How to Deal With a German Shepherd Spraying


Bringing a new German Shepherd into your home typically means house training, but what do you do when your new German Shepherd won’t stop spraying? It is a common problem, and luckily, there are several different solutions you can try.

Both male and female German Shepherds spray for many different reasons. To deal with your German Shepherd spraying, you can:

  1. Spay or neuter them.
  2. Thoroughly clean any new items you have in your home.
  3. Use positive reinforcement for training.
  4. If they are continuously marking in the same area, prevent access to that area.

Often, finding the root of the problem helps you train your dog against spraying. There are a few easy ways you can find out the cause, and then solving the problem is simple.

German Shepherd Spraying against a tree in winter, How to Deal With a German Shepherd Spraying
“I just gotta let everyone know I’m here!”

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Read on to find out all about German Shepherd spraying and how you can deal with it. 

Table Of Contents

Do German Shepherds Spray?

German Shepherds do occasionally spray and for different reasons. Spraying is a territorial method of communication for German Shepherds and is quite normal. It is, however, more common as a result of having not been spayed or neutered.

“Neutering will reduce male marking behavior in more than 80% of male dogs but will only eliminate it in about 40% of dogs.”

VCA Hospitals

Spraying is not a breed-specific action; however, some breeds, such as German Shepherds, are more prone to spraying. Whether your dog is territorial, dominant, stressed, or anxious, German Shepherds are known for spraying outdoors, and unfortunately, indoors on occasion.

Some of the reasons that your German Shepherd may be spraying are:

  • Male German Shepherds often spray if they are reproductively intact and are trying to either mark their territory or ward off rivals. 
  • Male German Shepherds may spray more when sexually aroused, hence neutering can reduce this.
  • Female German Shepherds, on the other hand, are more likely to spray if they are in heat. 
  • If you have more than one dog in your household, your GSD may be spraying his favorite spots in the house to mark his territory.

German Shepherds are known for being dominant by nature, and this can play a role in why they spray and when they are more likely to spray.

Why is Your German Shepherd Spraying?

Your lovable pet sprays to assert their dominance and to claim things as theirs. Sometimes this can be a large area, such as throughout your home. Other times, this can be a singular area or item, such as a table or the refrigerator.

Frequently, dogs spray because they can smell another animal. Therefore, the furniture in your home can be a common target. Furthermore, animals outside your home can cause your dog to spray.  

Other terms for spraying include urine-marking, marking, or accidents. However, it is essential to realize that spraying is not the same as your dog having an accident. While they might look the same, spraying is typically a lot smaller in volume than your dog’s usual amount of urine.

The following chart details the many reasons why your German Shepherd is spraying:

GenderReasons for Spraying
MaleMarking territory

Warding off competitors

Protecting the owner/human companion

Remaining reproductively intact/sexual arousal

Learned behavior

Anxiety/Separation anxiety
FemaleShowing affection and claim on the owner

Reproductively intact and entering heat

Learned behavior

Urinary Tract Infection

Anxiety/Separation anxiety

Do Other Breeds Spray?

Many breeds of dogs are known to spray. It is a behavioral instinct that all animals have and let out in one way or another.

German Shepherds are known for being affectionate dogs; they quickly get attached to their owners. In fact, some owners may not realize it, but they may inadvertently cause their GSD to become too clingy. While this bond is great, it can lead to territorial pets, and spraying is a sign that your dog is territorial.

Getting your dog neutered is one way to take away aggressive behaviors that dogs have, including the territorial behaviors that both male and female German Shepherds can exude. This trait alone can cause your dog to spray in your home.

Why Does My German Shepherd Spray Repetitively?

Your German Shepherd is more than likely trying to “mark” whatever they are spraying on. If that item came from another household, it is likely that they also had a pet. Your German Shepherd is smelling that pet and trying to claim the furniture as their own.

The first thing you will need to do is deep clean the furniture:

  • Remove all blankets and pillows from the furniture.
  • Vacuum the entire surface.
  • Add baking soda to stained and smelly areas.
  • Vacuum once again.
  • Use a non-chemical, pet cleaning solution to scrub soiled areas.
  • Allow the area to dry before returning pillows and blankets.

If possible, separate your German Shepherd from the object or piece of furniture. If the furniture is large and too difficult to keep out of reach from your dog, like a couch or a large table, then it is almost impossible to stop your German Shepherd from reaching it.

