Why are German Shepherds So Stubborn?

German Shepherds can be stubborn due to their intelligence and independent nature. Their strong protective instincts can also lead them to resist certain situations or commands. Understanding these traits and using effective training methods can help address their stubbornness and create a better relationship between owners and their German Shepherds.

German Shepherds are beloved and intelligent dogs, but their stubborn nature can sometimes pose challenges for their owners. Understanding why they exhibit this behavior is crucial in developing effective training strategies.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind their stubbornness and how it can manifest in various situations. Gaining insight into their natural instincts, intelligence, and past experiences helps address their stubbornness constructively. It requires patience and understanding.

The right approach strengthens the bond with our German Shepherds. It guides them to be well-behaved and happy companions.

What Is Stubbornness
Photo Credit to Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus

What Is Stubbornness?

Stubbornness in dogs, including German Shepherds, refers to a strong-willed and resistant behavior exhibited by them. It can manifest in various ways, making training and communication challenging for dog owners.

German Shepherds are known for their independent nature. It contributes to their stubbornness. Their breed deeply ingrains protective instincts. These instincts can also lead to resistance in new situations or with new people.

To address stubborn behavior, establishing clear rules and boundaries is essential. Past trauma or mistreatment can also play a role, causing a German Shepherd to be hesitant or unwilling to cooperate. A lack of confidence or a weak bond with the owner might exacerbate their stubborn tendencies.

When training a German Shepherd, it’s crucial to use clear commands and positive reinforcement techniques. Being highly intelligent breeds, they respond well to mental stimulation and require regular exercise to release their excessive energy.

Patience is essential when dealing with stubborn behavior. Providing them with meaningful tasks or “work” helps engage their minds and channel their energy constructively.

Employing these strategies builds a strong foundation for good behavior. It creates a harmonious relationship with loyal German Shepherds.

Identifying Stubborn Behavior
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Identifying Stubborn Behavior

A. Common Signs of Stubborn Behavior in German Shepherds: German Shepherds, known for their intelligence and loyalty, can also display stubbornness. Identifying these signs is crucial for effective training and handling. One common indication of stubborn behavior is when a German Shepherd resists following commands or ignores them altogether. They might appear uninterested during training sessions or choose to wander off rather than participate. This independent streak can be frustrating for dog owners trying to teach basic commands like sit or stay.

B. Recognizing Independence and Protective Instincts: The breed’s independent nature can further contribute to stubbornness. When a German Shepherd believes it knows better, it might challenge the owner’s authority or resist specific actions. Additionally, their strong protective instincts may cause them to be cautious or skeptical around strangers, leading to hesitant behavior.

C. Impact of Past Trauma and Confidence Issues: German Shepherds that have experienced past trauma or mistreatment might display heightened stubbornness as a defense mechanism. They may be hesitant to trust or comply due to fear or anxiety. Furthermore, a lack of confidence can manifest as stubborn behavior, as they may feel unsure about new situations or tasks.

D. Weak Bond with the Owner: A weak bond between a German Shepherd and its owner can also contribute to stubbornness. A lack of trust or respect for the owner’s authority may lead to reluctance in following commands or listening to instructions.

E. Importance of Clear Commands and Positive Reinforcement: To address stubborn behavior effectively, providing clear and consistent commands is essential. German Shepherds respond well to positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, making it easier to motivate and encourage desired behavior.

F. The Role of Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Highly intelligent breeds like German Shepherds require mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and reduce stubborn tendencies. Regular exercise and engaging activities can help channel their excessive energy in a positive way.

The first step is recognizing the signs of stubborn behavior in German Shepherds. It helps with effective training and building a strong bond with our loyal companions. With patience, clear communication, and positive reinforcement, we can guide our German Shepherds towards good behavior and a harmonious relationship.

Why Are German Shepherds Stubborn
Photo Credit to Alexander Naglestad

Why Are German Shepherds Stubborn?

A. Intelligence and Independence

German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, which means they can learn things quickly. But this intelligence can also make them stubborn. Their clever minds allow them to think for themselves and decide whether they want to listen to us or not.

