German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds on earth.
So it must be easy to teach them everything.
Many dog owners fail to take the leadership role and teach them basic commands.
If you are new to the world of GSD, this guide will help you get started with German shepherd puppy training right now!
I would have loved to share my own training demonstrations, but due to lack of resources, I decided to add valuable video demonstrations from other dog trainers that are similar to what I’m going to discuss.
- 1 German Shepherd puppy selection Tips.
- 2 Appropriate Training age for German Shepherd puppy.
- 3 German Shepherd name recognition training.
- 4 Becoming the Alpha of the pack: The right way to do it.
- 5 Clicker Training for German Shepherds Puppies.
- 6 How to potty train a German Shepherd.
- 7 How to Crate Train a German Shepherd.
- 8 How to leash train German Shepherd puppy.
- 9 How to train your German Shepherd not to jump.
- 10 How to train German Shepherd not to bite or chew.
- 11 Teaching your German Shepherd basic training commands.
- 12 List of training commands that you need to teach your puppy.
- 13 Final thoughts…
German Shepherd puppy selection Tips.
These are the same tips I got from fellow dog owners and trainers when I was going to buy my first GSD puppy.
Tip 1- The Breeder and the breeding environment matters.
You need to get your puppy from a reputable German Shepherd breeder that has a long history of happy owners. You need to check the parents and their health before you make the decision. Because if parents are aggressive the chances of your pup becoming aggressive increases.
Tip 2- The gender should be distinct.
Whether you are going for a male or female puppy, it should show on their look and personality. When I got my first male GSD puppy, I was able to tell him that his a boy just from his strong masculine presence.
Tip 3- Avoid shy puppies.
There’s no place for emotions here. Look for the puppy who is energetic and playful. Shy puppies are hard to train and not very reliable in critical situations.
Appropriate Training age for German Shepherd puppy.
Just after 6 weeks when a German Shepherd puppy is separated from his mother, the training period should begin.
So it’s best to get a GSD puppy 5-6 weeks old.
Give some time for the puppy to get settled in the new place and start with basic training which we will cover right throughout this guide.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to go. You shouldn’t be worried if your puppy is not learning fast.
In fact, these 3 milestones will let you know that you are effectively training your dog:
3-month milestone: At this age, your German shepherd puppy should learn to come, sit, walk on a leash and hold their bladder for 2 to 3 hours.
6-month milestone: He should be able to stay until you command to do something and hold their bladder for 4-4.5 hours.
1-year milestone: This is the period when your German Shepherd puppy should be able to perform commands disregarding distractions and hold his bladder for 5 hours or so.
*Bonus tip: Get a puppy of 3 months of age who has gone through extended maternal care. Research has shown that puppies with extended maternal care from trained mother dogs were easier to train than other puppies.
German Shepherd name recognition training.
The name recognition training is easy but it takes a long time and hundreds of repetition to get it right.
Take some treats in your hand and when he faces you, just say his name and give the treat. Repeat this for 15-20 times. You can also use homemade dog cakes and break them up to serve as treats.
Test him when he is not looking at you or busy with other kinds of stuff. If he looks at you, offer the treat. If he doesn’t, start again.
Slowly add more distractions and repeat the process.
Becoming the Alpha of the pack: The right way to do it.
You might have heard about becoming the Alpha when searching for German Shepherd dog training.
This is a concept often misunderstood and can lead to dangerous behavior from your puppy dog when he grows big.
Dr. L. David Mech in 1999 published a research article on the behavior of wolves in the wild. The parents who protect and care for their pups usually had the alpha position in the pack. No sever dominance, or fighting was needed to gain that state.
Before dog trainers used to act brutally and take the dominant role that they believed would make them the alpha in the pack. Things like eating before your puppy eats, sitting on your dog, etc. can make your dog more sensitive and create fear in him.
Here are the best ways to take the alpha role in your pet and owner bond:
- Don’t teach him to follow commands. You should teach your dog to take permission before he does something. In this way, he becomes dependent on you and will look for your guidance.
- Provide him safety from physical or emotional attacks. Don’t put him under any circumstances in which he may feel threatened. In this way, he will start trusting you.
- Most people fail to be consistent. Make sure if you teach him to do something or avoid doing something, this remains consistent throughout his lifetime.
- Look for obedience training rather than shouting at him.
Clicker Training for German Shepherds Puppies.
The clicker training method is an alternative to using a voice marker. Though different dog trainers would argue whether or not to use it, it’s totally up to you!
