German Shepherd puppy training will be the most fun you have ever had! Now that you’ve got yourself your very own GSD puppy do not waste any time and start training right away. The sooner you start, the better.
German Shepherd dog puppies are very smart and as they grow they become loyal canine friends. However, it is your job to properly socialize and train them.
If you are reading this it’s because you are: 1- getting ready for your new puppy or 2- already dealing with the joys and pains of owning your very own German Shepherd puppy dog!
Don’t despair, if you are feeling overwhelmed with a fur ball bouncing with infinite energy and don’t know what to do…read along. Here you will find what you MUST do during weeks 8-12 of puppy-hood to prevent behavior problems in the future, as well as training tips to make your life a little easier during this period of time.
You will also find step-by-step tutorials to teach basic commands and start your pooch in his life long learning adventure.
German Shepherd puppy training: socialization!
The first item in your German Shepherd puppy training list is Socialization. It means that you must provide your baby German Shepherd with interesting and positive interactions. During weeks 8 through 12 of his life, which are most likely his first weeks with you, canines learn what is and isn’t safe. If you ensure that your pup interacts, and has a positive and rewarding experience, with as many people, dogs, animals, sounds, objects, sights and experiences, you will raise a confident and reliable dog.
Commercial treats are also a good and easy to use option, but make sure you buy healthy, all natural dog treats to keep your German shepherd puppy healthy and strong!
German Shepherd dogs are loyal and may have a tendency to be apprehensive with strangers. Socialization will ensure that your puppy grows a strong bond with you without developing a problematic over-protectiveness.
German Shepherd puppy training socialization tips:
- Never separate a puppy from his mother and littermates before the age of 7-8 weeks. During this time, mom teaches her puppies some important rules of the dog world like body language communication and they start to learn bite inhibition by plying with the other puppies.
- After you get your baby German Shepherd and visit the vet, start socialization RIGHT AWAY! Unfortunately many vets will tell you not to take your puppy out of the house until they have had all of their shots. This is old school thinking and can have extremely bad consequences that will become apparent only when your canine becomes an adult.
Without the full set of shots, your puppy is vulnerable to infectious diseases, however taking your pup to early socialization classes where all other dogs have also been immunized reduces the risk for becoming sick AND will make your German Shepherd a confident, well adjusted and friendlier dog. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior promotes early socialization, even before the full set of vaccines are given to the pup.
- Take socialization in your own hands. Spend the first 4 weeks holding parties at your home! What???? Yes, parties! Invite all your friends and family for Karaoke, sports watching, boardgames, etc. Ask them to bring their kids too! And always make sure socialization is about positive interactions. If any of the kids or adults make your puppy a little scared, simply remove the threat and let the puppy explore other things.
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German Shepherd puppy training: stop the biting!
Socialization is hard work, bite-inhibition is even harder! But it is one of the best things you can ever teach your pup. Dogs have really strong jaws and can learn to apply just the right amount of pressure with it.
Bite inhibition teaches your canine friend how to properly apply force with his/her mouth without harming anyone. Adult dogs that have had this kind of training can get into fights and defend themselves without drawing blood.
This is so important to avoid any type of dog-human or dog-dog bite accidents.
German Shepherd puppy dogs have sharp teeth for a reason:
to learn how to use their mouth properly.
Teach your puppy to bite without hurting!
To teach your pooch not to hurt human skin you will need to yelp like a puppy every time you feel teeth in contact with your skin. Engage in puppy play and Yelp (Yes! Loud, sharp, high pitched and clear) when you feel teeth. Your pup will most likely stop in surprise. As soon as he has stopped, wait 5-10 seconds and resume play. Repeat as many times as needed.
- Start with those bites that really hurt or scratch. If you yelp every time you feel teeth, your puppy will think it is how you play. It may take a few weeks for you to notice that your pup is not hurting as much…only then, start yelping for the next level bites, those that bother. Progressively teach your pup to play without hurting you. This make take a couple of months!
- Do not let your puppy play with your clothes, shoes, face or hair. If your puppy bites any of these, the game is over. Wait for him to calm down and start playing again.
- If you are tired of playing and getting bitten, grab a tug-toy or a ball and play those games instead. After a while, settle your puppy with a stuffed Kong toy on his bed or crate.
- Never punish your puppy for play-biting, this can lead to aggression or your puppy fearing “hands” near his face.
