German Shepherds are quick to learn tricks and commands. However, it’s also true that they were originally bred to protect herds and dwell in packs.
Therefore, these dogs are naturally dominant and love being the alpha-leader every where they go. This is one of the main reasons to instill training from a young age. Instead of whiling away this puppy years thinking he is too cute to dominate or create havoc in the house, starting training him for obedience.
This way, you will become the proud owner of a well-behaved, docile yet watchful GSD that embodies the best of his breed’s traits!
Here, we will walk you through all the aspects of training a German shepherd puppy, right from German shepherd training commands to important ways to implement them.
Table of Contents
TWO MAJOR TYPES of GSD TRAINING
Owners that lack experience with German shepherds often find themselves helplessly wedged between different training methods.
While there are tons of methods out there, they all have different efficacy.
Also, you need to remember that it’s not easy to alter the genetics of a GSD. Training will require consistency, regularity and patience.
Here are the two major types of training you can use:
#1 – Verbal Commands
Verbal commands are incredibly effective for training German shepherds. This is simply because these dogs are naturally alert to sounds. They are also able to hear voice signal and interpret its meaning by gauging its frequency.
So when you say “NO” in a strong voice, he will know you’re dead serious and not really looking on him with a favorable eye.
And if you say “Good boy” while smiling, he will interpret it as a praise or a happy tone. Make sure not to flash your teeth while you smile though, because in dog language, showing teeth is considered an aggressive display.
Verbal German shepherd commands are very useful in training unruly GSD pups.
#3 – Hand Signals
Hand signals can be used on aged German shepherds who are unable to hear very well.
So, when verbal signals are not effective, you can always take help from hand signals. These are used to make your GSD obey your commands.
They are quite helpful in making him learn different kinds of tricks.
] When you combine hand signals with voice commands, the training techniques become much more effective.
5 IMPORTANT THINGS to REMEMBER
#1 – The German Shepherd Was Bred for a Specific Purpose
Your German shepherd hails from an ancestry of working dogs. He has an illustrious league to brag and you wouldn’t want to snatch that away from him.
Whatever be the purpose behind training, don’t forget that the GSDs were bred primarily to function as herding and guarding dogs. They also make wonderful sniffer dogs and excel in rescue operations.
Agility, alertness, domination all lie in the very nature of a GSD.
So with any training method, make sure it’s more about him and less about you. Keep him busy all the while and don’t drag the sessions. Throw in refresher lessons in between. With training, you not only have an obedient dog but also a busy one who channelizes his undying energy in productive ventures only.
#2 – Your Dog is a Dog, not an Unruly Child
As humans, we think our dogs are humans too, dressed in a furry suit.
As much as you love your GSD, you need to understand that he doesn’t have the same emotions or desires as you. He operates mainly on instincts and his instincts have evolved over the years to help him survive unfavorable environments and keep his pack alive.
Another thing to note is that dogs tend to reflect their owner’s personality. So treating your GSD aggressively or punishing him for little things is not going to go down well with him. He may try to get back at you, or even worse, retreat into a corner and grow up to be a fearful dog.
#3 – Understand His Basic Needs
There is one thing in common between a cute puppy and an old dog, and that is the need for safety.
When you understand, half the job is done. Before you start off with any training, you’ll have to gain the trust of your new GSD. This will prove him that you’re an able leader and that he doesn’t have to demonstrate aggressiveness or splatter about his nervous energy as you are there to protect them from danger.
Focus on establishing yourself as a good leader. Do not get panicky in front of him. Also, when he gets a little older, allocate a different space to him that is private and way from the humdrum of life outdoors.
#4 – Your Dog Communicates Differently
Dogs are adept at understanding body language. As a matter of fact, they are more receptive to body language than German shepherd command words.
However, we as humans, cannot wag our tails or twitch our ears to communicate. That’s not our forte.
But there are still verbal commands and hand signals that are also very effective. Just remember to focus on the tone of voice when you use verbal commands. German shepherds interpret different sound frequencies differently.
