German shepherd is a loyal and intelligent breed of dogs. They easily get affiliated with human beings. When we go to bed by switching off the lights, they howl and cry.
Is it because of darkness?
There are many questions which shepherd keepers want to clear related to the association of dog with darkness.
A fear of darkness, called achluophobia, has been documented among humans for decades. Researchers as early as Sigmund Freud linked it to separation anxiety in humans.
Certainly anxiety disorders are diagnosed and treated in dogs regularly, but before you decide that your dog has achluophobia, you will want to be sure that he is experiencing fear and that medical reasons for his fear have been ruled out.
Here we discuss some important questions in this regard with some logics and reasons.
Are German Shepherds Afraid of Darkness?
This is a little confusing, and a commonly asked question. I would like to clear it, based upon my experience that generally dogs aren’t afraid of the dark. Since, they can see far better in darkness than humans. Additionally, this should be remembered that different breeds of dogs respond differently to darkness.
Is There Possibility That Darkness Trigger Fear And Anxiety in Dogs?
Generally, German shepherds are smart animals; they easily apprehend the coming dangers, strange movements and sense noise more sensitively than humans during night time/darkness.
Still, there is a possibility that your dog can show signs of fear and anxiety in darkness. It is also pretty much clear that dogs easily become stressful and anxious and start responding to the external stimuli. Darkness can be one of the external factors/stimuli that can make your dog frightened and anxious.
According to my experience, darkness can’t be listed on top, as this is not very much common to make your dog frightful. Anxiety and fear may be due to other factors which can be misconstrued with darkness by the owners.
IMPORTANT SIGNS OF FEAR AND ANXIETY
These are some common signs of anxiety and fear in dogs, which can be helpful in evaluating and treating these conditions in your beloved dogs. All along that, these signs can indicate that your dog may be scared of darkness.
- Trying to escape from the darkness/darkened
- Excessive salivation
- Drooling, Whining, Shaking, Cowering, Chewing, Scratching and
- Closed posture and howling
- Potty accidents
WHY MIGHT GERMAN SHEPHERDS SEEM THAT THEY ARE AFRAID OF DARKNESS?
Many shepherd owners complain that their dogs show unusual behavior in dark places/ darkness or when left alone in darkness and they struggle to leave the darkened area.
As discussed above, it is noteworthy to keep in account that darkness is the least common factor that induces fear in dogs. There are several other conditions which are associated with it.
Eyesight impairment (troubles) can be a reason due to which your dog starts scarring from darkness. Dogs can see well even in dim lights during nighttime because of a special anatomical structure in their eyes, which is called tapetum. It helps in reflecting more light to the retina which makes them see better even in dim or low-light situations.
Any issue with your dog’s eye can predispose darkness, fear/anxiety in them. Consult your veterinarian or animal ophthalmologist to get your dog’s eye checked.
Another biggest reason for darkness fear is separation from their owner. German shepherd show much affection and attachment with their owners. When you leave your dog buddy in a dark or alone area or go to your bedroom by switching off the lights, your dog starts getting frightened/anxious, just because he doesn’t want to be separated from you. This logic can be very much beneficial to figure out the reasons for fear in their dogs.
ANY DANGER /UNUSUAL HAPPENING
Dogs can easily get an idea of unknown danger or any weird disastrous event happening around them. Due to this, they can show signs of fear and anxiety especially in darkened or alone areas.
CAN A PREVIOUS BAD EXPERIENCE OR CONFINED SPACE LEAD TO DARKNESS FEAR IN DOG?
Any previous negative experience is another important factor that is involved in the darkness fear. Dogs are intelligent animals and they remember anything bad happened to them in the past. If anything ridiculous or any frightened event had happened with them in darkness, they would show fear and anxiety signs in darkened areas/darkness.
So, any past bad experience can also be a major contributing factor in making dogs afraid of darkness.
Secondly, if you confined a dog to a closed space with not even a dim light source, then their tapetum will not work properly. This all will limit eyesight of your dog, and ultimately they will start showing signs of frightfulness and anxiety.
WHAT IS THE ASSOCIATION OF DARKNESS WITH STORMS?
Dogs respond quickly and suddenly to noises. Noise phobia is very much common that makes your dog frightful and panic. Thunderstorms are a type of noise phobia to which your dog mostly gets exposed. Remember, Storms and darkness are closely related to each other and both together can affect the behavior and overall wellbeing of your dog.
It is advisable to adopt a holistic approach to deal with these two phobias together by using various storm defender products, pheromones and antidepressants.
WHICH ARE OTHER BREEDS OF DOG COMMONLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO NIGHTTIME ANXIETY?
Darkness fear and night time anxiety also depend upon temperament and breed of dogs. But here, According to my field experience, I would like to enlist some common breeds which are more prone to it.
- Labrador retriever
- Border Collie.
- Shorthair Pointer
- Cocker Spaniel.
- King Charles
IF YOUR GERMAN SHEPHERD TENDS TO GET ANXIOUS IN DARK/NIGHT TIME, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP HIM?
I would like to share some important strategies and tactics that can soothe your dog, if he is suffering from darkness/night time anxiety.
- Train your dog gradually to darkness by giving him treats and exposing him to positive experiences. Remember, positive experiences/events will encourage him to stay calm in darkness.
- Along with adding a simple night light in your dog’s sleeping area, using LED and reflective dog products may reduce your dog’s anxiety when walking at night. They also improve visibility in case your dog slips.
A light-up leash or collar isn’t likely to eliminate your dog’s fear of the dark, but it can be a helpful tool in conjunction with training. Try to lighten all the dark areas of your house.
- To help your dog with nighttime anxiety, consider moving their crate or bed into a designated dog-safe area of your bedroom if they don’t already join you there. If this isn’t desirable or possible, add a night light to their usual sleeping space, along with plenty of comforts.
- It is possible to teach any dog new tricks—or to help them get over a frustrating phobia. If night walks are a source of stress, take it slowly. Before you take your dog outside at night, try hanging out with them in dim lighting indoors. Play, give them snacks, scratch their bellies, make it a fun place to be and they’ll eventually stop being so
- If your dog is having any vision problem, or underlying medical condition or separation anxiety, then it is recommended to consult with your veterinarian or animal behaviorist. They can suggest a better plan to deal with the darkness, anxiety or fear in your dogs.
There are several factors which can make your German shepherd feeling scared. Darkness is one of them. But according to the scientific literature and experts, German shepherds are not much susceptible to darkness fear just like other breeds of dogs. They are strong dogs and alert dogs. Additionally, if you find any issue in your beloved GS, talk to a registered pet expert. He/she will help you better diagnosing the actual reason of anxiousness in your canine buddy.