Their independent nature is valuable for tasks like herding or guarding. However, it can lead to resistance during training or following commands.

During training sessions or everyday situations, they might choose to do their own thing instead of obeying us. It’s essential to understand that their intelligence enables them to make choices, and sometimes, they may choose not to cooperate. This doesn’t mean they are being difficult on purpose; it’s just their nature to think independently.

As dog owners, we must be patient. We should use positive reinforcement techniques to motivate them to listen and follow our commands. Consistent training and encouragement are key. We can overcome their stubbornness and build a stronger bond with our intelligent and independent German Shepherds.

B. Protective Instincts

German Shepherds have strong protective instincts, which means they naturally want to keep us safe. They see themselves as guardians and may view certain situations or people as potential threats. When they feel protective, they might refuse to listen to our commands or act defensively.

For example, if they sense something unusual or unfamiliar, they may become cautious and refuse to move or obey. This behavior is their way of trying to keep us out of harm’s way.

As responsible owners, we must recognize and respect their protective instincts. Instead of forcing them to do something they feel uneasy about, we can work on building their confidence and providing reassurance.

Understanding their protective nature is crucial. Finding ways to address their concerns can help them feel more secure. This, in turn, reduces their stubborn behavior.

A well-balanced approach acknowledges their instincts. Gently guiding them through training is essential. It leads to a more harmonious relationship with our protective and loyal German Shepherds.

C. Need for Clear Rules and Boundaries

German Shepherds do best when they know the rules and boundaries in their environment. A lack of clear rules and irregularity in our expectations can lead to confusion. This may result in stubborn behavior.

For example, allowing them on the couch one day and scolding them the next creates confusion. They won’t understand our expectations. This unpredictability can lead to frustration and stubbornness.

To avoid this, it’s essential to set consistent guidelines for their behavior and training. Establishing clear rules and boundaries creates a structured and secure environment for them. When they understand our expectations, they feel confident and cooperate willingly.

Clear and consistent expectations help German Shepherds understand their roles in the family and reduce confusion. With clear rules and boundaries, we can foster better cooperation and a harmonious relationship with our loyal and intelligent companions.

D. Past Trauma or Mistreatment

German Shepherds with past trauma may display stubborn behavior to cope with fears and anxieties. Negative experiences can leave a lasting impact on their emotions and behavior, making them hesitant or unwilling to cooperate.

For example, a German Shepherd yelled at or punished in the past may fear certain situations or people. This fear can lead to resistance and reluctance to obey commands.

When dealing with a German Shepherd that has experienced trauma, be patient and understanding in your approach. Pushing them too hard or using punishment can worsen their fears and increase their stubbornness. Instead, we should use positive reinforcement and gentle guidance to help them build trust and confidence.

By being patient and supportive, we can gradually help them overcome their fears and reduce their stubborn tendencies. Building a trusting and positive relationship with them is essential for their emotional well-being and overall well-being.

E. Lack of Confidence

When German Shepherds lack confidence, it can lead to stubborn behavior, especially in unfamiliar or challenging situations. They may feel unsure about what to do, which can result in hesitation or resistance.

For example, if we introduce them to a new environment or task, they might become hesitant and unwilling to participate. This lack of confidence can make training difficult and frustrating.

To help them overcome their lack of confidence, we need to provide encouragement and support. Offering praise and rewards for small achievements can boost their self-assurance. Gradually expose them to new experiences. Use positive reinforcement to make them feel secure and open to trying new things.

It’s essential to be patient and understanding during this process, as building confidence takes time. Nurture their self-esteem and show belief in their abilities. This helps alleviate stubborn tendencies and creates a confident German Shepherd.

F. Weak Bond with the Owner

A strong bond between a German Shepherd and its owner is essential for a successful relationship and effective training. When the bond is weak, the dog may show resistance and disinterest in training sessions.

A weak bond can occur when the dog feels distant from its owner or lacks trust and connection. This can lead to a lack of motivation to follow commands or cooperate.

