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German Shepherd Dog Training

 

How to Train Your German Shepherd

Training a german shepherd requires that you first reflect for a moment what it is that you want, and what your GSD actually needs from you in a training situation. Then go after it and start your german shepherd dog training with exactly this. You do not necessarily need to participate in official GSD courses or GSD training, with few exceptions you can undertake your own effective german shepherd dog training – if you prepare well.

If you want to find German Shepherd Trainers or a German Shepherd Training School in your area, take a decent look at our Niche Directory of all Professional Dog Trainers.

However, if you seek to avoid spending so much money on formal GSD training, you can actually do all the basic German Shepherd dog training yourself if you are well prepared. Our most popular GSD dog training recommendation has become The Online Dog Trainer Doggy Dan with his video training series, because it’s so comprehensive and intuitive – definitely worth checking out!

German Shepherds Training

Too many people wrongly treat their pet dog almost like a human and expect similar reactions. But no matter how attentive and smart your GSD may be, always consider that it is a dog after all – with the typical needs of this kind of animal. As such your dog wants to be part of the pack, requires its own territory, and wants to be accepted. Being a German Shepherd, your GSD will try to dominate you if you let it, because by its nature a German Shepherd guards and controls a herd.

Hence if you want to adjust any German Shepherd behavior that you consider negative, then the best way to approach your dog is not to scold or yell at it, but to focus on changing how your dog expresses its genetic instincts.

Training German Shepherd Dogs

There are some basic points that every German Shepherd owner should consider when they train their GSD. These points can make your German Shepherd dogs training much easier in every respect. Below we have split German Shepherds training over a few distinct areas.

For all areas Clicker dog training is helpful too. It works particularly well for training German Shepherds.

To learn more on every subject over time, make sure you are subscribed to the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL – it’s free.

Crate Training Dogs

If your German Shepherd is already older but not yet trained to use the crate, it will take a lot of patience and perseverance on your side since GSDs can be a bit stubborn. So, how do you get an adult German Shepherd to use the crate instead of the couch?

First, place the crate in a corner of a room where family members don’t permanently walk past, but not so far away from the family action that your dog feels lonely in the crate. In the beginning, walk with your dog to the crate, lead the dog inside, and remain for a while in the room where your dog is. Speak in a calm tone with your dog to make it feel at ease. Consider a treat once a while, but not everytime. Slowly increase the amount of time for which you leave that room.

Continue this Dog Crate Training and be patient. After a few weeks at most your German Shepherd should head for the crate on its own when you give the command or point the finger in the direction of the crate. At times, a German Shepherd will head towards the crate on its own when it feels like it. In this regard, give your dog as much freedom as possible.

We have dedicated articles for you on Crate Training Dogs.

Leash Training a Dog

If your German Shepherd is already an older dog but not yet trained to walk on the leash, again be prepared to show a lot of patience and perseverance.

How can you get an adult German Shepherd to walk on the leash?

Accept that leash training an older dog will probably take many weeks, at a minimum. The most important objective for you should be to teach your GSD to reach a calm and controlled state before you two leave the house. Put your dog on the leash a few minutes before you leave the house, and let your dog walk around with the leash, so that it first gets used to the leash before it has to get used to the leash being a restraint.

When your German Shepherd is in a calm and controlled state, it will allow your dog to respond to your dog commands immediately and without becoming too excited about the anticipated walk. In most cases, leash problems with German Shepherds result from being allowed to run freely for too long when a puppy, or on too short a leash to even sniff on the ground – which is a dog’s genetic instinct that you should never try to break entirely.

If your German Shepherd pulls on the leash, make it sit and wait by your side before walking again – unless the ground is cold, then don’t make your dog sit! If you do this initially every few meters, your dog will quickly associate the pulling sensation with the stop of its walk and its opportunity to use its muscles and agility. As the German Shepherd’s nature is to be active, your dog will quickly learn to strike a compromise that satisfies you too.

German Shepherd Obedience Training

Your goal for your German Shepherd obedience training is to establish yourself as the alpha leader in the household. You want to display control over your German Shepherd by giving it specific, short dog commands. However, note that the alpha leader in the pack is very considerate with its mates in nature too. Being the alpha leader does not mean that you should attempt to subject your German Shepherd to an “obedience neurosis” on your side.

