German Shepherds are very popular around the world. They are very loyal, caring, and loving toward their loved ones.
Dog parents caring for German Shepherds are really important for so they can grow into well-adjusted dogs.
One of the most important things to teach your German Shepherd is to train them.
But, are German Shepherds hard to train?
No, German Shepherds aren’t hard to train. In fact, they are really easy to train because they are very intelligent so they can easily learn what you want to teach them.
The training that they should have includes basic obedience and advanced commands, potty training, crate training, socialization, and leash training.
Why are German Shepherds easy to train?
German Shepherds are easy to train because they are really intelligent. They rank the third intelligent dog breed in the world.
According to research, scientists believe that a dog’s intelligence is 50% genetics and the other 50 % circumstantial.
Even though the German Shepherd breed is very intelligent, they need to be pushed to learn and grow.
Why are German Shepherd smart?
German Shepherds were originally bred to herd and protect sheep so they had to rely on their mental and physical abilities.
Naturally, they have a strong sense of smell and an intelligent mind which easily makes them natural herders.
Their physical strength helped them be strong enough to protect the flock of sheep from any threats.
Throughout history, they were used as guard dogs, military dogs, and police dogs so they actually had to use their intelligence a lot.
Also, through methods of inbreeding, the German Shepherd came to be the breed that we know today.
You can check the Top 25 Interesting German Shepherd Facts and Myths that will Blow Your Mind to know more about the breed as a whole.
How is a dog’s intelligence measured?
According to Dr. Stanely Coren, a neuropsychologist conducted research and ranked a dog’s intelligence based on the following criteria:
1.) Instinctive intelligence which is the dog’s ability to complete a task that it was instinctively bred for.
2.) Adaptive intelligence which is the dog’s ability to solve problems on their own.
3.) Obedience intelligence which is the dog’s ability to learn and follow commands given by humans.
In his research, he conducted puzzles and tests for hundreds of different dogs to judge which would be able to solve the puzzles.
The German Shepherd was one of the breeds that excelled at these tasks due to their intrinsic intelligence and eagerness to please.
They are really intelligent and can learn very easily so they can be trained smoothly.
Best age to start training your German Shepherd
The best age that you can start to train your German Shepherd is at the age of around 8 weeks old.
It is the age where they learn commands and training very fast and you can easily mold their personality and the bonding experience that you have with your dog.
If they are of older age, it is okay as they can still be trained because they are so intelligent.
Tips before you start training your German Shepherd
Before starting your German Shepherd training, you have to know the important tools that you will need for their training to be effective.
Two of the most important items to have is a clicker and dog treats.
These tools will aid you wherever you are starting your training with your German Shepherd.
The technique of training is based on positive reinforcement where your puppy does something good, you click and then reinforce the behavior with treats.
Another important tip is to never force them to do any training when they don’t want to.
Forcing your dog to train will make them lose their trust in you. Your dog won’t concentrate and will be looking for fun things to do instead.
How to train a German Shepherd puppy?
When training your German Shepherd puppy, you got to keep in mind that certain steps must be taken so your German Shepherd puppy will grow up into a well-adjusted adult.
Here is the top training that you need to teach your German Shepherd when they are a puppy.
Basic obedience training
Train your puppy in basic commands training so they learn to do these commands very easily.
The sooner you start teaching your German Shepherd commands, the more easily that they will adapt and know what to do when you give them this command.
Some of the basic commands to teach your German Shepherd puppy are sit, stay, and heel.
Potty training a German Shepherd puppy is very important to teach your German Shepherd puppy.
When you potty train your German Shepherd puppy, you teach them to not make any accidents that will make a mess in the house.
Steps to potty train your German Shepherd puppy
Step one: Keep your puppy on a scheduled feeding schedule
Let your puppy follow a feeding schedule so they don’t go to eliminate frequently and make accidents that cause a mess.
Take away their food in between meals so they also don’t have a chance to eliminate frequently.
Step two: Take your puppy to eliminate in the morning and every 30 minutes to an hour
Always take your puppy outside to eliminate after every meal or when they wake up from a nap.
Also, take your puppy out to eliminate before they go to sleep at night so they don’t make any accidents.
Step three: Take them to the same spot each time to do this business
By taking your puppy to the same spot every time to eliminate, you ensure that they will learn that this is the place to go to when they want to potty.
Their scent will naturally propel them to go there to do so.
In crate training, you teach your puppy from a young age to not eliminate in the crate because it’s the place that they sleep and rest in.
It is also by their own instincts your German Shepherd puppy will not eliminate in their crate. The reason is that dogs are don’t like to soil the place that they sleep in.
However, before you crate train your German Shepherd, you got to get the most suitable sized crate.
