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13 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Is So Clingy & Needy

Why Is My German Shepherd So Clingy Needy

Quite some German Shepherd dog parents ask themselves:

Why is my German Shepherd so clingy / needy?

Read on to find out the truth (+ what to do about it).

You’ll discover:

  • What’s the difference between clinginess and separation anxiety.
  • The top 13 reasons why German Shepherds act clingy and needy.
  • How you could be making your German Shepherd clingy without realizing it.
  • And more…

Why is my German Shepherd so clingy?

Your German Shepherd is so clingy when they experience separation anxiety. It makes them panic and anxious when you leave them. A bad past, their genes and physical illnesses can also make them clingy. For female German Shepherds, they become clingy during estrus or when about to give birth.

Why is my German Shepherd so needy?

Your German Shepherd is so needy because they crave attention and you unwittingly reinforce it. Owners are at fault when they pet or give praises when their dog follows them around. In some cases, boredom and lack of mental stimulation make dogs needy.

German Shepherds are adorable and make great family pets. They’re extremely loyal and can be strongly bonded with their owners.

But sometimes they take this to the extreme. To the point that they become clingy and needy. It’s like they don’t want you to get out of their sight.

Here’s a list of the possible reasons why:

13 reasons why your German Shepherd is so clingy & needy

#1: They have separation anxiety

German Shepherd Separation Anxiety Meme

Who wants a dog in the bathroom while you shower? Or while you pee or poop?

So you ask them to give you a minute. But they just stare at you, as though it’s a crime to ask them to give you a break.

You might have a velcro dog in your hands. A velcro dog makes it a mission to always be beside you. No matter where you go.

Clinginess vs separation anxiety

Being clingy and separation anxiety are the same in the sense that dogs want to be with you all the time. However, they differ in their response whenever you leave them:

A clingy dog just follows you around when you’re home. They don’t mind when you leave them.

Other symptoms of a clingy dog include the following:

  • Follows you around the house.
  • Knows when you’re getting up.
  • Wants to be beside you all the time.
  • Wants to keep an eye on you all the time.

A dog with separation anxiety, on the other hand, panics when you leave. Especially within the first 30 minutes of your absence.

If you suspect your dog of separation anxiety, check if they exhibit these symptoms:

  • Pacing around.
  • Whining excessively.
  • Barking or howling excessively.
  • Escape from their crate or room.
  • Peeing or pooping when you’re gone.
  • Chewing inappropriate items such as furniture.
  • Showing signs of anxiety when they know you’re about to leave.

They usually show these behaviors only when you’re not around.

Here’s an example of a German Shepherd with separation anxiety. She doesn’t want her owner to leave, judging by the cries:

What to do:

Clinginess doesn’t always end in separation anxiety.

While clinginess can be corrected, it takes a professional help to solve separation anxiety.

Caution: Consult with a vet as soon as you suspect separation anxiety. There are behavior modifications they can recommend for your dog.

#2: They crave attention

Does your German Shepherd follow you around? They’re on your heels every move you make.

Though it may seem adorable, some owners find this annoying.

Don’t be surprised, though. You feed them, cuddle them, take them out to pee and poop. You basically do everything for them.

You can look at this attention-getting as a sign that they love you. But when they don’t get enough, they’ll crave for more.

And they’ll do anything in their power to make you notice them. Even if it means following you everywhere and asking you to pet them.

What to do:

Don’t wait until they’re asking for attention before giving it to them.

Spend quality time with them and make sure not to reinforce bad behaviors.

#3: It’s in their genes

Needy German Shepherd Meme

German Shepherds were bred to herd sheep. They were also bred to work alongside one person (the shepherd/farmer).

This is why German Shepherds look to their owners for direction. They read their human’s body language and commands for guidance.

This results in the dog showing strong attachment and extreme loyalty to one person. In return, the owner depends on their dog to do their job.

In the home setting, your German Shepherd looks at you as family. That’s why they want to be with you all the time.

#4: You are to blame

There ‘s no other easy way to say this. But humans are to blame why German Shepherds become clingy and needy.

Perhaps you don’t notice how you reinforce the behavior.

For example, some dog owners want their puppy to be with them. This way, they can keep an eye on their puppy. To keep them from getting into trouble.

The puppy learns this behavior of following the owner wherever they go.

In some cases, dog owners find this behavior endearing. And so they pet and give praises to their dogs. This reinforces the clingy and needy behavior.

This research showed similar findings. The study included 56 dogs – Labradors, German Shepherds and Czechoslovakian Wolf-dogs.

The researchers wanted to see how long it would take before the dogs seek help from humans through ‘human-directed gazing.’

‘Human-directed gazing’ refers to when dogs look at their owners for support. This is associated with dependency and neediness.

The results showed that German Shepherds took longer than Labradors before seeking help. The Czechoslovakian Wolf-dogs took the longest time to solve the problem alone.

The researchers believed that ‘human-directed gazing’ was a result of domestication and breed selection.

This is because humans wanted to create affectionate pets.

The downside was that dogs have lost their innate independence. They became more dependent and needier.