The REASON WHY I included this in this training guide simply because it works.
Clickers are very simple devices that make a clicking noise when you press them. It helps to grab the attention of your dog, and the benefit is the sound remains consistent, unlike voice markers where the tone of your voice might be different every time.
I found 3 steps to get started with the clicker training method:
Step 1: Let him get used to the device.
You have to do this in a quiet environment where there are no distractions. Have some treats with you. Press the clicker and then feed him. If you continue doing this, your dog will know that he’s going to get a treat as soon as you make the clicking sound.
Step 2: Associate a command with the clicker.
Make your dog sit or do something and follow that up with clicking and treat. Over time he will understand that he needs to obey your command to get that treat.
Step 3: Decrease the treats and increase the work.
As you continue training him, give him less treats and more tricks to perform. But keep using the clicker to let him know the treat is there. You can read more on dog training without treats to clarify your doubts.
Here’s a video showing how the clicker method works.
How to potty train a German Shepherd.
The Potty training, also known as Housebreaking in the dog world. It is the first training that you should give to your puppy GSD; otherwise, your home will become a big mess.
So here’s how to do it.
Maintain a proper schedule and place.
You should be consistent with the timing of your puppy’s potty needs. As a rule of thumb take him outside right after eating, before sleeping and after he wakes up.
You need to teach him to go to the same spot every time. The scent from his previous excretions will let him know that that’s the place to do his work.
Give him rewards.
If your puppy does his potty in the right place, give him treats or rewards to let him know he’s doing it right.
Avoid punishing him if he doesn’t listen.
It can take some time for your GSD puppy to get used to going outside. So if you see him getting ready to pee in your home, just use a ‘no’ command and take him out.
This video will walk you through the steps in more details.
How to Crate Train a German Shepherd.
Crate training is essential to provide a resting place for your dog where he feels safe. Though many dog owners can associate this will cruelty, this works differently.
So why do you need crate training?
The first reason and most important reason for crate training are to make your puppy learn to control her bladder. As dogs don’t wet their own sleeping place, this is a good technique to teach her.
Sometimes your home might be filled with strangers that your dog might attack out of fear. Crating will keep him and others safe.
And when you are not at home, your pup can feel safe staying inside the crate.
Here’s how to crate train your German Shepherd puppy-
Get her interested to stay in the crate.
Place foods and toys near the crate first. When she feels safe near the crate, place those items inside the crate. Treat her again when she gets inside the crate.
Lure her with treats.
Put your hand inside the crate with treats in your hand. She should go inside and get the treat. Once she learns this, give her meals inside the crate.
Shut the door.
When your puppy can eat her meal completely inside the crate, shut the door when she is eating and open it right before she is done with the meal.
Teach crate command.
You can assign a voice command like ‘crate up,’ or ‘go to bed.’ This will help you to get her in the crate without a lot of hard work.
As soon as she enters the crate to get her to treat, say the command and give her the treat. She will eventually know what she needs to do with the command.
Extend the time and leave her alone.
Increase her time in the crate as the training progresses. When she can remain calm for 20-30 minutes inside the crate, you can leave the room. And gradually increase the time of your absence.
Here’s a video demonstrating what it’s like to crate train your dog.
How to leash train German Shepherd puppy.
Leash training is another training method that ensures that your dog walks along with you not ahead or behind.
To me, I found the turning method the most effective way to leash train your GSD puppy.
You need at least a 6-foot leash and attach it to a harness. I’m not a big fan of dog collars since it can hurt your dog if he is still in the learning process.
- The first step is to have your dog sit beside your leg.
- Next, step forward and see what your puppy does. If she steps with you, reward her with a treat. If she walks ahead of you, get in front of her quickly. If you can’t then just turn around and let her follow you again.
- If she falls behind, turn around and increase your speed.
- As soon as your puppy adjusts her steps with you, offer her a treat.
- Keep repeating until she gets it right.
Here’s another leash training method by dog trainer Zak George. He uses toys instead.
How to train your German Shepherd not to jump.
I have 4 methods for you to stop for German Shepherd puppy from jumping.
The no-interest method.
This is the method that I used on my GSD when he was a puppy. Whenever he comes and is about to jump, just move away and give no heed to him. Remain silent and don’t touch him. After a few failed attempts your puppy will lose interest. As soon as he loses interest to distract him and reward him with a pat on the back.
The Command method.
This method will work if your puppy has already learned a few commands. So if you see her about to jump just use a command like ‘sit’ and reward her as soon as she aborts jumping.