Use simple, direct, one-word commands. This will convey your message better. Use a clear and emphatic tone while delivering them. Do not yell or throw your hands up to stop him from getting unruly.
#5 – Positive Reinforcement is The Key to Success
Your GSD will respond remarkably well to training that is coupled with positive reinforcements. Yelling and punishing him will cause him to mistrust you and fear you.
Do not forget to reward good behavior with praise and his favorite treats. This is the best way to let him know he’s doing the right thing and that he should continue doing it. Remember, your German shepherd wants nothing more than pleasing you.
And once your dog has mastered obedience, you can remove all the treats and use only praise as reward. He will relish that with equal zest.
THE BASICS OF GERMAN SHEPHERD OBEDIENCE TRAINING
Once you have brought your German Shepherd pup, start training it while it’s still young because GSDs can get very dominant if coaching is not meted out at the right time.
Another mistake is that most GSD owners make is to yell or punish their dogs badly.
Remember, German shepherds are not like the friendly breeds or mild teacup dogs. Nature has made them tough and leader-like. If you treat them aggressively, they will retaliate.
The aim of obedience training is not to mellow him down completely, or keep him from reacting altogether. Instead, the main purpose is to help him adapt to his surroundings and behave well.
With the right kind of obedience coaching, you’ll finally have a GSD who is exactly like you want to be.
German Shepherd Obedience
There are two components in a GSD’s obedience training. One of them is imprinting as well as socialization. This method of training includes commands and certain types of tricks.
Irrespective of the style you adopt, you’ll also need to use lots of hand signals and verbal actions.
When you yell or punish your GSD pup during its coaching, he is likely to grow up as an aggressive dog. This is because dogs mirror the attitude and treatment they receive from their owner. This is called imprinting.
However, when you treat him with affection and smother him with praises, he learns to associate obedience with rewards. That quickens the coaching altogether.
Socialization should be seen as a major part of the training procedure. It is advisable to start socializing your GSD pup with people and other animals in the vicinity when he is just 8 weeks of age.
This way he will grow to be comfortable of his surroundings and not look at every new experience with fear and skepticism.
Ideally, obedience training should be started at 9 weeks of age. The earlier you define his role in your family, the earlier you have a well-behaved dog. Make sure you don’t lengthen the training sessions as it will stress and frustrate the dog.
Teaching Manners & Obedience
In this section of the training process, you’ll need to teach your German shepherd to stay calm in the face of danger and be responsive to your commands.
German Shepherds are highly energetic and tend to get hyper very fast. That is why when you train them for obedience, ensure to follow these commands in an energetic manner.
To help them understand the meaning of every command and instill patience within them, you’ll have to coach them differently.
Consider the following tips to induce good manners and discipline in your GSD:
# Teach your dog to sit down or stay for a couple of minutes. You can do this by introducing him to these commands.
# Teach him to sit on your instruction and say ‘stay” when he begins to gets geared up for a chase. The period of ‘stay’ should be around 2-4 minutes. This training will help him stay calm when the situation demands it.
# Tell your dog to walk briskly or at a normal pace even when you keep the leash loose.
# Tell your GSD to stop or sit down when he starts jumping on your furniture and guests.
To simulate real life circumstances during the training sessions, ensure to introduce distractions in between training.
This also keeps your dog interested. Also, doing so will help you know how well he is trained and can ignore distractions whenever you command it to stop, stay, etc.
IMPORTANCE of TRAINING A GERMAN SHEPHERD
There is no doubt that German Shepherds are intelligent. Yet, their intelligence and energy can become an absolute nuisance if you don’t channelize it in the right way and show even the slightest bit of laxity in training.
It doesn’t matter if your little German Shepherd looks cute while scratching the door or shredding the sofa.
When you start training him with some basic commands, you make him productive, well-behaved and presentable, all without compromising on his cuteness!
During the training process, you may end up facing situations that you were unaware of.
