Congratulations on having a German Shepherd dog as your new family member. This is a popular breed of dog commonly adopted by many dog owners as they are a highly intelligent breed, with appealing qualities and, most important of all, easily trained.
So without further ado, let’s dip into various German Shepherd Dog Training Tips that you can make use of at their different ages.
Train your GSD that these AGES:
From 8 to 16 weeks:
Socialization: What Needs To Be Done?
German Shepherd Dog is naturally protective in character which makes early socialization an important task that you need to work on for your dog. Certainly you do not want him to exhibit any aggressive behavior to your visitors or anyone in the street.
To start with his socialization training, get him exposed to various different situations and people in a safe and control environment. Doing it in your backyard will be a good option.
I would not recommend that you do it in a public park or dog parks till he is ready for it (you can monitor and observe his behavior during the training to access his readiness).
When you find him getting more confident and not showing any sign of fearful or aggressiveness, he is ready for outdoor socialization. New sight with different smells and sound will make your dog open his world to a new level of socialization. Keep in mind that good socialization leads to self-confidence.
Having short fun games with your dog is also another alternative to build up his socialization skill. Keep the session short, preferably not longer than 5 minutes.
Most importantly, make sure that you are engaging with him when playing these games. Do it in various different environments so that he can get himself used to different sounds and people.
Some Socialization Games To Consider:
- “The Name Game”
- “The Shadow Game”
- “Hide and Seek”
- “Follow Your Nose”
- “Find the Toy”
Also get your dog involved in some daily life and routines such as grooming. Introduce to him some basic grooming tools such as brush, comb and nail cutters. Let him experience as many things as possible. Make the learning a fun and NOT a stressful event for him.
Crate Training: Is This “GOOD” For Your GSD?
You might also want to include crate training as one of your training lists. Personally, I feel that this is a necessity for my GSD as:
1. This gives me a peace of mind when I know that I can place him in a crate when I am out of home or busy with other stuff and couldn’t have my eye on him before he is fully house-trained.
2. Dogs usually view crates as his Den which offer him his PERSONAL space, security and privacy. So it’s going to be a WIN-WIN situation for you and him 🙂
3. Travelling convenient.
- Certainly you would not want your dog running loose in a car. This is more of waiting for an accident to happen!
- Visiting a friend. Your dog might feel nervous in an unfamiliar environment. By having him in a portable crate, this can help him feel safe.
4. Personal area for him to recuperate after an illness or injury.
5. A perfect place for him to take a nap or night sleep. (He knows he is safe in there)
Given the above points, I see the great benefits to have your dog crate trained. Also, dogs usually prefer to have a space that they consider as their and crate perfectly fit the bill.
Place the crate in a quiet spot but make sure you can watch him from far away so that you can monitor his activities. Just in case if you see him sniffing around or begin to circle before squatting, he is telling you – “It’s POTTY Time!”. Get him out from the crate immediately and guide him to the designated spot for his pee and poo.
Make use of the crate for your feeding times as well.This will help him to get used to being in the crate. However, avoid keeping your dog in the crate for the whole day as this will make him feel frustrated. Dogs are social animals and like to be with people!
If you decided to have your German Shepherd crate trained, the next question will be what type of crate to go for and the appropriate size?
You will find various types, styles, colors and sizes of crates in the market. This can be pretty overwhelming for you. I would suggest that you use the following guideline for your crate selection:
- Make sure that the crate is just spacious enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and stretch without being cramped. Do not go for a very big crate as your dog might use one of the corners for his potty!
- As for the material, there are mainly 3 types. Metal, Plastic and Fabric. I would suggest opting for metal type as they tend to be more sturdy and chew proof.
- Are you going to place your crate permanently in one location or it will be moving around?
- Ease of cleaning the crate. Make sure that you are able to access the interior of the crate easily to facilitate the cleaning.
I have been using wire crates all the while and it works great for me as it provides the best ventilation and because it is “Open View”, I can easily see what my dog is doing in his crate from far away.