We have a dedicated article for you on German Shepherd Obedience Training. Much more you’ll of course find in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL when you read it regularly.

Some of the best German Shepherd training tips you can get will come from formal dog obedience classes. Such GSD training will teach new German Shepherd owners how to maintain the alpha leadership position, and how to display gentle, considerate control over their new dog. Whether you have a German Shepherd puppy or you are having trouble controlling your adult German Shepherd, you may want to consider formal dog obedience classes to supplement your dog home training or DIY dog training.

However, formal GSD courses with German Shepherd trainers can be fairly expensive. If you don’t want to splash out on formal GSD courses, you may prefer to make sure that you learn from good German Shepherd training books and German Shepherd training video. The best ones can indeed teach you all you need to know in order to have the best relationship with your German Shepherd for life – and at a fraction of the price.

Probably the best DIY dog training or dog home training program out there is The Online Dog Trainer Doggy Dan with his video training series. Definitely worth checking out!

Alpha Leader

The most important German Shepherd training tips relate to your dominance in the house and outside, so that your dog accepts you as the alpha leader. Since your German Shepherd cannot know what it is that you want it to do or not to do, you must make sure that you train your dog with patience. Ensure that it learns that you are the alpha leader in the household and that you have control of every situation – without being tyrannical or a control-freak.

If done properly, your German Shepherd will realize that it can and must relax, and that it must follow your commands and stop worrying about your protection. But never forget: A German Shepherd is genetically programmed to guard its herd. So you should give your GSD as much freedom as is possible and safe, while maintaining your role as alpha leader.

German Shepherd Training and Consistency

One last point we must mention even in this brief article is that, like all other training, German Shepherd training too requires consistency in dog training. Although a German Shepherd may often appear rather smart, in the end every desired change in behavior goes against the dog’s natural instinct, and so it requires repetition and patience.

For example, if before going out you only make your GSD sit when you feel like it, then your dog will get either confused or too excited, and it may stop following your dog commands altogether. Whatever rule you set, aim to be consistent with it and ensure everyone in your home does the same. This will make it much easier for your German Shepherd to learn how you want it to behave, and it will keep you more relaxed too.

It doesn’t cost anything to take a look, go check out the brilliant comprehensive DIY dog trainingThe Online Dog Trainer“.

48 Comments

  1.  

    I have a 11mth. old german shepard puppy. She minds well on the leash. With the comands of Heel, Sit, Stay, Lie, Crawl and etc. However she is extremely aggressive towards to cats and dogs. We have two cats and did when we got her and have never had a dog who didn’t like cats. However she was 6mths old when we got her. She was kept in a kennel with her dad and other puppy was the runt of the litter and had to fight for her food and etc. They didn’t work with her at all. I am so frustrated with the issue of her aggressiveness I don’t know what to do. Can you please help. I don’t want to give up on her and have to sell her. She’s a beautiful dog and has come so far in so many ways its the aggregation I’m afraid of. I hope you can help. Thank you, Darla Marlow

    •  

      Darla, pl apply the advice on introducing dog to resident cat and dog, Puppy Training Essentials, and the Desensitization. Is all in the Periodicals, and in my books. Repeating myself wouldn’t improve a thing of what we have to offer.

  2.  

    my 11 month old puppy is one minded and only focus on her tennis ball, whenever we take it away to train her, she wont listen and only wants the ball, any help to break this addiciton to it

    •  

      Yes, first you need to become her accepted Pack leader – which clearly you are not right now. I suggest you apply both the Puppy and the Adult Dog Training Essentials Periodicals, as well as of course the Feeding Routine.

  3.  

    My boyfriend has a german shepard that’s almost a year old. Every time I visit and she is let out of her cage she jumps up on me. My boyfriend tells me that german Shepards are very difficult to train. I feel scared when ever I visit his house. Is there anything that I can do to feel safe again?

    •  

      Yes, get a new boyfriend who understands GSDs! ;-)
      German Shepherds are amongst the dogs EASIEST to train, tsss!
      Obviously your boyfriend isn’t a member here. His fault.
      What you can/should do: Apply our Stop Jumping advice, of course!

      in a cage??? OMG! Poor dog.

