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German Shepherd Obedience Training


Obedience Training for Dogs

Over the past years, at MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we have moved completely away from Obedience Training. Because our Behavior Training approach proved so much more successful!

Obedience Dog Training is totally overemphasized, regardless which breed of dog or mix you have.

Obedience training for dogs is typically portrayed as the basis of any more advanced training like German Shepherd Protection Training or German Shepherd Schutzhund Training. However, particularly with these, German Shepherd Behavior Training has shown to be the much better basis.

Our Behavior Training focuses on motivation, not on commands and force or fear, or both.

However, since most people search for 'Obedience Training', let's briefly present that here.

Obedience training for dogs can be divided in two parts: Off the leash and on leash training, or off lead and on lead training. Many dog commands are applicable to both situations, off the leash and on leash.

Another classification is to distinguish basic dog commands from the more advanced dog commands which generally will require more emphasis and/or more time before your German Shepherd can comply.

Note that all dog commands can be used in slight variations depending on where you live and depending on the education of the trainer, however consistency is crucial. In general, the shorter the dog command you use, the better your dog will respond.

Even if (or particularly if?) you are an advocate of Dog Obedience Training, note that this should never be about acting like a despot, being tyrannical, or a control-freak. Instead, Obedience dog training should have the aim that your GSD adheres to your dog commands without too much restriction of your dog's freedom. More like a safety measure than a control measure.

Your commitment to Obedience Dog Training

Another issue with Obedience training for dogs is that it takes a lifetime - if you consider that your dog's obedience needs to be retrained regularly (conversely, Behavior Training conditions a dog to want to act the way you want - as long as you are benevolent).

In any case, teaching your dog the basic dog commands should take no more than three months if your dog is being trained for at least an hour every day. Indeed, consistency is the most crucial factor for success, both in the short term and in the long term.

Three months? You may wonder?

Indeed, this is the second most crucial factor for success - but typically overlooked: We consider any training to only be successful if your dog adheres to your command regardless of the environment and situation.

Meaning, you must train your dog over a longer period of time in various environments and situations, before you can consider your dog as being 'trained'. Because dogs do not easily relate a trained behavior in one environment or situation to our required behavior in another environment or situation.

This is yet another reason why our Behavior Training is superior to the ever so popular Obedience Training: If you focus on motivation, rather than on commands, then there is much less need to train your GSD in loads of different environments and situations, before you can consider your dog being trained.

When your German Shepherd wants to behave in a certain way, rather than feeling force or fear that you want it to behave in a certain way, then obviously your GSD inherently wants to replicate its own behavior in other environments and situations.

In any case, the advanced dog commands of Obedience Dog Training cannot and should not be trained every day. Your dog needs a rest, physically and also mentally in order to show an active interest in the next training session. Usually, a formal training of the advanced dog commands twice a week has provided the best success rates. Again, consistency is key.

In case of German Shepherd Obedience Training, after about eight to twelve weeks there should be a break of a couple of months, which should then be followed by a shorter refresher training of about four weeks. Subsequently, a one-day refresher training every couple of months should suffice.

Naturally, your german shepherd must first completely adhere to the basic dog commands before you start to teach the more advanced dog commands. You didn't have parts of college class material while still being at primary school. So, better don't put too high demands too fast on your GSD either.

Also note that you must be ready for the training of your dog yourself. Too many dog owners neglect their end of the bargain when they buy or adopt their German Shepherd. They seem to think that the burden lies with their GSD, not with themselves.

However, think of Obedience Dog Training as a two-way street, and it will be far more effective and enjoyable for both of you! You and your German Shepherd will then experience the training as a welcoming change to an otherwise sometimes monotonous life of a dog.

Whether you adopt our Behavior Training, or you stick to the yet popular Obedience Training, you too will need to learn how to gradually assert your dominance over your German Shepherd to show your dog that you are in charge at all times, and that your dog must listen to you (watch your visual cues).

This is about becoming the accepted Pack leader for your GSD, and we feature this topic regularly in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL.

If the trained behaviours are replicated consistently, your dog and you will have a much easier time following your lead.

