Do German Shepherds Get Along With Other Dogs?
If you are a dog owner wanting to add a German Shepherd to your pup pack, then you might wonder do German Shepherds get along with other dogs.
German Shepherds are a popular dog breed that is prized the world-over for their loyalty and protective nature. The name “German Shepherd” originated in Germany; however, the dogs we know as German Shepherds are the same as Alsatians from Britain.
The intelligent and trainable nature of German shepherds has made them the go-to breed for selecting police dogs, but some people have raised concerns about the breed’s ability to get along with other dogs.
To understand more about the nature of German Shepherds and how they interact with others, we must first look at their temperament and their ability to socialize with dogs of other breeds.
How German Shepherds Get Along With Other Dogs?
German Shepherds get along well with other dogs for the most part. They may sometimes exhibit aggression towards other dogs, but this is mostly due to their territorial nature. These dogs may behave in an agitated manner whenever they feel another dog in their home is challenging their dominance.
The temperament of a German Shepherd can sometimes create issues when they are interacting with other dogs. Same-sex aggression has been frequently observed between German Shepherds and other dogs, so it introducing a male German Shepherd to other male dogs could prove to be a challenge for owners.
While no professional studies have been conducted to determine how well German Shepherds get along with other dog breeds, plenty of anecdotes exist that describe the interactions of German Shepherd with other dogs.
One anecdote mentions that a family’s German Shepherd often got along well with their three smaller dogs, and behaved like the leader of their pack. This female German Shepherd would look after and protect the smaller dogs from other dogs that were threatening them. She would also teach the family’s other dogs how to play in a friendly manner.
However, another story describes a 4-year-old female German Shepherd attacking a smaller breed dog over resources and nearly killing her in the process. This smaller dog was a rescue that had been introduced to the German Shepherd’s home relatively late in life, so the differences in each dog’s temperament could have led to the fight breaking out. This attack could also have been driven by same-sex aggression.
A particularly interesting anecdote states that German Shepherds get along best with other German Shepherds due to their similar nature. This owner mentions that differences between the energy levels of German Shepherds and other dogs could factor in their interactions with one another.
This owner goes on to state that German Shepherds get along best with dogs of the opposite gender, similar size, similar levels of energy, and from the same class (i.e., working or herding dogs)
However, it’s difficult to make generalizations about the temperament of a particular dog breed as the aggressive behavior of a dog could be explained by their upbringing and socialization rather than their breed.
A poorly socialized German Shepherd will react and act out as soon another dog enters its space, but a well-socialized one will quickly settle down and relax when it comes across another dog in its territory.
Many owners tend to neglect the training and socialization of their dogs, so if you encounter an aggressive German Shepherd in the park, the owner is likely to blame rather than the breed itself.
How German Shepherds’ Temperament Affects Their Interactions With Other Dogs?
German shepherds are as curious and intelligent, as they are loyal and protective. They are considered one of the easiest breeds to train and can be very obedient when raised properly. This is one of the reasons they are widely used as police dogs, herd dogs, and firefighting dogs.
However, the protective qualities of German Shepherds can sometimes be misconstrued as aggression by people unfamiliar with the breed’s temperament. German Shepherds are very loyal and tend to form a close bond with their owners and their families. They are quick to react at the sight of any threats and are dedicated to protecting their loved ones.
Male German Shepherds are believed to be more aggressive than female ones, which is why many dog-owners concerned about their dog’s temperament tend to get female ones. However, any well-trained German Shepherd from a good home is unlikely to display unnecessary aggression and should get along fine with other people and animals.
German shepherds that are mistreated or raised in abusive conditions can display excessive aggression and should be treated with caution. This issue is not unique to German Shepherds, as any dog that has been abused can lash out at others.
How to Deal With Negative Interactions Between Germans Shepherds and Other Dogs?
Dogs will usually appear agitated when a fight is about to break out. Some common signs of agitation include growling, ears being pointed up, and prickly fur. If you think your German Shepherd is having a negative interaction with another dog, you should take the following steps to reduce the likelihood of a fight breaking out:
- Get in between your dog and the other dog if you feel it is safe. This could be dangerous if the dogs that are interacting are large or heavy. So owners are advised to be cautious.
