German Shepherd Training Tips: Use Rewards and Positive Reinforcement

german shepherd training tipsGerman shepherds are one of the most popular dogs to own as they are well known for their energy, loyalty, and intelligence. They are widely used in all kinds of official roles with the police, army, and other agencies, and when trained properly can cope with a lot of complex tasks. This versatility is what makes them such a great house pet provided you have enough space and energy to keep up with them. 

The German Shepherd has a lifetime of up to 13 years, and sometimes more. Moreover, it can weigh up to 88 lbs! It is also called simply Shepherd, GSD, or even Alsatian. The dog is known for its curious, intelligent, loyal, obedient, courageous, alert, and confident demeanor. Since this breed originated in Germany, back in the 1890s, it was called the German Shepherd and deutsche Schäferhund. If you are getting a sought-after shepherd, or any other dog, check out this Udemy course, Polite Puppy Dog Training Class.

As of 2012, this dog became the second most popular breed in the United States, and the fourth most popular dog in the United Kingdom. That certainly says much about how well this dog is received among government agencies and individuals, as well.

Giving a German shepherd basic training is not that complicated and is lots of fun. For more advanced training, there are a wide range of professional courses to choose from. Read on for essential German shepherd training tips to help your dog from an early age.

Introduce Your Puppy

Start, from only a few weeks old, to introduce your new best friend to as many different people and situations as you can. German shepherds are very protective by nature and so it is important to get your puppy used to being around people of all ages. This will prevent your puppy when fully grown from viewing other people as a threat. It is best to wait until after vaccination before taking them out of the house. If you cannot wait to show off outside of your home, carry your puppy as much as possible to reduce contact with outside germs.

Use Crate Training

Crate training is essential for making sure your German shepherd feels comfortable in situations such as the vet or if you need to use a boarding kennel. It also helps a lot when potty training your puppy. For best results find a crate that your dog can use for his entire life, so it becomes a second home. Introduce and use the crate when you are going out or busy with other things and cannot supervise your puppy properly. Look at the size of your puppy’s father as a rough measure of your puppy’s fully grown size and buy one with enough space that once fully grown, your German shepherd will be able to lie down and relax there.

While your puppy is growing insert a divider to make the crate appropriate for your puppy’s size that you can later adjust. Play games and sometimes even feed your puppy when in the crate so your puppy associates it with fun. Don’t leave your puppy in the crate more than a couple hours so your puppy has a chance to go to the toilet and associates going outside with that activity.

Get a Clicker

Clicker training is great fun both for you and your German shepherd. You will be able to use clicker training for your puppy’s entire life, anytime you want to teach a new skill. Clicker training works by your puppy associating the click with a treat so make sure every time you click you have a treat ready. When you are training your German shepherd to do a particular action, reward the successful completion of that skill with a click and then a treat.

You won’t need to use the clicker very long for teaching each skill as German shepherds catch on very quickly. You will find that, after a while, your dog will get excited on seeing the clicker as it means it is time for a new game and more importantly lots of treats.

Walking

It is not complicated to teach your puppy the basic rules when out on a walk, but it is essential to instill the rules early. German shepherds will always look to you, the master, for guidance but can become easily distracted. To keep the focus on you when doing initial training ensure you are in an area without many distractions. Keep the leash on in the beginning and get your puppy used to your recall word.

Gradually increase the length of the leash and repeat the exercise. Once you feel comfortable that your puppy is responding correctly you can try it without the leash in a controlled environment. Go on walks with your German shepherd to meet other dogs and people but do not remove the leash until you are sure your puppy will come back on command.

Keep it Consistent

The most crucial aspect of training is consistency. For your dog to connect the dots, they need to expect the same types of activities on a daily basis. Eventually, they will start to remember what you want them to do, based upon your actions. You cannot expect to train them after only one or two sessions.

Patience is also part of the training process. Your dog may or may not perform, the way you would like, immediately. The point is not to give up. In addition, consistent training augments your bond with the dog. When done effectively, you affirm your role as leader of the pack.

Practice Socialization

What people love about the German Shepherd is the dog is extremely loyal, even to a fault. They are a very protective breed of their owners, and the owner’s family members, as well. While this is good news for you, it can cause accidents when guests come over to visit.

As a result, German Shepherds have been known to snap when they feel threatened, or they can bark profusely at people they are not familiar with. So, socialization is extremely important. Especially if you keep the dog in your home and have visitors coming in and out on a regular basis. Get them used to guests and visitors. Leave them on their leash, at first, then work your way to letting them run free. For the best outcome, start their socialization process while they are still puppies.

What About Wolves?

Interestingly enough, there have been implications of a mixture of wolf’s blood in one generation of German Shepherds. The breed does appear to have a few similar characteristics from its fur length to stature and head shape. In fact, George Horowitz wrote a book titled, “The Alsatian Wolf-Dog.” In it, he asserts that three of the early dogs, Phylax von Eulau I, Mores-Plieningen and Wölfi vom Wolfnest, were crossed with wolves.

Professor Theophil Studer studied the skull of one of the ancestors. From his research, he concluded, “there was a mixture of wolf’s blood in at least one generation”. Breeder, Monsieur Otto Rahm of Switzerland, did confirm that one of the dog’s was a cross between wolf and German Shepherd. These studies and their confirmation took place in 1903. Do not let this dissuade you though, these dogs are and can be very loving.

These are some of the basic German shepherd training tips and will allow you to start to build a long and powerful friendship with your new puppy. Training a German shepherd is a fulfilling and rewarding experience for both of you, and you will find your puppy is always eager to learn something new no matter long you have been together.

German shepherds, by their very nature, will always try to please you, and if you return the favor and treat them in a disciplined, but kind and considerate way, you will develop a lifelong mutual trust and bond that will be utterly rewarding for you both. For more training tips, enroll in these two Udemy courses, Dog Training – Tricks Level 1 and Getting a Dog? Plan for Success. You should also check out this blog, How to Teach a Dog to Shake: Training Your Best Friend.