However, the command training for your German Shepherd that we’ll focus on for your basic training is verbal commands.
Voice Commands for German Shepherd Training
Verbal, or voice, commands are audible messages that tell your dog to display a specific behavior when you command them.
Unlike hand signals, verbal directions work even when your dog isn’t looking directly at you.
Verbal cues transmit a wealth of information to your GSD.
For example, tone and volume. Changing your tone and volume provides multiple channels through which your dog learns your intent.
When teaching your dog with verbal cues, you need to pay attention to how you deliver your intent or message to your dog.
Match Your Voice and Command
Mixed messages are detrimental to the training process.
Make sure your dog understands your message by giving your command exactly how you mean it.
For example, if you want your dog to stop, don’t say stop in a happy, high-pitched voice. Use a deeper, more authoritative tone.
Your voice carries the urgency and message.
The thing to remember is that your dog makes associations with what you say, how you say it, and what actions you do while you’re saying it.
Give your command in a firm, clear tone of voice.
Don’t scream or yell at them. Learn the correct tones to get the best response from your dog.
The next sections cover the German Shepherd training commands and their meanings. This is followed by the steps to correctly give your GSD their first introduction to the basic commands.
The German Shepherd Training Commands List
You don’t have to use the German Shepherd training commands list in order.
But, it’s best to begin with the basics and work your way through to the advanced commands.
Remember that all GSDs learn at different rates, so don’t get frustrated if your dog doesn’t understand you right away.
Keep practicing and stay patient.
This list covers 3 types of German Shepherd training commands:
Basic (Essential) German Shepherd Commands
The dog puts its bottom on the ground
The dog doesn’t move until you go to them
The dog drops to their belly and stops moving forward
Dog moves forward to you
The dog stops its movement and stands still
The dog immediately stops what they’re doing (don’t yell this at your dog, but use a firm voice)
Good Dog (or Yes or OK)
Used when your dog performs a command or behavior correctly
Tells your puppy it needs to use the bathroom
A list of GSD obedience commands for basic training.
Intermediate German Shepherd Commands
The dog turns to show you their stomach
The dog drops to its belly and crouches low to move forward
The dog comes to your front or side
Dog stands up on all four paws
The dog turns either left or right in a circle
Dog releases an item from the mouth
The dog doesn’t pick up or follow an object they are interested in
Dog goes inside a room
Dog goes outside a room
Dog waits until you give a release or another command
Dog barks for you
Dog stops barking
Dog gives their paw for a paw-shake
Watch Me (Attention!)
The dog keeps eye contact with you
Dog gets off the object they are on (couch, chair)
Dog jumps onto an object (chair, couch, podium)
Dog goes into their kennel, crate, or bed area
The dog has your permission to go eat (usually given after a wait request)
The dog comes to your left side
Dog gets an item and brings it back to you
Dog gives you a high-five
Dog jumps over an obstacle
Dog goes to a particular spot you want
A list of GSD obedience commands for intermediate training.
Advanced German Shepherd Commands
Dog follows and looks for a person or object
Dog touches a target pad with their nose
Dog heels backward
The dog sits in front of you
The dog is more alert and looks for hazards
Dog bites an object that you want
A list of GSD obedience commands for advanced training.
Now that you have a list of training and obedience commands for your German Shepherd, you need to understand how to use them.
How to Direct a Good Performance
Issuing your commands is essential to successful obedience training.
Don’t just expect your dog to know what you want from them. Instead, you must first show them and then tell them exactly what you want.
Make your command clear, concise, and consistent.
There are four parts to command good performance.
Saying your dog’s name. At the beginning of your command, you must say your dog’s name to get their attention. This alerts them that the words you say following their name are for them, unlike the hundreds of millions of other words you say in a day talking to others.
A lure to perform the behavior. When you’re teaching sit or another command, use a tasty treat to lure your dog into position.
Naming the command you want. After multiple times of luring your GSD into position correctly, give the action a name. Show them the action you want with your lure, then name the action AS THEY ARE PERFORMING IT.
The reward for performing the behavior. When your dog performs the behavior correctly, praise them and offer them their tasty reward (the lure) for a job well done.
Now you need to know if your dog understands the command you give.
You want to make sure they really know what’s expected of them and how to perform the command correctly.
How many times do they need to get the command right?