The most suitable crate happens where your German Shepherd puppy feels comfortable enough to stand, turn, and rest without having any extra space available for eliminating.
How to crate train your German Shepherd puppy to stay in the crate
Step one: Pay attention to your puppy’s actions when they see the crate
When your German Shepherd puppy just looks at the crate, click and treat them so they associate and think of the crate as a positive experience.
Step two: Observe your puppy when they move toward the crate
If your puppy moves even if it is little steps toward the crate, click and offer them a treat.
If they are still afraid and won’t get near the crate, you can toss treats toward the crate so your puppy will walk in the direction of the crate.
Step three: Let your puppy walk slowly into the crate
When your German Shepherd puppy walks into the crate, click and treat immediately so your German Shepherd puppy learns that this is a positive experience to be inside the crate.
Step four: Teach your puppy a cue to enter the crate
It’s a good idea to teach your German Shepherd puppy a cue to get into the crate such as “crate up”.
To teach them this cue, wait until they get inside the crate and then use the cue “crate up”. Then, click and treat them immediately so they learn the cue.
Step five: Let your puppy sit inside the crate
Train your puppy to sit in the crate for long periods of time while giving them treats while they are comfortably sitting.
Step six: Let your puppy lay in the crate
Click and treat your German Shepherd puppy when they lay down in the crate.
From this point on, it is best to feed your German Shepherd puppy while they are in the crate.
With time your German Shepherd will lay for long periods of time in the crate.
They can also easily sleep in their crate without any fear.
It’s really important to socialize your German Shepherd puppy at a very young age. So, they can interact with other dogs and people without any problems.
Socialization depends on your dog’s temperament. If they are aggressive and unfriendly, you got to put them in positive experiences and situations so they will learn to change this behavior on their own.
For example, you could put surround them with friendly people and dogs so they can slowly learn to interact with them.
Because a German Shepherd is a bit wary of strangers, you can slowly introduce them to new people through ways like bringing guests to your home or introducing them to new dogs.
German Shepherds need constant socialization so they can get to know new people, dogs, and experiences.
How to train an adult German Shepherd
Teach them basic and advanced obedience commands
Teach your adult German Shepherd both basic and advanced obedience commands that they will need.
Here is the list of the basic obedience commands that you can teach your German Shepherd dog:
- Heel: A command for your dog to walk by your side.
- Sit: For your dog to sit on or off-leash.
- Come: Gets your dog to come to you when they are called.
- Stay: Your dog will stay in the spot whether they are on or off-leash.
- Down: Gets your dog to lay down in a down position.
- Let go: Teaches your dog to drop the item in their mouth.
- Crate/ Kennel: Your dog will enter their crate or kennel.
- Stand: Used in off-leash training. Your dog will be in a stand position.
- Go out: Teaches your dog to leave the room.
- Go inside: Your dog will enter the room.
- Leave it: Stop your dog from picking an object.
Here is a list of some of the advanced obedience command training
- Guard: Teaches your dog to be watchful and alert around something like such as a door, person or gate.
- Bite: It is all about your dog holding or biting an object.
- Speak/Bark: Teaches your dog to bark on command.
- Fetch: Teaches your dog to fetch and catch an item that you want to get.
- Jump: your dog will jump over or through an object such as a low wall, a hoop, or into water.
- Track: Teaches your dog to track an item or person.
To know more about how to train German Shepherd in basic and obedience commands in more detail, check How to Train A German Shepherd on Basic Obedience Training and Much More!
Here is a video showing advanced command training for a German Shepherd.
Use clicker training and positive reinforcement
Clicker training is an effective method that reinforces what you have taught your German Shepherd.
It is a really great method that will keep your dog wanting to learn new things because they will be rewarded with treats, praise, or anything that they enjoy.
You have to also use positive reinforcement when training your dog so they learn to not associate what they learned as a negative experience.
Thus, it is really important to not shout, scold, or treat your dog badly when they don’t understand the training or aren’t following what to do correctly.
By doing so, your dog will not have any behavioral problems such as being afraid or aggressive.
Your dog’s well being is really important so they become a well-adjusted dog.
Teach them the same training as you would teach a puppy
The best training is one where there is repetition and consistency so your dog learns effectively what you are training them for.
This includes potty training, crate training, and socialization. Training doesn’t differ with age so your dog will need to learn all the things that you would teach to a puppy.
However, training a dog differs in two aspects. The first one is that puppies tend to learn faster than older dogs. This doesn’t mean that older dogs can’t learn or be trained; it’s just that they take a longer time than puppies do.
The second aspect is that you will need more patience and time with an older dog than a puppy because older dogs may have learned bad habits.