Alpha leadership (or accepted Pack leadership) is the cornerstone of all effective German Shepherd dog training, and with a dog as athletic and energetic as the German Shepherd it is all the more important for a safe and happy life together.

Limitations of Obedience training for dogs

Remember that your German Shepherd can only do well what it is taught to do. You must be consistent, considerate, reassuring and effective at maintaining the dog commands and rewards you give. The second you start waffling or forgetting to reassert your commands, your dog will start to revert to its instinctive behaviours that you worked so hard on to train your dog out of.

If your German Shepherd is a family dog where several family members share control of the dog and time to socialize with the dog, you need to make sure that everyone in the household can follow along with whatever anyone else has taught your dog during formal dog obedience training classes, or ad-hoc obedience dog training sessions, or Dan's interactive video training.

We would strongly recommend that you learn more about our approach of Behavior Training your dog, and the differences to the popular Obedience Training, by subscribing for free to the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL here on the site.

If you don't like to subscribe (say because you are as sick as I am of the pseudo 'newsletters' we get from all other dog sites), fine. Then you may want to consider to get my books instead f f f f f f f f, to kickstart your dog training success straight away.

And if you don't like to read, then the most comprehensive and intuitive video training series is from the professional dog trainer 'Doggy Dan', and you can find it here: The Online Dog Trainer.

If instead you wish to use the services of professional dog trainers near you, then even if you don't insist on a quality German Shepherd trainer, you nonetheless will have to pay much more money for sure. So, in any case, I would suggest that you first get as much done yourself as you can, by making use of my books and/or Dan's video course above.

An entirely different kind of limitation of German Shepherd obedience training is given when you aim to have family protection dogs or trained protection dogs. Read German Shepherd Protection Training to understand why trained protection dogs require a completely different mindset from their owners.

  18 Responses to “German Shepherd Obedience Training”


    I’m interested in training for myself and GSD female 9 month (LIberty). She has become house trained throughout this time. The has dog has been testing me on simple commands with treats, whether to listen…simple as come is difficult. Sit is easy, although stay and no bark are trying. Some dogs she will bark at and other people and dogs if prompted by others will react opposite of my command. I want to be trained correctly so she acts naturally but still in control on command when necessary. I have her on leash in public at all times, but in the backyard off leash with no fence. She has become of the boundaries of my property and neighbors and is familiar where I would like her to expel herself and where not to go, although she has proven to test me every time now. Periodically I will leash her to show my boundary limit, though I may be doing incorrectly.


    My GSD is 13 months old. I have done 2 obedience classes with him, he is neutered, and is generally a very happy loving dog with family members. If anyone comes to my house (even people who have been over before) he becomes aggressive and has that deep bark. If I know someone is coming over I make sure he is in his crate. He is already 110 pounds and is getting harder for me to hold back if he is out of his crate on the lease. What I would like to know is can I use a shock collar (on the vibrate mode) to teach him not to have that reaction?
    He also had the same reaction today when I was walking him and someone stopped to talk to me while in their car. As soon as they started to pull away he went into the aggression mode. What else can I do to get him out of this?


      Heather, I am repeating myself but it seems I have to: Obedience classes do NOT avoid aggression, but RAISE future aggression. I have extensively explained why in a lot of my work (Periodicals and books), and what to do instead.

      You are at a late stage to react, the problems should have been obvious long ago, and experience shows, they will get much worse, unless you apply NOW what we teach in the Periodicals (and even then, in your case, it will now take a while to bear fruit). It is the dogs like yours (that became too strong for the owner to handle with “obedience know how”) that end up in shelters! Very sad. And, NO, a shock collar will make your situation only WORSE!

      Here’s what I(!) would do if I were you:
      1) I would immediately and EXACTLY apply our recommended Feeding Routine (see Puppy Training Essentials)
      2) I would get my GSD down to a healthy and more manageable weight (see German Shepherd online health assessment)
      3) I would urgently introduce our Behavior Training to replace your Obedience Training mindset and outcome(!) (see my book)

      And what I(!) had done long ago if I have a GSD: I would have subscribed here. But that’s me. You may do whatever you like. ;-)


    I have a 4 yr old female GSD that has been crate trained her entire life. About 4 months ago she started having trouble holding her urine while my wife and I are at work during the day. We have controlled her water intake prior to crating her for the day, but she is still urinating in the kennel. We have tried putting her favorite toy in the kennel but the results have been the same. I took her to the vet thinking that she had a urinary track issue but the vet said that she was healthy. Any suggestions would be appreciated!