If they correctly perform the action that matches the command you gave 10 times in a row, then:
move on to increase your distance away from them when you give the command
the time they hold the command
and practice with different distractions (vary your training environment).
If your dog doesn’t get 10 right in a row, then continue to work on the command.
If you touch your dog while giving a command, your dog may pay more attention to your action of placing them into the position, rather than the command word.
So, the command then loses its value for your dog, and your training becomes much harder.
Let’s get right into a basic list of German Shepherd training commands you need to know how to give.
The Come Command
Come is the most important dog command to teach your German Shepherd.
How to teach your German Shepherd to “come”:
Have your dog on a long leash when you teach this command so you can ensure they follow through with the return to you.
Let your dog run around in your house on the long lead. You can throw one of their favorite toys or a treat to get them moving away from you.
Say the word come in a fire, direct voice to get your dog’s attention. You may also gently tug on the lead. Only tug enough to get your dog’s attention.
Get down on their level by crouching and offer them a lure (treat) to understand what you want and entice them to come back to you.
Once they come to you, give them their reward. Practice letting them wander, then using the word come to get them to you for their treat at least 10 times.
Eventually, you’ll remove the lead in a secure area to practice off-leash recall, like your backyard.
But for now, start indoors in a quiet area.
It’s a must for every owner to read this come when called post to ensure their German Shepherd knows this essential command.
The No Command
Another life-saving essential command is No.
Most dogs will learn no without formal training, as it’s easy to teach. Most owners use no while their dog is performing an unwanted behavior.
Don’t use a tone that scares your dog, as this isn’t the point of training.
How to teach a German Shepherd “no”:
Use a stern face and firm tone when saying no, but don’t scream or make wild actions or your dog will become frightened of you.
When your dog looks at you, offer them a more suitable behavior.
For example, if your puppy is chewing on your expensive shoes, say “no” and when they look to you offer them another more interesting and appropriate chew toy. Or, have them come to you for a tasty treat and put away the shoe.
If you’re having trouble with teaching no, then try a quick clap or slap of your hands together while saying no. This is generally enough to get your dog to stop performing the action you want, or at least to get their attention so you can offer them a better behavior option.
Your dog will quickly catch on as they learn what you expect from them. Don’t ever hit, kick, or hurt your German Shepherd when training the basic commands or you’ll ruin your bond and lose their trust.
The Stop Command
The stop command takes a bit of skill and timing since it requires your dog to quit moving.
While it does take time and patience, it is essential you train your GSD to this basic command.
How to teach a German Shepherd to “stop”:
To teach the stop, place some distance between you and your dog. Have them on a long lead to start for safety.
Walk away to a distance of approximately 20 to 30 feet (as long as your long lead is). Then, turn and face your dog without making eye contact. If you make eye contact, they may run to you thinking you want them to come.
When you are ready, call your dog to you. As soon as they move, take a few steps towards them saying stop in a stern voice with your hand up with a flat palm facing them.
This command works best when taught with both verbal and hand signals. The simple fact you are coming towards them makes them hesitate, which is a normal reaction.
Always reward them with a tasty treat when they stop by going to them. If you call them to you too quickly after teaching the stop they may learn that it’s more of a “wait” command and rush off to see you right after stopping.
Once they learn to stop on command, start extending the distance until they stop and stand, sit, or get into the down position at any distance on your verbal command.
You will eventually train what command you want after the stop, such as a down or stay. But the most important thing to remember is that your dog stops.
Practice the stop frequently so that your dog understands they aren’t in trouble and nothing bad happens after the stop.
You always want to have a reliable stop in case of an emergency (think about if your dog were to chase a squirrel or rabbit into a busy road).
Sit is an easy enough command that even your puppy can learn it!
Teaching sit is essential in creating the training relationship, as it is an excellent opening to a training session or a closer after a troublesome session when you want to end on a high note.
How to teach a German Shepherd to “sit”:
Don’t force your dog to sit by pushing down on his haunches, especially a growing puppy that is learning about your leadership skills.
Instead, move your hand with a tasty reward over your dog and lean over them a bit. Most dogs want to keep eye contact with the reward, which causes their head to go up and their rear end to drop to the ground. This is called luring your dog into position.
Move your dog with the lure into the sit position.
Once they get the action right while you say the command 10 times, start telling them to sit while you walk away at different distances.
Return to them for their reward so they don’t move too quickly out of their sit position.
You can phase out your spacing of the reward so you’re not rewarding for every sit, just occasionally.