The knee method.
When I heard about this method first, I couldn’t stop laughing. Just when your puppy is about to jump present your knee to her. And eventually, she will lose interest after some failed attempts.
The grab her legs method.
This is not common, although it works. When your puppy jumps on you, grab her two legs with your hands. And she will want to get rid of it. And she will lose her interest after some attempts.
Take a look at this video from German Shepherd Man talking about the knee and grab her legs method in details.
How to train German Shepherd not to bite or chew.
Usually, German Shepherd puppies bite or chew because of you touching him, or their teeth are irritating. Don’t forget to look upon your dog’s oral care as you need to get him used to it before he grows up.
One of these 3 methods will stop him from biting you or other people.
You need a treat or some form of food for this. Just toss some treats near you. As your puppy comes to eat it, touch him by the side. If he nips back, take the treat away. And try again. Repeat this process with more touching on his body, and he will become comfortable with time.
You need to play with your dog and lure him into biting your hand or a toy. When he bites on your hand, just use a word like ‘no’ and make a squealing ‘ouch sound.’ And stop the game immediately. Your pup will know that biting will stop the game and he will stop biting soon.
The pinching method.
Naturally, mother dogs grab their pups from the neck if they do anything wrong. So we will use the same technique here. Start playing with your puppy. And as soon as he bites you, say ‘no’ and pinch on his neck. He will stop biting. Repeat this until he understands that it’s bad to bite.
This video from Houdini covers more in details.
Teaching your German Shepherd basic training commands.
It feels great to see your little puppy following your command. German Shepherds learn pretty quick, and it’s easy to teach them basic commands. You just need to give more time and stay patient.
The best way to teach your puppy to sit is to lure him with the treat. Just move your hand around him and over his head until he gets in the sitting position. When he sits give him the treat and praise him.
After a few rounds without any command, slowly introduce a command and give him the treat when he follows it.
K9-1 is one of my most favorite places to learn dog training. Here’s a video demonstrating this simple command in details.
You can only teach stay command once your puppy has learned to sit.
So here’s the trick.
After he sits don’t give reward or treatment immediately. Delay this for few seconds first and when he starts to move let him know that this is a wrong move by disapproving sounds like ‘uh-oh’ or ‘uhu.’
Gradually increase the time to give her treat and introduce a voice command for staying.
Now create distance between you and your puppy. If he remains to stay then give him a treat. And increase the distance slowly.
You can also do this with a toy. In this video, Ian Ingram demonstrates how to make your puppy stay with a toy.
This is the command that follows the sit command. So if your dog has learned to sit, you can make him learn to lie down easily.
I will talk about 2 methods here.
The treat luring method.
Get a treat in your hand and hold it above her nose to make her sit. Or if she has already learned to sit, just use the command.
Now let her sniff the treat in that sitting position and slowly move your hand away from her closer to the ground. And she will lie down to get the treat.
Finally, as she learns doing it, add a command when she lies down. Rinse and repeat.
The leash method.
Just use a leash and apply downward pressure to make your dog lie down. Don’t be forceful, just apply gentle pressure.
Once she is in that position, release the leash and reward her with a pat on the back or treats.
The below video demonstrates the treat luring method in details.
This is a fun thing to teach your dog, although not mandatory.
Though there are several methods of teaching it, I will discuss the touch method.
Tell your command and tickle his front paw and he should lift it to get rid of the feeling. When he lifts his foot, release it and offer him treats.
Repeat this few times. When you see your puppy is lifting his foot as you move your hands under it, stop touching his paws. And just use the command.
Reward him once he learns it. And gradually you will only the voice command is enough to lift his foot and do a handshake.
The come command has many advanced levels and methods. I will cover only the basics here.
You need to have some treats in your hand and recall his name along with the command ‘come.’
You need to stay a little bit away from her as you’re starting out and say the command. As soon as she comes to you give her the treat and keep repeating.
Start indoors and then gradually move outsides and add more distance.
List of training commands that you need to teach your puppy.
- Go out.
- Go inside.
- Let go.
- Good dog.
- Eat food.
- Don’t do that.
- Stand still.
- Leave it.
Advanced training commands.
- Go ahead.
The training is just a part of your GSD puppy’s life. You also need to learn more about the German shepherd foods as your puppy grows older and train yourself to care for him.
Patience, time and consistency are 3 most valuable aspects of keeping a healthy and obedient German Shepherd.