  4.  

    What do you mean our stop jumping advice? She is let out of the cage to run around. My boyfriend tells me that she will calm down with her getting older and just time in general. He hasn’t gotten her fixed. He is afraid if the risks. Any advice about that?

    •  

      Of course we have as well, see the Spaying/Neutering Periodical.
      Really, there is no point in rehashing here in the comments section what is explained in depth in the Periodicals, articles, and books, is it?

      “She is let out of the cage to run around” – We are worlds apart, Elizabeth! I CANNOT start at point zero all over again for every new/old comment. We have Periodicals for everything.

  5.  

    Where could I go to learn how to train GSD to be service dogs and/or guard dogs. I am interested in becoming a professional trainer so want to attend a quality school.

    •  

      Where do you live? How far can you travel? How much can you spend?
      I doubt the APDT would be right for you, rather do what their members (dog trainers!) did themselves, just better: LEARN dog training through studying it yourself. THINK. APPLY. OBSERVE. RECONSIDER. APPLY. THINK. APPLY. OBS….

      Got it?

      Why? Cause if you merely follow what THEY do, you are merely copying what’s done wrong, doh!

      (sorry if you don’t like my answer, but you asked ME, right? ;-)

  6.  

    Sasha is 8 months old. She doesn’t mind riding in the vehicle. In fact, she seems to rather enjoy it. The problem is getting her in. I have to pick her up and put her on the seat. This isn’t much of a problem, but i don’t want this to add to her anxiety. Our other dogs just jump right in, so this situation has never happened before. Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

    •  

      Don’t. Never (unless old).
      1) Any frailty? Are you sure?
      2) If no frailty, be more patient: Wait at least 10 or 20 min (yes!) – without looking, touching, speaking (I bet you don’t at the moment, ha! ;-)
      Just open door, initial indication to hop in, if not, wait. And wait more.
      3) If still not, simulate you’re driving off without her (use family member help). Again: without looking, touching, speaking (always).

      Why? Because, possible reasons: frailty, anxiety, or Pack leader demonstration (yes!). With the above, you find out which one. :-)

  7.  

    I have a 8 month German Shepherd puppy. He is very hyper, which is expected since he is a puppy. He sits, stays, and knows how to walk on the leash a bit. But he has a jumping and barking problem. He jumps a lot, and he does it for no reason. We tell him to stop jumping and leave so he knows what he is doing is wrong but he still jumps. Where we live there are many other dogs but everyone seems to be scared of him. He barks a lot when he is in the backyeard but when we take him out to walks he is very calm. My neighbors look at him weird cause he is so good on the leash but they think he is aggressive. He likes to play harsh but he is just very playful. Any ideas?

    •  

      Loads. Have you studied our members’ stuff? I’d start with the “essentials”, then the Barking one, then the Jumping (which isn’t as bad as you make it: He’s a pup! Enjoy :-)

  8.  

    I want to have a dog, Its been my dream since long, I m unmarried, but will be marrying soon, and later (as obvious), an infant or kids in my home.

    Labrador, Golden Retriever and German shepherd are my favorites.

    Want it to protect my family when I am not there.
    And it should not harm any family member even accidentally.

    I dont plan to keep him in a cage or chains,
    I am “not much social” and dont like a lot of visitors in my house.

    When should I adopt a dog, of what age, and which breed?

    •  

      Rohit, thanks for asking first! Being considerate as dog owner will be important.

      Here’s my response:
      1) Whether any of the three could (accidentally or intentionally) harm a family member depends entirely on your training approach and on your family’s behavior. If you get both right, it will never happen! All three breeds are very Pack-oriented and will love their Pack (unless of course not treated well, see above).

      The GSD is most Pack-oriented of these three breeds, because the German Shepherd is a herding dog (bred to look after the entire herd, here your family), while the Labrador (short for Labrador Retriever) and the Golden Retriever both are … well, obviously Retrievers, bred to retrieve prey shot by their owner (a hunter/ranger).

      While most Retrievers these days are city dogs (not working dogs helping on a hunt), breed characteristics are not lost within a few hundred dog generations, this takes a few thousand generations. Note here that pet dogs really developed only since around the 1950s. Given say, an average one dog generation per year gives 60+ canine pet generations, that’s not enough for breeders to change inherent breed characteristics.

