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The 7 Most Unusual Habits of German Shepherds

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene A. Divina, a resident of the Philippines, is a devoted fur mom to two adorable dogs: a Shih Tzu and a Beagle. With a passion for animals and storytelling, Arlene has channeled her love for dogs into her career as a content writer at iHeartDogs. Her writing captures the essence of the bond between humans and their furry companions, offering insights, tips, and heartfelt stories to a wide audience of dog enthusiasts. Read more
| Published on April 12, 2024

German Shepherds are one of the most versatile and widely recognized dog breeds globally, celebrated for their intelligence, loyalty, and adaptability. Originally bred for herding and guarding sheep, their role has expanded over the years to include work as service dogs, police and military partners, and beloved family pets. Despite their well-known traits, German Shepherds also display several unusual habits that may surprise even the most experienced dog enthusiasts. These habits stem from their strong work ethic, heightened senses, and inherent instincts. This article explores seven of the most unusual habits exhibited by German Shepherds, delving into the reasons behind each behavior and offering insights into how they manifest in daily activities. Understanding these unique habits helps deepen the bond between these dogs and their owners, ensuring that they are cared for in ways that respect their distinctive needs and characteristics.

1. “Talking” or Vocalizing

German Shepherds are known for their tendency to “talk” — a habit involving various grunts, groans, and other vocalizations. Unlike many breeds that might bark or whine, German Shepherds often use a broader range of sounds to communicate with their owners. This behavior can be attributed to their intelligence and their strong desire to interact with their human counterparts. They may vocalize to express their needs, such as hunger or the desire to go outside, or to show their emotional states, such as excitement, frustration, or loneliness. Owners can listen to and learn these vocal cues, which helps in responding more effectively to the dog’s needs, enhancing mutual understanding and strengthening their bond.

2. Shadowing Their Owners

German Shepherds are exceptionally loyal and protective, traits that manifest in the habit of shadowing their owners around the house. This behavior is a reflection of their herding background and their role as guard dogs. They feel a strong responsibility to stay close to their “flock,” in this case, their human family, often following them from room to room. While endearing, it can sometimes be perceived as overprotective or clingy. It’s important for owners to manage this habit by reinforcing independent behavior through training and ensuring the dog feels secure even when not in immediate proximity to their family.

3. Intense Prey Drive

German Shepherds have a high prey drive, a natural instinct that makes them excellent in roles that involve chasing and capturing. This drive is evident in their fascination with small animals and moving objects, including joggers or cyclists passing by. This behavior can sometimes lead to issues in urban environments or areas with lots of traffic. Training such as leash control and recall commands, along with a structured way to channel their prey drive in appropriate settings like sports or training exercises, can help manage this instinctual behavior.

4. Compulsive Fetching

The obsession with fetching is another unusual habit seen in German Shepherds. This goes beyond the normal playfulness seen in many dogs; it can become a compulsive need to retrieve. Stemming from their working heritage, particularly their use in military and police forces where fetching items is a trained behavior, this obsession can become all-consuming if not managed properly. Providing a variety of activities that stimulate their mind and body can help mitigate the compulsiveness, ensuring that the behavior remains healthy and controlled.

5. Sensitivity to Injustice

German Shepherds display a unique sensitivity to fairness and can react strongly to what they perceive as unfair treatment. Whether it’s uneven distribution of treats or attention, they are keenly aware of the balance of care and affection given to them and others around them. This can lead to behaviors such as sulking or passive aggression. Understanding this trait is important for training and interaction, ensuring that all animals in the home are treated equally and with justice, to maintain harmony and reduce behavioral issues.

6. Digging

While many dogs dig, German Shepherds can take this habit to another level due to their intelligence and energy levels. They often dig as a way to relieve boredom or excess energy, or sometimes to create a cool spot to lie in. It’s important to provide ample mental and physical stimulation for a German Shepherd to prevent destructive digging. Training, regular exercise, and even participation in dog sports can help redirect their energy into more productive outlets.

7. Over-Guarding

Due to their protective nature, German Shepherds can sometimes develop the habit of over-guarding their home and family. This can manifest as excessive barking or aggressive behavior towards strangers or even familiar people in unfamiliar contexts. Socialization from a young age, along with professional training, is crucial in helping them understand what constitutes a threat and what does not, promoting a balanced protective behavior.

Learn More About the German Shepherd Dog Breed: Information, Facts & Pictures

German Shepherds exhibit a range of behaviors that are as unique as they are functional, shaped by their historical roles and inherent qualities. These habits, from “talking” to over-guarding, highlight the breed’s complexity and the need for informed, responsive care. By understanding and properly managing these behaviors, owners can ensure their German Shepherds are not only well-behaved but also happy, well-adjusted members of their families.

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