Few breeds can match the grace and majesty of the German Shepard. Easily recognizable in its coat of gold and onyx, the purebred German Shepard or Alsatian breed is known for its intelligence, confidence, devotion, courage, and versatility.
It is a delight for dog lover’s to train German Shepards as they generally enjoy learning. In fact, dog trainers categorize them as highly trainable dogs because they are clever, athletic, and eager to please. Training German shepherd puppies is very exciting; it provides you the ultimate opportunity to raise your pup from scratch and develop a special bond with them. BUT, it’s easier said than done!
German Shepards are easier to train than other dog breeds, but training is by no means easy. Alsatian puppies are easily excitable; they have tons of energy and an unending curiosity that could mean the death of your favorite carpets and furniture.
We would love nothing more than to help smoothen the training period for you and your pup, so you can raise a healthy dog and create a deep bond with your dog. Although there will be hiccups along the way, good days won’t be far away!
If you are prepared to put in the hard work, we have just the information you need to train your German Shepard puppies. In this guide, we answer every question you have about raising a German shepherd litter. Please read on to learn training techniques and make the puppies an integral part of your family.
What Do I Need to Train My German Shepherd Puppy?
First things first, here is the list of some essential paraphernalia required to train a German Shepard baby:
- A treat pouch (the most essential!)
- A harness that does not tighten or pull when it is on the puppy
- A soft collar
- A crate and playpen can come in handy
- A clicker
- A target stick
- A soft grooming brush
- A soft portable mat or a non-slip vet bed
- A 2 meters long training leash
- A pet barrier, i.e., pet gates.
When Should I Start Training my German Shepard Puppy?
Is your German Shepard baby 1 month old? It’s the best time to start training it. The earlier you start training, the more readily the pups will pick up cues. If you start early, you have the opportunity to mold their personality and build a strong relationship.
One of the most interesting things about German shepherd puppies is that they are extremely intelligent. Do not be deceived by their size; their brains are more capable than you think and can easily soak up a ton of information.
Therefore, it’s best to start training at an early age. However, make sure to start with the easy stuff; grooming and socialization should come first to ease the dog into training.
What Are the Characteristics & Behaviors of German Shepherd Puppies?
Understanding the behavior and temperament of your German shepherd is necessary before you begin training. As mentioned before, German Shepards are considered dog nobility; they are intelligent, smart, and quick-witted dogs that are loyal to a fault.
Their big size and athletic nature make them great work dogs as well as family pets. Their need to protect is triggered by movement. However, it is not a bad thing; you can use this trigger to get them moving.
Initially, you may get stressed to see the pup barking at strangers and lunging at cars. But, you have nothing to worry about as you should simply view such instances as an opportunity to practice, train, and manage your pup.
The following characteristics of German Shepherds are worth remembering.
- Extremely trainable and loves to work.
- Incredibly loyal and have a fun personality.
- Can develop a strong bond with a person. However, you might need to get the entire family involved in the training to cultivate individual relationships.
- Possess high levels of energy, which is why they require an active lifestyle.
- German Shepards were originally raised to be herding digs; hence, their guarding and herding instincts will always remain. You can use these instincts to train them.
- Alsatians prefer living in the countryside as it provides them with a place to run and imagine protecting sheep. If you live in the city, make sure you take them on long walks, preferably in parks.
- German Shepard puppies and dogs have a love for sports and enjoy getting filthy in the mud.
- They are very affectionate despite their police background. Offer encouragement to see their soft side.
- German Shepards can be sensitive and require human company. You can prevent separation-related problems by spending time with them and trying out different exercises.
How To Socialize Your German Shepard Puppies & Why Is It Important?
The secret to training a German shepherd pup is learning how to socialize it effectively.
But what is puppy socialization?
Quite simply, puppy or dog socialization involves exposing your dog – german shepherd baby in this scenario, to numerous experiences to make them comfortable with the world. Essentially, it means teaching your puppies how to behave with other dogs, humans, and in everyday life situations. A well-socialized puppy will grow to be a well-adjusted and well-behaved pet.
Every puppy has a socialization window, and young German shepherd puppies have a notoriously short socialization window. Hence, you need to expose them to the outside world at an early age, ideally, between 4 and 8 weeks.
If pups are not socialized properly or at the right age, they tend to become fearful of unfamiliar people and experiences. They may even develop anxiety, which could lead to aggression, health hazards, and unhealthy coping mechanism.