      So, in short: The GSD still is a herding dog, and the Lab and Golden still are Retrievers. As a dog owner we can notice the consequential differences every day. Most but not all differences relate to the dog’s behavior. So, while the GSD may not look as ‘cuddly’ as the Lab or Golden, the GSD in fact is more caring for its Pack than the other breeds.

      2) Your three favorites are a very good choice ;-)

      3) To protect your family, certainly the GSD is the best option (is more intimidating, and stronger).

      4) All three breeds (all dogs!) will NOT develop well if you:
      - keep them in an outdoor kennel
      - or they are chained
      - or they are left alone in the house all day while all family members are away
      - or they are not intensely socialized as a puppy!
      (Keep this list, it’s crucial!)

      So if you “don’t like visitors”, don’t get a dog(!), unless you will take your pup to say 200 places of friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues, or strangers! But even then, a dog that doesn’t learn to behave when a friendly visitor ‘intrudes’ his/her territory, will develop behavior problems. So, now you know what you’re up to if you don’t want to have visitors in your house. I am not criticising, I am only explaining the dog’s view/behavior. Okay?
      (If you wonder “200 places??”, well yes, get the Puppy Development Guide to understand)

      5) The right time for dog adoption is anytime when YOU are ready. See all above hints. So, this can be either before or after you marry and have kids. CRUCIAL will be that you establish ALL family members as the dog’s Pack leader (how to do this is of course also explained in the Guide). If you don’t, this may happen: “And it should not harm any family member even accidentally.” !!

      6) Your final question, a dog of what age? Both pup and adult dog have advantages and disadvantages, and both cannot be avoided (search Google for this if you don’t get the Guide). The point most dog owners do wrong is: They get a puppy for their small children (“let them have a cuddly playmate” etc). With small children, an adult dog is much safer (of course if trained well). But since you don’t have children yet, you can get a puppy, (s)he will be adult long before the baby comes. ;-)

      Did I miss a point of yours?


      Edit: Oh, one more thing: If you really want to do the best for the dog (and for your family), then long before you get the dog, learn about having a dog. Our members often say they wished they had become a subscriber here a couple of years before they got their dog. Says everything, right? Exactly!

  9.  

    Hi my boyfriend is really wanting to get a Germany Shepherd pup I already have a four months ago Jack Russell I’m not sure if it such a good idea. I am kinda worried that they won’t get on.. A little advice would be a huge help

  10.  

    My 3 year old male GSD within the last 1 or so wants to dart out the door and run away at every chance he gets! We do not have a fenced in yard as he was always fine before and never ran, he always was a very good listener and never wanted to leave us. We had considered breeding him so he hadn’t gotten him neutered. Will neutering calm him down a bit? any suggesting on keeping him close?

    •  

      The sudden increase of enquiries on this public page strikes us with surprise. Can it be that another spammer is behind this?
      Let’s find out: Kindly subscribe to get answers to your questions – like everyone else.

  11.  

    Hi thank you for your work-I rescued a 1 yr old F gsd from a distant cousin who had to give her away. Successfully integrated with a 4pd 1yr old chihuahua (M) and 9 yr old beagle, the last couple weeks she has gotten aggressive and attacked the beagle for seemingly no reason with my husband (I am alpha)once outside then again inside after just having come in. She hurt the beagle and my husband as he had to get his hands in her mouth to save the beagle-she had to have surgery on her ear. We are hoping to have training soon, but any advice besides keeping them completely apart? Another cousin advised a soft muzzle, but that is a temp solution and I would prefer a permanent one. Thanks again!
    Perplexed in Pa Julie

    •  

      “successfully integrated” Julie?
      Okay. Well. There is little outside the (free) subscription we can do. Too busy.
      Had you subscribed you would have applied the GSD Training Essentials – as a minimum – and very likely that problem would never have occured! Sounds like a lot has gone wrong there. Also, your perception seems unjustified, sorry: Sounds like you are definitely not the alpha. There is no Pack leader for a dog unless you are the accepted Pack leader (see the Prime Secret about Dogs).