You have the choice to cover it up if your dog gets too distracted when there are many visitors coming to your home. On top of that, using a divider, you can adjust the size of the crate easily to match your dog size (as he grows up!)
From 16 to 36 weeks:
Obedience Training: A Necessity Training Not To Miss!
Obedience training is a MUST for all breeds of dogs, even for those that are very submissive. Look at it this way, if you never teach your dog what you want, how would he be able to meet your expectation? You need to “inform” him the desirable behaviors and refrain from,repeating unacceptable ones.
In short, Obedience training will help you to establish yourself an Alpha Dog in your dog’s mind. This will make him see you as his pack leader and will listen and obey your instruction,
As GSD is an extremely intelligent breed, it is not at all difficult to train him to be obedient.Start with some basic commands and gradually move on to more advanced ones once he has mastered these basic commands.You can even teach them to do some tricks in the later phrase.
Some Basic commands that you can start with include: “Sit”, “Stay”, “Heel” as well as Leash Walking.
“Sit”, “Stay” and “Heel” will be handy commands to keep him safe from any dangerous situation, This also works great if your dog is overactive who likes to jump on visitors and you want him to behave himself in front of them.
Do not yell or apply any physical punishment on him during the training as this will make him aggressive and unpredictable. Instead, give him plenty of attention and reward him for any good behavior that will further reinforce his desirable action.
Reliable Recall: Can “Save” Your Dog From Accident
This is an extremely important command that your dog OUGHT to master. Who knows this might save him a life on one of these days? Image the consequence if you are not able to recall him back when he dashes out to the road? Wouldn’t it be life threatening?
Certainly, this is going to be a difficult command which will need more time, patience and practice for him to master.
Dogs are full of curiosity and it would be difficult to ask him to stop doing what he is doing now and come over to you. Which makes this training a difficult task.
You need to train him to have the feeling that being with you is one of the most wonderful things he can do, not to mention that he will also get a reward (preferably food as this never fails to catch my dog attention) when he comes over to you.
Training Games such as” Come for treats”, “Tag”, “Look at me”, Hide and seek” as well as “Round Robin” works great in assisting you in your “reliable recall” training.
Food preferences differ from dog to dog. Just like humans, we have our preference of foods that meet our taste. Of course, you will have to ensure that the food given to your dog meets his daily nutrition.
For my GSD, he seems to have a preference for chicken, fish and beef. I use them to reward him during my “reliable recall” training with him.
Impulse Control: How To Manage Your GSD Behaviors
What is actually impulse control? Often known as emotional self-control, this is a way to train your dog from performing any undesirable actions due to impatience or pushy.
“Impulse – urge to act on with little or no consideration on the potential consequence”
Some common impulse behaviors that we see from our dogs include – uncontrolled barking, chewing, jumping all over you, whining for your attention, digging as well as inappropriate chasing. These are of course what you DO NOT want your dog to exhibit. Unfortunately, he would not know that till you trained him not to do so.
Usually dogs will do what works for them at that instant and would not have any self-control. They are in fact rather impatient. For example, have you encountered the instant where your dog pulls on your leash during a walk when he feels that you can’t keep up with him?
By teaching your dog to be emotional self-control (through obedience training and positive reinforcement), you can certainly have a well-behaved and less demanding lovely dog to live with.
Positive reinforcement training makes use of rewards to make your dog want to do and repeat the desired behavior that you want for.It is one of the most powerful “tool” to shape or change your dog behavior. Your German Shepherd Dog will want to keep doing this behavior because he knows that there will be reward waiting for him.
Rewards could be in the form of – praise, toys, treats or a simple pat on his head In my course of training my dog, I find that using treats (foods) get the best result as this is so “luring”.
From 36 weeks Onward: Training Does Not Stop Here
Different breeds of dog mature at different ages though typically, most dogs consider reaching the end of puppy hood by the time they reach 1 year old. However, for German Shepherds, this might not be the case. They could surpass this age and reach adult maturity only at the age of two.
This breed thrives on constant and persistent training so keep your obedient training going and you will have a lovely companion for your family.