You get two kinds of dog owners. One thinks that pets are just animals that must be fed and left to live outside no matter the weather. Others see their pets as children and treat them as part of the family.
German Shepherds and other pets see their owners or human guardians as parents.
They look up to them for care and guidance. They want love from their parents and be an important part of their lives.
German Shepherd training is vital to have a manageable dog, whichever group you belong to. Find out why German Shepherd training is important.
Is German Shepherd Training Necessary?
Training dogs is like raising a human child. If you provide them with structure, you make them feel safe and confident in their environment.
When you teach them how to socialize with the world around them, you make it easier for them to interact with others.
Teaching them acceptable and unacceptable behaviors coupled with positive reinforcement builds respect. Training also provides your pet with a healthy way to use their energy.
As a particular intelligent breed, GSDs are one of the best dogs for training, which helps explain why they’re such a popular dog.
Raise a German Shepherd dog almost like you would a child. Give it the basics like shelter and food but go beyond this point.
The basics are important, but they are not enough to raise a balanced, stable pet that you can count on.
The German Shepherd is one of those dog breeds that needs training, due to its large size and history as a herding dog and guard dog.
What’s The Best Age To Start GSD Training?
German Shepherds go through several growth phases. The most important phases are when they are puppies.
Puppyhood consists of the most phases in their developmental months.
German Shepherd puppy development phases include:
- Neonatal phase: first 2 weeks of birth
- Socialization: from week 3 for the next 12 weeks. In this period, the puppy begins learning about its environment. Their introduction to potty training should start at about 8 weeks.
- Juvenile phase: a German Shepherd becomes a juvenile within 12 to 26 weeks. Home training should begin at 8 weeks and continue throughout the juvenile period.
- Young adult: professional training can begin once your pet has matured and has matured enough to concentrate on intense owner/pet interaction. Some trainers advise taking your pet for classes at 6 months, and others recommend that training start once your dog is 14 to 18 months old.
Your puppy is filled with curiosity about its world when it is still small.
Their concentration is limited in their early weeks and months of growth. All they want is to find out what is happening around them, meet new people, make friends, and play.
Wait for your pet to mature a little before taking them to expert dog trainers. Their ability to focus increases as they mature.
Increased concentration means that they are more amenable to training once some of their curiosity about their surroundings has been satisfied.
Recap: Start home training at an early age from 8 weeks and focus on teaching your pet their name and potty training, among other lessons.
Begin professional training from 6 or 14 months, depending on their maturity levels, concentration, and what you want to achieve. Service dogs may need to start professional training earlier.
What Do GSDs Learn In Dog Training?
German Shepherd puppy training should begin from around 8 weeks and continue into adulthood. Home training should begin with socialization.
You can also take an older German Shepherd for obedience lessons or Schutzhund training if you missed training when they were a puppy.
A puppy should only be removed from its mother after a minimum of 8 weeks. Once you have your puppy, home training methods should start with socialization.
Socialization (8 – 16 weeks)
1. Teach your puppy to recognize its name
Repeatedly using your puppy’s name will eventually teach them to come to you when called and it’s a gentle introduction to start training for first time German Shepherd owners.
Learning their name is the beginning of a long training period that will fully integrate your puppy into their environment, which every dog needs.
Investing time and effort in their training sessions also brings great rewards for you as their guardian.
2. Potty training Tips
German Shepherd potty training should start shortly after bringing your pet home. Regular walks outside early in the morning, throughout the day, and in the evening are necessary for your puppy to relieve itself.
If you aren’t at home throughout the day, you can leave your puppy outside if the weather is good.
Remember to provide your pet with enough food, water, and shelter. If your puppy remains inside, set aside an area in the home where they can relieve themselves comfortably.
3. Crate training
Crate training involves purchasing a large enough container where your pet will feel comfortable and can be a key part of house training.
Play with your puppy for 10 minutes, and then lead them to the crate where they can relax or sleep.
Crate training should be a positive experience that teaches the puppy obedience safely. It also helps create consistency in feeding times and helps them feel safe when going to the vet or traveling.
The goal here is to make your puppy tired from play and teach them when it is okay to come out of the crate to eat and return to the crate for sleep and learning obedience.
Use treats to encourage crate training as this is a long-term lesson.
Socialization includes walking your puppy once it is old enough. Spend time with your puppy indoors and outdoors so it can become familiar with various sights, textures, smells, and noises.
Acclimate your puppy with different people (strangers) and other pets so that it learns as much as possible about its environment.
Obedience training (12 – 40 weeks)
Obedience and socialization can overlap in terms of ages so that obedience can begin from 3 months onwards. Here’s what German Shepherd training includes in this period:
1. Learning to sit, stay, and heel
Your puppy is still young and will struggle to focus during this time. Be patient as you teach it basic commands like sit, stay, and heel.
A gentle hand on its rear end and repeated commands of sit will help it to learn what you expect from it.
