Once you appreciate that dog socialization must be your first priority, you can give the right dog training consideration too.
What is the right dog training?
- The kind of training that matches your training goal ("Why do you want to train your dog at all?")
- The kind of training that matches your dog's personality
Why not your personality and your dog's training goal? Because your dog doesn't have a goal for your training. And because your training goal may not match your personality.
The German Shepherd Dog personality is what has been bred into this dog for hundreds of dog generations (if not more): The GSD has been bred to be able to manage a large herd of sheep or other cattle all alone! Keeping the herd together, bringing strays back to the herd, supporting the weak members, limiting the boisterous members, defending the herd against all kinds of attackers, etc.
And your training goal is ... well, I can't know, can I?
Until you write your training goal below in the comment section... let's continue here with what our training goal is at MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG: To build the BEST relationship with our dog. This goes way beyond dog training, yes, but never mind, we love to set the goal high, there is too much mediocrity on dog-related websites already.
Now, the key point to understand is: Regardless what your training goal is, if you also want to meet the second premise - to match your dog's personality - then you cannot choose a kind of dog training that ignores this dog's own management skill! A kind of training that ignores what this dog is made for and meant to behave like: to manage, to organize, to decide and to act autonomously.
Thus for Training a German Shepherd - and frankly, for most other dogs too - we would be misguided if we followed the herds of dog trainers and applied Obedience Training to our dog. Or generally any kind of dog training that is heavy on dog commands and poor on the trainer's self-reflection.
The Problem With Professional Dog Trainers
It really is odd, the majority of dog owners don't want to spend any money on their dog (other than for crappy industrial "dog food"), and many end up with a dog that controls them (rather than that they control their dog) - and/or they end up with a sick dog, indeed.
And a minority of dog owners want to spend money on their dog, but when they spend it on dog training most of them end up with a dog trainer that is as crappy as the "food" that the first group is feeding their dog. And when they spend it on dog health they all seem to end up with a costly allopathic vet whose real interest is his/her own business, not your dog's health.
Well, no. You don't get the dog owner HELP! requests (like that!) who lament that their own or their trainer's dog training doesn't work out (or who lament about their sick dog, or about both). We get to see it all. And more than a few dog owners write that they have already paid several dog trainers, and yet "the dog does not behave any better!"
Why is that? It's because most professional dog trainers prefer to copy from each other and from their accrediting training organization, rather than to put some brain into it to come up with real solutions! Examples? Sure:
- Using a specific collar: inept copy, no real solution
- Using a specific leash: inept copy, no real solution
- Using light kicks in the rips: inept copy, no real solution
- Jerking on the leash: inept copy, no real solution
- Hitting with... (whatever!): inept copy, no real solution
- Shouting at the dog: inept copy, no real solution
- "Nothing in life is free" (NILIF): inept copy, no real solution
- "Positive Reinforcement": inept copy, no real solution (and nonsense anyway)
- "Lure-Reward training": inept copy, no real solution (and harmful for relationship building)
Dog owner mistake
In addition, too many dog owners treat their "pet dog" almost like a human child, and they expect similar reactions as from their child. But no matter how attentive and smart your GSD may be, always reflect that your dog is an animal after all, with special animal needs, animal perception, and animal psychology.
Nonetheless, a dog too wants to be part of the Pack, requires its own territory, and wants to be accepted. In addition, your dog will try to dominate you if you let the dog, because as per the genetic predisposition of herding dogs, a German Shepherd controls, manages, and guards the herd.
Training your dog
If you seek to avoid spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on formal "puppy classes", "Canine Good Citizen", "Dog Obedience" courses and the like, be aware that you can do all the best dog training yourself, and better than most "professional dog trainers" will.
How we know? MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG has been flooded with thousands of "HELP!" requests of dog owners that in the past have paid for formal "puppy classes", "Canine Good Citizen", "Dog Obedience" courses and the like - and yet have (more) problems with their dog!
The reasons? You won't believe it, unless you learn from our Dog Expert Interviews with Reviews: The APDT and other "train the trainer" organizations systematically teach budding professional dog trainers to train clients' dogs (your dog!) means of dog training that they would never apply themselves, so they have admitted.
You better read the prior paragraph again, to fully take in the implications for yourself in case you ever seek to book a professional dog trainer? We have revealed all the proof and the secrets that such "accredited" trainers are hiding from you. - Of course there is a (small) chance that even such an "accredited" trainer ultimately wakes up to reality and honestly shows you what works best. But we don't even start with misleading you with things that we know don't work best.
And learning dog training only from books isn't going to bring sunshine and a smile on your face either. Seeing all live in videos is. For example, see The Online Dog Trainer Doggy Dan with his video training series. He truly is a TOP dog trainer, we can attest that, and he for once teaches dog owners means of dog training that he does apply himself.
Means so easy and so effective, you can apply them too! And they will make such a difference to the relationship that you have with your dog. In my experience, Doggy Dan is years to decades ahead of most other dog trainers. And yet, because he offers it online, he for once doesn't charge dog owners $300 to $400 for some fragments of "dog training". What he charges is a steal, and yet comprehensive and so much better. Decide for yourself, check it out now.