How To Train a German Shepherd: 7 Quick and Easy Ways
German Shepherd puppies are brilliant and trainable, although they frequently prefer to be in charge. They must undergo the proper training to be loyal, friendly, and protective like good family dogs.
Here’s how to train a German shepherd:
- Start training your German Shepherd as soon as you can.
- Put your training aids together.
- Use verbal and nonverbal cues to teach your GSD the basic commands.
- Reward good behaviour when training your German Shepherd.
- Find some companions for your German Shepherd.
- Avoid disruptive behaviour.
- Transition to more arduous German Shepherd training.
This article discusses the best ways to train a German Shepherd. As a German Shepherd owner, I’ll show you how to teach your German Shepherd puppy best using positive reinforcement to learn both basic and advanced obedience commands. You’ll learn:
- How to quickly and easily train a German Shepherd
- Principles for German Shepherd Puppy Training
- Positive reinforcement is the best training strategy.
- The essential commands for training your German Shepherd, from basic to advanced.
How to Train a German Shepherd
German Shepherds are extremely intelligent, making them easy to train as long as you follow the proper precautions.
Early training—generally at around eight weeks—is essential for your German Shepherd puppy. Use verbal and verbal cues to teach basic commands like “SIT!” “NO!” and “COME!” Give your dog treats and lots of verbal praise to help them remember your commands. Positively socialize your puppy and stop bad behaviour.
Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you can progress to more sophisticated German Shepherd training. But let’s start with the fundamental guidelines for training puppies.
1. Begin training your German Shepherd for work at a young age.
According to specialists in canine behaviour, you ought to continually train your German Shepherd puppy. Your pet will grow up knowing what is expected of him, which gives your dog a greater sense of comfort and confidence.
While most of us know that eight to ten weeks is the best time to teach a puppy to live in a home, you might be interested to discover that puppy training should start a little earlier.
Between the ages of 3 and 12, according to studies, a puppy’s socialization is most crucial. The dog’s socialization and training during this time will still affect how it behaves as an adult.
Good training around this time will make a German Shepherd puppy more tolerant of people. Without training, some puppies may grow up to be challenging to handle and untrainable.
Research on dogs’ propensity to “go with the herd” suggests that even in various fake situations, dogs will stick to what they have learned and not imitate other dogs’ behaviour.
Your German Shepherd puppy will continue the excellent early training you gave him; you can rely on him to act appropriately in any situation.
Ideal practices for training a German Shepherd puppy include the ones listed below:
- As soon as you can, begin your training. The puppy is prepared to learn as soon as the breeder hands him off to you. Early training has a significant impact on how German Shepherds mature.
- Have patience: Because young puppies are highly interested, you will need a lot of patience when training a German Shepherd puppy. However, once they understand that you are their only provider and the source of treats, further training them will be easier.
- To understand whether the command has been learned, take a brief break and review it. Keep training sessions brief to avoid boredom or frustration for your dog. It’s good to have three to four 5-to-10-minute training sessions every day. As your puppy gets older and more used to the activity, you can make the session last longer if needed.
- Even if your German Shepherd puppy didn’t successfully learn the command for the day, always end each training session on a good note. That can be a quick game or a walk through the park.
2. Gather your training materials.
Before beginning the learning session, ensure you have everything you need to train your German Shepherd successfully. You will need:
- Purchase some tasty and nourishing training treats for your German Shepherd puppy. Because they are soft and contain only 3.5 calories per treat, Zuke’s Puppy Naturals from Amazon are a favourite of mine for obedience training. I also like to use tiny pieces of chicken or pig.
- Crate/Kennel: When teaching your GSD puppy the command “KENNEL” or “CRATE,” you must point at one. Choose a crate that you can pick up with your puppy. The perfect size is 48″. I suggest a crate with valuable features like double doors and a tray, like the Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate, offered on Amazon. There is nothing extra you need to buy because this also comes with a divider.
- Toys: During training, toys are used as rewards and playthings. Give your puppy his favourite toy when teaching him a new command or the “LET GO” command. I adore the Amazon KONG Puppy Toy because German Shepherds are perfect for it because of their razor-sharp teeth, which make it incredibly durable. For chewing, fetching, and chasing games, this toy is excellent. Even treats can be put inside.