In these cases, you might have to think about moving your furniture to a new room where your dog isn’t allowed – or even buy new furniture!

Why Does My Shepherd Spray When I Have Visitors?

Your German Shepherd might only spray when other people are around. This is a pretty common issue that has a few different answers.

Sometimes visitors will bring distinct scents of new animals into your home, and your dog will smell this pretty quickly. In this case, your German Shepherd likely feels the need to mark their territory for fear or confusion. It could even be something as simple as your guest’s jacket that triggers the need to spray.

If your German Shepherd does struggle with spraying when you have company, these are some of the things you can do:

  • Crate your dog. I have a really helpful article on how long you can leave your German Shepherd in a crate.
  • Leave him in another area of the house.
  • Send him to a daycare facility for a few hours.
  • Prepare distractions for your dog, such as interesting toys and mentally stimulating activities.
  • Make sure he has had a good amount of exercise beforehand.

When your guests leave for the night, try to do a quick clean-up with a pet-friendly multi-surface cleaner to wipe away the scent of your guests.

Why is My German Shepherd the Only Pet in My House that Sprays?

Spraying is a common problem for German Shepherds that live in multi-pet households. There is nothing quite like the loyalty of German Shepherds, however, they can get so attached to their owners that they can feel threatened by the other pets in your home.

If this is the problem in your household, then it’s best to get your German Shepherd spayed or neutered as soon as possible.  

Ways to help your GSD stop spraying when there are other animals in your household include:

  • Be sure to reward your dog with positive verbal reinforcement.
  • Reward all of your pets with treats if they are motivated by food.
  • Give all of your pets equal love and attention.
  • Exercise your German Shepherd enough, so they get all their wiggles out!

When to Call the Vet

All medical causes should be ruled out before treating your German Shepherd for urine marking problems. There could be a possibility that your dog has a urinary tract infection. This can lead to discomfort, pain in the bladder region, and frequent spraying and urination. 

You must consult with your primary veterinarian if you suspect that this could be the problem. UTIs can be painful and eventually lead to kidney infections if not addressed.

Treatment for urinary tract infections:

  • Antibiotics
  • Rest
  • Lots of water
  • Diet changes

Other medical issues could be urinary incontinence. abnormalities of the genitalia, diseases that cause frequent urination, and medications.

How Anxiety Can Affect Your German Shepherd’s Spraying

Your German Shepherd could be spraying because of anxiety. This is a more difficult problem to diagnose, but you can monitor your dog’s behavior when they are not spraying to see if they act skittish in other situations, such as thunderstorms or fireworks.

German Shepherds are known to suffer from separation anxiety. They don’t like to be left alone for long periods but don’t worry as we have 10 easy steps on how to stop separation anxiety in German Shepherds.

If you suspect your dog has anxiety, you can also try these helpful products from Amazon:

Try to figure out what the root of the anxiety could be and try to eliminate it. Things like a beeping smoke alarm or major changes in your routine or the family environment can stress your dog out, so experiment and see if you can naturally alleviate your German Shepherd’s stress levels.

What Should I Do if My GSD Continuously Sprays?

If you have found the problem, eliminated the problem, but your pet is still struggling with territorial marking, no worries! You can train your pet not to spray just like you house trained them.

While it’s no fun re-training your pet, German Shepherds make it easy as it’s never too late to train them. They are smart dogs, so training goes smoothly the majority of the time. Here are a few tips to speed up the process, so you are not cleaning up the mess for longer than you have to:

  • Constructive Discipline – When you do catch your dog in the act, stop them by making a loud noise and then get them outside to finish their business. This is how you want to housetrain your pet as well. 
  • Positive reinforcement – Positive reinforcement is proven to work wonders with dogs. Rubbing your pet’s nose in their accidents works only by instilling fear in your furry friend, and German Shepherds are not dogs you want to ever train through fear. Instead, try giving them treats when you get them outside.
  • Never resort to hitting your dog – This only confuses them, and instead of learning that the correct thing is good, they learn that the wrong thing is bad. This only causes your German Shepherd to be scared and can make them anxious. Here’s how to discipline a GSD and what not to do!
  • Try using belly bands for male dogs or diapers around the house – This is not a solution, but it may help you keep calm while you are trying to train your dog (and possibly save some carpet, too)! 

