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Of course, you’ve heard that 6 month old German Shepherd behaviors are unpredictable, stressful, and frustrating.
Your once angelic puppy pushes your boundaries and…
But I’ll teach you how to control and survive these puppy growing pains without losing your mind.
After you read this guide, you will have learned how to take back your home and control your dog’s behavior like a seasoned professional.
Having a GSD means learning new ways of living with a dog.
German Shepherds are bred to do a job and for them, fulfillment comes with having something constructive to do, even as a puppy.
During the six-month-old puppy growing stage, the relationship between you and your puppy moves from a parent and child style towards one of mutual companionship.
You must remain consistent in your training and expectations as sexual maturity takes place and hormones take hold of your once sweet puppy.
For a Shepherd, you are their universe.
You are their one and only, and they’re counting on you to give them the structure and leadership they need.
You must teach and reward the behaviors you want, without resorting to harsh punishment.
Common 6-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy Behavior Problems
While puppies can experience all types of behavior issues, these are the most common behavior problems that might cause your GSD pup to act badly.
Learning to become independent
Developing a bolder personality
Becoming pushy with other dogs
Behavior changes related to their sex (hormones)
While these issues generally do pass with time, they can become a problem if you don’t let your six-month-old puppy know how to act appropriately.
Learn more about what behaviors to expect when owning a German Shepherd puppy.
At six months of age, your GSD is becoming independent.
They explore more areas and develop new ways to engage with their world.
While this is cute when they are small, at 6-months-old they can weigh upwards of 50 pounds or more and are 75% of their adult size! These are powerful dogs, even at a young age.
Where mild destructiveness was once playful puppy enjoyment, it’s now become an all-out war on your belongings. Chewing, tearing of fixtures, and demolition of furniture are commonplace.
Your puppy now wants to roam more, both indoors and out, so careful consideration must include a secure leash, collar, and/or harness when outdoors and the use of pet-safe baby gates to section off approved secure indoor areas.
If you once thought your pup was potty trained, now is the time they may have accidents and, given the opportunity to free roam your home, will find secret places to toilet inside.
Bigger and Bolder Personalities
German Shepherds are extremely intelligent and if you do not give them direction in the form, first, of obedience training and later, in the form of instructions about daily routine and who is the boss in the household, guess what? They will move to assume the position of boss and make their own rules about what their “job” may be. You probably won’t like it!
At this age, he’ll know almost all the basic commands (if you’ve been training him), but he’ll be selective in his response as he develops bolder ideas of his own.
If your previous training has been lacking, it will show by 6 months of age (or sooner!). At around 50 pounds, your Shepherd can inflict serious harm with their biting, jumping, and barging their large bodies into you.
Pushiness with Other Dogs
Play becomes rougher as your dog tries to dominate the situation. They will rough house with more force, pushing at other dogs in hormonal play.
Some GSDs will challenge other males as they reach this sexual maturity.
You must be ever watchful to avoid these confrontations that can cause injuries!
Your larger puppy may now rush up to other dogs as they develop more boldness and their hormones fluctuate. A once-shy dog is now a brash go-getter that doesn’t totally understand socially acceptable dog encounters, but isn’t afraid of sticking its face right up to another strange dog!
As surging hormones swing over the next year their behaviors become unpredictable.
Roughly between 6 months and 12 months of age, some German Shepherd puppies develop aggressive reactions to unfamiliar people. This is stronger in the German Shepherd breed than others (research).
While your GSD continues to develop and grow, their sexual desires increase.
These hormones cause males to become more territorial and to develop higher levels of intolerance for other male dogs. Some research suggests that stranger-directed aggression is more likely to develop during this time.
Male and Female Puppy Behavior Changes
As their hormones fluctuate as a prequel to sexual maturity, scent marking and aggression, particularly towards other male dogs, shows in a young male Shepherd.
In young females, insecurity, mood swings, and indifference to once enjoyable and known things await owners.
With the onset of sexual maturity, male puppies experience more unruly behaviors. Scent marking, even inside your home, roaming, selective deafness to your commands, and general disobedience are all consistent with puppy growing pains.
Female puppies during the beginning of heat may become insecure, subdued, or even aggressive to other dogs and their owners.
