German Shepherds are sometimes called “velcro dogs'' because they love to stick to their owners everywhere they go. The pitter-patter of your dog’s nails on the floor as they follow you is probably a very familiar sound. It doesn’t help when we excessively cuddle, pet, and encourage clingy behavior. In this article, we’ll explore why German Shepherds' attachment to their owners is so strong and why German Shepherds can get separation anxiety. We’ll also give you tips on keeping your dog calm in your absence.
The Genetics of the Breed
To begin to understand why German Shepherds get anxious, we need to understand the history of the breed. German Shepherds were originally bred in Germany at the turn of the century, about the year 1899, as herding dogs. At the time, these dogs worked closely with their owners to manage farm animals. During WWII, German Shepherds were used as war dogs often going into battle side by side with their soldier owners. Their popularity grew and expanded their working jobs to the police force and rescue services. The German Shepherd's attachment to their owners is rooted deeply throughout the generations of the breed’s existence. These dogs are extremely loyal and protective of their owners, which makes German Shepherds vulnerable to separation anxiety.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds
Recognizing an anxious German Shepherd may not be as straightforward as one would think. Dogs can exhibit anxiety in many different ways which we may think of only as excessive normal behaviors. Here are some of the most common signs of separation anxiety in German Shepherds:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive barking
- Destructive behaviors
- Urinating or defecating in the house
These signs may present themselves when you go to work and leave the house for hours, or they could happen when you simply leave the room for a short period. While not every German Shepherd develops extreme attachment to their owners, it can appear at any time in their lives. Dogs who were once abandoned and puppies who have been with their owner from a very young age are both more prone to these anxious German Shepherd behaviors.
Best Methods to Calm a German Shepherd
If your dog is very nervous without you, don’t worry! There’s no reason you need to stress over their condition—in some cases, your stress can actually make it worse. There are training methods, exercises, and tips that will help anxious German Shepherds relax their attachment to their owners.
Train Them With Positive Reinforcement
Training your dog is often used in combination with other methods like exercise. Training a German Shepherd against attachment to its owners from a very young age is the best way to go about it, but older dogs can be trained to stay calm in your absence as well. Crate training is an excellent option for young dogs. As you introduce your puppy to the crate, they will learn that it is their own safe space and will enjoy its comforts like a baby and their blanket. Crating your crate-trained dog while you are away also ensures they cannot destroy things in the home and endanger themselves.
Older dogs who were never crate trained don’t always take so well to crate training. Another method of training anxiousGerman Shepherds away from the attachment to their owners is by using positive reinforcement. The key is to start with baby steps and work your way up. Start by doing your normal routine when leaving the home — put on your shoes, grab your keys, put on your coat, etc. When your dog stays relaxed, reward them with a treat. Do this a few times each day and move on to actually leaving the house for a few minutes. When your dog reacts in a positive way, reward them. With time and repetition, you should be able to leave the home for longer and longer periods. There is no set time schedule because every dog is different. It may take weeks or months for your German Shepherd to break their separation anxiety.
Exercise the Anxiety Away
As we mentioned earlier, exercise is often most successful when used in conjunction with training. German Shepherds have great attachment to their owners because they are a working dog breed. Their owners are the ones who can help them expel the excess energy they were bred with. Energy that helped them herd farm animals, protect the herd, and search for those who were lost. Luckily, you won’t need to find sheep to entertain them, but you can play fetch with them, take them for walks around the neighborhood and hikes in the woods, or challenge them to a tug-of-war match. A well-exercised German Shepherd is more concerned with relaxing when you are gone than worried about when you’ll come home.
Use Pet CBD
All-natural medicinal options like pet CBD can also be a great help when training anxious German Shepherds to lessen the attachment to their owners and to take the edge off. CBD oil and CBD dog treats help relieve symptoms from separation anxiety, as well as other nervous behaviors from loud noises, illness-induced stress, and the PTSD of rescued shelter pets. CBD is safe and easy to give to your pet on a daily basis, without any unwanted side effects. A small dose of 0.5mL of Chill Paws 500mg CBD oil is all it may take to give your German Shepherd 4-8 hours of relief.
While owners cherish their German Shepherd’s attachment to them, it’s never a good thing to see them destroying household items, shaking, panting, or exhibiting other symptoms of separation anxiety. We want to keep the loyal bond, but help them relax when appropriate. These aforementioned techniques of training, exercise, and using pet CBD are some of the best options to help your pet become more stable and calm. Shop CBD oil for pets now for high-quality, affordable CBD to help you get started.