GSD Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety In German Shepherds & How To Avoid It

You are getting ready and leaving for work. Your GSD is barking and jumping at you when you leave the house. You look back at the door and ignore your dog. When you return home, you find your couch ruined, your shoes shredded, and what not. You find your dog sitting in the corner in a bad mood.

You wonder what went wrong.

GSDs are affectionate dogs and get used to company. When these dogs are left alone in the house for too long, they become aggressive and destructive. This behavior in these dogs is due to separation anxiety.

German Shepherd Owners Guide
German Shepherd Owners Guide


What is Separation Anxiety & Why is My GSD Feeling that Way?

Separation anxiety is common in dogs and especially GSDs. We all know that GSDs are very affectionate and loyal dogs. They love spending time with their owners and protect them from threats. However, a GSD becomes weak and shows signs of aggression and bad behavior when they are left alone. It gives them a feeling of anxiety and extreme stress.

This problem should be dealt with at an early age so that the dog doesn’t harm itself or anyone. If your dog reacts badly whenever you’re leaving home, it will create problems for you and you will not be able to leave.

When a dog is under the stress of being left alone, it will show destructive behavior which includes chewing on things, biting furniture, aggressive barking, hurting itself while trying to escape, and much more. It is the lack of training that makes your GSD reacts in such a way.

German Shepherd Obedience

How to Keep Your GSD Happy?

Many owners get overly-excited with their newly bought pups and pamper them to an extent that it becomes used to all that attention. So, when these owners leave their dog alone at home, they cry, bark, bite, chew, etc.

This is not a problem that dogs are born with.

GSD like any other dog breed craves love and attention from its owner and family. The way you treat it and handle its training reflects directly upon its behavior. In the wild, GSDs live in packs, and they always stick together. So, what makes you think that when you leave them alone, they will not react?

To make your GSD learn to be alone and stay calm, you will need to adopt certain training strategies given below.

1.    Do not Over-React

If you are leaving home and your dog starts to bark aggressively at the door with its puppy-dog eyes, do not be intimidated. Of course, you cannot see your dog being sad but you know that you need to go to work, which means that you will have to leave it alone. Do not over-react when you leave the home to return and find your puppy crying and making a mess out of things.

Try to ignore your GSD when it is going through separation anxiety and make it feel like it wasn’t a big deal. This way your dog will learn that by showing this behavior, it is not going to get any attention.

2.    Train Your GSD to be Alone

The best thing to do to avoid symptoms of separation anxiety is to train your dog at an early age. Leave your dog alone for a few minutes. Note its behavior but do not make a big deal if it gets sad or destructive. Continue to train it by increasing the time until you leave the home for eight hours straight (the time you’ll usually be out for work).

GSD Waiting with Sorrow

Another important thing is not to be present with your GSD all the time. Let it be alone even when you are at home.

3.    Act Calmly

Some owners react badly when their dogs show signs of separation anxiety. Even if you feel bad for your dog, do not let your dog know. If you feel pity for your dog, you will not be able to train to relax. Show some love to your dog before leaving the home. You can also give it a chew bone or toy so that it stays distracted while you are gone. Make your dog believe that you are going to be back.

4.    Take Your GSD for some Activity

Take your GSD for an early morning walk in the park. Take some toys or a ball along so that your dog can have some physical activity. Your dog will be tired and would want to sleep after heavy exercising and playing. So, when you return home, your dog will lay down to relax. Let your dog relax in a quiet corner and it is most likely to sleep. Once it sleeps, you can leave the home.

GSD Temperament

Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Sometimes a GSD is afraid of certain situations that trigger separation anxiety. This mostly happens when a dog is left alone by is owners or guardians. Read on to the list of symptoms given below that point out that your GSD is going through separation anxiety.

  • Chewing.
  • Barking.
  • Crying.
  • Urinating and defecating.
  • Howling.
  • Digging.
  • Destructing
  • Escaping
  • Pacing.
  • Eating their excrement.

Why does a GSD Develop Separation Anxiety?