#5: They had a bad past

Adopted dogs have a history not known to the new owner.

They might have come from owner to owner before you came along. Or they have run away and were a stray for a long time.

Thus, it’s a challenge to figure out why some dogs are clingy or needy. The only clue is that their previous experiences were responsible for this behavior.

It doesn’t hurt to consider the fact that they might have been mistreated. And it resulted in them hating to be alone.

Or they became clingy because they want assurance that their new home isn’t temporary.

What to do:

Pets that had a bad past can take a long time to feel safe. Help your German Shepherd adjust through playtimes and training.

It also helps to earn their trust and show that you can be trusted as well. Treat them well and avoid putting them in stressful situations.

For instance, don’t introduce them to a lot of people and pets at once. Give them plenty of time to assimilate in the new environment.

And lastly, have lots of patience. Reward good behavior with treats and plays.

#6: They are bored and lack mental stimulation

German Shepherd Needs Entertainment Meme

German Shepherds need a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation.

Besides, lack of mental stimulation can damage the brain. That’s what this study claims.

The author believes that mental stimulation in animals is a necessity.

So give your adult German Shepherd at least 2 hours of exercise. That’s on top of 30 minutes or more of mental stimulation activities.

This may be different from one German Shepherd to another. But you get the point.

Tire them out physically and mentally so they don’t accumulate pent up energy. Trust me, you don’t want a restless German Shepherd in your house.

A restless and bored dog may end up being clingy. They have nothing else to do. Might as well follow you around.

What to do:

Make sure your German Shepherd gets enough physical activities to tire them out. Take them walking, hiking, running or swimming.

Mental stimulation activities are just as important. Give them interactive toys and puzzles to keep their brain sharp.

You can also give them tasks around the house to keep them busy.

German Shepherds are highly trainable. You can teach them simple tasks and enlist their help.

#7: They experience age-related changes

Going through age-related changes can be stressful for your German Shepherd.

As they age, their hearing and vision deteriorate. It could be scary for them.

As such, they will stay by your side for comfort.

Being clingy could also be a sign that your dog is going through cognitive dysfunction.

What to do:

Consult your vet if you notice your senior dog bumping into furniture. Or if they don’t hear you when you repeatedly call them.

#8: They are unwell

When dogs experience physical distress or illness, they become scared and confused.

I suggest being alert when your pet’s interaction with you changes. If they become clingy all of a sudden, it could be a medical issue.

They stick close to you because they feel secure with you.

What to do:

Bring your German Shepherd to the vet for a check up to rule out medical issues.

#9: They adjust to new environment/situation

One good thing about German Shepherds is they can adjust to situations.

Be it:

  • Moving to a new house.
  • Having a new baby or a person in the family.

However, while they go through a period of adjustment, they could become clingy.

They could shy away from the new person and stick to your side.

What to do:

Help them during this adjustment period.

If there’s a new person in the house, make gradual introductions. Don’t force your dog if this makes them stressed.

If you moved into a new place, give them something to do to distract them. You can teach them a new trick or a task.

Warning: If there’s a new baby, make sure you keep an eye on your German Shepherd. Do not leave them and the baby alone.

#10: They are going through changes

Some German Shepherds become needy when they go through changes.

Any change can upset them. Even the independent dog becomes clingy and needy because of the changes. This could be any of the following:

  • Addition of a new pet.
  • Changes in their routine.
  • Changes in your work schedule.
  • A person moving in or out of the house.
  • Death of a member of the family or animal companion.

What to do:

German Shepherd Going Through Changes Meme

It’s only natural that your dog reacts this way with these changes. Particularly if you have set a routine for them.

The best thing to do with these changes is to help your dog adjust. Let them take their time to get used to these new changes.

Don’t worry. Your German Shepherd will get through it with your help.

#11: They respond to your nervous energy

Even if you don’t mean it, you pass on your nervous energy to your dog.

There are days when you get home stressed from work. Or there are problems that bog you down.

Your German Shepherd can pick up cues from your:

  • Scent.
  • Body language.
  • Facial expression.

When they know something is wrong, they could become clingy.

This is their way of showing their affection or letting you know that they’re there for you.

#12: They are going through estrus

If you have a female German Shepherd, she will go through estrus.

That’s another term for in heat or in season. It refers to the stage in a female dog’s life when she’s ready to mate.

The age they reach estrus depends on the breed. For German Shepherds, the first heat occurs between 9 to 12 months of age.

They go through the heat cycle twice a year. Each cycle can last up to 4 weeks.

A female German Shepherd in heat goes through personality changes. They could become clingy to you because of hormonal changes.

What to do:

A German Shepherd in estrus could get restless. Distract them by playing with them.

Their clinginess will eventually go away once the heat cycle is done.

#13: They’re about to give birth

Pregnant German Shepherd

Some female German Shepherds would become more clingy if they’re about to give birth.

This is a very stressful and difficult time for your female pooch. Not to mention painful.

They would be clingy because they look for comfort in you, the person they trust the most.

What to do:

There’s nothing you can do to lessen the pain your dog feels before or during labor.

But your presence will be a huge help to comfort them at this point in their life.