To strengthen the bond, spending quality time together is crucial. Engaging in activities such as playtime, walks, or training sessions can foster a sense of closeness and build trust. Consistency in care and handling also helps in establishing a strong bond.

Nurture a positive and loving relationship. The German Shepherd will feel more connected and engaged. This leads to better cooperation and reduced stubborn behavior. As a result, the owner and the dog can enjoy a fulfilling and harmonious partnership.

What to Do if Your German Shepherd is Stubborn
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What to Do if Your German Shepherd is Stubborn?

A. Start Training Early

Commencing training and socialization at an early stage is of utmost importance for German Shepherds to cultivate positive behavior and manners. It is recommended to initiate training during their puppyhood phase.

Early training shapes their behavior. It lays the foundation for a well-mannered adult dog. It also helps them become well-adjusted.

Puppies are highly receptive to learning, and their brains are like sponges, absorbing information rapidly. By introducing training early on, you can teach them essential commands and behaviors, such as sit, stay, and recall. Socialization is equally crucial during this time, as it exposes them to various experiences, people, and other dogs.

Socializing your German Shepherd is vital. It helps them develop social skills. It reduces the likelihood of fear or aggression later in life. Regular exposure to different environments is essential.

Interacting with other dogs and people is beneficial. It helps them become confident and well-adjusted companions in various settings.

Start early with training and socialization. It sets your German Shepherd on a path of good behavior. It ensures a positive outlook on life. It leads to a happy and harmonious relationship with you and others.

B. Give Clear Commands

When training your German Shepherd, it’s essential to use clear and consistent commands. Dogs, especially intelligent breeds like German Shepherds, respond best to assertive yet gentle guidance. To avoid confusion, keep the commands simple and limited to one word, such as “sit,” “stay,” or “come.”

Using hand signals or gestures along with verbal commands can reinforce understanding and improve communication with your furry friend. For instance, raising your hand palm-up while saying “sit” can help associate the action with the command.

Consistency is key during the training process. Repeating the same commands and gestures each time helps your dog recognize and remember what you want them to do. Consistency builds a strong association between the command and the desired behavior, making it easier for them to follow instructions.

Remember to be patient and positive throughout the training sessions. Encourage your German Shepherd with treats and praise when they respond correctly. Avoid using harsh or negative reinforcement, as it can lead to confusion and reluctance to obey.

Use clear commands and maintain consistency. This creates a language of communication. It fosters a successful learning process for your German Shepherd.

It leads to improved obedience. It strengthens the bond between you and your canine companion.

C. Provide Lots of Positive Encouragement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful and effective training method for German Shepherds. When your dog displays good behavior, such as following commands or learning new skills, reward them with treats, praise, or affection. Positive feedback reinforces the idea that they are doing the right thing. It motivates them to repeat those actions in the future.

Treats are a popular form of positive reinforcement because they appeal to the dog’s natural desire for food. Use small, tasty treats that your German Shepherd enjoys to make the reward enticing. Verbal praise, like saying “good boy” or “good girl,” in a cheerful tone, boosts their confidence and eagerness to please.

Along with treats and praise, physical affection such as petting or belly rubs can be highly rewarding for your German Shepherd. This strengthens your emotional connection. It reinforces positive behaviors, making training enjoyable for both of you.

Using positive reinforcement consistently builds trust and affection. It creates a happy and cooperative learning environment. This fosters good behavior and obedience in your German Shepherd.

D. Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation

German Shepherds are known for their high energy levels and intelligence. To address their stubbornness effectively, it is essential to provide them with both physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Regular physical exercise is crucial for a German Shepherd’s well-being. Daily walks, playtime, and engaging in activities like fetch or running are excellent ways to burn off their excess energy. Providing an outlet for their energy helps them stay calmer and focused. This applies to training sessions and daily interactions.

Without sufficient exercise, they may become restless and display unwanted behaviors due to boredom.

