German Shepherd with his head on his owner's knee

German Shepherd Separation Anxiety

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German Shepherds are loyal and dedicated to their owners. Unfortunately, this owner attachment means that German Shepherd separation anxiety is a very real thing when the dog is left by itself.

What Is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

Separation anxiety is a psychological problem that often leads to behaviour issues that can cause your dog to become anxious, restless, and destructive. This condition often leads to long-term health problems. These problems can be severe even if your dog is left alone only for a short time.

Separation Anxiety & Destructive Behaviour

Leaving a German Shepherd alone can be a big mistake for the dog and the dog owner.  These dogs may become agitated and anxious even before their owner walks out of the door. Some dogs might even try to prevent their human owner from leaving. Some others may bark excessively or howl loudly. This kind of barking or howling is often persistent and doesn’t seem to be caused by anything other than being left alone.

Destructive behaviour is one of the usual outcomes of separation anxiety. This can be a big problem with a German Shepherd because of their size and strength. These big dogs can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. The result of separation anxiety can be chewed-up shoes, torn-up furniture and carpets, ripped-down curtains, or worse.  If any German Shepherd acts out this way then separation anxiety, causing ‘home alone’ stress, may be the cause.

Separation anxiety can be triggered by many different things. But generally, separation anxiety happens when dogs are scared and nervous because they’re separated from the people they’re deeply attached to. They become agitated as their ‘person’ gets ready to leave the house, sometimes this even happens before the person actually leaves.

Some really possessive dogs will even try to prevent their human from leaving!

A German Shepherd’s separation anxiety should never be ignored. This can cause some very serious destructive behaviour, including chewing things up, hole digging, and damage to doors and windows. It can even lead to severe injury to the dog or other house pets. 

All German Shepherd owners need to know the signs of separation anxiety and take the necessary steps to prevent destructive behaviour. Providing your dog with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, love petting, and attention can help reduce the risk of separation anxiety. For more on this, read our article, Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone?

German shepherd lying in the sun on decking

German Shepherd Health and Ageing

As any German Shepherd ages, its health needs will change. It’s very important to recognize the physical health issues that will occur and how to care for your ageing German Shepherd.

Physical Health Problems

Like most dogs, as German Shepherds age, they typically become more apt to develop certain health problems such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, and vision problems. It’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to detect health issues early on.

Older German Shepherds may experience some bladder control problems and/or mobility difficulties with stairs, slick floors, running, and jumping. Providing a comfortable and supportive place to rest, such as a memory foam dog bed, can help manage joint pain and discomfort.

Senior German Shepherds

Senior German Shepherds may also need a diet that is exclusively balanced for them rather than for younger dogs. Confused which dog food brand and type is best for your senior German Shepherd? Ask your veterinarian for his or her unbiased recommendation for the most appropriate dog food for your senior dog’s needs.

It’s important to think about just how active a senior German Shepherd is and adjust the exercise level according to his or her age and ability. Although the dog may not be as active as it was when younger, regular exercise remains very important for the dog’s physical and mental well-being.

If it is necessary to leave your senior German Shepherd alone for extended periods of time, just be sure they have plenty of fresh, cool water and a nice area to rest. A comfortable soft mat of some kind, inside or outside, that is out of direct sun or cold, wet weather is good.  Leaving plenty of favourite toys around for your dog is a good idea too. 

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Consider crate training — if your dog is well-behaved and comfortable in a properly sized crate.  A crate provides a safe and secure space for your dog while you’re away which will minimize his or her separation anxiety.

With the appropriate care and concerned attention to their changing needs, a senior German Shepherd can continue to live a contented and healthy life.

Tips to Reduce German Shepherd Separation Anxiety

German Shepherds can be left alone for a certain amount of time depending on their training, age, comfort, and health.  As a rule, puppies can be left alone for one hour per every month of age. But, make sure they will be safe, that they have access to favourite toys, that there is enough food and water, and that the dog has plenty of toys to keep occupied.

If you need to leave your German Shepherd alone each day for several hours, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to take care of your dog while you’re away.  As an alternative, you can use puzzle toys or treat dispensers to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated.  Also, the latest pet cams are often used for this purpose.

Remember this final note:  leaving your German Shepherd alone for too long can lead to boredom and destructive behaviour. Because of this, be sure to meet their needs before leaving them alone. With proper care and attention, German Shepherd separation anxiety can be alleviated and you will have a great companion dog.


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