- Leash: A leash is essential when starting German Shepherd training. It can be used to teach your pet how to train commands while off-leash and then control his commands to those commands. For outdoor training and walks, a harness is a good option. Many dog owners succeed with a no-pull harness, such as the Julius-K9 from Amazon, which I have previously used. Walking Your Dog With LoveThe No-Pull Harness is now my preferred option since I prefer a front-attached harness for even less pull.
Once you have your training tools ready, you can move on to the other steps of obedience training.
ALSO READ: How to Train a Labrador Retriever
3. Use verbal and nonverbal cues to teach your GSD basic commands.
You should always assume that a German Shepherd is well-trained if you see one acting politely and nicely. While some people think that dogs can read minds and carry out intentions, this is incorrect.
Your German Shepherd puppy relies on your communication to grow up to be a well-behaved companion. You must first train him how to decipher communication codes, though.
Your German Shepherd Reacts to Your Voice Especially Well.
Dogs naturally tend to act in ways that advance the aims of their breeding. So, if its owner is in danger, a German Shepherd may quickly use its “herding genes” to protect itself.
It will depend on verbal commands for a German Shepherd to understand your wishes and grow into the friendly family dog you are looking for. They respond astonishingly well with the proper training.
Researchers have discovered that dogs can understand some human words because their brains process language similarly to humans.
However, it’s also suggested that your dog listens to the tone of your voice before picking up on your words. Whether your tone is one of excitement or disappointment, they will be able to tell. It’s not what you say, but rather how you say it, that conveys the message.
Training in general and getting your dog’s attention when he can’t see you are crucially crucial since dogs respond to voice pitch before anything else.
When you combine verbal and nonverbal cues, your GSD will learn more.
Most experienced dog trainers would suggest that you use verbal commands and hand gestures. This advice is helpful because dogs can read cues from body language frequently and do so frequently.
Dogs can tell when you’re sad just by glancing at your face, as they pick up on other body signals and your hand movements during training. This fact has been used to explain why hearing dogs and deaf dogs learn.
Research shows that combining spoken words with hand gestures increases dog obedience. The meaning is strengthened if the words and gestures are employed in a context. For instance, directing your dog to search while pointing in the right direction will work better in a context where the search has already been done.
The Most Important German Shepherd Training Commands
The majority of dogs need both basic and advanced obedience training. Your German Shepherd puppy should learn the first commands as part of basic obedience training, often done while restrained on a leash.
- Your German Shepherd puppy’s very first command should be “Sit!” It helps a lot when your dog is acting in a way that could distract other people (for example, when you have guests over or are conversing with someone while taking your dog for a daily walk). With or without a leash, it is possible.
- Come! is a command that can be used on or off leash to call your German Shepherd. It is especially crucial if your dog starts to wander off from you.
- The command “Stand!” should cause your dog to stand up from a lying or sitting position.
- Your GSD will crouch and lie down when you say “Down.” It might blend in with the hint of your palm’s flat position. The “DOWN” command tells your dog to be quiet in advanced Schutzhund training for German Shepherds used in the military.
- Let go of it! With this command, your German Shepherd puppy will learn not to pick up things that it shouldn’t. It can be a toy for your youngster or unhealthy food like chocolate from the kitchen counter.
- You use the command “Stay!” to train your GSD to stay put, on or off leash, and not move.
- Disrupts or ban your German Shepherd puppy from engaging in a specific behaviour. When communicating, keep your voice calm at all times.
- Pay attention or turn to face me. This command is essential to GSD training. It attracts their attention when your dog is not paying attention to you or when you need to give instructions for the following command. The puppy should concentrate and turn to face you when you call “attention.” A finger tap or vertical finger point may come after the command.
- Heel! Using this command, your German Shepherd will learn to walk with you when you’re walking. The “HEEL” command directs your dog to walk on your left side with a slack leash and his head at level with your knee when participating in competitive sports.
