Why Are German Shepherds So Clingy (Causes & Solutions)

  • By: Justin
  • Date: April 15, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Ever asked yourself, “Why are German Shepherds so clingy?” 

This adorable yet overwhelming behavior can be a double-edged sword. Clinginess might lead to anxiety or behavior issues for your furry buddy. 

But don’t worry! 

By understanding what’s behind their attachment, you can effectively address the problem. 

In this blog post, you will find:

  • The causes of clinginess in German Shepherds
  • Practical solutions to foster a healthy, balanced bond with your pet
  • And a Frequently Asked Questions section with the most popular questions and answers
Why Are German Shepherds So Clingy

Why Are German Shepherds So Clingy?

German Shepherds are often clingy due to their inherent loyalty, protectiveness, lack of physical or mental stimulation, and predisposition to separation anxiety. 

They were initially bred as sheep herders, which meant they spent much time with their owners, reinforcing the need to know their whereabouts constantly. 

Owners can inadvertently make their dogs even clingier by petting, cuddling, and kissing them. 

German Shepherds require ample attention and can become highly anxious when left alone for short periods, further fueling their clinginess. 

Factors such as separation anxiety, a traumatic past, genetics, and physical ailments can also contribute to their clingy behavior. 

Female German Shepherds may become more clingy during estrus or when they are about to give birth.

It’s crucial for GSD owners to identify the root cause of the behavior to address it effectively.

Reasons Why German Shepherds Become Clingy

1. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is triggered when a dog becomes distressed due to being separated from its owner. Signs include excessive barking, destructive behavior, and attempts to escape.

To manage separation anxiety, gradually increase your dog’s time alone, create a comfortable environment, and provide mental stimulation during your absence.

2. Attention-Seeking Behavior

Attention-seeking habits include whining, pawing, or nudging to receive affection or attention.

Encourage healthy interactions by rewarding your dog when they display independent behavior and setting boundaries for attention-seeking.

Teach your dog alternative responses to the triggers that lead to needy behavior. 

For example, if your dog jumps on you, teach them to sit or lie down instead. Reward them for displaying the desired behavior, but never punish them for undesired behavior.

3. Sensitivity To Nervous Energy

Your emotions can affect your dog’s behavior, as they are sensitive to your energy and feelings.

To help alleviate clinginess, maintain a calm and confident demeanor around your German Shepherd.

4. Genetic Factors

German Shepherds are predisposed to clinginess due to their breeding history as herding and working dogs.

Balance their instincts with proper socialization and training to promote independence and appropriate attachment.

5. Learned Behaviors

Clingy behavior can be unintentionally reinforced by rewarding your dog when they seek attention.

Modify and correct learned behaviors by ignoring unwanted clinginess and rewarding your dog for independent actions.

Also, check out this post: What does it mean when A German Shepherd puts paw on you?

6. Environmental Factors

A dog’s living environment can affect its clingy behavior if it lacks stability or security.

Create a stable and secure environment by establishing routines, providing a designated safe space, and minimizing stressors in the home.

Strategies To Address Clinginess In German Shepherds & How To Prevent It

Clinginess in dogs, including German Shepherds, can be frustrating and disruptive. To address and prevent this behavior, consider implementing the following strategies:

Adjusting Your Routine:

Establishing a consistent daily routine for your German Shepherd can help reduce clinginess by giving them a sense of security and predictability. 

This includes regular feeding, potty breaks, exercise, and playtimes. A structured routine can help your dog feel more at ease when you are not around.

Providing Predictable Structure:

In addition to consistent routines, ensuring your dog understands what to expect daily can help reduce their anxiety. 

This includes setting boundaries and consistently enforcing rules so your dog knows what is expected of them.

Discover why your German Shepherd yawns excessively in this informative post!

Increasing Exercise And Play:

The importance of physical and mental stimulation is crucial because German Shepherds are highly intelligent. And active dogs that require regular physical and mental stimulation.

Engaging your dog in regular exercise and play can help reduce clinginess by releasing pent-up energy and keeping their minds occupied.