These habits can be changed and unlearned if you invest more time and are patient with them.
Your German Shepherd will need to get their exercise while they are outside so walking them outdoors is one of these ways.
Therefore, you will need to know how to walk with your dog while they are on a leash. Your dog doesn’t know how to walk on a leash; its a skill that they learn so they will need practice and training to do so.
How to train your dog to walk on a leash?
1.) Introduce your dog to a collar and leash
Start off by letting your dog wear the collar and leash at short periods of time in your house.
Always use positive reinforcement so when you find that they are comfortable wearing the collar and leash, teach them a cue for giving them treats and give them treats as a reward.
2.) Ask your dog to come to you
While your dog is on the leash, get them to come to you by calling them over. When they are coming to you, back up a few paces and reward them with some treats when they get to you.
3.) Keep practicing
Keep repeating and practicing with your dog to come to you in a room with little distraction. Offer your dog treats when they come to you so they associate it with a positive experience.
4.) Take your dog outdoors
Finally, when your dog is ready, take them outside. Be patient with your dog during their first walk and keep the duration short.
If your dog looks distracted or is about to lunge toward something, stop walking forward and move some steps backward.
Your dog will learn to not pull you forward and instead walk with you at a pace.
Solving leash training problems
If your dog pulls: When your dog pulls you, stop walking immediately and stand like a tree. Don’t move and wait until your dog comes to you.
Never pull or drag your dog by their leash to get them to come to you.
If your dog lunges: If your dog lunges after something such as a car or a dog while walking, you can redirect their attention to something else such as a treat before they lunge forward.
You can also increase the space between your dog and what they want to lunge forward at.
If your dog barks: Oftentimes, when your dog barks, it is because they didn’t get enough exercise. If this is the case, then let them get exercised.
If they are provoked by things in the environment such as cars or other dogs, you could use the same techniques used for when your dog is lunging
Here is a video of some additional tips that you can give do during leash training.
Top training tips for German Shepherds
1.) Use positive reinforcement
To keep your German Shepherd interested and motivated to get trained, use positive reinforcement always.
You can use positive reinforcement by alternating between a variety of treats, praise, and games.
Your dog is more likely to work harder when they know that they get rewarded differently when they are trained.
2.) Don’t get angry at your dog
It can be hard to not shout at your German Shepherd because when you scold and shout at them, they actually become more excited and will not listen to you.
Instead, tell your dog a sharp “no” where it is firm and accompanied by body language that your dog understands as unacceptable is better.
3.) Don’t acknowledge negative behavior
There are a lot of times where you train your dog to do a certain command or follow a certain training but they do something else.
You may think it’s cute that you end up rewarding them.
When you do so, you teach them what they have done is something to be encouraged; you basically let your dog have a mix up of what to do.
So, never give your dog any praise over negative behavior.
4.) Have persistence and a routine set
Always be consistent and patient when training your dog so they learn and train to be a well-adjusted dog.
Never force them to do something that they don’t want to do.
Also, set a routine and a schedule for training your dog so they can easily know the timings of the training and be ready for them
Common mistakes to avoid when training your German Shepherd
1.) Delaying the training process
When you delay your German Shepherd training, they may have anger problems because they will become frustrated from not having anything to do.
This may also lead to problems such as separation anxiety where your dog destroys furniture and other objects.
Start as early as possible because they absorb easily any training that you teach them. Thus, it is best to teach a German Shepherd when they are a puppy.
However, if you do adopt and get an older German Shepherd, you can still teach them what you want to train them for.
It will take a longer time than training a puppy but it can be done.
2.) Isolating them from people
Never isolate your German Shepherd from people. The reason that when you decide to introduce them to people in the future, they may feel scared or aggressive toward people
Thus, socialization especially starting at a young age is encouraged.
You can enhance your dog’s socialization skills by enrolling them in a puppy kindergarten where they will socialize with other dogs and people.
3.) Not being repetitive
Even though your German Shepherd is a quick learner, they still need the commands to be repetitive so they can learn to perform the training.
Your dog will learn to do certain behaviors only when you are repetitive with the commands because it will be reinforced in their mind.
4.) Training too much or too little
To train your German Shepherd effectively, you will need to not limit the training time to only 5 minutes.
If you give your dog a really short time to be trained, they will have difficulty learning.
The best amount of time to train your dog is 10 minutes. This will allow your dog to follow the training.
You got to train your dog one trick per session and don’t end the session without teaching them the trick.
If the period of training is too long, your dog will become bored and distracted.
Your German Shepherd can easily learn and be trained. They can easily pick up new commands.
They are one of the most intelligent breeds in the world and can be trained using a variety of techniques and training.
Share your experience. Is your German Shepherd easy to train?