Offer regular treats when teaching your puppy to sit. Do training for short 10-minute periods regularly throughout the day. After your puppy learns the ‘sit’ command, teach it to stay and heel.
In time, you can even replace verbal commands with hand signals.
Continue with crate training and reward your GSD puppy with treats or using clicker training when they respond to your command.
As time goes by, begin withholding treats so that your puppy no longer expects these every time it does something ‘right’.
2. Teaching your puppy to stop biting
As well as basic obedience, training is important to teach your pup to stop biting.
Your puppy starts teething at around 4 months, and biting will continue until they have all their adult teeth at around 32 weeks.
- Teach your puppy early that biting is unacceptable by saying ‘No”.
- Place your thumb under its tongue to prevent biting.
- Gently grab your puppy by the scruff of its neck when it bites and repeat the ‘No’ command.
- Give it treats when it responds to your commands.
Teaching your pet to stop biting is valuable for yourself and others, especially as it will grow to be a large animal. Discipline it when it is young to prevent the biting habit from becoming a danger to everyone and stop it from nipping during petting.
When your pet understands safe limits for biting and during play, you are nurturing a well-rounded animal.
3. Learning recall
Teaching recall is a vital part of German Shepherd training. Your puppy is fascinated by its environment and wants to explore because it is fun.
Teaching recall means choosing a word that your puppy will recognize as a specific command to go to you.
You can use the word ‘come’ or anything else that it will recognize.
As with other training, learning a new lesson takes time and practice. Stick to your guns, show your puppy that you control this game, and you will earn its respect and obedience.
4. Walking your puppy
German Shepherd leash training is another valuable lesson in obedience training. These lessons essentially teach impulse control, including walking your pet on a leash.
Use a collar and leash or a harness to walk your puppy. Keep it on a short leash on your left and right side. If they start straining to get ahead of you, stand still and keep a firm hand on the leash.
Your pup will eventually learn that he only gets to walk when you do.
Start walking again once it sits and waits at your side. Repeat these steps until it learns to follow your lead.
After learning obedience during walks, you can begin training your puppy to walk without a leash.
Only start off-leash training when you and your pet are confident with on-leash training.
Also, only begin this next-level training in an enclosed area where no-one is at risk of harm should your pooch fail to obey your commands.
Obedience training (40 weeks – 2 years)
Obedience training can continue for the next 2 years while the German Shepherd dog continues to mature.
Obedience training at home is also an excellent way to save costs and build trust with your puppy.
They will learn what is expected of them, and you can continue reinforcing good behavior over time.
After mastering obedience at home, you can take your pet for expert training.
If you don’t have the time to train your pet at home, professional training with a behaviorist is ideal for healthy development.
Professional vs. Home Training
Home training is labor and time-intensive. It is also free and gives you more quality time with your pet. When you train your pet at home, make sure that only one person oversees training until it learns obedience.
Changing authority figures in the developmental phases is not recommended as this confuses your puppy. Stick with one authority figure until your pet has mastered its lessons.
Only then should other family members become involved with the pet for training.
Many people will find it much easier to take their German Shepherds for expert training. Trainers specialize in obedience lessons and know exactly how to teach your dog new lessons.
The benefit is that your pet becomes obedient and manageable more quickly.
Note, however, that obedience training requires your investment along with your pet. German Shepherd training doesn’t occur when you are not invested in their progress.
Professional training is not necessarily better than home training your pet, and either one may be more convenient than the other.
Professional training is only better when you want your pet to learn advanced skills such as protecting you, increasing the pet’s skills or if your German Shepherd is meant to be a working dog.
You can use many tips to improve German Shepherd training. Note these guidelines and use them when training your puppy or adult dog to make your training a pleasant experience.
- Handle your puppy frequently, so it becomes accustomed to being touched. They will then be manageable when you go to the vet, professional training, and other trips.
- Exercise patience when training
- Positively reinforce good behavior with treats and praise but ignore unwanted behavior.
- Avoid fear-based training such as shouting or hitting your dog. They will see this as attention and repeat the behavior to get more attention.
- Be consistent with training by sticking to schedules and repetitive training until your dog learns a new skill. Consistency creates structure, safety, and trust, which helps you achieve successful German Shepherd training outcomes.
- Consider professional training if you are not confident in your own abilities to home train your German Shepherd.
- Be generous with treats and praise, and aim for a balance so that your pet doesn’t expect a treat every time it performs well.
- Teach your German Shepherd to bark on command and when to bark to alert you to danger.
- Read training books for additional tips and tricks.
German Shepherd training creates a pet that is wonderful to be around. They learn what you teach them or figure things out for themselves.
Choose to teach them important skills such as socialization and obedience rather than neglecting positive development.
Train your German Shepherd from a young age, and it will develop into a well-rounded companion. Just as you take care of all your pet’s needs, they will reciprocate with love, loyalty, and protection.
When you invest in German Shepherd training, everyone reaps the rewards.