Work on having your German Shepherd “sit” in different areas of your home, then move to an area with more distractions, such as your backyard.
Finally, while they are on their lead, practice in even more distracting areas that don’t stress them and while they are safe.
The Down Command
If you plan on having guests over, down is invaluable to prevent jumping or overexcited behavior.
How to teach a German Shepherd to go into “down”:
A good technique for teaching down is to have your dog sit and then to lure them toward the ground. Do this by holding a treat on the ground a foot or two in front of them.
Don’t force them to the ground. Use the lure to get them moving into the down position. You may have to let them smell and see the lure in your hand.
Once they go into position properly, say the word down and give them the treat. Repeat the down position 10 times correctly.
Try having your dog perform down from both the sit position and from a standing position.
You’ll find if you teach the down both ways when you train more advanced commands later they’ll be easier since your dog understands down to mean to go into the down from any previous position they were in.
It sometimes helps to take the treat and move under the nose and head, toward their bodies, in which case your dog should fold their legs under them to smell the treat.
Work on the down command in different areas of your home and in varying distracting, but safe, environments so your dog learns to follow your command more reliably.
The Stay Command
Teaching the stay command takes plenty of patience and practice.
It’s a difficult command because holding a stay is hard for dogs because of a lack of impulse control, but you teach impulse control with repetition and by lengthening out hold long your dog holds the stay position.
The command is still in the beginner training category list because it is an essential skill.
How to teach a German Shepherd to “stay”:
To teach your dog to stay, begin by having your dog go into their sit position first.
Say the command stay in and then take one step back while keeping your eyes engaged in your dog’s eyes. It’s useful to find a hand command for the stay that you haven’t used previously in another command.
If your dog stands up to follow you—as they probably will—tell your dog to sit again. Lure them with a treat back into position.
Then, once they sit, say stay. Take a shorter step back, so that your dog doesn’t want to follow you.
You can increase the steps you take back from your dog before you return to them for their reward.
Lengthen this distance slowly as your dog learns impulse control and the stay command.
Ultimately, your dog will stop following you, sit, and stay in its position. They will need more training for longer distances.
When you practice teaching your German Shepherd the “stay” outdoors, always use the long lead or their leash so they stay safe while they are in training.
Stay in safe areas to avoid your dog running off to chase a car, person, or animal.
The Only German Shepherd Training Equipment You Need
You could go out and spend a few hundred dollars on lots of tools to help you train your German Shepherd.
But there are just a few items you need to train your GSD and they won’t break your bank.
Basic obedience equipment includes:
a short (five or six-foot) heavy-duty leash with a padded handle
a long (at least 20-feet) lightweight lead
a safety collar (a collar that snaps apart if your dog gets hung up on an object and saves their life!)
Try this reflective leash with a padded handle to comfort your hands when you have a strong pulling German Shepherd. You’ll be thankful you got a padded handle during all your training…. trust me!
It’s better to have a reflective leash when walking your dog at night so others can see you in the dark.
Buy a long leash of at least 20 feet for outdoor training. A long leash helps you maintain control while still allowing your dog to enjoy a playful romp and roll.
This is the long leash many training professionals prefer because the clips withstand pulling and hold up well to consistent, daily use.
Your final necessity is a breakaway collar.
Don’t take a chance that you can always watch your dog or puppy and help them if they get caught by their collar.
Use this safe breakaway collarfor peace of mind and your puppy or dog’s safety. Can you see how in the picture the leash buckles will unclamp and allow your dog to escape if they’re caught while playing outside?
They can even be used indoors for the same reason… they’ll allow your dog to free themselves if ever hung up.
Use Treats in Your German Shepherd Training Commands for Faster Results
Don’t forget to purchase some tasty treats of your choice.
But, you can also use pea-sized amounts of fresh-cooked chicken or small bits of cheese.
Treats serve as positive reinforcement during your training, and they help speed up your dog’s progress.
It is vital to use your dog’s favorite training treats to get the best results.
Pay attention to your dog during training, and you can tell which treats are their favorite by their willingness to perform the training.
Try a higher value reward a few times to see if your dog performs better for you if they’re struggling with a command. Buy a treat that is healthy and low in calories, preferably pick one from this list of the Best Healthy Treats for Your German Shepherd.
Treats are how you pay your dog for their work. They also help build a positive bond between training and you, so that your dog is happy to engage in their training sessions.
