Updated: September 1st 2016 You just brought your German Shepherd pup home, let the training begin!
You will want to begin training as soon as you can to help your pup get used to his new pack. The adjustment is a big one for your pup since it is most likely the first time he has been separated from his brothers, sisters, and mother. German Shepherd pups are usually able to adjust easily and quickly to their new family.
Training should be done in throughout the day. Thinking of training as a way to communicate with your pup through hand signals and verbal words will help teach your pup to speak your language and become the obedient little agent you know he can be.
Become the Alpha Leader
Training should begin and be a natural evolution with your German Shepherd. The most important and the first situation to focus on is who is the alpha leader. Quickly choose someone in your family or yourself to become the alpha leader and establish yourself as such immediately. This is highly important because if your German Shepherd pup does not know or sense an alpha leader he will think it is him and he will run your house, not in a good way.
The way to become the alpha leader with your German Shepherd is to exhibit and exude calm confidence and be strong with your demands for proper behavior to be displayed at all times.
This doesn’t mean yell at your pup; it just means that you are the one in charge. If you do yell at your pup, this will result in fear, and it will interfere with your chance to bond with your puppy. Also your pup will act out in disobedience and self-defense. You don’t want to become a control freak, but you do want to make the house rules clear and teach them properly to your pup.
Introducing a New Dog to your Household
Training your existing dog to get along with a new pup is essential to a peaceful household.
If you are a dog owner that already has a dog at home and are considering on bringing a new German Shepherd puppy home, you will want to follow a few simple tips listed below so that they can meet and become acquainted with each other in a natural way.
- Bring Your Pup Home in the Car – Leave your dog and other pets at home when you go to pick up your pup from the breeder/rescue. The car ride home should just be you, your family and your pup. This avoids any aggression during the car ride that can arise between your dog and your pup.
- Bring a Blanket – Bring a small baby blanket with you to pick up your pup. You will want to wrap the blanket around your pup just for a few seconds and maybe rub it on his fur gently to allow the blanket to absorb his scent.
- Arrive Home – Once you arrive home, have someone sit in the car with the pup while you go in your home with the blanket only. Greet your dog with a treat and allow him to smell the blanket to get used to the scent of the new puppy. Put the leash on your dog and take him outdoors to the front of your home or apartment building. This allows them to meet in a mutual territory.
- Allow them to Meet – Have someone put your new puppy on a leash and bring him to meet your dog. Allow them to sniff each other and adjust. A great way to do this is by taking them both on a walk simultaneously. While they walk side by side, they will soon develop a friendship or at the very least a mutual understanding that they acknowledge each other.
- Bring them Inside the House – Once you observe that they are both peaceful with meeting each other, you can bring them inside the house and allow them to run around and explore the house together. Always keep a close eye on them since your dog may become territorial. A great way to establish boundaries is to establish a special place for your new pup’s bed, toys, food and bowl dishes that are away from your dog’s personal space.
- Be Patient – Always be patient and never yell during this process. It is going to take time for your dog to accept a new family member. Especially when he is going to be invading his space a bit and soaking up attention from you and your family.
At times some dogs will not adjust well and be aggressive towards the new pup. If this happens, separate them within the household and seek help from a trainer that is experienced in helping dogs adjust to new pups entering the pack.
Crate Training your German Shepherd
The word crate may send some dog owners running scared. Some dog owners may feel that putting a dog in a crate can be harmful when this is the farthest from the truth. All dogs including German Shepherds are den animals. This means they prefer to have a small safe environment that is all their own where they can rest and sleep.
You may notice that your German Shepherd pup will even seek out these cozy little spots in your house by hiding under tables. Providing a crate for your dog that has a soft, comfortable blanket and a favorite toy will not only please your pup and make him feel safe, but it will also help you as well. Your cute little pup will begin to grow quickly and go through a variety of stages that involve chewing your favorite items such as shoes, objects, and furniture.
There are going to be countless times when you need a brief break from watching your pup closely and kindly placing him in his comfortable crate is going to be a safe haven for both of you. Never punish your pup and place him in his crate.