Even though German shepherd puppy dogs are really smart, bite-inhibition requires a lot of repetition and consistency. Most of the time you will feel he is not learning anything at all, keep at it. You can add 15-30 second time outs on top of yelping if needed. It is definitely worth your time. If bite-inhibition is slow, this article has more tips to help you!
Another aspect of training your German shepherd puppy bite inhibition are toys! Your pup needs to learn to bite only his toys, not furniture, not the walls, not your shoes. For this reason you need to load your house with puppy toys and TEACH your puppy how to play with them. The best dog toys are interactive, this means that you can put food inside the toy and your puppy has to think how to get it out. This toys are the best because they add enrichment to your dog’s life.
Interactive dog toy recommendations:
- Feed EVERY meal inside an interactive dog toy
- Use interactive toys with your German shepherd when he is left alone in the house. Make sure he has plenty of toys (interactive and others) so he won’t get bored when you leave. Interactive toys must be filled with something SUPER yummy, to teach your puppy that staying alone is OK.
- Use interactive toys when you need some quiet time (because you need to work, or you have guests). Kong dog toy’s are the best, you can fill them with something soft like cheese or peanut butter and let your puppy lick it for a while. Even better…freeze it!
- Below you will see some of my favorite interactive dog toys (durable and fun!) available on Amazon:
German Shepherd puppy training: potty outside!
Another important item on your German shepherd puppy training list is House training. It can be a bit stressful, but if done correctly, you can accomplish it very quickly. Just keep in mind that depending on your puppy in can take anywhere from 1 week to several months to complete potty training.
The following info-graphic has some simple rules to follow and make german shepher potty training easy and effective:
- Take your puppy out for a potty break every 2-3 hours.
- Take your puppy out for a potty the break after every meal.
- Take your puppy out for a potty break after a nap.
- Take your puppy out for a potty break after a play session.
The main idea when potty training a German shepherd puppy, is to take him out (or to the correct place) as often as he needs to and reward him after he is done. The infographic above gives you an idea of how often a puppy needs to go out. However, you need to know your own puppy.
- For a couple of days write down the TIME and PLACE your puppy peed or pooped. This way you will know how often he is relieving himself. You may also notice if he does it after every meal or nap.
- Now that you know the schedule, TAKE your puppy out (or to the correct place) and WAIT for him to do his business.
- Reward with a treat after he is done!
- Repeat steps 2 and 3, you should start noticing that after a couple of days or weeks your puppy chooses the correct place more often than other places.
- NEVER punish your dog for accidents, this can stress him and even make him do his business hidden from you (which will make potty training very hard because you won’t be able to reward him).
- You can crate train your German shepherd puppy so he learns to have quiet times in between active times. Crate training also prevents your puppy from having accidents. For more information and a puppy crate-training schedule check this article!
German shepherd potty training aids
The are several commercial items available to help you potty train your German shepherd dog. The following are my recommendations:
For more information and tips on potty training, read our full article!
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German Shepherd puppy training: basic commands!
Don’t believe ANYONE who tells you puppies can’t learn! Some dog trainers won’t start until the dog is 6 months old, at which time he is past the socialization and bite inhibition period and he is probably doing all sorts of naughty things. You can start training your German shepherd puppy from the first day you bring him home.
From weeks 8-12 you can start teaching your canine many commands, however I strongly advice you keep your focus on socialization, bite-inhibition and potty training.
If you have time to train basic commands….go ahead! Your pooch will love it! If not, don’t worry and start German Shepherd puppy training after week 12 (although socialization should never formally stop).
Step-by-step obedience training tutorials for your German shepherd
German Shepherd puppy training “SIT”: You will use this command all the time. Ask your pup to sit when a stranger wants to pet him, for attention, for the ball to be thrown, etc.
German Shepherd puppy training “STAND”: Once your pet is sitting, the next command is to teach him to stand. This is useful at the vet as well as to mix and match commands.
From a sit (or down) position lure your baby german shepherd into a stand. Repeat many times!
German Shepherd puppy training “DOWN”: You will also use luring to train this command. Start your pooch from a sitting position and lure him into a down. Only give your dog a treat after he is completely down on the ground. Repeat many times!
Why train your pooch sit, down and stand? You need three commands to mix up when you ask your dog to do something. If you have at least three options, then your smart German Shepherd won’t be able to predict what you will ask. This means he/she has to pay attention to you!
Practice Puppy Push-Ups! Sit-down-stand, Down-sit-stand, and ask you German Shepherd puppy to do one, two, or more commands to earn treats, toys and attention!
Enjoy German Shepherd puppy training time and leave us your questions and comments in the box below.