A well-trained German Shepherd dog breed is a joy to live with. That is one of the reasons why this canine is among the top 5 most popular breeds by The American Kennel Club. The first step toward how to train a German Shepherd is finding a good, ethical, and reputable breeder.
You also have to understand the difference between American and European German Shepherds.
You can also try getting a German Shepherd rescue. Many organizations in the US can you help you find a rescue dog. And it is as good as any German Shepherd.
With that in mind, let’s get to know the breed.
German Shepherd Personality Traits
To understand the German Shepherd puppy, you have to take a look back at its history. Developed to be a versatile herding dog, over time, German Shepherds have filled different roles. Following World War II, this dog’s loyalty, eagerness to please, and high intelligence made him a perfect candidate for jobs like a police dog, military dog, guard dog, therapy dog, and everything in between.
German Shepherds have retained their protective nature, but they expand it to the entire family. That means they get along well with children and other animals. When they are part of the family, they consider every member, including cats, a member they need to protect.
As we said before there is a difference between American and European German Shepherds. The difference is the European variation is bred to be a working dog, while the American one is more of a family pet.
If you want a dog you can work with, the European variation is the better one. Considered smart and easy to train, German Shepherds are among the best dogs in the world. Here are some common personality traits:
- Loyal to the bone to their dog owner
- Eager to please and obedient
- Love to work and train
- Can be a bit aloof around strangers
- Has natural protection instincts
To prevent the guarding and aggressive behavior of your German Shepherd, you need to work, train, and socialize your puppy from a young age. Obedience training is a must for a German Shepherd, but it is easy because of the dog’s loyalty and eagerness to please.
Are German Shepherds Easy To Train?
With the right information, a risk-free environment, and consistency, German Shepherds are considered among the easiest to train dogs. Their high intelligence and obedience will make them willing to work and train with you.
The challenge is raising to their level. If you do not raise to their level and do not put them to work, German Shepherds can become bored and try to outsmart you.
Speaking of training, they pick up commands fairly quickly.
Challenges When Training A German Shepherd?
We talked that when it comes to German Shepherd dog training, things are fairly easy. Yet, there are some challenges. Do not expect things to go smoothly no matter what you do. Your dog is just one part of the training equation. The other is you. Here are some challenges.
Training Without Consistency
German Shepherds might forget everything they’ve learned if you do not hold them accountable to a certain standard. If you skip their daily training or let them perform how they like, they will outsmart you. The main thing is you have to establish yourself as the intelligent leader of the pack.
Once you have a good bond, make sure to train every day and be consistent in it.
Getting Bored Easily
German Shepherds are highly intelligent canines that love to work. They love to train and train hard. And if you stick to basic obedience training for too long, they will get bored.
Your dog will pick up the basic commands fairly quickly and waits for a new challenge. It is your job to constantly challenge your German Shepherd puppy. Add more complicated commands and exercises. Otherwise, your dog will do the basic stuff and will be disinterested in training.
Consistency Throughout The Entire Family
German Shepherds form a bond with the alpha person in the family, but it takes a village to raise a dog. You should be consistent within the family about what is allowed and what is not. Your dog might try to push the boundaries with other family members. And if they allow him, that bad behavior might translate to you.
Do not expect your German Shepherd to lose its guarding and herding instincts completely. The trick is putting their natural instincts to work. You do not want your German Shepherd dog herding children around the house. Instead, you want to put that instinct to work in the field when you are training.
Strong Sense Of Smell
One of the biggest challenges with German Shepherds is their strong sense of smell. How to train a German Shepherd? Well, play to its sniffing powers. These dogs are extremely loyal, but they will pick up scents from miles away. And that might make them lose their focus during training.
Instead, you should play sniffing games and nose work games that play to their advantage.
How To Train A German Shepherd?
Now let’s talk about a couple of things that will help you with basic obedience training and then some more.
When it comes to German Shepherd training, aim for sessions of 10 to 15 minutes. Aim at short, yet productive training sessions. You should also make these sessions fun and entertaining.
We mentioned German Shepherds have high intelligence and then can get bored quickly. Break the training and exercise needs throughout the day to make sure your dog doesn’t get bored because of the same routine.
I recommend working on one or two commands per session that are new. This way, your dog will learn the right way to perform it.
This is another aspect you have to take into account. German Shepherds are smart, and they need to be exposed to different environments.
Start at home, but then move to different environments with different levels of distractions.
Exposing your German Shepherd pup to different environments and people will help them cope with their guarding instincts. Socialization is the key to making sure your dog is calm around people, and not showing guarding and protective aggressive behavior.
Consistency is the key with any dog breed, but even more with German Shepherds. Skills your dog learns have to be repeated over and over again.
If time goes by and you skip a training session, or you make changes to your routine, there will be troubles. Your enthusiasm and willingness to train and please German Shepherd will turn into a disinterested canine.
Do Not Use Punishment
You might think because the German Shepherd is a police dog, military dog, and so on, punishment might be appropriate. After all, military dogs might be used to a bit of punishment.
But that is not the case. Punishment will not work with a German Shepherd breed. You will only make your dog more aversive.
Up The Treats
We said before that you need to increase the level of difficulty and challenge your German Shepherd. But as you increase the difficulty, increase the treats accordingly. German Shepherds are motivated to work easily. They are food-driven and will do well with kibble, but they will enjoy high-quality treats as well. Use them for good behavior.
Training And Exercise Needs?
So, how much exercise and training does a German Shepherd need? Well, as highly active dogs, they need between 60 and 90 minutes of exercise per day.
And that also includes mental stimulation. Spread the exercise needs through a few separate sessions. If your German Shepherd doesn’t get enough exercise, training, and mental stimulation, he will get bored and might show behavioral issues.
When To Start Training?
With every dog, training should start the day you get them. And with German Shepherds, this is even more important. Their high intelligence will make them push the boundaries in the home from the second they get inside.
You should start with some basic command training, crate training, and house training when your puppy is young.
Tips for Success
Now let’s finish off with some tips for how to be successful. How to train a German Shepherd breed? Here are some tips for success:
- Use a verbal command and hand signal for training
- Socialize your German Shepherd early on
- Constantly challenge your puppy to perform more difficult tasks
- Use positive reinforcement
- Always end the training session on a positive note