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5 Reasons Why German Shepherds Follow Owners: Explained

  • Vet Approved Content

Last Updated on May 18, 2023 by The Puppy Mag

You’re not alone if your German Shepherd follows you the moment you leave the room.

While this behavior might be flattering, we’ll explain why and how this behavior should be limited.

5 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Follows You

Whether you like the company or find it incredibly annoying, it’s good to find out why your GSD is following you around, and how to stop it.

  1. You are accidentally encouraging the behavior
  2. They are seeking attention
  3. They are following their instincts
  4. They have separation anxiety
  5. They are scared or stressed

1. You Are Accidentally Encouraging The Behavior

This is actually the most common reason by far. And It may surprise you just how easy it is to accidentally encourage behaviors you don’t want, in this case, following you around.

Over time, your German Shepherd will learn that when she sticks by your side, good things happen. “Good things” typically mean receiving treats, tidbits, or extra attention.

When your GSD sticks by your side, she’s waiting for you to give her something, and when you do, you reaffirm to her that she did the right thing to be next to you. So guess where she will be tomorrow!

As you can imagine, this is very easy to do. Innocent rewards (because you’re being nice) are actually reinforcing bad habits that you don’t really want.

  • What You Can Do

The best way to tackle this is to stop giving her rewards or extra attention for no reason.

German Shepherds are hard-working dogs and LOVE to have a role in the pack, so put her to work.

Only reward her for valid reasons, like getting a basic command right, following an order, or actively doing something that warrants a positive response.

Refrain from giving her treats for no reason, and she will slowly learn that “good things” don’t always happen by simply following you around.

2. She’s Seeking Your Attention

German Shepherds love attention from their human family, especially their owner or who they deem to be their leader.

While some German Shepherds are happy to lay down by themselves, many want to know exactly what you are doing and where you are going.

German Shepherds require a lot of exercise, training, mental stimulation, playtime, and your time. If any of these areas are lacking, she may be following you around as a way to say “hey, I’m waiting to do something”.

  • What You Can Do

Reevaluate your current daily routine and think if your German Shepherd is lacking in any of the essential areas.

GSDs should be receiving around 2 hours of intensive exercise per day, some form of command training, and at least a couple of random play sessions with you.

If your German Shepherd lacks in any of those areas she may just be following you around for more attention.

3. It’s In Her Instincts To Follow You

German Shepherds have a strong pack instinct and sticking close to their leader is typical behavior seen in the wild.

As you are her leader, she will constantly look to you for guidance and for you to give her the next command.

  • What You Can Do

Being “put to work” is an important part of any working dog’s life and when this need isn’t met, it’s normal for them to pester you until it is.

The best way you can help your GSD feel more valuable and satisfied is to carry out a lot more basic command training (with rewards) than you already are.

Basic command training includes sit, stay, come, lay down, paw, and all the other fancy ones. And it doesn’t have to be easy and boring, you can make these exercises more exciting by increasing the difficulty. This will have many residual positive effects besides her following you less.

4. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a serious condition that can be very hard to cure once developed, so prevention is really important.

Separation anxiety gets to the stage where a dog can’t go any length of time without the presence of one particular person, usually the owner.

Although following you around is a symptom of separation anxiety, it shouldn’t be used alone to diagnose it.

There will usually be a range of other symptoms aside from following you around:

Destructive behavior when you leave her alone
● Becoming very nervous when you’re about to leave the house
● Whining, howling, or excessive barking when you leave her alone
Panting or drooling when you leave her alone (even going to the bathroom)
Shaking and trembling throughout the day

  • What You Can Do

If you suspect your German Shepherd has separation anxiety then you need to prevent it from getting worse.

This is a complex topic that is best explained in this article, dealing with canine separation anxiety. This article is in relation to huskies but the principles are exactly the same.

5. They are scared or stressed

German shepherds are very sensitive to their environment and the people around them.

If anyone or anything is making them feel scared or overly stressed, they’ll likely resort to following their owner around for safety and comfort.

This is a very natural response and happens all the time with GSDs

Despite having an independent and strong character, german shepherds can still get scared easily when something unsettles them.

Consider any triggers in your home or close environment that could be making your GSD scared.

Should Owners Stop Their GSD From Following Them?

If you aren’t too worried about your German Shepherd following you around everywhere, you may think it’s ok to let it happen. But this isn’t advised…

If this behavior continues, it may inadvertently cause separation anxiety in the future.

By following you everywhere you go, your German Shepherd is slowly becoming dependant on you being there. So when you do actually leave and she can’t follow, it may result in increased nerves and anxiety.

While this may not always be the outcome, considering how difficult separation anxiety is to overcome, everything should be done to prevent it in the first place.

How To Stop Your German Shepherd Following You So Much

The very best way to stop your GSD from shadowing you is to stop reinforcing the behavior. I mentioned this in the last section, but it has to be covered again…

Positive reinforcement is a powerful training technique and that’s probably the millionth time you’ve heard that. But one thing that’s rarely discussed is how easy it is to accidentally encourage the behavior you don’t want.

For example It’s as simple as giving her a small piece of ham while you’re making a ham sandwich… If she followed you there, you are rewarding her for that.

That’s it all it takes, and this has just positively reinforced to her that following you is what you want (and she receives treats for it too!).

That was just one example, but this repeats itself in so many ways, in just a single day.

Try your best to only reward your German Shepherd in moments that she deserves it, like after having followed a specific command.

As long as separation anxiety isn’t the cause, practicing this tip should slowly but surely reduce how often your GSD gets up to follow you.

German Shepherd Articles:
Does My German Shepherd Love Me? 11 Signs of GSD Affection
My German Shepherd Won’t Eat | 6 Reasons Why And What To Do
The Complete Breed Compatibility Guide For German Shepherds

Final Thoughts

If your German Shepherd is following you around, it’s likely due to seeking attention, you’ve been accidentally encouraging the behavior, she’s acting on her instincts, or she has separation anxiety.

The first way to stop this behavior is to avoid encouraging her to follow you, this means giving her treats, attention, or praise after she has followed you. Try to only reward her after doing something that you want to encourage, like obeying a commend.

It’s important to try and limit this behavior because it could develop into something more serious like separation anxiety.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here

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