      I feel very sorry for the beagle, this should NEVER happen! It can have many reasons, or just one. One is unlikely here, but if so, it’s probably that she still suffers traumatization from a prior experience/treatment. This should have been addressed immediately. Now, there is no quick fix, sorry. Separation is no solution. Fixing her aggression is the solution.

  12.  

    I have an 11 week old german shepherd and I can already tell he is very smart. He sits, stays and shakes. 2 things he is having trouble with is biting and going to his crate. We’ve tried the basics to correct the biting and leading him to the crate but he is still struggling with both. Any suggestions?

  13.  

    Hi there! I have a 15 month old beautiful female named Heidi. We have had here since she was a pup, and unfortunately, failed to properly train her. She does not tear things up or use the bathroom in the house, but she does not obey very well. She jumps up on people any chance she gets, especially children– just to lick them of course :) With 5 kids in the house, we have been neglectful in teaching her basic commands. Is it too late for our Heidi dog to be properly trained and do the work that she desires to do?

    •  

      No Sarah, it’s never too late (but obviously it gets more difficult when you start late).
      I’d start TODAY with what we teach here. Start with the Puppy Essentials in your case. Stick them on the fridge for all kids to observe, and then be consistent in applying them. ;-)

  14.  

    My Germain shepherd is not obedent but she is 10 weeks any idea of how to train her?

  15.  

    I was thinking of adopting a 3 year old male german shepherd and the original owner said he is very set on showing he is the alpha male. I am worried about our three kids (7,5, and 2) and whether or not he will hurt them. I have read some of your showing the dog who is the alpha but I am worried about the time in between of us showing we are the alpha. Any advise on whether we should adopt a dog that is already 3?

    •  

      Christina, let me be frank: I would not adopt that dog. This is subject to the following considerations:

      - A dog owner that wants to give up his/her dog will position the dog in ..? The best light, yes!
      - Now if that very dog owner admits to you “he is very set on showing he is the alpha male”, then that was the most diplomatic way to tell you “This dog is tough! I struggle myself! See if you can handle this dog”

      In other words, ask yourself (and ideally, the dog owner too!): WHY do you want to give up this dog?

      Now, regardless what the owner replies, (s)he said already a lot, maybe enough: “he is very set on showing he is the alpha male”!
      And you sound like you are a “normal” family – NOT a professional dog handler, right?
      Unless you have got the time (full-time!) to train the dog FROM THE FIRST DAY, and BEFORE your young(!) kids interact with the dog, you bear a RISK with a dog with such kind of background (as told by the owner)!

      In general, an older dog is actually SAFER for a family with small children (contrary to what most young families buy: a puppy!). HOWEVER: If the current (3-years-long!!!) owner was unable to become the dog’s accepted Pack leader, then you need to ask yourself: “What makes me believe that I, and my husband, and my 7 year old, and my 5 year old, and my 2 year old will be able to become this dog’s accepted Pack leader BEFORE sth can happen?”
      (yes, ALL family members MUST be established as ACCEPTED Pack leader, or you have a “ticking bomb” in your house)

      Sorry to be so direct.
      Will you let me know what you found out and how you decided?

  16.  

    Hello, we just got a GSD puppy he is 14 weeks old, I am having a little trouble potty training, we let him out on the chain to go potty and all he does is jump up on the door to be let in, if we take him out on the leash all he does is sit by your feet. after about 2-5 min within being inside he ends up messing on the floor. And do they have a nervous tendencies? He walks around the house and wines, ( I think he has to go potty so I will let him outside but that’s not the case with him) he constantly does this. I have a 3 year old and a 6 month old and he seems to be rather attached to both of them. Im just wondering if this is normal and what I should do about the potty training, my fiancé has different training ideas then I do and im not sure if that’s maybe confusing him also?

    •  

      Yes Rickkie, likely it’s confusing the poor pup. From what you write you need to do lots of things immediately. Indeed so much, that I better suggest you get the Puppy Development Guide – Puppy 101, and apply all of that by the end of this week.

      Also note that what you think “he seems to be rather attached to both of them” is normal puppy curiosity, but experience tells me that once your pup reaches ~5 months of age, you will suddenly think “he seems to be aggressive with them”. Because it’s a lack of socialization in your household, you need to implement systematic socialization right now, and INTENSE. Again see the Puppy 101, or for socialization alternatively Ian Dunbar’s book After you get your puppy.

