Command dog training requires that we understand the dog commands before we can expect our dog to understand them. This means we must use any dog command consistently.
In principle, you can of course make up your own dog command list, and indeed in different geographic regions the dog commands vary more or less, even in the same language. However, consistency is necessary for the dog to be able to comply, and if you are ever going to choose dog training by professional dog trainers you should use the same commands as they do.
Conversely, if you aim to perform your own German Shepherd dog training or German Shepherd puppy training - ideally with the guidance of a TOP trainer - and you realize how important consistency is, then you may find the following dog command list useful.
We have broken down the dog commands in 1) those for leash training a dog, 2) those for off-leash training, and 3) those that apply to both situations.
Most dog commands can be considered dog obedience commands - in the end, you probably expect your GSD to 'obey' them. For the problems of Obedience Training make sure you memorize our public article on Obedience Training word by word.
The majority of dog commands are classified as basic dog commands, meaning that your German Shepherd will principally learn these commands within a week (max). After that, occasional re-training of the basic dog commands is all that's needed.
A few commands however are advanced dog commands, they may take a month or longer to get a consistent response from your dog, and they normally require retraining every couple of weeks as a minimum. Even for a German Shepherd with its intelligence above average, this type of command dog training is demanding.
Basic Dog Commands
Basic dog commands that apply to both situations, leash training a dog and off-leash training, are primarily the following:
- NO or STOP to make your dog stop doing whatever (s)he is doing right now
- SIT to make your dog sit at the current position
- DOWN to make your dog lie down at the current position
- STAND to make your dog stand up when (s)he is in Sit or Down position
- OFF to make your dog get off the item (s)he currently occupies
- STAY to make your dog stay at the current position
- GO to make your dog start walking or running
- FOCUS to make your dog focus on you and not be distracted
- SPEAK to make your dog bark
- QUIET to make your dog stop any whining or barking
- HEEL to remind your dog to walk next to you, on either side, at your pace
- BITE to make your dog bite into a given object
- OUT or DROP IT to make your dog release onto the ground any item (s)he has in the mouth
- HOLD to make your dog hold in the mouth whatever (s)he is biting on
- FOLLOW to make your dog walk slightly behind you
Basic dog commands that only apply to off-leash training:
- COME to make your dog come towards you
- GO OUT or OUTSIDE to make your dog leave the crate, kennel, room, or house
- GO IN or INSIDE to make your dog enter the crate, kennel, room, or house
Now, on to the advanced dog commands!
Advanced Dog Commands
If your German Shepherd Obedience Training shall go any further than the basic dog commands above, then you or your chosen professional dog trainers can teach your German Shepherd the more advanced dog commands. Each such dog command may greatly enhance the joy both you and your GSD will have in life.
Note that because of the genetic predisposition of the German Shepherd, your dog will actually enjoy to comply with the advanced dog commands as much as with the basic dog commands (which may be very little, subject to upbringing). Since GSDs are generally both intelligent and very loyal, you may often find that your dog is eager to receive your appreciation when (s)he complies with challenging commands.
What are the more advanced dog commands?
- JUMP to make your dog jump over any form of barrier
- BRING to make your dog bring to you a shown item
- FETCH to make your dog catch a shown item in the mouth
- LEAVE IT to make your dog not pick up an item in the mouth
- BEHIND LEFT or BEHIND RIGHT to make your dog walk around you left way or right way
- FIND to make your dog search for a shown item or person
- TURN LEFT or TURN RIGHT to make your dog change walking direction when ahead of you
- TRACK to make your dog track and follow examples of a shown item
- GUARD to make your dog watch over an object or person and stop it from moving
Although one could consider the advanced dog commands across the board as dog obedience commands too, others would argue that half of them have little to do with German Shepherd Obedience Training but rather with dog motivation, dog challenges, dog sport, or generally with Dog Behavior Training.
However you prefer it, note that all these commands are listed in the order of difficulty as it concerns command dog training of a German Shepherd in general. This means, your own GSD may of course learn an individual dog command sooner or later than some other dog training command. After all, this also depends on how, how often, and how consistently you or the professional dog trainers train your German Shepherd.
Accompanied dog training vs UNaccompanied dog training
The advanced dog commands generally have two versions: accompanied dog training and unaccompanied dog training. However, most German Shepherds and other dog breeds only receive accompanied dog training: For example, the dog owner or dog trainer is running along with the dog (off-leash or on-leash), the dog jumps over the barrier, and the owner or trainer runs past it on the outside.
An entirely different level of German Shepherd dog training is UNaccompanied dog training. Naturally, here the dog is always off-leash. The handler (owner or trainer) is standing in good distance of the dog and gives loud vocal dog commands or visual cues from the distance. Now the dog has to comply with the dog command received without seeing any movement of the handler or any other optical trigger!
The UNaccompanied dog training is by far the most demanding dog training of all. It requires an extreme level of focus, determination, stress-resistance, and perseverance from your dog.
You can experience this yourself: Your GSD may be excellent at say fetching a frisbee while you are 100 yards away, because the flying frisbee provides the optical trigger. But now try this: Again, be 100 yards away and tell your dog to say jump over a barrier even further away from you, so not towards you, in which case you would be the optical trigger.
FAIL. - Only a handful of trained dogs in a thousand can do this!
To teach your dog to do something without you or any person or object providing an optical trigger will overtax almost every dog, even after months of intense training! It's probably similar to requiring from you, under time pressure, to navigate your way in a city of a foreign country that has no street signs and you don't have a map or satnav either. FUN?
No. Likely it would overtax you too. It certainly overtaxes myself.