The top 10 German Shepherd puppy training tips are here to help you raise a smart, confident and friendly canine friend. To train a German Shepherd puppy dog you must be consistent, kind and clear.
German Shepherd dog puppies are divinely cute and for a reason! Just like babies are cute, puppies will win your heart even after destroying your favorite pair of shoes or that expensive carpet! Don’t let me alarm you though…
Positive training methods are the most practical and efficient to use. Making sure you use them will start you on the right side of training and pave the road for you to get an obedient dog.
The good news is that you do not need any special equipment to have an obedient GSD puppy. All you need is love and treats. Let’s get started with the best German Shepherd puppy training tips!
The most important German Shepherd puppy training tip is socialization. Right after you take your puppy to the vet for his first set of shots, enroll him/her in a puppy training or puppy socialization class. Some vets will tell you to keep the pooch inside until the full set of vaccines is completed. Unfortunately, if you do keep your pooch safe inside until he is 4-6 months of age, his socialization period will have closed forever and your chance to raise a friendly and confident dog drops significantly!
That said, it is ultimately your decision whether you want to take the risk to take him outside or not. Most large US cities do not have too many disease problems and taking your puppy to a class where the trainer checks that every puppy has had the first set of shots is mostly safe. However, if you leave in a rural area, make sure there is not an outbreak of a disease that can affect your pooch.
Of all the German Shepherd puppy training tips, I suggest you really think this one through. As a dog trainer, I recommend you find a safe puppy socialization class because this developmental period is critical to prevent behavior problems in the future.
You may have noticed that your German Shepherd puppy likes to chew on your shoes, toys, boxes, carpets, pillows, your hands…well, pretty much everything! Before you loose your mind (and all your precious possessions) let me tell you that this is normal puppy behavior. At this age dogs explore everything with their mouths and even though annoying, it is a great time to teach your pet what is appropriate for his mouth as well as how to soften the bite.
The reason German Shepherd dog puppies have sharp teeth is because they are capable of learning how much (or how little) pressure to apply when biting different things. This is good news! It means you can actually teach your pooch that when “biting” human skin they need to be absolutely soft and tender.
Right around now you are also probably dealing with potty training, the best German Shepherd puppy training tips for potty training are outlined below. You should know how many times, and when to take you puppy out. Use a crate if you need to and NEVER punish your GSD for an accident you did not see happen, you have to “catch-him-in-the-act” if you want to mildly reprimand and redirect to the correct spot.
I am sure you have heard all sorts of things against the use of food for training. Let me say it loud and clear…THEY ARE ALL WRONG! 🙂
One of the key features of a good trainer is that he is able to motivate the dog. To do this, you need to find the things that your dog likes most and use them as rewards. Food will be one of them, so use it. But also use anything else, like walks, petting, play time, toys, etc. So, of all the German shepherd puppy training tips here, I don’t want to hear any excuses for this one!
Using food for training doesn’t mean that your pup will only obey when you have treats in your hand. Done the right way, your pooch will respond to your command even when empty handed.
This is a hard concept to understand for us, clever human beings. Dogs are … well “lemons” as expert trainer Jean Donaldson calls them in her Must-Read book “The Culture-Clash”. When we learn something new, we can very easily generalize the concept to any situation, that is what makes us creative creatures. Dogs, on the other hand, can’t make that cognitive leap. If they learn to “Sit” in the kitchen, they most likely won’t sit in the yard unless trained -from scratch!
Fortunately, you have a German Shepherd puppy, they are clever and chances are they will need less repetitions than the average breed.
Dog commands and fun and useful and you can probably find hundreds to teach your GSD. This one though – Ask for permission- is technically not a command, because you will not ask your canine to do it every time, instead you want to teach him to do it on his own every time the occasion requires it. For example, wouldn’t it be great if your puppy would look at you for approval before running after another dog or kid? Take time to do this with your puppy, it will be worth it!
This is another one of the most important German Shepherd puppy training tips because a dog that asks for permission is an obedient and safe dog.
Your cute and tiny puppy doesn’t bother you when he jumps right now…wait a few more months and you will change your mind! To prevent a dog from jumping on people it is imperative to teach that same dog not to jump when he is a puppy.
As you come home, ignore your pooch when he jumps (but watch him from the corner of your eye) and greet/pet him when his four paws are on the ground. If he jumps again, then ignore again. When I say ignore, I mean it! No eye contact, no pushing or kneeing…nothing. Keep turning around if you have to.
Once his jumping is under control, teach him to sit down when you get home in order to be greeted and don’t forget to practice the same exercise with all your friends and family that visit!
Pulling on the leash is another of those dog behaviors that people think come out of the blue, but actually they happen because there was never formal training done. To prevent pulling on the leash all you have to do is make sure your puppy understands that he gets rewarded (food, petting, attention, verbal praise, keep on walking, etc.) when the leash is loose. Pay close attention to what he does during those first few walks together and make sure you reward him for staying close to you!
For a long time now dog trainers have known that the “dominance”/“alpha” theory is nonsense. Those ideas came from research done in wolfs in captivity and have now been debunked by new research done in wolfs in the wild.
The new research says that you need to be a good leader, kind of like a parent. Alphas are most often the parents of the group. Provide shelter, food, safety and limits.
Reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior.
This rule is amazing and will work wonders, besides it is really easy to apply, all you have to do is pay attention to your German Shepherd puppy and reward the good things he does. However, there are a couple rules to keep in mind for it to work:
If you notice that the “bad” behavior is no getting any better, it’s probably because _somehow_ it’s being rewarded! You need to figure out what the reward is and remove it.
If ignoring your pooch for the bad behavior doesn’t work, then you can train your canine friend an incompatible behavior. For example, when a dog is laying down, it is harder to bark.