The crate is meant to be a peaceful solution for times when you need to leave the house or need time to clean or take care of other chores. It is also helpful for in the future if you ever have to take your pup to a kennel or groomer where they will be placed in a crate. Their early exposure to the crate will benefit them in the long run.
Another time your pup may experience being placed in a crate is at the veterinarian office. Usually, your pup will already not be feeling well if this happens and to add anxiety, fear, and stress of being placed in a crate by himself will definitely make the situation worse. One of the other great benefits of crate training your dog is for potty training purposes.
To crate train your pup you will want to choose a crate that is large enough for him when he is adult size. Your adult size dog will need to be capable of sitting, standing, turning around and stretching out in the crate without scratching his skin against the crate.
Crate training is fairly easy. You will want to place a blanket for him to lie down on and a favorite toy to keep him company. Dogs don’t go to the bathroom in their crate, so this is something you will not have to worry about. Gently place your pup in his comfortable crate and throw a few treats inside so that he understands this is a pleasurable experience.
Shut the door to the crate and allow him to stay inside for up to 10 minutes. He may cry and bark to get out at first, but don’t give in too easy. In the beginning, you can sit next to the crate and speak in soft tones to get him to calm down.
Let your pup out after 10 minutes and reward him with a treat. Wait about an hour and place him back in his crate for 20 minutes, but this time, walk away but don’t leave the house. Let him out and repeat the procedure each time adding 10 minutes to the time frame. Gradually work your way up to one hour at a time with the maximum being four hours.
When you pup is little he has a small bladder, and it is not wise to leave your pup in his crate for long periods of time. If you are concerned with how long your pup should stay in his crate use the rule of thumb of however months your pup is add one. For example, if your German Shepherd puppy is two months old than he should only stay in his crate for up to three hours at a time.
Potty Training Your Pup
Potty training your puppy goes hand in hand with crate training. As soon as you let your pup out of his crate, you should take him directly to his established bathroom area. You are the one that determines this area. It could be a special area of the yard, or it can be a pee pad placed in a special area in the home. Chances are he will go to the bathroom immediately since he will refuse to go while inside of his crate.
Another rule to remember is that after your serve your GSD pup food and water, take them to their designated bathroom area within 10 minutes of him completing his meal or drinking water.
German Shepherds are highly intelligent and will soon catch on and learn their daily schedule. They will eventually begin to seek out this schedule on their own. You will notice this because they will begin telling you by scratching at the door or immediately going to their designated bathroom area on their own. Once you reach this stage, you have successfully potty trained your German Shepherd puppy.
Training Your German Shepherd Puppy to Sit
Sit is usually one of the first commands taught to German Shepherd puppies. The sit command is beneficial and can even be used to calm down an excited pup prior to feeding time in addition to other essential moments throughout the day. To train your German Shepherd pup how to sit follow the helpful tips below.
- First, get a handful of treats and conceal them in one of your hands.
- Find a quiet place in your home or in your yard that does not have a lot of distractions so your pup can concentrate on you and the training session.
- Stand straight up in front of your pup so that your faces are looking towards each other.
- Place one treat in the hand that you plan to use as a hand signal. Allow your pup to smell the treat through your hand, but do not allow him to eat it yet. This will get his attention.
- Place the treat in your fingertips so that your pup can see it and hold it up directly above his nose at a high level.
- As you push your arm forward with a treat in your hand, say the verbal command sit. The idea is to get your pup to look at the treat so that his body naturally takes a seated position.
- Once your pup sits, give him the treat as a reward and show him praise by petting him and telling him good job.
Continue to repeat this procedure until your pup is following the commands without errors. During the training process, you will want to provide your pup with small treats or cut larger treats into smaller pieces. Otherwise, an abundance of treats at once can cause your dog to have digestive issues or cause him to gain weight. As you proceed further with the training, you can replace the delicious treat with verbal praise and excitement accompanied with a gently pat on the head.
Training Your German Shepherd Not to Jump
While being greeted at the front door with enthusiasm and unmatchable excitement is great for a dog owner’s ego, it is not so great for their physical body.
