It’s important to know how much barking you can expect when you get a dog. More specifically, it’s even better to know what you can expect from a certain breed. A German Shepherd may bark for several reasons, and some may bark more than others. However, we can look at the average as reported by many German Shepherd owners. Contemplating whether or not to get this breed, I did a lot of research in anticipation and to set my and my family’s expectations. I’d like to share what I managed to find with you here today.
So, do German Shepherds bark a lot? German Shepherds are known to bark a lot compared to other breeds. This is because they were initially bred for herding and barking was one way in which they used to align herd flocks. However, they are a highly intelligent breed of dog and barking can be trained out of them. Equally, you can get them to bark on command and to stop when they are already doing so.
There are many reasons why a German Shepherd may bark.
Identifying each cause is perhaps the best way to prevent your dog from barking in the first place, and additionally, to help you implement the most effective solution.
Let us now take a closer look at when this breed is most likely to bark and then some piratical things owners can do to keep their dogs barking in check.
Why Do German Shepherds Bark?
Just like all breeds of dogs, German Shepherds will bark to communicate. It is their way of expressing their emotions and their thoughts.
Consequently, finding out why they feel the need to be heard is essential if you are looking to train them not to.
The good news is, that German Shepherds are known for their intelligence.
Alongside their strong, powerful and active nature, they were initially bred to herd animals and have even been used as guard dogs for many generations.
It comes as no surprise that this breed needed to bark to be effective with such duties.
As barking is one of the primary ways a dog can communicate, you can see why even after becoming domesticated and kept as family pets, they have an instinct to continue with this behavior.
However, there are also other reasons why this breed may bark outside of sheer communication. The most common ones include:
To Be Friendly
This may come as a surprise, but dogs bark to express how they feel and their emotions. Regardless of whether these are positive or negative.
German Shepherds have a loving and energetic temperament, and commonly bark when they see people.
Whether this is with people they are familiar with (such as neighbors, friends, and family) or strangers coming to the door.
If you have not effectively trained your German Shepherd not to bark when people arrive, they are likely to do this.
A friendly bark can often be identified as they tend to partake in other behaviors simultaneously. This includes the wagging of their tail, jumping up, and being generally more active.
On the other end of the scale, German Shepherds are known to bark out of boredom.
As previously mentioned, they are very intelligent dog that requires a lot of mental stimulation to keep them entertained.
Physically, they need a minimum of 1 hour of exercise a day, preferably 2 hours. If they do not get this regularly, your dog is likely to become bored and restless.
With too much energy, and without a way to get rid of some, you will notice that your dog starts to bark. Sometimes, they even do this as a way to suggest that they want to go outside or even go for a walk!
Regarding being mentally stimulated, the most common reason for this is that they are left alone for too long – with nothing to do to pass the time.
Equally, if they are left alone they are likely to suffer from what is known as separation anxiety. They are loyal dogs that bond closely with their owners.
If you are aware, they are likely to bark out for you and your attention or partake in other behavioral issues.
With this in mind, you should look to keep your dog’s brain active throughout the day.
This high selling dog toy from Amazon is an excellent way of doing so, even when you need to leave the house.
And it rewards them for playing with it by working out how to dispense a treat.
From there, be sure that you never leave your dog for too long on its own.
If you have to, invite trusted neighbors, friends, or family over to let your dog outside, give them some attention and a period of play before you return.
German Shepherds are very social dogs. They are known to be very loyal – protecting their owners if the situation were to arise.
For this reason, if your dog is not socialized properly, they may begin to perceive people and situations as dangerous and risks to you and your family.
In this situation, your dog is likely to be barking out of aggression.
If you observe that your German Shepherd is barking at new people and during new experiences, this suggests that they are anxious and would do well with increased socialization.
To socialize a German Shepherd, you should look to introduce your dog to new people and take them to new places regularly. Ideally, you should start at a young age – preferably during the puppy years.
Take treats along with you to help let your dog know that these people/experiences are positive and help them to learn that these situations are not a cause of danger.
The more you can socialize your dog, the more they will become used to these experiences.
The result is that they will feel less threatened, and barking should soon cease during these sessions.
You may notice that your dog barks initially as you start the process, but at times it starts to reduce or cease altogether.
One other thing to look out for is your environment and setup at home.
If you leave your German Shepherd outside regularly in your yard (cutting them off from the rest of your family) and other people outside of your property, this can result in issues.
Boredom and isolation are the main two. You need your dog to feel included and part of your family.
Without it, you are likely to notice your dog barking. They’ll be lonely and be trying to communicate to you that they want to be included and that they want more attention.
If you were to let this persist, it can even lead to aggression in your dog.
For this reason, you want to ensure that you do not cut your dog off and leave them outside too often. If you need to do so for whatever reason, be sure to head outside regularly to visit and spend some time with them.
This should result in less barking, particularly in these kind of situations.
Pain or Health Issues
It could be that your dog is just hungry or thirsty, and providing them with such resolves the issue.
However, if you suspect that barking persists and your dog is in discomfort, this could be the reason behind this behavior.