Hence, in order to make the sessions smooth sailing, ensure that you are prepared with at least a wee bit of common sense, a couple of training aids and loads of patience and perseverance!
But before starting, ensure to equip yourself with a lot of training aids like nylon leash and nylon collar. As far as positive reinforcements are concerned, a couple of high-value treats would do.
Do not forget to arm yourself with his favorite toys too, just in case he decides playing is more fun than eating.
Also, keep the training periods short and teach him one command at a time. This way, your pup learns faster and the training stays ingrained in his memory.
Teaching too many commands in one session would only serve to confuse him further.
Ideally, each sessions should be no longer than 15-20 minutes.
Don’t be stingy on appreciative words! Motivate your cute pup with warm, praises from time to time. He loves them!
TWO MAJOR TYPES of TRAINING COMMANDS:
Based on their level of difficulty, training commands can be divided into two major types- basic and advanced.
While the basic commands make your dog well-behaved, the advanced commands train him to be a better version of himself with respect to greater agility, higher intelligence and ability to learn various tricks.
Basic Obedience Commands:
Basic commands are useful for both off-leash and on-leash training sessions.
A lot of positive reinforcements like treats and compliments must be used while training the dog for these commands.
Your German shepherd will most probably master them over 4-5 training sessions with 20-25 repetitions of every command.
Ensure to start the training with the basic commands before moving on to the tougher, advanced commands.
Advanced Dog Training Commands:
Advanced dog commands are helpful in trick training, training for providing assistance to the disabled, increased agility, as well as other working situations.
They are also useful both on-leash and off-leash. These commands are grouped under the “advanced” section because your dog will need some more time and probably more rewards to master these commands.
FIRST THINGS FIRST…
You must have surely decided your name for your German shepherd pup? If not, then you have to do so before you start off with the obedience training. This is because if he doesn’t learn to respond to his name, training will be an impossible task to accomplish. You can teach him to recognize his name by making sure he hears it a lot. Use it plenty of times and in an animated tone whenever you’re with him. And if he responds to his name, smother him with affection and praise.
8 COMMON BASIC COMMANDS
The basic commands that you must teach your little German Shepherd are one-word instructions like “Come, down, sit, drop it, stay, heel and roll over”.
Teaching these simple commands will make life easier for both you and your pooch.
#1 – How to Train for the Command: “Come”
The following is a simple method to train your German shepherd pup to come to you when something else has caught his attention.
Teaching this command is important because it keeps from getting too distracted and also forms the stepping stone for further communication between you two.
- The next he is indoors and playing with a toy, start calling him by his name. When he responds by looking at you, show him his favorite treat and urge him to take it by saying the command “come”.
- Once he reaches you, give him a generous sprinkling of praises and hugs- make a fuss about what a good boy he is. In short, show him you’re overwhelmed with his response. When you do this, he learns the positive association, irrespective of whether he has come to you on his own or prompted to come by your friend. Basically, just saying the command “come” when he has approached you reinforces the kind of behavior you want.
- After this, kneel down and call him by his name. Once he gives you the required attention, say the word “come” again. In case he doesn’t respond, give a gentle tug to the leash and repeat the command. However, be careful not to be excessively forceful or harsh on the dog. Be patient, persistent and keep trying until he responds to your gesture.
- Again, once he arrives, give him a treat and lavish him with praise liberally. Initially, it is recommended to practice on the leash and once the desired response has become a routine, you can try it again and again off the leash.
- Take him outdoors on the third day of training and repeat the exercise.
- Gradually, when he seems to respond well to the command, escalate the difficulty by increasing the distance between you and the pup and repeat the exercise.
- When you feel he has learned to respond well to the command, teach him next to execute it without the treat. This is highly important because you may not always have treats with you when emergency comes calling. Substitute his favorite treats with praise.
Remember, the “come” command is the most essential thing you can possibly teach your German Shepherd. Who knows, it might save his life one day!
