be wondering, how easy is it to train a German Shepherd? It’s easy, but here are the reasons why that is.
- Are German Shepherds Dangerous? – Dogs that have a loud and deep bark may come off as an aggressive dog. However, this isn’t always the case. And while German Shepherds do have such a bark, does it really make them dangerous dogs?