- If a fight does break out, you may be able to use a leash looped around your German Shepherd’s hind legs to pull them out of the fight.
- Teach your German Shepherd to avoid concentrating on other dogs during your walks by keeping your eyes forward and maintaining the same walking pace whenever another dog passes by.
If you’re unable to get your German Shepherd to behave calmly and cooperatively with other dogs, you may have to take them for socialization classes.
Watch the video on dealing with aggression of a German Shepherd dog towards other dogs.
Why Socialization of German Shepherds Is Important?
Dogs that underwent socialization from an early age tend to better behave around others than dogs that underwent socialization later in life or weren’t dogs that weren’t socialized at all.
These socialized dogs were exposed to other dogs and puppies as they were growing up, so they are more familiar with meeting new dogs. Proper socialization is needed to teach your pet how to behave around other dogs, and German Shepherds are no exception.
Older dogs can be tougher to socialize as their current habits could have resulted from past experiences such as fights with other dogs or abuse from their previous owners. While some progress can be made with these dogs, it’s important to remember that some dogs may simply be fearful and anxious by nature.
Many people prefer to take their dogs to professionals for socialization classes; however, owners can also do it themselves if they take the right precautions.
How to Help Your German Shepherd Socialize With Other Dogs?
Taking German Shepherds for walks is a great way to expose them to new sights, sounds, smells, people, and other dogs. You should start by taking them for walks around areas where they are unlikely to encounter other dogs. This will help them get accustomed to their surroundings before coming across another dog.
You can gradually start taking them to more crowded areas as they get more comfortable with being in public. Be sure to keep them on a leash at all times during this stage.
You can also help your German Shepherd with socialization by calling guests over and introducing them to your dog one by one. This teaches the dog to be comfortable with letting other people into their living space.
It’s important to maintain a calm state of mind when introducing your dog to other people, as dogs can sense when their owners are stressed. Dogs will often react differently when they feel their owners are nervous or are in a state of distress, so you should remember to keep a level head when introducing your dog to others.
Once you have spent enough time exposing your German Shepherd to outdoor environments and guests, you should try taking them to a park.
Your dog is very likely to encounter other dogs at the park, so you should make sure they are ready to interact with others by this stage. If your dog is fine with meeting other dogs in the neighborhood or on the street, they should be fine interacting with dogs at the park.
However, German Shepherds are strong dogs, and they can be difficult to control when they are agitated. It’s best to keep your dog on a leash during your first visit to the park as you never know how they could react to the presence of a particular dog. It’s best to play it safe in these situations.
A good strategy for socializing your dog at the park is to make them meet other dogs through the park fence. Dogs can’t hurt each other through a fence, but they can sniff and interact with one another. This is one of the safest approaches to take if you’re nervous about your dog reacting poorly in a social situation.
You can help make this interaction a more positive experience by giving them a treat every time they calmly interact with another dog. Each positive interaction your dog has with other dogs improves their socialization. This can, in turn, make it easier for them to meet new dogs in the future.
Interactions at Off-Leash Parks
After enough leashed interactions have occurred, you should consider taking your German Shepherd to an off-leash park. This is one of the final socialization tests, so you and your dog must be prepared.
You should make sure your dog knows how to obey commands such as “down,” “sit,” “stay,” and “come” before taking them to an off-leash park. Your German Shepherd should have also received all their vaccinations by this point. An unvaccinated dog can contract diseases from other unvaccinated dogs at the park. So vaccinations are essential if you want them to remain safe.
If your dog has displayed aggression towards other dogs in previous interactions, they may not be ready to visit an off-leash park yet. You should take your dog to a professional trainer for help, as untreated aggression could spiral out of control if left unchecked.
You should also know the proper way to break up a dog fight, in case your dog gets into a scuffle with another dog at the park during a socialization attempt.
During your first visit to an off-leash park, you should first hang back and observe the other dogs that are in the park. If their behavior seems overly aggressive or excited, your German Shepherd may have difficulty interacting with them. In such a situation, you should take your dog home and come back at a different time.
