A well-behaved German Shepherd is wonderful to be around. However, to reach this stage, you and your puppy must be willing to put in the work. Training starts from the moment you bring your new dog home and will continue over the ensuing three years or so. During this window, your dog is at its most impressionable, so it will be easier to develop good behaviour.
Find the Right Puppy
The very first thing that you can do to ensure that you can effectively train your German Shepherd is to find a dog that is right for you. It is crucial to find a reputable and ethical breeder. The breeder will be able to observe the behaviour and personality of the puppy in its infancy. Therefore, they can offer insight into which dog will be suitable for which person or family.
If you would prefer not to take the dog breeder route, you can always adopt a German Shepherd. If this is more amenable, you should still take care to ask questions at the kennels. Tell the rescue organisation what you are looking for a dog and about your situation at home. Doing this will allow them to match you with a suitable dog that will be most responsive to your training techniques.
The best trained German Shepherds will be intelligent and willing to learn. This is a fairly common trait in the breed, which is a big part of its popularity. Having these characteristics will make a German Shepherd relatively easy to train, but you will still need to devote the time to this.
First Weeks With Your Puppy
The first few weeks of owning your new dog are critical for improving their socialisation skills.
There is a window between 12 and 16 weeks old where puppies will be the most receptive to learning what is threatening and what isn’t. It is vital to introduce your puppy to as many new things as possible and allow them to meet new people/dogs during this period. This socialisation is essential for German Shepherds, as it is a naturally protective breed.
Your puppy will observe your actions and pick up any cues you give when meeting new and exciting things. Therefore, you should remain calm to help instil the same feeling in your dog. This will help them become friendly and confident when meeting strangers in the future.
Once your puppy is around three months old, it is good to start some form of obedience training. German Shepherds can be remarkably obedient dogs owing to their brilliant work ethic. You can encourage these traits by beginning obedience training early on and regularly going over them with your dog.
Before beginning obedience training, it is essential to find a dog treat that will spur your puppy on during a gruelling training session. Food is a massive motivator for dogs, and so rewarding good behaviour with this is a great way to keep them focussed on the task at hand.
Time for Paws offers a wide range of treats suitable for puppies and older dogs that will spur them on during obedience training.
The first step to obedience training is recall. This may seem like a simple enough task, but it is often one of the hardest things to teach a puppy to do reliably. However, it is one of the most important things any dog can know.
Next up is impulse control. Puppies are naturally impulsive creatures, so you must teach them how to curb these behaviours from a young age. In German Shepherds, these compulsions can often manifest as problematic behaviours later in their lives. When this breed gets bored, it will often find entertainment in chewing things, digging, chasing things, or barking excessively. Therefore, controlling impulses is vital to having a well behaved German Shepherd.
The main thing to focus on with this type of training is getting your dog to pay attention to you. Making your puppy sit and wait before doing stuff it wants to is a great way to manage its impulses. Practice doing this when you feed your puppy, before you let it outdoors, or give it a new toy. Slowly building this obedience will help lay the foundation for more complicated commands in exchange for treats as it progresses through training.
Give Your German Shepherd Time to Mature
Different breeds and sizes of dog mature at different rates. Many puppies will reach maturity at around a year old, but this can often take much longer for German Shepherds. It can take as long as three years for this breed to become an adult dog (especially male German Shepherds), so it is crucial to continue to work on obedience training and impulse control during this time.
While this amount of training might seem daunting, the longer maturation gives you a bigger window in which you can teach your dog new skills. As your puppy grows older, you can begin training on more complex and focused tasks. Things like tracking, agility, herding and protection training are all attainable for a German Shepherd puppy.
However, to reach this stage of training (which German Shepherds are capable of), you must continually work on the basic obedience training during the first few months. This breed loves to have consistent training and many jobs to do, so this can be a rewarding process for each of you.
Regular and rewarding activities will give your German Shepherd an outlet for the energy and intelligence they possess. It is essential to teach them obedience and impulse control in their infancy to avoid problematic behaviours later on.
Ultimately, putting in the time and effort to build a solid behavioral foundation when you first get your dog and gradually building on this will allow you both to thrive together.
A German Shepherd can be one of the best companions a person can have, but to achieve this, ironing out any behavioural issues through training is crucial.
Last Updated on July 1, 2021 by Shepped Team