German Spitz is a vocal breed and they do bark quite a bit. It may be difficult to train them not to bark at all. However, they can be taught not to bark in an excessive way.
To answer this simple question more thoroughly we first need to go back in time a bit to see where the German Spitz type of dogs lived and what purpose they had in sharing their lives with humans. Oftentimes the characteristics of today’s dog breeds have been inherited from their ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago.
It’s been said that the German Spitzes are the miniature version of Nordic herding dogs such as the Samoyed and Lapphund. These types of dogs have been said to live with humans in Europe already thousands of years ago. In fact, German Spitz is one of the most ancient dog breeds in Europe.
German Spitzes were used as guard dogs in German provinces. Their job was to alert and inform by barking that someone was approaching. The talent that in the past was a useful part of their character still remains in their repertoire today. So, do they bark? Yes. But is there something that we can do about it and does it restrict where you can live with a German Spitz in today’s society? Let’s delve into this topic more deeply.
Can you live with your German Spitz in an apartment?
If you are here meeting me for the first time, let me tell you that for two years I lived in an apartment with a German Spitz as a pet of mine. In fact, my very first Mittel (medium-sized German Spitz) was just seven weeks old when I took him to his first home, and this first home of his was in a city apartment in a five-story-building. During those two years, I never had a single problem with him barking. Not once did the neighbors complain about him. On the contrary, everyone in the building loved my little German Spitz and they were sad to see us move a couple of years later.
However, not every dog is the same and not every German Spitz is the same. Their characters can be quite different from one another, and barking is only one part of their temperament that can vary depending on the dog’s family tree. That is why you should always get to know the lineage of the puppy you are thinking of getting. Get to know the parents and if possible, the grandparents of the puppy you are thinking about purchasing. You might be able to find a quieter individual.
A couple of years later I got my second Mittel and he was a different story. For him, it was natural to bark. He reacted quickly to everything that was happening around him, and a natural way for him to express his reactions was to bark. His vocabulary didn’t only limit to barking, either, but he also liked to “sing”. Whenever he heard a certain type of music – a theme song of a certain TV show for example – he released this howling kind of sound that also varied according to the music. For us it was endearing and we called it ‘singing’ but had I still lived in an apartment my neighbors probably would have called it something else. Luckily by that point, I had already moved to more quiet surroundings.
Also, having a German Spitz differs greatly from having two, three or more. It is far easier to train one than to train several. You must remember that whatever the dog’s family tree may seem like the German Spitz breed was once created to alert. It is natural for them to bark when something out of the ordinary happens, and while you may be able to lessen this urge by training with one dog, it may not be as easy with a group of German Spitzes. For example, when one of them reacts to a sound the others re-react to the first one’s reaction. You may find yourself with not one but with two or more badly behaving German Spitzes.
If you want to read more about living in an apartment with a German Spitz I suggest you read my article: Apartment Living With a German Spitz – Pros and Cons.
But can German Spitzes be trained not to bark, or at least not to bark in an excessive way?
Can German Spitz be trained not to bark?
Absolutely yes, but it may require more effort compared to some other breeds. You must also be prepared for not being able to make them forget about barking entirely. You may be able to take it down to a more tolerable level, but even this requires steady and continuous work on your part.
The best thing to do is to start training the puppy as soon as he arrives to his new home. Bad habits are being learned quickly, but if you teach him good ones before he learns any bad ones, life will be much easier.
While living in the apartment building with neighbors close by, I made sure I didn’t cause any barking reactions with my own behavior. Let me elaborate this with an example: I told my visitors beforehand to be patient and wait a while; I would eventually come and open the door. Then when the doorbell rang I acted as if I hadn’t even heard. With this, I wanted to signal that this particular sound didn’t need a reaction because nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Then after a couple of minutes of silence, I slowly made my way to the door and let the visitors in. All of this was made quietly without any strong reactions from me. I also advised my visitors to ignore my dog first and only give him attention when he was perfectly calm.
With puppies everything is easy because they don’t know any other way, yet, and you get to teach them the right kind of reaction first. As soon as they learn bad habits it will be more difficult to train them out of those habits. It’s not impossible by any means, but it will require more work. In that case a first time dog owner especially may need help from a more experienced dog trainer.
Do German Spitzes bark at other dogs on walks?
This, too, can be answered ‘yes’ and ‘no’. There are quiet ones and there are those that yap at every dog they see. Especially male dogs’ barking at other male dogs is quite common. I would not say, though, that this is a characteristic of the German Spitz especially, because it can occur with just about any dog breed that exists.
It is important to start socializing the puppy as soon as you get him, because oftentimes this type of barking behavior derives from insecurities and fears. There is a lot that can be done with positive reinforcement and there is definitely no need to simply accept that the German Spitz barks at other dogs. The earlier you start to train him the better, but there is always hope with older dogs as well. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
German Spitz is a dog breed that has barking in his genes. For centuries these dogs were used to alert about anything strange happening around them and even though our societies have changed their behavior has not. They still have the same instincts.
Of course alerting can be a good thing depending where you live, and barking may not be any disturbance to you at all. However it can be if you live in a city with neighbors living next door. Not everyone is in love with your dog’s singing even though you yourself may be.
Before purchasing a German Spitz just for their cute looks you may want to think about your living situation. Will your dog’s barking get you into trouble? Will you have time to properly train him and teach him what the right kind of reaction is in different situations? While you may be able to make him fairly quiet you most likely won’t be able to get rid of all of his basic instincts that he has inherited from his ancestors.
If possible, go see different German Spitzes. Meet breeders and talk to the owners. You will see for yourself what they are like and how different they may be when it comes to barking. Be prepared for them to bark but be pleasantly surprised when they do not. And remember, German Spitz does not bark without a reason. Their reason, however, is not necessarily a good enough reason for you.