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German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds, and for good reason! They are known for being highly intelligent, easy to train, and extremely affectionate towards their owners.
The German Shepherd has also developed a reputation for being known as “one owner” dogs in that they are believed to only truly bond with a single person in their households. But is this true? Do German Shepherds bond with only one person?
German Shepherds do tend to bond more with one person. This happens because German Shepherds love routine, and if there is a primary person taking care of them and whom they are spending the most time with, then it’s likely that a German Shepherd will bond more with that person.
While Germans do tend to bond more with a single person, it’s usually not random and there are reasons as to why your German Shepherd may be more bonded with you than with others in your household.
Below we’ll discuss how a German Shepherd chooses who to bond with, how to tell if your German Shepherd is bonded to you, how to strengthen your bond with your German Shepherd, and if there’s a particular person that a German Shepherd will bond with more than others.
We’ll also look at ways you can strengthen the bond of your German Shepherd with other members of the household and when a strong bond might cause issues within a household.
3 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Is More Bonded To You Than Others
While German Shepherds can be loving and affectionate with their entire family, they are known for being particularly loyal to a single person within the household, just like the Rottweiler. But why might your German Shepherd be more bonded to you instead of others within your home?
Reason 1 – You spend the most amount of time with them compared to others.
German Shepherds like routine, and if your pup is spending the majority of their day by your side it’s likely they will be more bonded with you than with others who spend less time with them and who aren’t part of their daily routine.
Even if you aren’t actively engaging with your German Shepherd (or even acknowledging them), just being around you and in your presence is likely to soothe them and make them feel more comfortable being with you than with others. You may find that your pup is following you along as you go through your daily routine. It’s just as much of a habit for them as it is for you!
This is especially true if you have an anxious German Shepherd and you’ve shown that your presence is peaceful and safe, thus they will likely try to stick around you the most in order to feel comfortable. Because German Shepherds tend to be prone to anxiety, if they can locate a source of calm that helps them feel better, they tend to want to spend the majority of their time around that source (which is often their owner).
Reason 2 – You have been in their life for the longest period of time.
If you got your German Shepherd when they were a puppy and you raised them, then it’s likely they will always be more bonded to you than to someone else who entered their life at a later point.
This is due to something called the critical socialization period, which is a time in every puppy’s life where their behaviors, likes, dislikes, personalities, and fears are shaped.
If you are the one around your pup the most during this time, which generally occurs between 3 and 16 weeks, then it’s likely your German Shepherd will bond more with you.
For German Shepherds who found new homes at a later point in their life, it is still likely that they will bond with the person who they have been around the longest.
If you’ve been the one they’ve been around for the longest period of time and someone else enters your family, such as a new significant other or a child, it’s likely that your pup will still be more bonded and affectionate with you than with the new person.
Reason 3 – You are the primary caregiver or trainer.
While it’s important that all members of a family be involved with a German Shepherd’s training and care, it’s likely that there is a primary caregiver and trainer who does more with their pup than others in the household.
German Shepherds are highly intelligent and easily trainable, and they often aim to please which means if you are the one providing them with what they need, they will do what they can to make you happy! If you are the one who is caring for your German Shepherd and works on their behavior and training the most, then it’s likely your dog associates those things with you more than with others.
While dogs do have a sense of social hierarchies, it’s not so much that he views you as the “leader” or “alpha”, but more as the main source of resources and comfort.
If you are the one who feeds your pup every day, who takes them on walks, who plays with them the most, and who takes them to their training sessions, then your German Shepherd will associate that routine and those habits with your presence, thus they will appear to be more bonded with you and “listen” to you better than others within the household.
How Can I Tell If My German Shepherd Is Bonded To Me?
You can tell if your German Shepherd is bonded to you by their general actions and behaviors.
German Shepherds who are closely bonded with one person tend to actively seek them out and spend time with them. This might mean your pup will check in on you while you are sleeping, or they greet you first when your family arrives home.
In times of stress, your German Shepherd may also seek you out instead of others because your presence signals safety and comfort. They’ll shower you with affection as thanks for providing them with what they need.
The body language of your German Shepherd may also be different when she is around you versus when she is around others. You may notice more frequent appeasement behaviors, such as lowering her ears, widening her eyes, and licking her lips.
Your pup may also be more enthusiastic with their vocalizations when they see you, or they may be more vigorous with their tail wagging and pacing. You may even get some extra licks from your furry friend.
