Your German Shepherd can circle you for several reasons. This could be frustrating for most owners to experience. Here is some insight into why your dog is exhibiting this behavior and what you can do to put a stop to it.
What Does It Mean If Your German Shepherd Circles You?
Here are some reasons that your German Shepherd is circling you:
Could They Be Excited?
This could be how your German Shepherd shows they are excited. Take note of when they do this. Are they prone to circling you when you come home or when you are taking them on a walk? If so, this could be what they do when they’re happy.
Could They Be Anxious?
In case your dog only does this when you try to leave the house, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. It’s your dog’s way of trying to stop you from going. If so, they may also do this when they are worried or anxious.
Are They Trying to Herd You?
German Shepherds were born to herd livestock. These instincts are still quite strong in many dogs of this breed today. Check whether your dog is attempting to push you in a particular direction as they are circling you. They may also attempt to nudge or nip your ankles.
Are They Trying to Get Your Attention?
If your German Shepherd doesn’t feel you’re paying attention to them, they may resort to physical measures. They may have done this many times without you realizing it.
Your German Shepherd may also be signaling that it is bored. It could have a lot of pent-up energy and is trying to work some of it off in this manner.
When your dog circles you, your automatic reaction might be to stop, look down, and address them. Due to this, they will be conditioned to learn that circling you gets the reaction they want.
What Can You Do About the Circling?
It can be cute at first, but a German Shepherd constantly circling you isn’t just annoying, but risky as well. Encouraging this behavior can also cause your pup to do this to others, including strangers, causing them to feel intimidated.
How to Tell Your Dog to Stop?
When your dog begins to circle you, give them the “Stop” command. Do this is in a firm voice so that it knows that you’re serious. You can follow this up with “Sit” so that your pup doesn’t start again. With time, it will realize that this behavior isn’t acceptable.
How to Address the Separation Anxiety?
If your dog appears to do this mostly when you’re leaving the house, you will need to work on their separation anxiety. Start by spending time in another room away from your dog. Do this for increasing periods.
When your German Shepherd is comfortable with this, leave the house for several minutes at a time. Depending on how fast you go, you can simply wait outside or leave the premises. Do this for an increasing amount of time as well. This should make it easier for your pup to stay alone.
Why Should You Ignore the Behavior?
As mentioned, their goal could be to elicit a reaction from you. When you notice your dog circling you, ask them to stop and sit. You should then move away and continue with what you were doing. Don’t pet your dog, interact with it, or give it a treat. Pretend as if this behavior had no impact on you and move on.
Why Is It Important to Spend Quality Time with Your Dog?
If your dog is circling you to get your attention, you may want to think about how much time you’ve been spending with them. In case you have been busy and missing out, schedule some quality time or ask your family to play with the dog. Just remember not to do this right after the circling as it will only reinforce this behavior.
How to Give Your Dog More Exercise?
German Shepherds can need up to 2 hours of exercise a day. If you have been lax in this, you will need to make sure that they get a daily workout. In case you are busy, try taking your dog out for a walk earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
Are you strapped for time? You may want to hire a dog walker or hand over the exercise to someone else. A continued lack of exercise can lead to more destructive behaviors.
How Can You Give Them a Herding Outlet?
Your German Shepherd can’t shut down their herding instinct completely and it isn’t fair of you to ask them to do this either. Redirect this energy by allowing your dog to take part in herding activities.
For instance, you can get them a big ball and teach them to throw it into a goal post or other designated area. This could also help to lessen their herding instincts around you.
These are the top reasons why your German Shepherd is running circles around you. Once you identify the cause of the behavior, you can take the necessary steps to stop it. Remember to be patient and always use positive reinforcement when trying to change your dog’s behavior for the best results.