- You are training your GSD to spit out whatever it cheats on, so let go. It can be food from the dining room table or things you find while out for your daily walk.
- Come on in! Your German Shepherd puppy is instructed to enter the space. He can be barking at neighbours’ dogs or people passing by your home outside the door.
- Go out! – You train your dog to leave the room. He might be reluctant to participate in the day’s advanced command obedience training.
- Kennel/Crate/Bed-Your German Shepherd Dog needs to get into his kennel, crate, or bed.
- A verbal compliment such as “Good!” lets your dog know he did well. A treat or a scratch behind the ears can be added to it. Another option is to remark, “GOOD DOG! To begin with, be consistent till your German Shepherd learns that the two signals mean the same thing.
- With the command “OK,” you give your dog the all-clear. He might be glancing at you to get your OK to eat his food.
4. You can train your German Shepherd with positive reinforcement.
Reward-based training, often known as positive reinforcement, is the best technique for training dogs.
Studies have demonstrated that positive reinforcement best affects dog behaviour and temperament. Aversive training methods might harm the dog’s physical and emotional well-being (negative reinforcement and positive punishment).
The cornerstone of positive reinforcement is rewarding your dog anytime they behave well or follows your instructions. Aversive training entails punishing your dog for disobeying a command.
You can use whatever your dog values as a reward. A verbal compliment (“GOOD DOG!”), a favourite toy or pastime, a pat on the back or scratch, or—most frequently—a mouthwatering treat—can all be used as rewards.
Dogs can connect an action or behaviour and a reward (or another result) (cause). If we could put words in their mouths, they would say, “If I am ordered to come, and I do so, the delectable liver cookie will be taken out of the bag, and I can enjoy it!”
You can alter the rewards as your German Shepherd matures (change biscuits for verbal praise or a favourite toy). Even if you stop using rewards because your German Shepherd has learned the behaviour, praise and touch rewards (like a scratch behind the ear) will always be important in your relationship with him.
5. Introduce your German Shepherd to new people.
Your German Shepherd should be emotionally balanced, especially when interacting with children and other animals. This starts to become quite important as the GSD grows.
If you want to train a German Shepherd to be friendly, you must introduce him to people and other animals while he is still a young puppy. Dogs also require exposure to a range of environments. Reward your GSD for acting appropriately in strange situations so that he will begin to associate good feelings with encountering what he might otherwise regard as exotic beings.
To socialize with a German shepherd, you should:
- Start early: You should start socialization training your German Shepherd as soon as the puppy is released into your care. Socialization is crucial for the growth of your German Shepherd. Do you want to know more about socialization? See How to Socialize a German Shepherd for more information.
- Be aware of delicate interactions: Unless you are experienced with the nuances of such situations, avoid bringing a baby or another puppy near a German Shepherd. Introductions should not be hasty but rather deliberate.
A Command of Calmness
German Shepherd puppies are prone to misbehaviour. They may also behave violently and with domineering or possessive behaviour if they feel threatened or have too much pent-up energy. You can reverse these habits with proper socialization and regular exercise. You can also train your German Shepherd to be calm.
To train a German Shepherd to be calm, you must anchor a command that initially matches his calmness and activates it. Regularly say “Calm” or “Calm Down” to help calm him down.
The following are the best practices for training a GSD to calm down when instructed:
- Always start it slowly at first. Avoiding overplaying your hand by attempting to calm down an agitated GSD is crucial. When your dog is initially stressed out, the anchor will still work.
- Never reinforce aggressive behaviour. Never reinforce aggressive behaviour in your German Shepherd. Even though feeding a dog makes it more likely to be aggressive, some inexperienced dog owners mistake a GSD’s lousy mood for hunger and end up feeding their pet.
6. Encourage positive behaviour
Even while teaching your GSD tricks can be amusing, it is recommended to begin by eradicating lousy behaviour when they are still puppies. Inadequate training, misunderstandings, boredom, or a lack of enthusiasm and exercise are the leading causes of undesirable behaviour in German Shepherds. Fortunately, bad behaviour can be easily managed and modified.
Stop barking pointlessly.
