Why Do German Shepherds Bark? All You Need to Know


GSD looking up

German Shepherds are labeled as being more vocal than some of their other furry friends. With barking being one of their main forms of communication, you may wonder what your canine companion is trying to tell you with each bark.

German Shepherds bark for several reasons. Primarily, these reasons are:

  • Wanting your attention
  • Being bored
  • Saying “hello”
  • Acting territorial
  • Needing socialization
  • Feeling lonely
  • Health issues

Whether you are curious about what your Shepherd has to say or are trying to reduce the barking in your home, we have an answer for you!

In this article we’ll dive into some of the many reasons why your German Shepherd is barking, along with how to reduce the behavior in your home. 

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Before we dive into why your German Shepherd is barking, it’s important to understand the behavior of barking in general. A bark is one of your dog’s main forms of communication, and is how they vocalize some of their many emotions.

Just as you and I have our words to express how we are currently feeling, our dogs have their bark. Whether your dog is trying to communicate with the dog across the street or greet you when you get home from work, a bark is a great way to do just that. 

So Why Do German Shepherds Bark?

Now that we’ve discussed how our dogs use their bark to communicate with others, let’s dive into some of the many possible reasons your German Shepherd is barking.

They Want Your Attention

gsd looking like it's smiling

Our German Shepherds love our attention, and sometimes their barking is just another way to ask for it. Spending time with their favorite humans is always at the top of your dog’s list, causing them to bark or whine if they ever feel like they are not getting enough of our love. 

Though barking can be seen as a pushy behavior coming from your German Shepherd, it’s possible that they are unsure of another way to get your attention.

If you think this is the reason that your German Shepherd is barking, it may be time to set aside more time in your day for dedicated dog time!

They Are Bored

Similar to a child that wants to play, our German Shepherds may bark or vocalize when they are bored.

With German Shepherds being such an energetic breed, they often have excess energy pent up if they are not getting enough mental and physical stimulation throughout the day.

Because of this, our Shepherds may bark and whine if they are overcome with boredom. Canine boredom also presents as destructive behavior, howling, and other undesirable behaviors in your home. 

You can try to combat barking with a mentally stimulating toy such as the Snuffle Mat. This mat is great for stimulating your GSD’s “thinking” muscles, and hence a great way to reduce boredom and barking overall!

They Are Saying Hello

Some German Shepherds are more vocal than others and choose to greet their favorite humans with a quick hello each time they enter the room.

Whether they start barking once you open the front door or each time you enter the room, your friendly Shepherd may just be offering you a special greeting.

Some German Shepherds say hello to their fur parents, the dog passing their house on a walk, or any new guest that enters their home. 

They Are Territorial

Sometimes our German Shepherds will bark in an effort to stake claims on their territory. Whether they are protective of you on your walks or of the area around your home, some Shepherds will bark at approaching dogs or people.

German Shepherds are known for being extremely protective of the people and properties they love, making this a likely possibility as to why your dog is barking.

Though many Shepherd owners appreciate this response in terms of security around their home, it can be troublesome when the Shepherd is not properly socialized. 

They Need Socialization

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Our German Shepherds are known to bark at things that are unknown to them. Similar to you and I, they are more likely to be fearful or nervous around people and objects that they have never been exposed to.

Because of this, unsocialized dogs are known to bark much more than dogs that have been exposed to other animals and people from a young age. 

The best time for socialization of your German Shepherd is from the moment they enter your home. By exposing them to other people, other animals, other sights, and other sounds, you can help to decrease the amount of barking in your home. 

They Are Anxious Or Stressed

Sometimes our German Shepherds will bark when they are overcome with emotions. Similar to you and I, our Shepherd pups can become anxious or stressed from many different aspects in their life.

Whether you have just moved to a new home, brought a new dog into your home, are away from home more than usual, are taking a trip to the vet, or any other major shifts in your daily life; our German Shepherds can struggle with these changes and be more vocal as a result.

If you fear that your dog is experiencing anxiety during a certain experience, you can limit their struggles with this soothing licking mat

These mats work in quite the opposite manner as a snuffle mat. Instead of promoting mental activity, a licking mat reduces it – very similar to you and I meditating!