The reason is your cute little German Shepherd pup is going to grow into a full grown adult very quickly and him jumping on you is going to hurt, possibly causing you injury. The reason dog’s jump up to greet their owner is because they are trying to reach your face. Have you ever observed two dogs meeting each other? No matter what their size, they are capable of looking at each other in the eye when greeting. Your pup is simply trying to get to your level so he can greet you.
Train your pup not to jump using the following technique:
- Practice entering your front door and letting your pup greet you.
- If he jumps on you with his cute little paws, ignore him.
- If he continues to jump turn your back to him and walk into the other room.
- When you notice that all four paws are on the floor, then greet him enthusiastically and give him a small treat.
These easy steps will result in a well-behaved pup that greets his owner and his family with all four paws on the floor. A great idea for making this process easier is by keeping a small container filled with treats close by your front door. This allows you immediate access and results in rewarding for proper behavior.
You should repeat and practice this technique until your pup learns that he greets you with all four paws on the floor. If your pup can’t seem to control his excitement when you enter the door, it is wise to place a few of his favorite toys near the front door for him to grab. Usually holding a toy in his mouth and running around a bit is a common greeting alternative distributed by German Shepherd pups.
Training Your German Shepherd Not to Chew on the Furniture
Chewing on objects and furniture within your household is part of raising a German Shepherd pup. They mostly exhibit this behavior as a pup, especially during the teething process. Train your pup not to chew on furniture and other household items by following these easy steps.
- First, you will want to purchase bitter spray from your local pet store or online. You will want to spray this on the items you want to protect from your pup’s sharp little teeth.
- Next, you will want to keep a close eye on your pup at all times. Once you observe him chewing on things he shouldn’t walk over to him calmly and show him one of his favorite toys. Encourage him to chew on the toy instead of the furniture.
- Reward him with verbal praise and a pat on the head for good behavior.
Repeat these quick and easy steps until your pup learns that his toys are the only items that he should be chewing on. If your pup is teething, it is wise to purchase specialty teething toys for dogs. They are highly beneficial during the teething process.
Train Your German Shepherd Not to Bite/Nip You
German Shepherd pups are playful and filled with energy. The way they may play with their brothers and sisters when they were with their pack is the same way they want to play with you and your family.
Playing is a natural ability for German Shepherd pups that requires no training. These are the moments when you are sitting on your couch or the floor, and your pup jumps on you and tries to nibble on your fingers, toes and sometimes your clothes. While they are just playing it is important that you set boundaries, just as their canine mother would and did when your pup was very young. It is up to you to establish your own boundaries.
- While playing with your pup have fun and enjoy yourself. It is one of the best ways to bond with him, and it is a connection that will last his entire lifetime.
- Once your pup begins to nibble and bite, you make a high pitch, quick yell and pull your hand, feet, legs, clothes or whatever part of you that your pup just bit down on.
- Pause and count to ten in your head.
- Then go back to playing with your pup. If the situation happens again, repeat the steps.
This may sound too easy, but it works.
You just have to remain calm and in time your pup is going to learn exactly what strength and pressure is the perfect amount to use during play time. Soon he will only gently nibble at you to play. If you prefer that he absolutely doesn’t even nibble, you will just continue the training tips until he no longer bites or nibbles at all.
A great tip is to replace your fingers and toes with one of his favorite toys. By presenting him with his toys, you are guiding him to chew on items that you approve. Eventually, he will only bite on his toys.
Training Your German Shepherd to Stay
The stay command is one of the most useful skills that you will ever teach your German Shepherd puppy.
You can train your pup to stay in his bed or in a specific place while you greet guests, watch television, eat dinner, do a quick chore, prepare your pup’s food and for many other reasons.
- Begin with placing a few treats in his bed or the area you would like him to stay.
- As he eats his treats tell him to sit. Reward him for this behavior with a treat or verbal praise.
- Take one step back and use the verbal command “stay.” If he stays, reward him. If he leaves the area, bring him back and start again.
- Each time you tell him to stay, take another step back. Your goal is to take 10 steps away from him and have him continue staying in the spot.
- Repeat the steps until your pup understands what is required of him.
