How to train a German Shepherd Puppy

Introduction

German Shepherd Puppy Training
How to train a German Shepherd Puppy

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.

German Shepherd Puppy
Housetraining

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.

Prong collar
Prong Collar

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.

electric collar
Electric Collar

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.

imagesThese 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.

CLICK HERE to go to the ONLINE DOGTRAINER

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Jojo

Comments 30

  • I love that you recommend positive methods only! I trained my dog using positive reinforcement (lots of treats) and it really helped us build a strong bond built on trust rather than fear. I have a pitbull mix and everyone always comments on how well behaved she is so it really works 🙂 Does the Doggy Dan site use only positive methods?

    • Yes, Doggy Dan only uses positive reinforcement to train his dogs. In fact the Online Dog Trainer is endorsed by the SPCA of New Zealand. SPCA stands for Society for Protection from Animal Cruelty and they recommend the online dog trainer on their website.

  • Hi Jojo!

    I totally agree with you about not using those dangerous and hurting methods you showed us, but being consistent instead.

    I had a german sheperd when I was young and I can say firsthand that they’re very smart and it you start training them when they’re still puppies it will be easer for them to get it.

    Thanks for the tips, and the cute pictures! 🙂

    • You are welcome. It is true that German Shepherds are very smart. That is one of the reasons why are used soo much by the police and rescue forces.

      I believe conistency and gentle training methods are the best ways to get good results. With some dogs you need to be a little more firm but there is no point in yelling, hitting or using dangerous devices. With patience and affection you can go a long way when training your dog.

  • Hi Jojo. I used to have a German shepherd. Very smart dog but he wasn’t properly trained when he was still a puppy. I got him when he was 6 or 7 months old. He already had some serious problems with aggressive behaviour. It was extremely difficult for us to get rid of his bad habits, even with the help of a professional dog trainer. That’s why I think you should start the training as early as possible.
    Thanks for great article!

  • I can totally relate to your point on how you should not get angry with your dog for jumping on you when you wear a cute outfit. I lot of the “misbehavior” of our pets is simply our fault. The dog is just consistent with what it knows; it’s the humans that aren’t and get frustrated about it. That’s probably one of the biggest lessons on myself I get from my pets 🙂

    • You are soo right. Dogs are dogs and humans are humans. We tend to get frustrated by our dogs simply because we can not communicate with them the same way as we can with humans. When we teach a dog something we must adapt ourselves to the dog so can understand what we want from it. Consistancy is very important otherwise your dog will get confused when it is allowed to do something once and the next time it does the same thing you get upset.

  • This was a very informative article to say the least. I love german shepherd’s as I grew up with one but never really went through the stage of training one. I’m moving out and I want to get a puppy but have heard that training them isn’t that easy. I would try the reward method as I really wouldn’t want to attempt any punishing tactics.

    • The thing is to give the puppy plenty of attention when it does something good and ignore when it missbehaves. Dogs and puppies hate to be ignored and always try to get attention. In some cases when the puppy gets too exited you might have to “isolate it” for 10 minutes or so (lock it in somewhere) but that is about it. No need for any harsh methods.

      A German Shepherd is not difficult to train. They are often eager to please and very intelligent. Check the breeder from where you intend to buy your puppy. Puppies who are bred to work tend to be more stubborn and difficult to deal with compared to German Shepherd which is bred to be a family dog.

      I also suggest you check out this page as it will give teach everything you need:

      How to train a German Shepherd puppy

      I wish you good luck and please do not hesitate to contact me if I could be of any help.

      Jojo

  • I love German Shepherds because they’re beautiful dogs and because they’re so intelligent, but I hesitate to get one, because they’re intelligent, and I suspect that will make training all the more difficult. Thanks for such a thorough overview of what goes into training, especially the summary of the different training methods, and the comments on consistency.