In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation is equally important for a German Shepherd’s mental well-being. These intelligent dogs need mental challenges to keep their minds sharp and engaged. Providing them with puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training tasks can satisfy their need for mental stimulation. Mental exercises also help to prevent behavioral issues arising from frustration or boredom.

By combining regular physical exercise with mental stimulation, you can promote a balanced and contented life for your German Shepherd. A tired and stimulated dog is more receptive to training. This makes it easier to address stubborn tendencies and foster good behavior.

E. Patience is Key

When training your German Shepherd, patience is a fundamental virtue. Dealing with stubborn behavior requires a calm and composed approach. It’s crucial not to react with frustration or resort to punishment, as this can create negative associations and hinder progress.

German Shepherds, like all dogs, learn at their own pace. Some may grasp commands quickly, while others might take more time to understand. Consistency in your training approach is vital. Repeating commands and exercises regularly will reinforce their learning and build positive habits.

If you encounter challenges during training, avoid becoming disheartened. Stay patient and focused on the end goal of fostering good behavior in your beloved companion. Remember that building a strong bond and trust between you and your German Shepherd takes time, effort, and understanding.

Celebrate each small achievement and progress they make along the way. With patience, positive reinforcement, and consistent practice, you’ll see gradual improvements in their behavior and responsiveness. Embrace the journey of training your German Shepherd, knowing that your patience will yield rewarding results over time.

F. Give Them Work

German Shepherds are bred as working dogs. They possess a strong desire to have a purpose or job to fulfill. Engaging them in meaningful tasks that align with their natural instincts is essential for their overall well-being.

When a German Shepherd has a job to do, it helps channel their abundant energy in a constructive manner. Provide tasks like retrieving objects or scent detection exercises. This fulfills their need for mental stimulation and physical activity.

Learning new tricks and commands is also an excellent way to keep their minds engaged and sharp. German Shepherds take pride in mastering new skills, and it enhances their sense of accomplishment.

Giving them work and tasks provides an outlet for their energy. It also strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion. A German Shepherd that feels purposeful and engaged is more likely to display cooperative and well-behaved behavior.

In conclusion, offering your German Shepherd meaningful tasks to do is an integral part of their training and overall happiness. Their innate working instincts thrive when they have a purpose, making them happier, healthier, and more content companions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do German Shepherds have a reputation for being stubborn?

Yes, German Shepherds are known for their strong-willed and independent nature, which can sometimes be perceived as stubbornness.

My German Shepherd doesn’t seem to listen to me. Why?

Your German Shepherd may not be listening due to a variety of reasons, including lack of clear communication, distractions, or fear. Patient and consistent training using positive reinforcement can help improve their responsiveness.

Are German Shepherds difficult to handle?

German Shepherds can be challenging to handle due to their intelligence and assertive personality. Proper training, socialization, and providing them with mental and physical stimulation are key to managing their behavior effectively.

Why is my German Shepherd not following my commands?

There could be several reasons why your German Shepherd is not following commands, such as lack of training, inconsistency, or stress. Identifying the underlying cause and addressing it with positive reinforcement training is essential.

How to train a strong-willed German Shepherd?

Training a strong-willed German Shepherd requires patience, consistency, and using positive reinforcement techniques. Focus on building a trusting and respectful relationship while setting clear boundaries and expectations.

Do German Shepherds test their owner’s authority?

Yes, German Shepherds may test their owner’s authority, especially if they perceive inconsistency or lack of confidence. Establishing yourself as a confident and reliable leader through consistent training and clear communication is crucial.


In conclusion, understanding and addressing the stubbornness of German Shepherds is vital for effective training. By recognizing their intelligence, protective instincts, and past experiences, we can develop constructive strategies.

Early training, positive reinforcement, regular exercise, and mental stimulation are essential elements in nurturing well-behaved companions. Patience and a strong bond with our furry friends are crucial for guiding them toward good behavior.

Embrace the training journey and enjoy the rewards of a loyal and well-mannered German Shepherd. With love and effort, we can build a harmonious relationship with these beloved and intelligent dogs.

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