The German Shepherd is an incredibly social breed. They don’t enjoy being left alone and prefer to spend all their time with their family. In the household, it’s common for them to become attached to their humans. But are German Shepherds good with other dogs?
German Shepherds are generally friendly towards other dogs. Because they are an intelligent working breed, it’s not unusual for them to be somewhat aloof when encountering dogs for the first time. But once another dog has gained their trust, it’s easy for them to become fast friends.
It’s important to note, however, that individual German Shepherds could dislike or even become aggressive towards other dogs. Sometimes, they’re friendly to most dogs but not others. In those cases, it’s critical to first understand the reasons behind their behavior.
Reasons Why German Shepherds Could Dislike Other Dogs
German Shepherds sometimes may not like other dogs. But, there’s usually a reason why. Here are the most common reasons why GSDs might not like some dogs or even all dogs in general:
Poorly socialized German Shepherds are often skittish. They’re afraid of many things, sounds, and situations that they haven’t had enough exposure to.
If they haven’t been around other dogs, they could feel unsure around them and cause them to be on high alert. That fear could manifest as aggression if it isn’t corrected through proper exposure and behavior modification training.
German Shepherds are one of the most trainable breeds in the world. But just as quickly as they can learn a trick, they could learn to be distrustful of dogs.
Unpleasant experiences with other dogs (e.g., being threatened or attacked) could easily make them distrust all dogs in general. Sometimes, they could dislike only dogs with a look or size similar to those involved in their past experiences.
German Shepherds are naturally protective. If they think that another dog might be a threat, they might show some unfriendly behavior like snarling or growling.
They’re also prone to resource guarding. That might lead them to become unfriendly towards a dog that they believe might take their food, toys, or other items that they love. That might even include you or another member of your family.
Some German Shepherds are simply not as sociable as others, while some of them prefer the company of their humans over other animals.
This is most common among GSDs that didn’t grow up with other dogs but enjoyed being the center of attention of their humans.
Nevertheless, even German Shepherds that don’t really like other dogs will often tolerate them.
How to Help Your Dog Get Along with Other Dogs
Whether or not you have or plan to have other dogs at home, it’s critical for your German Shepherd to behave properly towards other dogs. Although making friends with other dogs would be good for them, it’s not absolutely essential.
What’s important is that, when they do encounter other dogs, they don’t suffer from excess nerves and anxiety that could lead to dog-directed aggressive behavior.
Here are some of the most important things you can do to help your dog get along with other dogs:
1) Socialize them early
Reputable breeders know the importance of keeping puppies with their litter and mom for the first few months of their lives. That’s critical to their socialization because it is their family that teaches them how to play nice with other dogs.
At around 2-3 months, they’re ready to join human families, which is when you take over their socialization. During this time, it’s critical that you expose them to other dogs. Doing so will allow them to develop their confidence, social skills, and manners.
If you have an older GSD, don’t worry. It might take more time and patience, but it’s definitely still possible to socialize adult dogs.
2) Spend time on training
Training German Shepherds to be friendly with other dogs is just a matter of exposure in a supervised and highly controlled environment.
Different trainers have different theories about the best way to train dogs to be comfortable around other dogs. But, classical conditioning through positive reinforcement is probably the safest and most effective.
Arrange meet-ups with well-behaved dogs that have confident and experienced handlers. At first, expose them briefly and from afar. Shower them with treats, petting, and praises to condition them to associate good feelings with other dogs.
Observe their behavior and get them closer and closer to each other as you gain more confidence in their temperament. Remember that it doesn’t happen all at once.
It might take weeks or even months, depending on how reactive your dog is. Nevertheless, it’s always best to take it slow and let your dog’s behavior dictate the pace.
3) Avoid aggressive or untrained dogs
Although it’s not always avoidable, try your best to keep your German Shepherd away from dogs that aren’t properly trained or those that act aggressively towards them.
Not only is that the responsible thing to do to keep you and your dog safe, but any untoward incident that may occur with such dogs is not something they’ll easily forget. Chances are, they’ll remember that and become skittish around other dogs from then on.
4) Expose them often
Even after you’ve successfully trained your dog to be comfortable and friendly with other dogs, it’s essential that you expose them often.
Ideally, they’ll encounter many different dogs of a variety of temperaments so that they have opportunities to deepen their social skills. So, schedule plenty of puppy play dates and take them to daycare as often as possible.
The more exposure they get, the more comfortable they’ll likely be.
Does my German Shepherd like other dogs?
Yes and no! My German Shepherds likes larger dogs. She loves playing with other German Shepherds. Sometimes I wonder if she can recognize a dog of the same breed.
My German Shepherd Allie doesn’t like small dogs. I think this is because she has been attacked multiple times by smaller breed dogs.
The first time she was attacked by a Chihuahua when she was only a puppy at the dog park. Since then we have had multiple little dogs literally come out into the street while we were walking to bark and growl and try and bite my girl.
She was never leery of smaller dogs before these incidents, but now when she sees one, she is less than thrilled.
This just goes to show how dogs liking other dogs, people, and even places are based on their experiences. Had my dog not had so many negative experiences with smaller dogs, I believe she would have enjoyed being around them now.
Even if you don’t plan on taking in another dog, there are plenty of advantages to making sure that your German Shepherd plays nicely with other dogs. This will open up plenty of activity options, including play dates that will allow them to just be dogs with other dogs.
Even your social life will benefit as you get to make friends with other dog parents.
Also, if you ever need to be away for longer than a few hours, it’ll be easier to leave them at a daycare or even with friends who might be pet owners too. Most importantly, you won’t ever have to fear encounters with other dogs when you’re out for walks.
Overall, socializing your German Shepherd with other dogs helps them become more confident and also gives you some peace of mind.
Does your German Shepherd like other dogs? Let me know in the comments!