The most common and prominent reason of GSDs developing separation anxiety is when they are left alone. Some of the most common reasons for a GSD to develop separation anxiety are:

  • If its guardian dies, leave the house, etc.
  • If the dog is given up to someone else.
  • If there is a change in the schedule of your work or out of the home activity that the dog is not used to.
  • If the family moves to another neighborhood.

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, make sure it doesn’t experience a low intensity of what makes it fearful or stressed. If you cannot seem to control your dog’s anxiety, find other solutions to keep it calm.

For example you can take your dog with you to work or leave it with a family member when you leave the house. If you cannot seem to get hold of the situation anyway, signup to our website and find effective solutions to your GSD related problems and concerns.

Last Updated on September 5, 2016 by

21 thoughts on “Separation Anxiety In German Shepherds & How To Avoid It”

      1. I have a German Shepard mix we rescued as a pup. I felt horrible leaving her in a crate but she chewed everything and pooped and peed everywhere. So we started putting her in a pin with a blanket that smelled like us. We now have a huge pin with two blanket and water when we work. She is calm and even opens the door and gets in her pin when I am getting ready for work sitting waiting for her treat. It helps her anxiety and prevents her from chewing. At night she sleeping on our bedroom floor but I have a baby gate up limiting her to the kitchen where her food is and our bedrooms just in case.

  1. Hi,

    We rescued an adult GSD a few weeks ago. She has settled in really nice, for the most part. She gets along well with our 2 Golden Retrievers. Her only problem is she that a very severe case of separation anxiety and we are at a loss as to what to do. I had a GSD , growing up and she was no trouble at all. Our Goldens have no issues either.


    1. We recommend you to take your dog outside everyday – that way your dog can have some physical activity and you will create a strong connection. Another important thing is to not be present with your GSD all the time. Let it be alone even when you are at home.

      Also what you can do is to schedule walks right before you need to go somewhere. Let’s say you have to leave the house at 3pm, then at 2pm-2.30pm, you can go for a walk – play as much as you can. Your dog will be tired and would want to sleep after heavy exercising and playing. So, when you return home, your dog will lay down to relax / sleep.

  2. We adopted a 6 year old German Shepherd last week. One of her owners died last year and the other had to go into a nursing home a couple months ago. We discovered that she was being left at the owners home and someone would go by daily and feed her. She is super gentle, calm, follows verbal commands, learns quickly. She is our only pet but was with an aggressive German Shepherd before coming to us. At the groomers and at the vet she was super sweet to dogs of all sizes and even cats!

    1. She will not let me or my husband out of her sight. She likes our kids (teens) but doesn’t follow them.
    2. When we have to leave her we started by leaving her in our garage. We came home to find she’d pulled the garage sensors out of the wall and she was in our house after mangling the door know and getting in.
    3. When we are home she stays right beside me or my husband every second.

    Since the garage door incident, we have crated her the past two days while we are at work. She is undergoing heart worm treatment next week and she will need to be confined for about a month for her own good.

    We walk her, play with her, etc. We live way out in the country and she has acres and acres but stays within 200 feet of the house. She will not go to the bathroom in the yard unless one of us is standing there near her.

    What do you suggest? We want her to be happy and healthy.

  3. Hi I’m looking for advice too please. We rescued a 2yo gsd and have had her almost a week. She is very attached to me, I have stopped her jumping on the bed so she sleeps asy the end now. But she has extreme separation anxiety that I move rooms she follows and can cry. I’ve stated putting her out by herself when home for short periods bit she carries on when let back in. Yesterday she walked out the open door of her own accord so I took the opportunity to shut the door and give her and us some alone time. Even though she went out herself she cried and jumped etc when let back in. She’s quiet while or but noisy when coming back in. I’m trying to ignore it and not give her too much attention so she doesn’t associate crying and carrying on with getting attention but I’m a bit worried as it scares my 2yo toddler. She seems ok with both kids 2 &7 yrs but I do have nagging motherly concern especially with my youngest as it’s like she’s trying to be the boss of my 2yo as she’s bigger of that makes sense? I got her to be a family pet and for gsd known protective quality and we are her 3rd home in a month so I understand where she is coming from but I can’t put my children at risk if that makes sense without sounding horrible? Is there a solution please? I get the children to feed her so she respects them but she still seems to want to dominate my youngest ???? thanks for your time ????

