Yes, separation anxiety in German Shepherds is pretty common. Although all dog breeds experience this, German Shepherds are more prone to this problem.
Animals in general rarely display anxiety, unless they feel vulnerable or in danger – that’s when the impulses kick in. But in dogs separation anxiety is something we often see. For dogs, changes like being left alone can be pretty scary and boring since they are social creatures. Aside from German Shepherds, Labradors, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and more are also prone to this behavior.
Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds is pretty common because they are very loyal and affectionate dogs. The breed is also known for their intelligence, activity, and athleticism so they can easily get bored and anxious after being inactive and away from their owners for long periods of time.
What are the signs of separation anxiety in German Shepherds?
Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds can be a worrisome since their behavior when they’re feeling anxious could lead to accidents. A German Shepherd’s separation anxiety may be triggered when he sees a sign his owner is about to leave.
Depending on the severity of the separation anxiety of your German Shepherd, he may show one or more of the following signs:
- Excessive barking or whining,
- Destructive behavior,
- Urination or accidents despite being potty trained,
- Excessive licking,
- Attempting to escape from home,
- Biting parts of his body (most often the paws).
Being fiercely loyal is one of the most admirable traits of the German Shepherd but it comes with a price. German Shepherds can get sensitive about their physical and emotional setting. A severely anxious German Shepherd may start barking and if this action doesn’t relieve his fear and tension, it’s possible that he’ll move on to an even more unpleasant behavior like destroying furniture, coprophagia, or aggression toward other dogs.
How to ease Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds
When your German Shepherd starts showing signs of separation anxiety, it is very important not to punish him. Dogs don’t really understand punishment and for them, a shout as a punishment is better than being left alone. Plus, shouting or punishing your German Shepherd will only raise his stress levels, which could lead to more unwanted behavior.
Here are some ways that may help cure or ease up separation anxiety in German Shepherds:
Treat Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds by training them to get used to being left alone
To train your German Shepherd to get used to being left alone, you must start with short absences – like for 30 minutes or so – then, gradually work up to longer periods of time. Adjust your absences as long as you can be away without observable anxiety in your German Shepherd.
Do not make leaving an emotional moment. When it’s time for you to go, simply leave and do not say goodbye or pet your GSD as you do. It may be hard for you emotionally but it’s the best thing you can do for your dog.
But before leaving, make sure that your German Shepherd’s needs are already taken care. Here are some of the things you must do before leaving:
- Walk or burn your German Shepherd’s energy – Make sure to give your German Shepherd enough exercise before you leave. Burning your German Shepherd’s energy should reduces his likelihood to be destructive.
- Feed your German Shepherd – Being full should keep your GS a little more docile while you’re away.
- Dog-proof your home – Keep food and other dangerous objects out of your German Shepherd’s reach. Make sure to unplug the appliances too.
- Leave distractions – Getting another dog should keep your GS occupied and less alone. But if that isn’t an option, his favorite chew toy or toys you can put some peanut butter on will be a very helpful distraction.
Crate Train your German Shepherd
Crate training may not be ideal for some dog owners but this can help your German Shepherd to learn to be contented while he is left alone. Some dogs feel secured when they are inside their crates – thus lessening their fear of being left alone. You may put your German Shepherd’s favorite toy inside the crate, too, to keep him from getting bored.
Medications for your German Shepherd’s anxiety
There are medicines that can help lessen anxiety. Diphenhydramine or Benadryl is one of the most common option. It is an over-the-counter antihistamine that has some side effects that are beneficial for dogs in anxiety.
Diphenhydramine has sedative properties that help calm dogs. But it is very important to consult your veterinarian first before giving your dog any medication.
Homeopathic Medicines for Separation Anxiety in German Shepherds
Pulsatilla nigicans is a common homeopathic medicine given to dogs suffering from anxiety. You can either give it to you German Shepherd orally or mixed with his water.
Passiflora is also a good option. Passiflora is an anti-convulsant that helps calm down the nervous system. This medicine acts fast. It comes in tincture form and should be added to your German Shepherd’s water.