    • If you have decided to get a dog and are prepared for it, then there is no problem getting a German Shepherd. Generally speaking they are easy to train. Their intelligence and their will to please their owners makes training fun and usually they learn quickly. They are active dogs though and should get plenty of exercise everyday.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      Jojo

  • Hello, I really found your article interesting and informative. It is good to find a website with almost the same concept regarding training dogs etc. I actually just had someone comment on my website and they are thinking about getting a german shepherd. I also had one and she was easily trained thank goodness. If I saw your site earlier, I would’ve had the person that commented on mine, to your site as well so he can get a more understanding specifically with german shepherds. Nicely done :). Loved the article and how we have similar interest. Good job 🙂

    Sincerely;
    Crystal

    • Thank you,

      Dog training does not vary that much between dfferent breeds but their characters can be a little different and some dogs require a little more patience and firmness. The German Shepherd is generally easy to train due to its intelligence and its will to please its owner.

  • We just got a 1 year-old pit bull mix from the shelter. I saw all your great information about German shepherds and am wondering if training for our dog needs to be tweaked for her since pit bulls can be a bit stubborn. Is all dog training the same regardless of breed, or is there one of your methods that you feel would work best in this case? Thank you for all your research and knowledge.

    • Dog training for all breeds are more or less the same so the information here can be used to train your pit bull. Some breeds and/or individual dogs are a bit more stubborn than others soo you might have to be a little firmer with them. Otherwise, the method of rewarding bad behavior and ignoring your dog when it misbhaves (after correcting it with a firm voice) will work well.

      Good luck and all the best,

      Jojo

  • I didn’t see this in your article, so I was hoping you might be able to help with this. We have a Rhodesian Ridgeback (sorry – he’s no german shepherd) who goes nuts when he sees other dogs/cats walking outside our front window. I’ve had friends recommend using a spray bottle to squirt him when he’s losing his mind. Would this be something that is not recommended based on your knowledge? I look forward to hearing back from you.

    • A lot of people find that this method works with their over exited dogs. You can safely try this. It is after all just a little water and it can hardly traumatize your dog. The worst thing that can happen is that your dog ignores but usually this would be effective to get your dogs attention. The little shock of the water might make him calm down.

      Does your dog go after other dogs or cats when you walk in the park or street or does he only do this when they pass outside your house? If this only happens outside of your house then your dog is propably defending his territory and this is why he gets aggressive and exited.

      Does your dog see you as the packleader? If he does then he will look to you for advice in situations like these. If you shouw that you are calm and confident then your dog will follow your example and settle down.

      So make sure that your dog see you (and all members of your family as the packleader (you can read more in my post how to become the packleader) then try the method of spraying water on him and then remain calm and confident. You can also turn your back against the window where he sees the cat or dog. This will show your dog that there is no danger outside as no dog would turn his back on something dangerous.

      I hope this will help. Try it and if it does not work, get back to me and I will try to find another solution.

      Good luck

      Jojo

      • Thank you for the thorough response. Originally, our Gus Gus would only go nuts when other animals were passing by. Now when he’s out on a walk, he switches to a high pitched whine and pulls. So I would say I’m not the effective pack leader that I should be. I will give that article a read. Thanks again!

        • Yes, I think that is the case. Once your dog sees you as the packleader it will much easier to control him in situations like this.
          Good Luck and get in touch if there is anything I can do to help.
          Jojo

  • German shepherds are wonderful dogs. They are very smart and easily accept training. You have to be consistent in your training though and maintaining your role as pack leader because German Shepherd dogs will frequently challenge you and take over the role of pack leader if you are not careful. I suppose it is just because of their wonderful nature to want to protect their family.

    • Yes, they can become a little dominant though they are easier to handle than for example Rottweilers who are more dominant. Female dogs are usually less dominant than male dogs and this also varies between dogs coming from different breeders. A German Shepherd bred to work is more stubborn and dominant than one who is bred for becoming a family. The tendency to dominance also varies a lot between individual dogs.