#2 – How to Train a German Shepherd to Sit
By learning this command, your German Shepherd will become a well-behaved and obedient dog that impresses all your guests with his politeness and well-bred nature.
To teach this method, you will need to arm yourself with lots of tasty treats. However, once this behavior gets ingrained into his nature, you won’t need treats anymore as this will be his second nature.
- Start off this method when your dog is standing/sitting in front of you. Now, hold his favorite treat in your hand but make sure it’s out of his reach. Flash the treat before his eyes one or two times so that he sees it and gets excited to grab it. In case he has to jump to secure it, that means you’re holding it rather high-lower your hand so that the treat is at face level with him.
- Your German shepherd’s eyes will be instantly fixated on the treat as soon as he first glances it. You will have to make use of this eye-contact.
- Now, hover the hand carrying the treat as though you are going to move it above your dog’s head and towards his rear side. However, make sure to stay in line with his nose. That way, he gets to sniff the treat and this fuels his excitement to grab it even further.
- When you perform this gesture, your dog will naturally drop his behind in order to maintain eye-contact with his favorite treat. Once his rear side hits the ground (which means, he is seated), let him have the treat and smother him with lots of affection and compliments.
- At this point of the session, it’s not advisable to use the word “sit”. Instead, keep practicing this exercise without the command. Introduce the word only a couple of days later.
- In case, your dog doesn’t respond by sitting on the ground, gently press his coup and repeat the command. Then, give him the treat. And if he doesn’t sit down even after pressing his coup, don’t give him the treat. This way, he will eventually learn to sit.Very soon, your dog will sit for love, food and treats even when you don’t use the command “sit”.
#3 – How to Train for The Command “Down”
The importance of the “down” command is that you can use it to calm him down when he gets agitated by new sights and sounds. It is a great basic training command to use on aggressive dogs.
- Start when your German shepherd is seated.
- Keep a treat between your thumb and index finger and move your hand closer to his face so that he gets a good whiff of his favorite treat.
- Now, move the treat towards the floor, yet prevent him to getting up from his position and grabbing it. You can prevent him from rising up by using the command “down”.
- When you see him preparing to lie down to secure the treat, give him the command “down”.
- As soon as he lies down and is completely rested on the floor, praise and pat him affectionately. Make sure he knows you’re pleased. Let him have the treat too.
- Repeat this exercise until he learns to respond to your command even in the absence of treats.
#4 – How to Train for The Command “Roll Over”
This is another life-saving command. It helps him to respond in the face of danger and avoid any threats that are unknown to him. Also, it serves to build trust between the two of you.
- Begin the training process by giving your German shepherd the “down” command. In other words, you will have to train him for the “down” command first before moving on to the “roll over” command.
- Once he has responded to the “down” command by lying down, hold the treat between your thumb and index finger, next to his nose. Gradually, hover your hand towards his shoulder and back from the tip of his nose.
- Now, when your dog turns his head to focus on the treat, keep moving the treat over his shoulder to make sure he has to lie on his side to follow it.
- Keep moving your hand all the way around. Do this until he rolls over to follow his favorite treat.
- Once he has completed the roll-over exercise, praise him lavishly and let him have the treat.
#5 – How to Train for The Command “Drop it”
It is advisable to train for this command when your German shepherd is at the puppy stage.
Usually puppies have a lot of nervous energy about them and tend to vent it out by resorting to destructive methods like chewing and biting on household items. That is when this command comes handy!
- Start the training session by letting your pooch have any of his favorite toys. Encourage him to take it or play with it by saying “take it”.
- If he holds the toy in his mouth, or seems to chew it, say a firm “NO” and “drop it”. When you forbid him from chewing the toy, hold his favorite treat close to his nose so as to divert his attention and entice him to take the treat.
- If he releases the toy in the excitement of grabbing the treat, praise him well and let him have the treat.
- In case he doesn’t follow your command or looks confused when you forbid him from chewing on the toy, just don’t give him the treat. Do not try to pry open his jaws, yell at him or pull away the toy from his teeth. That might cause him injury.
