German Shepherds might seem to have the same general appearance. However, some of them are working…
German Shepherds are known for their loyalty and protective tendencies. These traits help make them an excellent working dog as well as personal companion. But do German Shepherds bond with one person more than the rest of the family.
This article will dive into the reasons why German Shepherds tend to choose one person as their closest companion and how you can help them form a closer bond with other family members.
Do German Shepherds Bond With One Person?
Yes, German Shepherds tend to bond most deeply with the person they look to for care and leadership. Nevertheless, GSDs are capable of bonding with more than one person. They often do very well in large families where they respect and show protective tendencies toward every member, even as they’re more closely bonded with a person of their choosing.
Reasons Why German Shepherds Bond With One Person Over Others
Bonding with one person is part of the German Shepherd’s nature as a working dog. No matter their role, they need a single person to trust in order to do their job.
It is through that person that they get not only their basic needs but also the training, commands, and leadership they need to fulfill their purpose.
In many roles, it is also critical for working dogs to take commands only from a single person. This is especially true in protection, military, or police work. Not knowing who to listen to for commands in dangerous or critical settings could lead to serious consequences.
If you notice that your GSD prefers you over others in your family, here are some of the reasons why that might be the case:
You spend more time with them
Although many dogs will give affection freely, their respect and loyalty are often earned through time and plenty of positive interactions.
If you spend as much time as you can with your dog and make sure to engage them in meaningful ways, their appreciation will show in how they treat you.
You trained them
You develop deeper connections during training not only because you spend more time with them but also because you establish ways in which you can communicate with each other and build trust.
Additionally, training time is often a source of treats and praises, which help a lot in creating positive interactions.
You are their primary caregiver
German Shepherds are smart enough to recognize and appreciate the person that meets their basic needs.
Although not all German Shepherds are food-motivated, being the source of their nourishment is a good basis for a strong bond. It also helps to provide them with other types of care, including taking them out to potty and taking care of their grooming requirements.
You are who they perceive as the leader
German Shepherds choose the person they respect and follow most closely. It is with this person that they feel most secure with and will address any fear-based anxieties. This is also the person that they feel they communicate best with.
How Can Other Family Members Establish A Closer Bond With Their GSD?
A GSD might have an undeniable preference for one person in the family. However, that doesn’t mean they are withdrawn from others. If they seem aloof to one person, it might be because they find no value in their companionship.
To address that, here are some ways other family members can be more involved in the care of your German Shepherd and, consequently, develop deeper relationships with them:
Take over the feeding duties
Volunteer to be responsible for feeding your GSD. Make a routine out of preparing the meals and making sure they’re fed on time.
Although your dog might not be primarily food-motivated, being the source of their nourishment will help them connect more positive feelings with you. Sneaking in a treat or two will also help gain their affection.
Spend more time with them
The most important thing you can do to establish deeper bonds with your German Shepherd is to spend plenty of quality time with them. Some rewarding ways to spend time is to participate in their training, exercise, and playtime.
Instead of leaving all those tasks up to one person, try to engage everyone in the family.
There are many different ways to exercise a GSD, and everyone in the household should be able to find a physical activity to do with the dog. There are many things you can participate in with your pup such as fetch, agility, flyball, and Schutzhund.
Training doesn’t have to be complicated either. You can make it fun by teaching your dog a new trick, or you can simply practice general obedience commands. What’s important is that they learn how to take commands from different family members.
Playtime is also a good way to establish a deeper bond. A simple game of fetch can be a good way to play and exercise all at once. You can also engage in games that double as mental exercises and allow them to use their intelligence and natural canine abilities.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of simple quality time. Anything you do to spend more time paying attention to them will help you develop a better relationship. Show them affection by stroking their fur and giving them a scratch as often as you can. Even letting them relax as you brush their fur will work wonders in improving your bond.
Should I Be Concerned About My GSD Bonding To One Person?
German Shepherds tend to bond deeply with one person but will also respect and enjoy the company of others. This is perfectly normal and usually nothing to be concerned about.
However, there are specific circumstances when bonding to one person could become a concern:
Showing signs of over-protectiveness
GSDs are naturally protective of their family and will usually gravitate most towards one person in the family. However, if they start becoming possessive or start guarding that person against other family members, that could lead to aggressive behavior and should be addressed by a professional trainer or animal behaviorist immediately.
Not taking commands from others
Family German Shepherds should be taught to recognize the authority of every other human being in the household. At the very least, everyone in the family should be able to confidently give them basic obedience commands.
With some German Shepherds, this might come naturally. However, it helps to get every household member involved in the dog’s training so that they have more opportunities to develop a connection and learn to respect everyone individually.
Since recognizing a single leader is in their nature, having your German Shepherd prefer one person over others is nothing to be too concerned about. In fact, this is a trait that is better embraced rather than changed especially depending on the type of job you want you GSD to perform.
Despite their need to look to a single person for leadership, there’s no denying the German Shepherds are excellent family dogs when trained and socialized properly.