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Why Does My German Shepherd Bark at Other Dogs?

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

Does your German Shepherd bark at other dogs, leaving you puzzled and seeking solutions? This concise guide addresses the common question: Why does my German Shepherd bark at other dogs?

More importantly, it provides practical training strategies to help mitigate this behavior. But first, here is the quick answer:

German Shepherds bark at other dogs due to territorial behavior, excitement, fear, or as a protective response. Lack of socialization or training often contributes to this behavior, highlighting the importance of understanding these underlying reasons for effective management.

Discover how to foster a calmer, more sociable German Shepherd starting now!

Why Your German Shepherd Reacts to Other Dogs with Barking

As a proud owner of a German Shepherd, I’ve experienced firsthand their tendency for vocal expression.

Just the other day, while walking my German Shepherd, I noticed how she barked at every dog we passed. This made me ponder why German Shepherds, including mine, exhibit this behavior.

It’s a common scenario many of us face, and understanding the root causes is key to effective training and better socialization.

Here are the main reasons why your German Shepherd might bark at other dogs:

  1. Territorial Behavior: German Shepherds are naturally protective of their space and their family. When they see another dog, they may bark to signal that this is their territory. This behavior is particularly common if the encounter happens near your home or in an area your dog considers its territory.
  2. Fear or Anxiety: Sometimes, barking is a sign of fear or anxiety. If your German Shepherd had limited socialization as a puppy, they might feel anxious or fearful around other dogs, leading to barking as a defensive response.
  3. Overexcitement: German Shepherds are energetic and playful. Sometimes, they bark out of excitement at seeing another dog. This kind of barking is usually accompanied by wagging tails and eager body language.
  4. Aggression: Although less common, some German Shepherds may bark out of aggression. This can be due to past negative experiences with other dogs, lack of socialization, or even a response to the aggressive behavior of the other dog.
  5. Communication: Dogs use barking as a way to communicate. Your German Shepherd might be trying to initiate play or interaction with the other dog. It’s a form of social communication similar to how humans use words.
  6. Lack of Training: If your German Shepherd isn’t trained to behave calmly around other dogs, they might default to barking. This is often the case with dogs who haven’t learned how to interpret and respond to social cues from other dogs.
  7. Protective Instinct: German Shepherds are often protective of their owners. If they perceive another dog as a threat to you, they may bark to protect you.
German Shepherd Barking Aggressively

How to Stop a German Shepherd from Barking at Other Dogs

So, now you know why your German Shepherd barks at other dogs – how do you stop it?

To stop your German Shepherd from barking at other dogs, distract him with treats BEFORE he starts to bark.

Work on obedience training and positive reinforcement, and encourage him to focus all his attention on YOU. He will quickly learn to stop barking before he has any contact with other dogs!

Training a dog isn’t something you only work on during puppyhood. In fact, you should work on training your German Shepherd for at least a few minutes every day, even after he reaches adulthood.

When your German Shepherd gets a little too excited (or fearful) when he sees other dogs, he might impulsively bark at them.

The best way to handle these situations is to distract your German Shepherd with food or treats, offer positive reinforcement, and enforce obedience training.

“The best time to correct unwanted barking is BEFORE it occurs!” – World of Dogz

Distracting Your German Shepherd

There’s not much you can do about your German Shepherd’s excitement when he sees another dog he wants to play with. But there are ways to distract him and cause him to lose focus on the dog he’s barking at.

Here’s how you can work on distracting your German Shepherd when he’s barking at other dogs.

  • Feed him treats as soon as a dog comes around – get his attention on you! You must give him the treat before he starts barking at the dog. If you wait until he starts barking, he’ll begin to connect barking with getting treats, which might encourage the barking behavior even more.
  • Continue to give him treats. Now, one treat won’t usually do it! The longer the dog stays in your German Shepherd’s view, the more he will want to bark. Continue to give him treats as he stays quiet and doesn’t bark at the other dog.
  • Stop giving him treats when the dog leaves. Once the other dog leaves your dog’s view, immediately stop giving him treats. This will allow him to connect the dots a little better and understand that being quiet around this other dog is why he earned treats.

Keep in mind that your goal here is to distract your dog. You want your dog to focus on the treats rather than the other dog, which can limit the barking behavior.

You can feed your German Shepherd tiny (pea-sized) pieces of meat or cheese or even some healthy fruits or vegetables.