Before teaching a German Shepherd not to bark, you must first calm it down. It would help if you said the exact word when he stopped speaking. This word comes to symbolizesymbolize the dog’s quietness. If you reward him by giving him a treat if he stays silent, you can get him to quit barking.
Practices for training your German Shepherd to remain silent when questioned
- Take care not to use the word “command” too quickly; it will take some time for your German Shepherd to learn to associate it with “quiet.” The command will become less effective if used before the GSD starts associating it with silence.
- Practice contrasting the commands “SPEAK” and “QUIET” one after the other. Once he knows the difference between the two commands and how he should respond, he will be more flexible and be able to switch from barking to being quiet and back again more quickly.
As part of their typical canine behaviour, dogs will jump up to greet you or attract attention. However, jumping up and down at people disturbs your guests and should be avoided. Your German Shepherd will learn to jump if the attention or reward he jumps for is taken away.
Top tips for training your German Shepherd to sit rather than jump include:
- When the GSD jumps, try not to smile or laugh because you could be unknowingly encouraging or rewarding the dog. You shouldn’t nod in agreement even if the puppy’s behaviour is cute.
- Ignore your GSD when he jumps; if you turn your back and tell him that he won’t get any attention, he will quickly walk out. As soon as he stops jumping and puts all four paws back on the ground, reward him with a treat.
Healthy Chewing Promotion
To train a German Shepherd not to chew, you must direct his energy to things like going for walks and playing games. Even while chewing is a behaviour that comes naturally to dogs, it frequently happens because of pent-up energy that may be spent more effectively.
The following are the best practices for training a GSD to stop chewing:
- Give your dog chew toys as a healthy alternative to satisfy his innate urge to chew, especially if he is teething. – Redirect the behaviour to chewing on toys.
- If your dog is well trained and disciplined, grounding him for chewing will work. Once the GSD has nibbled on something, do not correct him. The German Shepherd will become confused because he can’t figure out what caused what.
7. Progress is being made on training a German shepherd.
Your German Shepherd puppy will need to be taught the following more burdensome commands as he grows up:
- The command “Jump!” directs your dog to leap over a wall, fence, or another barrier.
- Fetch! You train your German Shepherd how to pick up and bring you a particular item. It could be a newspaper, a blanket for the couch, etc. You can use this command in games or sports to instruct your dog to catch a launched object and bring it back.
- Track! Using this command, your GSD will learn to follow a person or an object. It is also very beneficial for police or German military Shepherds.
- Speak up or be barking! You train your German Shepherd to bark or make noise. You might want your dog to scare them away if intruders are present.
- Quiet! It directs your dog to cease barking when encountering visitors or other stimuli.
- You tell your dog to bite something by saying, “Bite!” Your German Shepherd puppy will be trained with toys or other things, but you might later tell the dog to bite an intruder.
- It teaches your German Shepherd to be watchful around a specific item or to stand guard at the door.
- You train your German Shepherd to follow you everywhere, so go ahead. It is also used to command your dog to direct you in agility competitions.
FAQs on German Shepherd Training:
Are German Shepherds Easy to Train?
German Shepherds are easy to train because of their high intelligence and passionate desire to please their owners. They thrive in a busy, orderly setting and enjoy obeying your commands. Their strong sense of protectiveness and loyalty propels their eagerness to please.
When to train your German Shepherd
At eight weeks of age, or as soon as the puppy is released into your care, German Shepherd training should start. Initial training won’t be overly demanding but will cover crucial elements that can’t be delayed, such as socializing with others, learning basic commands like “SIT” and “COME,” and donning a harness.
Though it could take a bit longer and demand more perseverance and patience if you have an older dog, it is never too late in training a German Shepherd.
How Long Does It Take Train a German Shepherd?
Training sessions for your German Shepherd can start as early as four to five months. It usually takes two to three months to train your dog to follow all the basic commands like “SIT,” “FETCH,” “HEEL,” and “COME.” Children should be trained mainly by the time they turn one year old. But dog training is an ongoing effort.
There are many things to consider, such as the specific dog, how regularly you train them, whether you are consistent, the strategies you use, etc.