- As with the other exercises, repeat the aforementioned steps until your dog starts responding well. After that, try the exercise without giving him the treat.
#6 – How to Train for The Command “Stay”
This command will come handy when you need your dog to stay on his spot silently instead of running all out to catch that little squirrel or say hello to the neighbor’s cat.
- Make sure your dog has learned the “down” position before you begin this exercise. Now, keep him in the “down” position and keep his palm over his head.
- Maintain eye-contact all the while and deliver the command “stay” during that time.
- Repeat the process if he tries to rise from his position or lifts his head. Give him a treat if he obeys you and decides to stay flat on the ground. Also, praise him lavishly and let him know you love his obedience.
- As you repeat the exercise, gradually increase the time of the “stay” command and give him increasing value of treats.
Eventually, he will learn to respond even in the absence of treats as rewards.
#7 – How to Train for the Command “Heel”
This command trains your German shepherd to walk alongside you and trot along as you go about your hiking expeditions or explore the woods for adventure.
- This is one of the few commands that can be taught to him whilst play. So, to train him to respond to this command, start by playing with your pup in the backyard.
- After that, put him on a leash or more appropriately, a flat buckle collar before you take him outdoors.
- When you interrupt his play to put that collar, he might resist and even try to pull at first. In that case, just wait a bit until he relaxes.
- As soon as he stops pulling, shower him with praises and affection.
- Over time, try changing the direction by putting the collar on him in a counter-clockwise movement.
- Give the command “let’s heel” and encourage him to start heeling with you. You can use hand signals also to urge him to trot alongside you. When he does so, toss him a treat.
#8 – How to Train for The Command “Leave it”
Majority of GSD owners have to face a lot of trouble in getting their dog to leave a certain object that they are chewing or pouncing upon. If your German shepherd is behaving badly by biting on cushions or tugging on furniture, make them learn to leave it. With this command, you can get him to obey you.
- Start by holding the treat in your hand. Call your dog by his name.
- As soon as he reaches you and you’ve got his attention, drop the treat in his direction on the floor.
- Your dog will try to get the treat and approach it.
- When he is just about to pick the treat from the floor, move your leg forward and put it over the treat in a bid to prevent him from having it.
- However, make sure not to step on the treat. All you have to do is block it with your leg.
- Then say the command “leave-it” loud and clear. Following that, pick up the treat and go backwards. Drop the treat again on the floor and call your dog’s name to get his attention. Repeat the action all over again by asking your dog to leave it.
- If he listens to your command and stays put instead of taking the treat in his mouth, offer him the treat.
This action will enable your dog to associate obedience with reward and he’ll learn to stay away from a thing when you say this command. Over time, you need to make sure he responds even in the absence of a reward.
The aforementioned basic German dog commands are just a few out of a many dozens. Other equally important basic commands include:
#Attention!- This command teaches your dog to shift his focus on you. This is useful during advanced training wherein you’re giving him many commands together to train him for higher intelligence objectives.
#Here: By learning this command, your dog positions himself near you or in front of you whenever you say him. You can accompany this command with a hand gesture.
#Stand: With this command, your dog learns to stand up from the seated or “down” position.
#Go Out: This command is important because it instructs your dog to leave the room when you need some privacy or when he is vying for your attention but you’re trying your best to concentrate on the task at hand.
#Go Inside: This command teaches your dog to enter the room and come over to you. You can use this command when there are guests over and you would like to introduce him to them.
#Good dog!: This command is generally used as a praise when the dogs executes a certain command correctly and in time. You can couple its usage with a hand signal or physical attention like patting.
#Let Go: This command is quite similar to the “leave it” command which is discussed above. The aim of using this command is to urge him to drop any item that’s in his mouth.
#Crate: This command teaches your German shepherd to climb back to his crate or kennel whenever you want him to. You’ll need to use this command a lot during crate training.