Studies reveal that these pups are even more afraid of new sounds and objects than other breeds. Here is how you can socialize with your furry buddy.
- Ask your breeder about how they socialize with the puppy when you get the pup.
- Even if your pup has not been vaccinated, you can still take it out. However, practice precaution as they can get quite big.
- Spend time with your pup and play with it to get it to open up.
Now that the prerequisites are out of the way let’s discuss the tips and techniques for training your German Shepherd baby.
Training Goals for German Shepard Puppies
1. Goal 1 – Socialization
German shepherds have a short window for learning socialization skills – between 16 and 20 weeks. Therefore, it is crucial that you set the following goals:
- Handling: Young pups need to be handled by various people instead of just the handler. Ask your friends and family members to cuddle them. Gentle and pleasant contact is necessary for ensuring that your pup does not have any fear. Make sure to hold in different positions to train valuable social skills.
- Sound Training: Introduce your pup to different sounds. However, do not overwhelm it with too much noise. Expose it to cars driving by, radios, sportscasters screaming on television, children playing, and many other sounds to train it right.
- Outdoor training: Teach your pup to new people daily to present resource guarding. Take your pup out so they can experience new environments such as the mall, the park, the pet center, and just about everywhere else.
- Aggression Training: Confrontational approaches are a waste of time and only offer negative results. Instead, you should reward correct behavior for preventing undesirable behavior such as barking, biting, or growling.
- Crate training: Crate training is an essential training to provide dogs a sense of security. If you do it right, it will make training your puppy much easier.
- Teach basic commands: Set a goal to teach a basic command to your pup every day, such as sitting, staying, following, and fetching. You can learn more about basic commands and teach them to your dog.
2. Goal 2 – Housetraining
Next, you need to focus on housetraining to ensure that your German shepherd pup is a joy to be around. Focus on the following to get it right:
- Establish a Routine: Every dog requires a routine. It will teach your pup when to play when to eat, and when to do its business.
- Potty Training: A pup can control its bladder for one hour for each month of its age. This means if your puppy is 3 months old, it would be able to hold its bladder for 3 hours; avoid going longer than this. Pick a bathroom spot outside your home to ensure that your dog knows where to take a poop.
- Food bowl training: Make sure that your pup has a regular feeding schedule. Feed your pup at the same time daily for easy housetraining.
- Positive reinforcement: Reward your pup every time it does something right.
3. Goal 3: Obedience Training
Finally, you need to focus on obedience training. The following will help you master the goal:
- Teach commands: Teach your pup to wait and sit as you get ready to head out. Obedience training requires your pup to master basic commands.
- Teach new skills: Since German Shepherd pups have the intelligence and attention span of a two-year-old, you need to keep your training sessions short. Focus on teaching new skills to keep your pup happy.
- Teach impulse control: Part of training your pup involves working on its behavior. Teach your pup behavior that is allowed at home. Prevent impulsive behavior by staying consistent and avoiding conflicting commands. Make sure to also offer options to correct behavior and learn to redirect bad behavior.
Tips & Techniques to Train Your German Shepherd Puppies
1. Start Early and Ensure Consistency
The number 1 tip for training German Shepherd puppies is to start the training when the pups are young. Ideally, training should start when the German shepherd baby is 1 month old.
Create a set of rules for your puppy to follow and focus on socialization training. The good news is that Shepherd pups are extremely intelligent and learn rather quickly
Part of training the puppy is working on your own behavior. Let your pup know which behavior is allowed in the house. Staying consistent with your behavior is essential. If you are inconsistent, you would only confuse the pup. Do not give conflicting commands.
2. Utilize Reward-Based Training
If you want the quickest results, you need to use reward-based training techniques. It helps ensure that your puppy recognizes when it makes a wrong decision. Only when your pup does as asked should you give it a tasty treat and affection.
The basics of obedience can easily be taught through reward-based training. Here are some examples you should consider.
- Teach your pup to sit and wait as you get ready for a walk.
- Do not open the door until they perform the command. The last thing you want is to permit your dog to rush out the door while you get ready.
3. Offer Options Correct Behavior
Although a small pup jumping for attention is perfectly fine, it can be dangerous if a powerful German shepherd jumps on someone. Your adult dog will do what it learns as a puppy; therefore, it’s essential to teach them the correct behavior from an early age.