If you prefer to purchase dog treats, choose healthy ones. You can check out my favorite treats here: 10 Best Treats for German Shepherds.

Watch How To Teach Your Dog To Stop Barking In This Video…

Praising Good Behavior

A lot of training a dog not to bark involves praising good behavior that your German Shepherd exhibits. The more you praise the good, the more likely he’s willing to continue this behavior in the future.

Here are some of the best ways to praise good behavior:

  • Saying “good” after he does something good
  • Pet him
  • Offer him a treat or some food
  • Allow him to approach the dog

Most people understand that they should teach their dog what he shouldn’t do, but it takes just as much effort to show him what he should do.

When he realizes he gets rewarded when he does something good, he’ll want to keep doing it!

Working on Obedience Training

Controlling your German Shepherd’s excessive barking can be quite an ordeal.

When your dog starts barking when he sees other dogs, he needs to get used to following commands before he can see or approach the dog he wants to play with.

For example, if he starts barking like crazy when he sees a dog, you can train him to “SIT” and “QUIET.” When he sits down and stops barking, you can allow him near the other dog he’s so interested in.

Related: German Shepherd Playing Rough? – How to Limit Rough Play

This helps to show your dog that he doesn’t control whether he sees the dog or not. You do!

He doesn’t get to play with the other dog when he’s demanding to play with them by barking; he’ll be allowed to see them when he sits and stops barking. 

German Shepherd Barking

Alternative Methods

I think it’s best for German Shepherd owners to actively try to limit their German Shepherd’s barking at other dogs. But, putting in the time and effort to train your dog might be a little overwhelming, maybe due to a “difficult” dog, although this is quite rare.

There are a few alternative methods of reducing or stopping your German Shepherd’s impulsive barking habits.

Anti-bark collars might do the trick; however, these are controversial. You can also try simply ignoring the barking and seeing what happens.

Both have the potential to be effective, but it all depends on your ethical beliefs and your German Shepherd. Read on to find out more!

Anti-Bark Collars

Although somewhat debatable, anti-bark collars may reduce your German Shepherd’s barking behaviors.

However, they won’t address the root cause of excessive or unwanted barking!

There are a couple of different types that you can experiment with to see which works best with your German Shepherd.

However, I would only try this tactic if everything else has failed, as these collars won’t teach your dog the proper behavior. Only you can do that with positive reinforcement training!

Anti-bark collars tend to get a bad reputation, but some dog owners say they can be helpful for “difficult” dogs, even though there’s no such thing!

When the collar senses that your dog is barking, it might spray an unsavory scent or air that your dog dislikes or emit a high-pitched sound that only your German Shepherd can hear.

“I’m afraid I don’t agree with them – but that’s just my view.” – World of Dogz

If you feel you have exhausted all other options, you could try the type of collar that sprays air or has an unpleasant smell.

Please be aware that anti-bark collars are undesirable for your German Shepherd and may cause your dog to act aggressively.

Eventually, your dog may learn that barking causes these undesirable consequences, which theoretically should encourage him to stop barking.

However, your German Shepherd might realize that the collar is the source of his punishment.

When you remove the collar, it’s pretty common for dogs to revert to their previous barking behavior.

Ignoring the Barking

There’s something to be said about the power of ignoring your dog. When it comes to ignoring your dog when he’s barking, it’s not exactly what you think it might be. Here’s how you can do it:

  • When your dog starts barking at another dog, stop the walk. Do not continue to approach the other dog. Do not yell at him. Do not react at all. Stand still in a statue-like fashion.
  • When your dog stops barking, continue the walk. Now that he’s performed the desired behavior continue toward the other dog and progress with the walk.

Your German Shepherd will eventually begin to connect his barking with his walk, stopping and not getting closer to the other dog.

Barking German Shepherd

Final Thoughts 

If your German Shepherd has developed a habit of barking at other dogs, don’t assume there’s nothing you can do about it.

As long as you acknowledge the problem behavior and try to address it, you should see an improvement in no time!

Here’s a summary of the best things you can do.

  • Distract your German Shepherd with food before he starts barking at other dogs.
  • Praise your German Shepherd when he stops barking or doesn’t bark!
  • Teach your German Shepherd that obeying your commands lets him meet or play with the dogs he’s barking at.
  • Devote lots of time, patience, and consistency when training your GSD. Check out this article for greater insight: How to Train a German Shepherd: 7 Quick and Easy Ways.
Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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