The next time you watch television and you don’t want him to be on the couch with you or be roaming around the house without your supervision you will want to use this command. Placing his bed or a soft blanket in your living room and telling him to stay while you watch the news, a movie or your favorite television show is a great example of using this command.
Train Your German Shepherd to Come
There will be times when you will call your pup to come over to you for a variety of reasons. These reasons include to eat, drink, go outdoors, go for a walk, searching for him in the house, calling him away from danger, calling him to come to you in a large park and many other reasons that will arise throughout his lifetime. Train your pup to come to you by following the steps below.
- First, fill one of your hands with small treats.
- Go outdoors in your yard where there is open space but it is a fenced in area. If you live in an apartment, you can just go to another room.
- Hold both of your arms straight out so that your body resembles a similar figure to a cross.
- At the same time you hold your arms out, say the verbal command “come.”
- When your dog reaches your feet, quickly give him a treat and reward him verbally or by gently patting him on the head.
- Repeat the process until your pup understands what his proper reaction should be.
The reason you are using such a large hand signal for this specific command is because if your dog is far away from you in a park or down the street, he may not be able to hear you. But most likely will be able to see your large hand gesture from a far distance.
This is also helpful when in a dog park when you are calling your pup to come to you so you can go home or to get him away from certain dogs that might be aggressive. The reason you add the verbal command is because there are going to be plenty of times that you will be standing in your kitchen or another room in your home, and you need your pup to come to you. You can say the verbal command and your pup will come running. Keep in mind that if you are too far away, there is a possibility your pup may not hear you.
The “come” command is very useful if your pup ever gets lost. Sometimes pups may wonder off and get scared because they can’t find their way back home. They may hide in bushes or other areas that you can’t see. But if you use the “come” command, and your pup is nearby, he will most-likely come out from his hiding place.
Train Your Dog Not to Bark
German Shepherds are fantastic guard dogs, so you don’t want to train him not to be one. It’s his natural instinct, and it is the way he shows his loyalty to you and your family. However, if your German Shepherd pup constantly barks for no reason whatsoever, this is a time you will want to train him not to bark.
- First, you will want to see if any items or objects in your household are causing him to bark. Sometimes even a flowing curtain in the wind can set off a barking session. Either remove all the stimulus in the household or tie them down so that they don’t move.
- Next, allow your pup to become friends with the stimulus if it can’t be removed. Place a treat on the floor closest to the object and encourage your pup in a soft voice to get the treat. Repeat this until your pup becomes familiar with the object and no longer cares about it and only focuses on the treat.
If your pup continues to bark consistently, it is wise to visit the veterinarian for a check-up and to rule out any health issues.
Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog.” It was created in the early 1900’s in Germany. It is a type of test that measures a German Shepherds characteristics and traits. Today Schutzhund training is well known as a competitions sport for German Shepherds and other breeds as well.
If you are interested in raising your pup to be a working dog, Schutzhund training will be helpful.
German Shepherds are known to work in a variety of jobs including search and rescue, odor detection, police work and military work. These types of jobs require a specific amount of physical traits, agility, endurance, strength, and focus. Schutzhund training will determine the level of trainability, intelligence, courage, desire to work, perseverance, ability to bond with a handler, sense of smell and protective instinct.
There are a variety of Schutzhund clubs located worldwide where dog owners can take their dog to participate in the training. Attending Schutzhund training with your dog will allow you to bond with your dog and eventually train him to perform at his best ability. The sport itself is captivating to many dog owners since you can train your own dog and compete against others in order to earn recognition of both your dog’s ability as well as your own as a handler.
To Wrap It All Up…
Training your German Shepherd takes patience and perseverance. Although German Shepherds are known as one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, each dog learns at his or her own pace. As a dog owner, you will want to focus, praise and reward only the good things that your German Shepherd does.
It’s not easy to ignore all of the mistakes but it is essential that you completely ignore them. German Shepherds seek attention from their owners and whether you give them positive or negative attention it is all the same to them. They are still getting attention. However, they know that the behavior that does not get attention is most-likely not going to get repeated any time in the future.