All Things Dog

Home Alone! Keeping Your German Shepherd Entertained

German Shepherds are among the most social breeds in the canine world. They just love spending time with you, whether taking a walk or just curling up next to you. So when it comes time for you to leave the house, it can make your Shepherd a little anxious.

For some dogs, the anxiety is so great, it can lead to extreme behavior such as persistent barking or howling, destructive chewing, scratching or digging. These are signs of separation anxiety.

The following tips can help you keep your Shepherd entertained while you're out.

Confine your dog. Try to keep him in an enclosed area when you're out, such as a crate with water, toys, and soft flooring (such as a rug, pad, or blanket). Dogs are den animals, and even large dogs like German Shepherds feel safer in their own small space.

Hire a dog-walker. German Shepherds love people—and there is nothing better than an extra person to love. A dog-sitter can play with your dog, take him for walks, and provide a welcome break while he's home alone.

Doggy daycare. The social German Shepherd is a good candidate for doggie daycare. Just make sure that the facility you choose is equipped to handle dogs that are big and active.

Distractions. Distractions such as puzzle-type chew toys, television, or the view from a big window can cure his loneliness. These tricks can help keep your dog entertained and playing long enough so that he may not even remember you're gone.

Alter your habits. Do you have a set routine each day before you leave the house? Perhaps you jingle your keys, put your bag or briefcase near the door or kiss your spouse and kids. Your dog picks up on these cues, and associates them with your leaving. Try to mix up your normal routine by doing your usual activities in a different order.

Go for a long walk. Taking your dog out for a walk before you leave will help make him too tired to misbehave after you leave.

Try not to cure your dog's anxiety problem by giving him even more attention—you'll only create a vicious cycle of neediness. Likewise, never get angry when your dog acts clingy as you prepare to leave. This can cause even more anxiety because your dog will associate your absence and return with punishment.

With some time and a lot of patience, your dog will have a renewed sense of security—and you can be confident knowing that your dog is fine being home alone.

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