Preventing & Correcting Behaviors
If your leadership status hasn’t been properly confirmed, then confrontation that leads to disobedience and worse, bites, might take place.
A GSD can overpower you with its energy and size, even at this young age.
Learn how to train a 6-month old German Shepherd’s behaviors.
1. Meet Their Exercise Needs
Begin adding in more exercise and intensity, but don’t run or jog on any hard surfaces until around 18-months to be sure your GSD’s growth plates fuse properly.
Increase exercise slowly to avoid an injury that comes from too much impact on unfused joints and bones. Fetch-type toys can be a good release of energy and help build endurance and stamina.
Want to know how to exercise your GSD properly? Need ideas on proven ways to burn your dog’s energy safely?
A German Shepherd at 6 months old is active and needs you to help them find the right activities to keep them healthy and out of trouble.
2. Increase Positive Reward-Based Obedience Training
While your puppy still lacks maturity and focus, you can increase training to help teach your dog obedience skills.
Increase daily obedience and practice to help them learn better training basics and learn how to train a 6-month-old German Shepherd the right way.
Your beautiful German Shepherd puppy will grow very quickly! Teaching them when they are puppies will pay off for the rest of their life. Simple training should start the moment your puppy arrives home. Using the same word for the same activities will help them learn quickly.
Find larger chews so you minimize the potential for choking and their jaws get a good workout. Your puppy’s adult teeth are still pushing through and this can cause pain, but chewing helps to soothe their gums.
Chewing also helps your puppy to calm themselves.
Giving your puppy a chew toy when they are biting an unapproved item redirects their attention to the right item.
4. Include Mental Stimulation to Exercise Their Minds
Your German Shepherd puppy is one of the world’s smartest breeds.
If you’re not including mental stimulation daily then you’re asking for unwanted behaviors.
GSDs need more than physical exercise.
Their minds need to learn and become involved in their world in new and interesting ways. There are many ways you can include mental stimulation.
Many of these ways involve teaching a new brain challenge or mental game.
Shutting a German Shepherd behind a closed door increases their anxiety and can make unwanted behavior worse!
Don’t shut them away and not allow them to see you.
Instead, use the baby gate in a safe area to give them less run of your house. It’s better to leash them to you and watch their potty behaviors to avoid any accidents, but when you can’t you can place them in a safe area where they can still feel part of the family.
6. Everyday Leadership Opportunities
Every day is an opportunity for you to become a more confident leader.
When your dog wants something to have made them pay you with a request…
Good behavior that you ask for.
If they want to go outside ask them for a sit first.
If they bring you a ball to throw, ask for a down before you engage in play.
The behavior of a 6-month-old German Shepherd is sometimes unpredictable.
Setting up expectations of accepted behavior helps them learn how to behave more appropriately.
Structure routine behaviors for mealtimes or going for walks so that your puppy knows what to expect and begins to see you taking direction over their behavior and daily routines.
Have a routine in place for mealtimes to avoid or correct food aggression.
Don’t allow your puppy to free feed (helping themselves to their meals whenever they want).
Instead, stick to a consistent time and place for their regular meals. Teach them to sit and wait for their meal and only offer it to them if they’re remaining calm and quiet.
Don’t reach down to remove their food until they’re done eating.
Occasionally, drop a few treats into their bowl while they’re eating so they know that you coming near them while they eat isn’t to remove food, but to give extra tasty treats.
Resist the urge to pet your dog while they’re enjoying their food, as this can cause more aggression and anxiety.
6-Month-Old German Shepherd Behavior Difficulties
6-month-old German Shepherd behavior is difficult.
But with the proper home management techniques and setting expectations, you can overcome this challenging time by correcting and preventing the behavior.
The most telling sign of shifting behaviors is unpredictability.
It’s like having two different GSDs–the precious angel you enjoyed and the rebellious dog temperamental in their actions.
Hormones, rebellion, confusion, and curiosity all add up to puppy puberty.
While they are still young, you’re setting them up with good training and management to mature into healthy, happy adults that are faithful companions.
Loving German Shepherd puppy owners help their dog’s behavior by enrolling them in an online positive dog training course that is scientifically backed and proven to increase the bond with your rebellious puppy. 💡
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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