The German Shepherd is the most popular dog in the world and has become famous for its courage, intelligence and ability to learn. Never the less a german shepherd puppy needs to be properly trained and socialised just like any other dog. My aim with this post is to show you how to set up and organise the training of your german shepherd puppy as well as providing you with some general tips and tricks on dog training. I will then show you an excellent resource where you can learn just about everything on how to train a german shepherd puppy simply by watching videos of a professional dog trainer who is working with his clients dogs.
How to get started
Training should start as soon as you get your puppy home. It will probably be between 8 and 10 weeks of age when you get him home.It is often better to start training a young dog early as you have a better chance of “shaping it” and prevent it from picking up a number of bad habits. It is however not necessarily easier to train a young puppy than an older one.
Older puppies often understand commands better where as a younger puppy requires more time and patience. Adult dogs can certainly be effectively trained as well but you might need to spend some time to get rid of some unwanted behavior it might have picked up as a puppy.
There are several different methods for training a dog and I will give you an overview of them here. When training a young puppy you need to be both gentle and have a lot of patience. Remember at 8 to 10 weeks it is only a baby and you need to be gentle with it.
You can start with getting your puppy used to your touch. Gently touch and handle the puppy’s body, ears, tail and paws and make him comfortable with this. When you have to groom or cut your puppy’s claws, it is important that he feels comfortable when you touch him. If he is not used to you touching him, then all of this is going to be a lot of struggle when he gets older and bigger. So start getting him used to your touch early on.
One of the most urgent things will be to have your puppy housetrained. Getting your little puppy to eliminate and pee OUTSIDE and not in your house is of course something you will want to teach your puppy quickly. Then again, this can not be done in a day and you need to be patient. A good idea is also to put away any valuable carpets until the puppy is housetrained. Housetraining is a big topic and a lot can be said about it so I can not get into detail of it in this post but if you keep reading I will show Where and How you can learn this quickly and easily at your own time and in your home.
There are also a few commands you would like to teach your puppy as quickly as possible. These are simple and basic but important. Also remember that your puppy is a baby and more advanced training has to wait until it grows bigger.
These are the basic commands your german shepherd puppy needs to learn:
Sit: This simple command allows you to keep control of your puppy and is a good way to get your puppy to calm down when he gets too exited. The Sit command should be repeated frequently until your puppy obeys it without hesitation.
Come: It is important to be able to call your puppy back to you should he ever run away or if you drop the leash. It can help your dog out of trouble should you be near a big road or if there are other (hostile) dogs around.
Stay: This command is a little more difficult to teach a young puppy. After all puppies have a lot of energy, they want to move around and discover things soo teaching a puppy this command will require a little time and patience. Before teaching your puppy the Stay command, make sure he masters the Sit command really well.
Down: This is another command which allows you to keep control of your puppy. The posture of “down” is submissive for a dog and therefore it can sometimes be a little difficult to acheive with an older dog or puppy. It is therefore a good idea to teach your dog this when your puppy is still young.
Leave it: If your puppy gets hold of something valuable and/or dangerous and he wants to chew it (and puppies chew everything) you need to be able to get him to “leave it” right away.
Finding the right training method
There are many training methods available but all dog lovers would agree that a gentle method based on respect and rewarding good behavior would be the best, especially for a young puppy. You may have heard about “dog whispering”, “reward training” and “clicker training”. Here is a very brief explanation of each method.
Dog Whispering is about understanding the body language and behavior of your dog and using your own body language and behavior to make him understand you. This method has become know to the public by the known dog trainer Cesar Millan in his tv series called The Dog Whisperer. It is an effective and humane method but it does require its share of patience.
Reward Training is about giving your dog a reward (a treat of some kind) every time it does some good. The idea is that if the dog is rewarded when doing something good it will continue to do it.
Clicker Training is similar to reward training. A clicker is a small device of plastic with a metal piece inside it. When your dog has done something good you push a button to make a clicking sound. This is then often followed by a reward. When the dog has heard the click it knows it has done something good.
Less desirable methods there are other methods of training dogs which consists more of punishing the dog when it does something wrong. There are for example shock collars which can be used to give a dog an electric shock when doing something wrong. A choke collar is a collar which is put on the dogs neck like any other collar. When the dog pulls the lead the collar will tighten against the dogs neck and thus “choke it”. A prong collar is the same thing a choke collar with the addition of sharp prongs of metal attached to each link of chain. When the dogs pull the prongs will dig into its flesh and thus hurting it.
None of these methods are recommended and I consider them to be both cruel and dangerous. Dogs has been seriously injured by choke and prong collars and some has even died. Shock collars are both painful and make the dog scared so none of these methods are reccommended.
A few tips on how to procceed instead
- Generally speaking when training a dog you should reward and praise a dog who is doing the right thing. Rewarding does not necessarily has to be a treat but it could be caressing or playing, simply giving your German Shepherd attention when he is doing something good.
- When your dog does something bad, correct it by firmly saying No in a stern voice. Then turn your back on it and ignore it for a little while. Dogs hate to get ignored and are constantly trying to get attention so by ignoring your dog when it does something bad and giving it plenty of attention when it does well your dog will learn which behaviors will give the most attention and which behaviors that will get him ignored.
- Dont’ yell, kick or hit your dog. It is not going to work. The dog will only get nervous and it will also give it attention. Even if it is negative attention it is still attention so just say NO and then ignore your dog if it does something wrong
- Be Consistent If you for example allow your dog to jump on you when you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt and then you get upset because he does this when you are wearing a suit then dog won’t understand why you get upset. If you don’t want your dog to jump on you when you are dressed up then you should never allow it to jump. The same rules must apply all the time.
- Repetition In order to make your training work, commands must be repeated often. Just like us humans, dogs forget and to make sure they remember, a command must be repeated often until it becomes “second nature” to your dog.
These are a few tips and tricks of what is needed when training your German Shepherd. Now to one last thing that you also need to do from the beginning of your dog ownership and throughout your dog’s life. You need to establish yourself as the PACKLEADER. For a dog there is always a leader of its pack and all the other dogs will obey and follow their leader.
If your dog does not see you as its leader it will not obey and follow you. Being the packleader forms the basis of your training and your relationship with your dog. That your dog sees you as its leader will make life far easier for both you and your dog.
To learn how to become the packleader and how to train your German Shepherd puppy I would reccommend and excellent website where you can learn everything about how to train a German Shepherd puppy. On this site you learn dog training by watching professional dog trainer Doggy Dan work with clients dogs. You can see exactly how he does and it is very well explained.
His site also has a special section for puppies where you can learn everything about raising and training a German Shepherd puppy. Should you need help there is an active forum where you can ask question and have them answered by Doggy Dan himself. Doggy Dan offers a three day trial membership for one dollar as well as a free 5 day video course if you sign up at his website. Give it a try I am absolutely convinced that you will be happy with his training.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.