Barking is common in dogs in pain, with health issues or with a physical injury. Normally you will be able to identify such issues through a limp or through general lethargy, but sometimes its not always obvious.
If you suspect that your dog is injured or has a health issue, then you should look to take them to a vet for a full examination.
Usually, a medical condition or injury brings about a sudden behavioral change to more barking.
Here are some of the most common health problems that this breed is susceptible to and what to look out for:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) – also known as Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyopathy (CDRM)
- Anal furunculosis
- Inherited eye diseases – including cataracts and multifocal retinal dysplasia.
- Haemophilia A and B – bleeding disorders that stop blood from clotting and cause wounds to bleed more than they should.
Source: PDSA (veterinary charity).
If you suspect any of the above through a change in movement patterns or temperament, take your dog to a vet immediately.
Upon examination, they will be able to recommend the appropriate course of action and it may result in a reduction in their barking.
How Often Do German Shepherds Bark?
German Shepherds are a vocal breed of dog. It’s in their heritage and it is a natural tendency.
That being said – this does not mean that a German Shepherd must bark, nor that is something that they do and you have to put up with.
Ultimately a German Shepherd’s amount of barking depends largely on how much/how little training they have had and how much you as an owner are willing to permit.
One of the benefits of the German Shepherd breed is its intelligence.
They respond very well to training, and this includes obedience training designed to limit barking or to get them to bark on command.
Equally, a German Shepherd can learn specific commands to stop there and then; or even to bark on call (if you ever needed them t do so).
It is generally agreed that the younger you train your dog to bark, the more compliance you will find and the easier it will be to train them.
A young puppy is still learning about its new environment, family, and hierarchical structure.
Training them at this age is usually quicker, and you can prevent the habitual barking from taking hold as they grow and age.
Habitual barking can become a big issue in elder dogs that are not trained nor where owners have been keen to rectify it earlier.
Dogs, like some humans, can be stubborn so you need to teach them what is and what is not acceptable.
For the most part, with an effective training regime and with persistence and consistency, you can ensure your dog does not bark too often and only at respectable times.
How Do I Get My German Shepherd To Stop Barking?
A German Shepherd is likely to bark during times they feel they can, or that you have inadvertently permitted. Stated differently, they will bark as often and as loud as they have been allowed to do so.
German Shepherds, like other breeds, will take some time to train. However, thankfully they do tend to pick newly trained skills and behaviors up quickly so long as you apply the training with consistency.
When training your dog, you should look to leverage the power of treats!
Here is a good strategy and command to train your dog when it is and when it is not acceptable to bark.
First, get your dog excited so that they bark.
Then, open and close one of your hands with your fingers. While doing this, say the word “speak” aloud to your dog.
As your dog barks, reward them with a treat.
Continue to do this until your dog knows how to respond. Then, be sure only to reward your dog when they bark just once. In time withdraw the treat altogether. They should now know how to bark, just once, on command.
Once your dog knows the command to bark, you can look to teach them to be quiet.
So, begin by getting your dog excited to get them barking.
Then, place your hand in front of their eyes. Make a sign and say the word “quiet”, or “shh”; whatever command you want to use and train your dog with.
This time, when your German Shepherd stops barking, give them a treat.
With a little consistency, your dog will learn both signals and commands and will bark and stop barking when you decide.
A second way to stop barking is to change your dog’s associations. So, if your dog routinely barks at people or certain objects, you can distract them and stop them from doing so.
When your dog stops barking at the offender, call your dog over and give them a treat. Use treats that they particularly enjoy.
In time, you will notice that your dog learns to associate people or object with the reward of a treat. They’ll be thinking of that and be distracted away and not feel the need to bark.
The second method is not as useful as the command method, because it is sometimes hard to identify the specific cause of barking.
Either way, you should only reward your dog and provide them with treats when they have stopped barking so that they learn exactly what you want them to do.
As German Shepherds are known to be easily trained, barking can be minimized quite quickly.
How regularly they bark is ultimately going to be in your hands and how willing and regularly you can apply these and other training techniques.
For this reason, we can safely assume that a German Shepherd that barks a lot has been allowed to do so, or has not had sufficient training.
At the end of the day, stay vigilant to the needs of your dog.
Start the training from a young age and you should notice barking is never really an issue with them.
German Shepherds are a vocal breed and can end up barking a lot if they are left to their own devices.
As owners, it is important that we lay down the rules and set expectations for our dogs through effective obedience training.
One of the benefits of this breed of dogs is their loyalty, intelligence, and willingness to please their owners.
These make great traits in the fact that we can use them to our advantage – training them not to bark as often as their reputation suggests.
Some German Shepherds will bark at night if they are not trained not to do so. This breed of dog is typically likely prone to barking during the night because they are keen to protect their owners. This is why they are often kept as guard dogs. Reasons, why they may bark during the night, include activity outside or any noises which they may hear.
Generally, a German Shepherd will bark with a lower pitch if they are expressing aggression, are seeking attention, or are playing. Alternatively, they may bark with a higher pitch when they are in pain, anxious or stressed.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.