#No: This is a simple command and self-explanatory. It tells your dog to stop doing something and wait for your next command. While using the command, be firm but not loud. You want him to obey you, not get intimidated and confused about his place in your life.
#Eat food: How many times has your German shepherd leapt up from his seat to grab the food meant for the guests? Well, if the answer is yes, then this command will teach him to stop that habit. Your dog will learn to eat only after you’ve given him to permission by saying this command.
#Stand Still: This command is generally used during “off-leash” training. It teaches him to stop in his tracks and stay put in his position, regardless of the surrounding distractions.
#Okay: There is so much to the word “okay”. It is instantly reassuring and has a calming effect on all, with dogs being no exception. This command teaches your German shepherd to mellow down after a bout of watchfulness or playful chase. It tells him that the situation is in order and that he can go back to being the gentle and placid dog that he was before.
Once you’ve taught your GSD to respond to these basic GSD training commands, it’s time to move on to the advanced commands. The purpose of these is to sharpen his intelligence and turn him into a working dog. Simply put, it is to make him true to his breed.
#Jump: This command urges your dog to jump over an object, maybe a mini bridge or a small puddle. Over time, you can even use this command to train him for shows.
#Fetch: The aim of this command is to get your dog to fetch a particular item, like the newspaper, the milk packet or a ball that is thrown in his direction.
#Track: By learning this command, your dog sets his energy and attention into tracking a specific item or person whenever you instruct him to.
#Bark: With this command, your dog barks upon your instruction. This is very helpful for warding off unwanted strangers or pests from your garden.
#Bite: This command should be used sparingly for the safety of all. Your dog learns to bite on command.
#Quiet: This command is extremely important for a barking GSD. Also, if you have taught him to bark on command, make sure to train him to quieten on your command too.
#Go Ahead: This command is largely used in agility competitions wherein your dog trots ahead of you on your instruction.
#Guard: This command teaches him to stay alert of plausible intruders and guard your entrance or your toddler while you’re away pruning the garden.
GERMAN COMMANDS for GERMAN SHEPHERDS
Humans speak many languages and a GSD can be trained to understand any of them provided their own body language is included in the conversation. So, if you speak German, your GSD too can learn it.
Here are six basic dog commands in German:
Hier: That means “come” in German. It is pronounced like “here” in English.
Sitz: That means “sit” in German.
Bleib: Bleib means stay in German. German for stay is bleib. It is pronounced with the “i” sound of eye.
Platz: Platz means “down” in German. It is pronounced as “plots”.
Fuss: Fuss means “heel”. It is pronounced like you pronounce “foos”, which is, in fact, German for foot.
Pfui: Pfui, pronounced just like fooey means get off that sofa or stop doing that.
There are many more German shepherd German commands you can use on your GSD. For example:
komm means come, gey means go, hupf means jump and box means crate.
So, to revise, how do you say sit in German? The answer is “bleib”. How to say lay down in German? The answer is sich hinlegen.
German is a great language for training your GSD as the words are simple, short, easy to pronounce and even convey the right message to his canine brain. You don’t have to be loud whilst you use them, just be clear and emphatic.
Teaching your dog German commands gives you the assurance of knowing that he will be less likely to confuse your instructions with someone else’s when you are walking him outdoors or are at a busy dog event.
Moreover, the burglar in your house at midnight won’t probably know how to respond to the command “aus”. So, your brave German shepherd can instantly nab him unawares and ward him off.
Once your dog has learnt the German shepherd commands in German, refrain from adding the same ones in English as this will only serve to confuse him.
Once you have trained your German shepherd to be patient and obedient, you will finally become a proud owner of a dog that is excellent as a buddy and lifelong companion. Training a German shepherd puppy becomes a breeze with the aforementioned German shepherd training commands. Remember, the key is to be persistent and use treats as motivators to get your GSD responsive to your commands. Lastly, keep the training sessions lively and short because if he gets bored, he’ll react in a completely opposite manner to your commands.