      Charles, there are many wrongs:
      – obviously, she hasn’t been crate-trained at all; apparently we understand crate training very different to you
      – water intake should NEVER be restricted
      – “prior to crating her for the day” – OMG, how long does she have to stay in the crate per day?
      – have you at least filmed how she copes with being alone, and watched the footage?
      – if she isn’t ill, I bet she suffers terribly from being crated all day!

      Ever considered house-training your German Shepherd?


    My lady and I are fostering an 11 mos old GS for a friend. The dog, Rico, has been from home to home in the past few mos. And we have a 19 mos old American Staffordshire. I am constantly asserting that I am the alpha, however, Rico still asserts himself as alpha. Always tries to be first out the door, outside, inside, car rides, etc. I make him wait until I crossed the threshold then allow my dog to come in first. We have had him for about a month now and he is always running into my knees(which are failing), and stepping on my heels. He is working somewhat well with signals and voice commands, but despite all the toys and my dog as a playmate, still years up my yard and possessions. I cannot afford a crate and our training classes. I Ann losing my wits. Any help would be gratefully accepted.
    Thank you for your time and experience.


      Clint, as a member you can download our free Puppy Training Essentials.
      I cannot afford anything either, but I give them away for free nonetheless.


    I have a six yr old female German Shepard, she is a very well behaved dog around people and believe it or not cats but around other dogs she will flip a switch and attack. I am at a loss as what to do.l have tried a choke collar with out much luck a muzzle wont work either she goes nuts when l try to put it on. Help


      Tom, you are totally wrong on the “Obedience Training” page – and mindset.
      I would click the link at the very top of the page.


    Hi there!
    Just got my girl today. She’s a 3yr old GSD who went from homeless to the shelter. She seems to have aggression towards large men and homeless women. She has leash reaction or it’s called “reactive rover”. Or something like that. She reacts to all dogs and barks and pulls on the leash but tends to growl at people. She sniffed a puppy for a little bit and seemed ok until she started barking at the pup. In the same day she lunged at a man. Growling and two feet off the ground yet when she meets my friends she’s fine and she loves kids and women petting her. Is there something I’m not seeing? Any particular classes I should look into?


      She needs primarily socialization – and a LOT. This has nothing to do with obedience training.


    Do you have any articles on Dog Behavior Training? Our boy Gunner is almost 5 months old and can perform many skills (sit, stay, shake, speak, quiet, lie down), but I would like to make these movements more instantanious. I want him to want to do these things rather than me just telling him and him getting a treat.



      We do not have more articles than what you can see publicly, no. Pretty much all our content is in our Periodicals that one can subscribe to, even for free. And Dog Behavior Training is a topic in several Periodicals, and core subject of a special Behavior Training Periodical. All that is free as well after subscription – which is free too.

      Other than that, House Training Dogs To Behave Well In A High Value Home makes a lot of use of Behavior Training. And the tools we use for our own Behavior Training are comprehensively shown in the Dog Training Toolkit. Both these books are not free though.

      Finally, for site members (not free) I am now working on video content which – obviously – will show Behavior Training, as that is what we do here.

      Obedience Training is for beginners, or you could say, for losers, because they lose out on a great relationship with their dog. :mrgreen:


    Hi i have a 5 yesar old female german shepard (not speyed) she has nipped at my sister in law for entering my room a couple of times( she is not a viscous dog) im at a loss and i dont want to get rid of her she is my best friend any help would be great..i have a 1 year old daughter who she seems to be good with but i dont want her to nip at my baby either


      Scott, there is too much underlying this behavior, you need to subscribe and work through several Periodicals (free). Alternatively, work through the New Dog Checklist (free), and since it’s free too you may also want to work through the New Puppy Checklist.


    I would like to receive your New Dog Checklist. Someone gave me a German
    Shephard a few month s ago. Thanks in advance. Be Blessed.


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