Remember, you’re going to have to keep a constant eye on your German Shepherd throughout this process. If there are times that you cannot watch your dog, then use additional measures, like a crate or baby gate, to keep him contained in one area that you know he will not spray in. 

Tip: Keep your GSD away from windows and doors so they can’t see other dogs walking by. By removing the temptation of seeing other dogs nearby might just do the trick.

How to Stop My German Shepherd Spraying Outside

Odds are, you have seen your dog spray outside, as well. Those times when your dog smells everything just to go and pee for half a second is an example of your dog leaving his scent around your neighborhood.

German Shepherd Spraying

You will want to discourage spraying outside, too. While you don’t have to clean it up, it encourages the psychological process your German Shepherd goes through when they are spraying. Letting them continue to spray outside reinforces the behavior, and sometimes this can mean it will only be a matter of time before they start spraying in the house again! 

You do not have to forcibly stop your dog – a simple distraction works just fine, and it keeps you from scolding him every time he sprays. Keep your dog on a leash giving you full control whilst you are training him.

Do Male German Shepherds Spray, Too?

Spraying is a problem for both male and female German Shepherds. Your pet is likely to feel territorial no matter what gender they are; each gender has its reasons for spraying that are not always within your control.

Spraying is a reproductive instinct that most dogs have. It can also lead to dogs being more territorial and aggressive. That’s why neutering or spaying dogs who spray solves the problem the majority of the time.

  • Male dogs spray as a marking tactic. Their whole goal is to keep other male competitors in the area away, which is not always something you can see or smell yourself. 
  • On the other hand, females spray whenever they are in heat to alert male dogs. 

Generally, male dogs spray more than female dogs because of their territorial and more dominant nature. You can check out my article on whether a male or female German Shepherd will make a better pet for you.

Do German Shepherds Spray at All Ages?

Your German Shepherd can spray at any age, whether they are a puppy, an adult, or a mature dog. Since spraying is primarily caused by territorial natures derived from the reproductive drive, it is most common in puppies that have not been spayed or neutered.

If you’ve got a German Shepherd that’s been spraying for a long time, spaying or neutering may not solve the problem. Older dogs who spray are more likely to do it because it has become a learned behavior. Outside stressors can also cause spraying.

If you have a German Shepherd puppy who is starting to spray, try to train this behavior out of them as quickly as possible. Some puppies may start to mark from as young as three months old. Even though spraying is an instinctual action, it can also become a learned behavior so it’s best to nip it in the bud. 

Tips for Preparing for Guests 

No one wants their home to smell like dog pee, and a spraying German Shepherd is no fun to clean up after! You can make your life easier by carefully choosing the cleaners you use, and how well you clean the rest of your home. 

Make sure you are using an enzymatic cleaner to clean up after your pet. These use enzymes in their formulas to help break down stains and are highly effective at removing pet urine not only from carpets, but you can use them on all kinds of other surfaces too. For example, the Rocco & Roxie Stain and Odor Eliminator is an Amazon Best Seller, gets great reviews, and will do the trick nicely.

Also, make sure to follow the instructions on whatever cleaner you buy. Typically, you will want to absorb as much of the urine as possible before spraying the cleaner and then let it sit. Often, people simply spray and wipe away, but you will never get the odor out if you do not follow the instructions! 

If you are someone who has many guests, then make sure you:

  • Keep your home clean from other animal scents.
  • Prepare your dog in advance for the arrival of guests.
  • Set up distractions for your dog to keep him busy.
  • Give your GSD lots of positive reinforcement.

Of course, you will want to enjoy your time with your guests, but you must also consider the well-being of your German Shepherd and try to do everything to make the visit go as smoothly as possible.

Final Thoughts

Remember, it’s not uncommon for German Shepherds to spray and it is simply a means of communication. The quickest way to solve the problem is by firstly identifying the cause.

Once you’ve done this, you can use the many solutions here to prevent your GSD from spraying, especially if they are marking indoors!

Don’t forget that your vet can also help and that your German Shepherd might need medical care if they are constantly spraying. It’s always a good idea to get your dog checked out, in fact, this should be your first port of call.

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Sources:

Sharon Waddington

I am the owner of World of Dogz. I have a female German Shepherd named Willow, and I've worked with dogs for almost 30 years. I love spending time with her, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise of all things dogs on this site!

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