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Reactive behaviour in German Shepherds


The German Shepherd Loyal, intelligent, misunderstood. LOUD. Bred to herd (control movement) and alert guard (bark).


The majority of lungey reactive barkey (technical terms, obviously) cases I see are German Shepherds. They are still the most awesome breed. But why are a lot like this?


In my humble and mildly educated opinion, the top factors that contribute to reactive and anxious behaviour ( barking, lunging, air snapping, biting) in young German Shepherds from puppyhood. are:


  • Immediate suppression or attempted suppression of any and all barking

  • A societal misunderstanding that the breed is born to behave, leading to a higher focus on forced obedience rather than natural behaviour and emotion

  • An inability to exercise and move naturally in herding circles/zigzags due to being on a short lead

  • Introducing them inappropriately to busy fast-paced places as a puppy leading to overwhelm

  • A lack of impulse control and boundary training taught around movement/distraction in a kind patient manner

  • An anxious or underconfident owner, or the polar opposite!

  • Other owners of less ‘intimidating’ dog breeds not allowing social play or approach with their own dogs because they’re scared


All of the above can apply to other breeds too but I’ve focused on this breed because a) I have extensive personal and professional experience with the breed and b) I made most of these mistakes myself with my dog Bowser which led me to this career path. (The above have not included obvious factors such as poor genetics, low nutrition, abuse, working vs show lines, medical issues, etc.)


So... what do you think?

Do you agree?

Can you see why these would create an anxious/aggressive/fearful/frustrated dog?

Can you see yourself doing any of the above?

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