Examples Of Engaging Activities:

FetchThrow a ball or toy for your German Shepherd to retrieve, promoting exercise and mental stimulation.
Agility TrainingSet up an obstacle course for your dog to navigate, improving coordination, focus, and confidence.
Obedience TrainingTeach your German Shepherd basic commands like sit, stay, and heel, reinforcing good behavior and mental engagement.
Puzzle ToysProvide toys that challenge your dog to solve a problem or uncover a treat, promoting mental stimulation and problem-solving skills.
HikingTake your GSD on hikes to explore new environments, promoting physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Scent WorkEngage your German Shepherd’s natural tracking abilities by hiding objects or treats and encouraging them to locate them using scent.
Tug of WarPlay tug of war with your dog using a sturdy rope toy, promoting physical exercise and bonding.
SwimmingIf your German Shepherd enjoys water, swimming can be a great low-impact exercise and mental stimulation.
Dog SportsGet involved in dog sports like Flyball or Schutzhund, promoting physical exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization.
Doggy PlaydatesArrange playdates with other dogs, promoting socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation.

Creating A Special Space For Your Dog:

Designing a safe and comfortable environment by Providing your German Shepherd with a designated safe and comfortable space in your home can help them feel more secure when you are not around. 

This space can be a crate or a separate room filled with your dog’s favorite toys, bedding, and other comforting items.

Encouraging Independence And Confidence:

By gradually increasing your dog’s time in their special space, you can help them develop independence and confidence, ultimately reducing clinginess. 

Start with short periods of separation and gradually increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Teaching the “STAY” Command:

Teaching your German Shepherd the “STAY” command can help promote independence by encouraging them to remain in one spot while you move away. 

Here are some Training tips for teaching the “STAY” command:

Start by having your dog sit or lie down, and then use a hand signal or verbal cue to indicate “STAY.” 

Reward your dog for remaining in place, and gradually increase the distance and duration over time.

Incorporate the “STAY” command into your daily routine to help reinforce the behavior. For example, you might ask your dog to “STAY” while you answer the door or prepare their meals. 

This lets your dog understand that they do not need to follow you everywhere.

Socialization And Exposure:

Early socialization is crucial in preventing clinginess in German Shepherds. 

Expose your dog to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age to help them develop confidence and adaptability. 

Proper socialization can help your dog feel more at ease in different situations and reduce their reliance on you for constant reassurance.

Additionally, it is essential to avoid inadvertently reinforcing clingy behavior by giving your dog attention, cuddles, or treats when they display needy behavior. 

Instead, ignore the behavior and reward your dog for good behavior.

Why is my German Shepherd suddenly so clingy?

Recognizing when Clinginess Is A Sign of A Larger Issue

Identifying Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety:

Suppose your dog’s clinginess is out of the ordinary, and they show signs of anxiety when you step out of their range of touch. 

In that case, they may be experiencing separation anxiety. 

Symptoms can include barking, getting frantic when you leave, and following you around the house.

You should seek professional help If your German Shepherd’s clinginess is accompanied by fear, anxiety, or other concerning behaviors that don’t improve with time and training.

If this is the case, it may be time to consult a professional, such as a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist.

Other Potential Health Concerns:

If your dog becomes suddenly clingy, it is important to rule out any medical issues causing the behavior change. 

Dogs may become clingy when sick, in pain, or experiencing other health concerns. 

Signs Of Illness Can Include:

  • Limping
  • Swelling
  • Or more subtle behavioral changes. 

If you suspect that your dog is not feeling well, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian.

Consulting With A Veterinarian:

A veterinarian can help diagnose any medical issues that may be causing your GSD’s clinginess and provide treatment or guidance on managing the problem. 

They may also be able to advise on dealing with separation anxiety or other behavioral problems.