When your puppy starts to jump for attention, you can either ignore your dog or give it another option. If your puppy jumps on you when you arrive home, it just wants your attention as it is exciting to see you. However, when you withhold attention, it leads to the pup acting differently to seek your approval. Instead, you should offer a treat when it has all its paws on the floor.
To avoid the pup from jumping and scratching the house guests when they arrive, you might need to place it behind the puppy gate. After you have taught basic obedience, you must focus on asking it to stick to a competing behavior like sitting down.
Reward behavior that you want the pup to adopt. Thus, your pup would learn good behavior with time. It would come to understand that you would not show affection or give attention if it acts badly.
4. Redirect Bad German Shepherd Puppy Behavior
If you do not want your pup to jump, dig, bite, chew, or nip, you need to teach it to redirect bad behavior. Make a distracting noise when it engages in bad behavior to get its attention. You can smack your lips, make a sound with your tongue, or clap your hands to get it to do something else.
When you make a disapproving noise, it will distract the pup from bad behavior. Then, you can redirect their attention towards desirable behavior. The following examples will prove useful.
- Offer a tasty treat to get their attention.
- Praise your pup when it does the right thing.
- Get a toy for it to play with.
- Avoid scolding your pup as it would only make it scared of you, which would prevent you from training it to perfection.
- Call out to your pup or make a noise if it chews inappropriately. Provide the right chew item to adjust its behavior.
- Play some games with your German shepherd to funnel its energy and keep it distracted.
5. Make the Most of Time-Outs
If your pup engages in bad behavior, you should put it in time-out. Use a kitchen timer or your phone’s alarm to ensure that your pup does not stay out for too long. You can also put your puppy in a more calming environment to calm its nerves.
Always respond to bad behavior immediately and use the same techniques to maintain discipline. Consider the following when timing out.
- Do not punish your pup. We do not condone punishment; instead, try positive reinforcement.
- Give your pup a break from over-excitement.
- Do not stress or frighten your pup, but learn to calm it down.
- Avoid leaving your dog in the closet or a scary area as it would get frightened.
- Do not yell or scream at your pup or force it to do something, as it would only backfire.
6. Ignore the Excessive Barking
Although German Shepherds bark excessively, you can get them to bark less with a simple trick. If your pup barks, you should ignore it until it is quiet for at least 15 seconds. You just need to avoid giving any attention while it barks. This means no talking, touching, or even looking.
Your ears may hurt for the first week, but they will thank you later!
Only when your pup is quiet should you reward or praise it. If you yell at your pup to be quiet, it would still bark to get your attention. It might even end up barking for longer the next time.
For example, if your pup barks at joggers outside the window, you should pull the curtains or blinds. If it still barks, you should consider placing it in another room for a few minutes and repeating the time-out procedure to get it to stop.
7. Avoid Physical Harm and Punishment
When it comes to training your German shepherd, you need to avoid physical punishment at all costs. There is no need for you to ruin your bond with your pup. After all, it is your life companion.
Research reveals that physical punishment to dogs, such as staring them down, growling, kicking, or hitting, only increases aggression. Instead of using physical punishment for correcting behavior, you should set expectations and remain consistent.
8. Use the Right Body Language and Tone for Communication
Finally, you should always use the right body language and tone for communicating with your German shepherd pup. No dog is born with an understanding of the words “sit” or “no.” Your new puppy will not understand human language, and it is your job to teach it what it needs to know.
Although command words are important, tone and body movements play a huge role in getting your dog to understand you. Stick to a direct tone and body language to say what you want to the dog. Avoid intimidating them.
Here is what you can do to put things into practice:
- If your pup tears up your favorite shoes, stand your ground and say “no” in a clear manner. When it does try to chew your shoes, you should offer its favorite toy instead.
- Say the come command in a happy tone and even squat down to appear friendly.
- Even pointing to something counts as body language. Hence, you need to learn to use your entire body.
You’re Ready to Train Your German Shepherd Puppies
Keep in mind that training takes time. You cannot expect to see results overnight. Since German Shepherd pups desire order in the household, you should ensure consistency during training.
Stick with the training to avoid confusing your dog. Prepare a plan and get to work. Be patient, and you will start to see results with time. As German Shepherds are very clever, you just have to teach them the right behavior.