They Are Lonely

One of the most common reasons that our German Shepherds will bark is when they are feeling lonely. Though this can range from general feelings of loneliness and more intense feelings of separation anxiety, sometimes our German Shepherds will bark when they are left home alone.

This can happen as we are walking out the door, throughout the day when we are gone, and even when they are segregated from us in their cage or any other area.

If you feel like your Shepherd is barking excessively due to loneliness, it’s probably time to adjust your schedule to allow for more time with your furry friend. 

Health Concerns

Sometimes barking can point to a medical concern that our German Shepherds are experiencing.

Since our canine companions can’t use their words to describe how they feel, they may often turn to barking or whining when they are feeling unwell.

If your dog is ever experiencing barking that is out of their character or does not resolve with any changes to your daily routine, it may be time to visit your veterinarian. 

Do German Shepherds Bark A Lot?

German Shepherds are known to be a bite more vocal than other dog breeds, but this varies greatly based on the amount of training they have received.

While an unsocialized German Shepherd may bark at every single person that passes their house, a well trained Shepherd may only bark on rare occasions. 

While they may be labeled as being a bit more vocal than others, it always comes down to each dog’s history.

In order to limit any excessive barking in your home, it’s important to follow the guidelines for proper German Shepherd training and socialization. 

How To Reduce Barking In German Shepherds

If you have a German Shepherd that seems especially vocal, there are a few methods that can help to reduce the barking in your home.

By working together to find a solution that works for both of you, you German Shepherd can cut back on the excessive barking for good! Some of the best ways to reduce barking in your German Shepherd includes:

  • Socialization: If your German Shepherd’s barking seems to be focused around other people, animals, or noises, your GSD may need some additional socialization.

    Socialization is best implemented from the moment your dog enters your home, but can be put into place at any point.

    Try your best to take your Shepherd out on walks, introduce them to safe and well mannered dogs in a controlled setting, slowly introduce them to new people, and try your best to introduce them to any object that seems to make them uneasy. 
  • Training: Just as socialization is important when it comes to limiting your German Shepherd’s barking, so is obedience training.

    Your dog is more likely to abide by your house rules and requests when they are properly trained, making it essential to put them through obedience training from the moment they enter your home.

    Though this can simply include basic commands, it helps to boost your dog’s confidence and make them a well behaved member of your family. It’s best to implement either positive reinforcement or clicker style training. 
  • Exercise: German Shepherds are extremely active, meaning a pent up pup can result in excessive barking if they are unable to expel their energy each day.

    If it seems like your Shepherd is bursting at the seams with energy, it’s time to implement more daily exercise and activities. This can be in the form of daily walks, one on one play time with your dog, trips to the local park, and more. 
  • Home enrichment: Try your best to fill your home with objects that can cure your German Shepherd’s boredom.

    This can mean giving them toys they enjoy, offering mentally stimulating toys and treats, and any other toy or object that brings them joy or comfort.

    By enriching your home to meet their needs, your GSD is less likely to bark or whine.
  • One on one time: Our German Shepherds love to spend quality time with us, and can begin to experience frustration and separation anxiety when they do not see us enough.

    Whether this is a combination of missing you and simply being bored, it can result in an increase in their barking.

    If you feel like you may not be spending enough quality time with your Shepherd, it’s time to set aside more time each day for your furry friend. 
  • Assessing your response: Sometimes our dogs simply learn to bark because they know they are rewarded with our response afterwards. If you know that your dog’s barking is not pointing to an immediate need, it’s best to ignore it.

    You can reinforce silence in your pup by offering them treats or praise in the moments that they are quietly resting or being calm. 

Final Thoughts

Though barking is a normal behavior in dogs that allows them to express themselves, it doesn’t mean we need to tolerate excessive barking from our favorite German Shepherd.

Be sure to review the tips we’ve listed above on why your German Shepherd may be barking, and you can better understand your pup going forward. 

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and other large breed dogs for almost 20 years now. Over the years I've worked with veterinarians, K9 unit police officers, breeders, and dog enthusiasts. I firmly believe that there are no bad dogs, and I'm a strong advocate for responsible and ethical dog breeding. Read my story here.

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