Our Favorite Product That Helps with Clinginess:

Product NameType of ProductBenefits
KADTC Dog Puzzle ToyPuzzle toyIt provides mental stimulation and reduces boredom that may contribute to clinginess. It enhances pet intelligence and promotes pet brain development.
Hemp Calming Chews for Dogs with Anxiety and StressDog calming supplementsReduces stress and anxiety. Keeps your dog calm and relaxed.
Training Your German Shepherd DogDog obedience training bookVirtually every aspect of canine training, including housebreaking, obedience to basic verbal commands and hand signals, retrieving, and walking the dog on a leash.
QIYADIN Dog Comfort Dog Anxiety Relief CoatDog calming vestIt provides mental stimulation and reduces boredom that may contribute to clinginess.

Prevention And Early Intervention Of Clinginess In Your German Shepherd

Prevention and early intervention of clinginess in dogs can be achieved through a variety of methods:

Building A Solid Foundation From Puppyhood: 

Establishing routines and expectations early on by Creating a consistent daily routine and setting clear expectations can help your GSD feel secure and confident. This will help reduce the likelihood of clinginess.

Training And Socialization During Critical Periods: 

Expose your dog to various environments, people, and animals during their critical socialization periods. This helps them become well-adjusted and less fearful, which can prevent clinginess.

The Role Of Positive Reinforcement:

By rewarding your German Shepherd for demonstrating independence and confidence will help reinforce their ability to cope with being alone and reduce their reliance on you for comfort.

Avoiding Punishment-Based Training Methods: 

Focus on positive reinforcement rather than punishment when training your dog. Discipline can create anxiety and fear, which may contribute to clinginess.

Additional Strategies For Managing Clinginess In Your GSD Include:

Practicing containment: Teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate or a designated bed (using the “place” command). 

At the same time, you move away or leave the room. This helps them develop independence and confidence in your absence.

Desensitizing Your Dog To Your Movements: Gradually expose your dog to your movements and distractions around the house while they remain in their designated spot.

This teaches them to stay calm and composed even when you’re not nearby.

Self-Soothing and Self-Coping: Encourage your dog to develop self-soothing and self-coping mechanisms by gradually reducing their reliance on your presence for comfort. 

This can be done by restricting access to certain areas of the house, such as your bed or couch until their clinginess decreases.

Considering CBD: If your dog exhibits signs of anxiety, you may consider using CBD (cannabidiol) as a natural supplement to help them feel calmer and less anxious. 

Always check with a veterinarian before giving any supplements to your German Shepherd. 

Following these guidelines can help your dog develop a healthy level of independence and reduce clinginess.

Conclusion- Are German Shepherds Naturally Clingy?

German Shepherds are naturally loyal and protective dogs, which can sometimes lead to clinginess. 

This behavior may be influenced by separation anxiety, attention-seeking, genetic predisposition, or environmental factors. 

By implementing strategies such as establishing routines, providing mental and physical stimulation, socializing, and creating a safe space, you can help reduce clinginess and foster a healthy bond between you and your German Shepherd. 

It’s essential to remain patient and understanding throughout the process. 

Every dog is unique and may require different approaches to address their clingy behavior.

 Are German Shepherds Naturally Clingy?


What Are the Signs My German Shepherd’s Clinginess Is Becoming A Problem?

If your German Shepherd’s clinginess leads to anxiety, panic, pacing, whining, or destructive behavior when left alone, it may be a problem. 

Address this by understanding the cause, teaching independence, and rewarding calm, non-clingy behavior.


Could My German Shepherd’s Clinginess Result from A Lack Of Exercise Or Mental Stimulation?

Yes, a German Shepherd’s clinginess could result from a lack of exercise or mental stimulation. Boredom can lead to “velcro dog syndrome,” where dogs become overly attached to their owners. 

Ensuring daily activities and mental stimulation, such as obedience training, agility courses, puzzle toys, or scent work, can help alleviate clinginess in German Shepherds.


Can A German Shepherd Get Attached To One Person?

German Shepherds can attach to one person, often bonding with the family leader. Strengthen this bond using treats, consistent routines, and activities like agility training. 

Their natural protectiveness makes them excel in roles requiring deep bonds. German Shepherds are excellent at being police dogs, guard dogs, or military service dog.

Justin- Writer & Chief Editor of Bestwatchdogs.com


Justin is a protection dog enthusiast. He has years of experience teaching and training dogs. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned. Read More

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