  • Hi, JoJo! What an informative article. As a dog owner, I have struggled with many stubborn pets. I loved your suggestion for the clicker. I’m going to try that. This article was very helpful and I’m so glad you don’t condone the prong and electric collars. They are so cruel. I appreciate your other suggestions. Thank you!

    • Hi Anna,

      I am glad you liked the article. Lots of people have success with Clicker Training and I wish you good luck. If there is anything I can do to help, just write me a note or make another comment below.

      Cheers,

      Jojo

  • I would love to buy a puppy, and after reading your article I want it even more. Thank for describing all methods of training. I will definitely use it once I get a dog. Can you use the methods to all different dogs? I am almost sure I want a German Shephard but who knows..

    • Hi Marta,

      You can certainly use these methods on any dog. The techniques used for training dogs do not vary that much. Sure some dogs are dominant and stubborn and with them you need to be more firm and assert your leadership firmly, whereas other dogs are softer and easier to handle. German Shepherds are not difficult to train but can sometimes be dominant. A female dog would be a little easier to handle than a male dog.

      I suggest that you take your time and do a little research before getting your puppy. Getting a dog is a big decision but it can be absolutely wonderful.

      If I can be of any help, just write a comment here or send me an e-mail to admin@dogtrainingeasily.com

      I wish you the best of luck.

      Jojo

  • I’m a dog lover & I’m so happy I ran into your article on “How to train a German Shepherd Puppy.” I will use your training techniques for my puppy.

    I’ve already started using your basic commands like “sit, come, stay, & down.” He’s doing really well specially with “sit.” He sure loves to get his treat for his reward!

    I’ve seen the TV show “The Dog Whisperer” with Cesar Millan & I plan to use his training methods as well. From what I’ve seen his training methods are extremely effective.

    I don’t believe in punishing a dog as a technique for training & thus will never do this. Instead I plan to use your suggestions like the “Reward Training” such as giving a treat as a reward for good behavior & as my puppy gets older I will use the “Clicker Training” Method as well. Right now I’m using the treat along with praise as his reward. He loves both of these!

    Potty training has been somewhat of a struggle because he goes potty in the house. Do you have some suggestions or resources that would help with this?

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I’m using your puppy/dog training suggestions & finding them to be extremely helpful. I will definitely share with others!

    • Thank you. I am glad you liked my post and that you are making good use of the training tips. Rewarding good behavior really is an effective way to train a dog. A dog who is motivated to do something will certainly do it again and again. If your dog does something it shouldn’t, just firmly say NO and turn your back on him. Dogs love attention and hate getting ignored so ignoring him is the only punishment ever needed.

      Cesar Millan and Doggy Dan uses more or less the same method of dog training. Both of them understand dogs very well and they  hang on to the fact that you need to establish yourself as the packleader. Once your dog sees you as its leader it will obey you and training is merely a question of making your dog understand what you want it to do (or not do). The great thing with the Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan is the way training is presented. Watching Doggy Dan on video when he is working with clients dogs is a great way to learn how to do it. He also offers great support if you have any problems. Here is my review of the Online Dog Trainer

      Potty Training requires work and a fair bit of patience. I have written a couple of posts on Potty Training and I hope you will find them useful. Here is: How to potty train puppy and How to potty train older dog.

      I wish you the best of luck and if I can be of help just write to me or leave a comment here on my site.

      Cheers,

      Jojo

  • Really awesome informations! I had a german puppy in the past and they are so cute! I must say that I did not knew how to train it, it was really hard to me. My cousin have this puppy and he is pretty dangerous, I dont know what he do to him. I will for sure use this directions when I get one.

    • You say your cousin’ puppy is dangerous? In what way? Is he agressive? Does he bite people? When a puppy shows aggressive behaviour action must be taken right away so that the problems can be solved before they get worse. The first thing your cousin needs to do is to establish himself as the packleader. Once he has established himself as the leader, his puppy will look up to him and follow his directions. It is important to remain calm and in control. If you do this (once you have established yourself as the leader) your dog will simply follow your example and remain calm.

      Feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.

      Jojo

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