It’s best to go to off-leash parks early when there are few dogs around. This way, you can gradually introduce your German Shepherd to other dogs as they enter the park. You should also learn to limit your first few visits to 20 or 30 minutes in length, to avoid causing your dog too much stress.
Signs of stress and anxiety in dogs include a stiff neck, bulging eyes, and freezing in place. If your German Shepherd appears too stressed, you should take them home immediately rather than risk a negative interaction occurring.
If your socialization training isn’t making any progress, you should take your dog to a professional trainer.
Professional Socialization Training
Owners who are having trouble getting their German Shepherds to interact with other dogs in a healthy manner could use the services of a professional dog trainer. These services could be useful, especially if your dog has been unresponsive towards your previous efforts.
Professional dog trainers have plenty of experience training dogs of various breeds and temperaments, so they know how to handle your dog if their behavior or demeanor is unusual.
Professional dog trainers can be useful for training German Shepherd puppies and can help them with socialization. The best time to teach dog socialization is between the ages of 3 weeks and 14 weeks.
Dog trainers can teach your German Shepherd puppy to follow basic commands that you may have had trouble teaching them. Once your puppy learns to follow these commands, you can exert better control over them during their interactions with other dogs.
Professional trainers can also help German Shepherds with behavior problems such as growling and biting. Many dog owners don’t understand what their dog is trying to communicate when they growl. Trainers can identify signs of distress, and know when it is or isn’t appropriate to discipline a dog.
Dog-owners that attempt to discipline their dog for growling during legitimate situations could be doing more harm than good, so it’s best to leave this training to a professional.
Neutering and Spaying
The last resort for German Shepherd owners who find themselves unable to manage their dog’s aggression towards other dogs is to have them neutered or spayed.
Overly-aggressive male dogs can be neutered to make them calmer. The procedure Neutering is usually performed between the ages of 2 months and 6 months, but older male dogs can also undergo the procedure if they are in good health.
Neutering significantly reduces the amount of testosterone that is produced in the dog’s body. Given that testosterone generally contributes towards aggression in animals, neutering is considered a foolproof method for making German Shepherds easier to manage around other dogs. Neutered dogs are also less likely to suffer from bouts of restlessness in which they roam around and aggressively seek out females in heat.
Owners of female German Shepherds can have their dogs spayed to reduce their aggression as well. Unspayed female dogs often compete for the attention of male dogs by fighting with one another. This behavior can be difficult to deal with when your female dog is around other female dogs during their heat cycle, so spaying is highly recommended.
Watch this video on training a German Shepherd not to to be aggressive towards other dogs or people.
Can German Shepherds Live Well With Other Dogs?
If you’re still worried about German Shepherds exhibiting aggressive or dominant behavior towards other dogs, you should opt to get a female one that has been spayed. Female German Shepherds are less aggressive than their male counterparts and often get along well with other breeds.
If you’re thinking of getting two or more German Shepherds, you should avoid getting two of the same sex, especially if they are male. Male German Shepherds kept near one another can get into fights over territory.
It may be a better option to get one male and one female, or two females, as they are less likely to exhibit aggression towards one another compared to two males.
If you have the time and resources to spare, you should consider getting a German Shepherd when it is still a puppy. Puppies are far easier to train and socialize than older dogs. Introducing a German Shepherd puppy to a home with an existing dog could also be a good idea, as older dogs tend to get along with puppies.
Parting Thoughts On Do German Shepherds Get Along With Other Dogs
German Shepherds aren’t particularly challenging to care for. Their large size usually means they have larger appetites and need more space to run around than most other breeds, but they are also loyal and protective.
These dogs have come a long way since their early days as service dogs. The breed continues to grow in popularity and bring joy and security to the lives of owners across the globe. These dogs are willing to serve and protect you with their lives, so remember to treat them with love and respect.
Daniel Bloom is the mind behind the Dog Pages blog. He created this blog for the love his dog, Augustine. He manages his team of contributors who love dogs as much as he does. When he is not blogging, he spends his time cooking and reading. He never misses his daily walks with his dog and loves to play Frisbee with Augustine whenever he gets a chance.