  4. Hi my GSD is nawing a lot which only started a couple of weeks ago to the extent that she is making her self bald and redness in this area. Can anyone please advice on this she’s a 7 yr old was full of energy and live but now it seems to be going down hill since she started nawing thanks

    1. Change her food ? Pure Balance Lamb Kibble, also give at least one can of wet food a day. Pure balance has 4 and 5 star food. Bath her with olive oil, let is set in for several minutes, then wash with a non flea oatmeal shampoo.

  5. My mom had to move and couldn’t take her male German shepherd so I took it with me. He was fine a couple of hours but later started to get aggressive and growls at my 6 yrs old son. He even attacked ????him. I was trying to give him to someone else but he was just getting worse. He really hates my son and i don’t know why! Or what to do? I know he can be put down of how aggressive he has Become, I don’t want that he is a great dog he is barely a 1yr old!! Help pls

  6. Separation anxiety is not due to lack of training. You cannot mentally condition your animal to not miss you, unless of course avoiding companionship at and early age, which is virtually impossible. I’ve had the same schedule since homing my GSD at eight weeks old, leaving it alone due to work, and providing an above satisfactory amount of exercise, and he still suffers from separation anxiety. He’s one of the most well-mannered/trained animals i’ve ever owned, and seen as well.

  7. My 6 month old GSD gets destructive when we leave. She digs up carpet (destroying it in the process) and chews on things (also usually leading to destruction). How can I get her to stop doing that? What training methods can I do at this point to prevent further damage?

  8. I NEED HELP !!!!! We rescued a GS puppy a year ago and have not been able to get his separation anxiety under control. Our funds are VERY limited, but we want him to have a happy life and not be miserable when we have to go to work.

  9. I have a 4 year old male shepherd. In the last year he has become very fearful and wants to be with me or even at times on me all of the time. I have had him since birth and also have his mother. He follows me everywhere even learning how to open the bathroom door to get at me.

  10. Hi I have a 15 month old German shepered when she does bad and before we even say anything she pees so I can’t trust her inside the house ever
    What do I do ????

  11. My 8 month gsd get so up set when I leave the house she will bark even if I am in the garden my wife can be there with her but she still get up set until I return what can I do to help.

  12. Gloria H. Joseph

    I rescued a large, 7.5yr old GSD a few months ago. His age is a guess, he could be a little older. He is quiet and placid and follows me everywhere. If I move, he moves and will lay down wherever I am. I feel like my rear end is a magnet and he’s a little paper clip. I Love Love Love this handsome dog. But, he suffers from separation anxiety and will destroy doggie beds, blankets, cushions etc. I am not going to put him in a grate, he’s been there and done that before. Goodness knows for how long in his life. I have two other rescues they are small, one Bichon, the other a tiny Maltese both have been with me for many years they all get along very well. I have a very large kitchen area and leave them in it when I leave. There’s lots of windows for them to look out if they choose to. Is there anything more you can suggest to help me with the destruction. I do just about all you suggested but don’t seem to get anywhere. It’s very hot in South East Texas. I cannot leave him in the car when at the grocery store or running short errands. We often all spend time playing frisbee in the large back yard. I can’t walk my dogs as there is no leash law here and quite often lots of dogs run free it’s a little worrying. Due to Covid-19 I go out only when necessary. Can you help at all please.
    I would be most grateful.

  13. There’s this German Shepard for security at my workplace. At first it barks at nearly everyone coming in, including myself. But recently it doesn’t bark that much at anyone who works there or at me when I’m coming in to work , but only barks when I am leaving. It has done this twice and I think it strange. It waits until I have gone past it and then when my hand is on the side gate about to open the door and leave, it starts barking as if on cue. I like dogs and I am thinking to getting a Labrador. Growing up my family bred dogs. What do you think the matter could be with this GSD as it’s quite disturbing.

  14. my anatolian / german shepard mix is two years old and ive been with him everyday all day since , the last two weeks hes been growling at me and acting scared like i beat him ,, i havnt laid a hand or a boot on him , idk whats wrong with him !!

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