  17.  

    I just bought a German Sheapard. Still waiting to bring him home from his momma. What is the best way to potty train since I have heard not to yell or scold them. How do you go about doing it the right way without making him violent toward you or others.

    •  

      Congratulations Melissa! Now that you don’t get frustrated very quickly, I’d make sure to study House Training Dogs To Behave Well before you bring home the dog. It is impossible for me to put that much content here in a comment box, hence I published the book.

      If however you bought a puppy (you didn’t say how old the dog is), then the Puppy 101 will be sufficient. Again, it’s impossible to write so much here.

      Alternatively, you may want to download Ian Dunbar’s Before and After you get your puppy for free.

      In any case, you won’t get around subscribing here if you want to do the best for your German Shepherd.

  18.  

    I have recently been to an adoption centre and have fallen madly in love with a German shepherd cross, he is quite small for his breed and he is already six year’s old. And still needs to be taught basic training.
    My question is: how do I teach an older dog better manner’s… and if your dog is doing the wrong thing is it better to just ignore it? Until it stops doing what it was doing? (like if it was jumping up on me should I ignore him?)

  19.  

    sorry i forgot to add that i live in an apperment. the plus side is that i have a park a couple of houses down from me. is that still sutible for a GSD?

    •  

      Emma, an apartment can be adequate for “a small GSD cross” IF you commit to provide three hours of outdoor exercise each day?
      Also, you can indeed fully train a six year old dog, even if he “still needs to be taught basic training”.
      “and if your dog is doing the wrong thing is it better to just ignore it?” – This depends on what behavior it is. Eg jumping up on you I would not ignore. Full details how to get the adult dog to behave well with you (and even without you, ie when you are away!) you find in House Training Dogs To Behave Well In A High Value Home.

      Taking on a six year old dog is certainly very wise: At that age they are much calmer than they are when the same dog was younger. Plus, if he has been in a shelter at that age, he knows how precious you are to him when you take him on (of course, subject to you treating the dog well).

      So, I would definitely support you in that decision.

      •  

        thank you for replying do fast, i will definetly take that into consideration. :)

      •  

        he is actually very small for a GSD and so i know i he will be comfortable as i love tacking runs and long walks already.

  20.  

    my GSD will not stop barking and i am running out of patience, Tim is very obediant untill it comes to the noise: what do i do?

    •  

      John, I would do what we show in our Stop Barking Periodical for our members

  21.  

    how do I train my one month old gsd he is very smart but he sometimes become lazy nd what should I gave him as nutrition ….

    •  

      I’m repeating myself but I would make use of the Puppy Training Essentials, hm?

  22.  

    I have a 8month old pup she does well with basic commands such as sit lay down etc however she jumps on ppl way too much and also has a problem with biting as she thinks she is playing I can’t get her to stop biting she thinks she isn’t doing anything wrong sometimes she bites too hard I’m worried she will hurt my son. Please help

    •  

      Maria dear, your pup isn’t biting, she really is playing. Your problem isn’t her “biting” but the fact that you haven’t learnt how to manage it right: Get the Puppy 101 ASAP.

  23.  

    We have a 3 yr old pure bread GSD, a 4 year old boxer/spaniel mix (rescue) and a Treeing walker coonhound (unknown age, rescue). Our GSD keeps lunging at/ barking at the other dogs if they approach the couch while my husband and I are on it, and she definitely barks/snarls at any other dog that looks at her while she is eating. When she lunges/barks at the other dogs, she stops just short of them, but never touches them, and they just ignore her. It is getting really old and frustrating to have this constantly going on in the house. Could you recommend or point me in the direction of how to train her to stop? When she is by herself with either my husband or myself this never happens and she obeys any command we give her…

    •  

      Sara, you will not believe me since she obeys you when alone – but you are NOT her accepted Pack leader, and you don’t behave right when she does that. Please see the House Training Guide.

    •  

      ===================================================================
      This is the end of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG
      There is no money left to answer questions for free as has been happening over the last years. Next to no one showed gratitude anyway, so no one will miss it.

      ENJOY your dog – life is terribly short, I can tell ya!