German Shepherds tend to be very affectionate dogs, similar to the Great Pyrenees or the Bulldog, though a German Shepherd might be a little more vocal in their affection (just like the Siberian Husky)!
If your German Shepherd is bonded with you, you’ll usually know!
What Can I Do To Strengthen My Bond With My German Shepherd?
You can increase the bond you with your German Shepherd simply by spending more time with them!
Creating a good bond with your German Shepherd is especially important if you’ve adopted a German Shepherd who maybe did not have the best start to their life, and they have some traumas to work through. By spending time with them and encouraging them that they can trust you and that you are safe, you will strengthen that bond over time.
Training is also a great way to increase a bond with your German Shepherd, and helps them understand their role in the household and with you, and that you are a source of comfort, safety, and tasty treats.
Are German Shepherds More Likely To Bond With A Particular Type Of Person?
German Shepherds tend to bond the most with whoever is around them the most, who cares for them and provides them with the most resources and structure, and who they have known for the longest time.
While German Shepherds are great family dogs (and they make a great choice for first-time dog owners), they do tend to bond with adults more than children, unless the child is the one who most frequently takes care of the dog.
German Shepherds otherwise have no preference on the gender, age, ethnicity, or appearance of their owners, provided they have never experienced any trauma from a specific person.
Puppyhood and traumatic experiences can have a major impact on who a German Shepherd may bond with or avoid. For example, if a young German Shepherd was hit by a tall man wearing a baseball cap, it’s likely that this German Shepherd will respond negatively towards any tall man wearing a baseball cap in the future, even if it’s not the original person who hurt them.
Creating a positive experience for your German Shepherd puppy as they meet and socialize with new people is the best way to prevent any issues later on where they become skittish or aggressive towards people that are similar to those who may have caused a trauma to them (intentionally or unintentionally) and increases the likelihood that they will bond with any family member within the household.
How Can Other Family Members Increase Their Bond With My German Shepherd?
If you’d like your German Shepherd to start bonding with other members of your family, the simplest way to approach it is to swap the day-to-day care duties for your pup.
If you are usually the one who feeds, lets outside, and walks your German Shepherd, then swap those duties with another household member for a few weeks.
You can also rotate who provides for your German Shepherd as soon as you get your pup, so it’s more likely that your new dog bonds with all members of the family right from the start (though it’s still likely they’ll prefer one person to the others!).
Is It Bad If My German Shepherd Is Only Bonded To One Person?
It is not generally a bad thing if your German Shepherd bonds to only person within the household, though your family members may become jealous and upset if they’d like to spend time with your pup and he only wants to be around you!
The exception to this is if your German Shepherd is displaying behavioral issues such as resource guarding or separation anxiety.
With resource guarding, German Shepherds can display aggressive behaviors when around their favorite person, and act like they are “protecting” them. In reality, your pup has developed a bad habit of claiming you as a valuable resource and they do not want anyone or anything else to be around you.
While some owners may not mind this behavior (especially if they have trained their German Shepherd to be a guard dog or personal protection dog), in most cases it can be annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Your German Shepherd may show resource guarding behaviors towards other dogs, other pets, or even other people.
This can lead to strife within a household, and it’s always best to nip these types of behaviors in the bud as soon as you notice your German Shepherd starting to become a little too overprotective of you. Working with a local dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist is the best way to work on these issues, and it’s not advised to work on them without guidance as you can inadvertently make the resource guarding behaviors worse.
With separation anxiety, which can be diagnosed by a professional dog trainer, behaviorist, or your veterinarian, your German Shepherd may display some severe behavioral issues such as whining, barking, pacing, excessive panting and drooling, escape attempts, or other self-destructive habits if they are forced to be without you.
True separation anxiety is rare and many owners often misdiagnose their pups as having it, but if you notice your German Shepherd is getting a little too antsy whenever you have to leave them with someone else, it might be worth it to seek out the help of a local dog trainer who can help you determine whether it’s true separation anxiety or if it’s just your pup needing an extra boost of confidence.
The bond between a German Shepherd and their owner is a special thing, and most owners cherish that bond and actively work towards ensuring that their German Shepherd always feels comfortable and safe with them.
While German Shepherds do tend to bond with one person more than others, it’s not impossible to help them interact with other family members and share that bond with everyone.