These are some of the same tools I used to train my own GSD, so they’re tested in real-world situations with a hyper and powerful German Shepherd.
German Shepherd Training Tip: Start Small and Build Up
It’s a smart idea to have a list of German Shepherd obedience commands that you can refer to.
Using a training command list for your German Shepherd allows you to identify the commands that you need to work on.
Place the list where you will see it often daily as a reminder to continue and work through your training.
This allows you to understand where your training is and to begin the next, more advanced steps with your dog. While you may not use all the commands or need them, it’s a good reference tool to have at hand.
Start with the beginning obedience items and keep adding a new command, preferably at a consistent pace. Once your GSD masters the new command, keep building on their training by adding in the next command.
When practicing your German Shepherd training commands don’t rush your dog.
Your German Shepherd is one of the world’s most intelligent breeds, but they still need to have the commands broken down into their smallest steps in order to have success.
Keep your training sessions short, around 5 minutes long.
And practice multiple times per day. 3 to 4 times daily is a great start to teach your GSD their commands.
Some handlers and trainers use a different version to those on the German Shepherd training commands list to train their dogs, but you can use whatever command works best for you and your GSD. Just remember to stay consistent with your command word.
Getting Started with German Shepherd Training Commands: Work Through the Basic List First
It’s never too early or too late to educate your GSD.
With a very young GSD, train for short periods. But train frequently throughout the day. Think of training in short bursts.
Around 6 months of age, your GSD should know the basic commands—sit, stay, down, no, and come.
But a young dog’s attention span is short, so be patient if your GSD isn’t learning the German Shepherd training commands as quickly as you want.
It’s a long list and can take years for you to fully train your GSD to advanced commands. But your dog may see too much training at once as punishment, so don’t give your dog too many commands or lengthy sessions.
It’s also effective to use a clicker to train your dog.
A clicker is a small, hand-held tool that makes a slight clicking noise when you press a button.
It’s more distinct to some dogs to hear a click when they perform a command correctly, rather than your voice or a reward is given moments later than their correct action.
When teaching your dog training commands with the clicker, they’ll associate the clicking sound with positive reinforcement. Ultimately, the clicking sound becomes its own reward and you won’t need many food treats.
But you don’t even need a clicker to train your German Shepherd in their commands.
You can use your voice and see wonderful results using positive, reward-based training (also known as lure and reward training).
Changing Your Distance when Using the German Shepherd Training Commands
Give your dog the command from different distances.
Practice your training in different positions and in different places of your home. Don’t always stand in the exact same spot during training.
This teaches them that no matter where you’re standing, you still expect the command. Try stepping farther away every time you work through a command during your training session.
If your dog only performs the command from a short distance, then your goal is to take tiny steps back and give the command until you’re at the distance you want.
Increasing the distance your dog performs the command is challenging because they want to stay close to you naturally.
With time and repetition, you will train your German Shepherd to perform the command at almost any distance from you with success.
Vary Your Dog’s Training Setting
Once your dog masters a command in a quiet environment, try training them in a more distracting environment.
This could mean that you turn on the TV or radio, have your family in the room, or move near a window they like to look out.
They must learn that the place they initially learned the command—your quiet, comfortable home — isn’t the only spot where you require them to follow your commands.
Ultimately, your dog learns that you still expect them to obey you, no matter the location or environment.
Recognize they won’t learn as swiftly in challenging environments.
Sometimes it will take time to adjust to the idea that a local park is a place for learning too. Keep working with them and stay positive.
As you practice, your dog learns to tune out the distractions and pay more attention to your training and you. Remember to practice having your dog perform the command from different distances from you so they learn the command is the same, no matter your distance or location from them.
Keep working through the command list for your German Shepherd to ensure you’ve worked all the commands in a variety of environments.
And always, always, always…
Make sure your dog is safe!
Keep them on a short or long leash when outdoors! And stay aware of your surroundings, including busy roads, bicyclists, children playing, and other obstacles to avoid.
Is Your German Shepherd Not Listening to Your Training Commands?
If your German Shepherd is not listening to commands, then you need to go back to their basic training commands.
When they don’t perform as expected, work on breaking down the command into easier steps and move back to a quieter, less distracting training area.
Your dog might also be feeling unwell, stressed, or need more exercise or their meals. Consider all the reasons why your German Shepherd refuses to listen to you and don’t force them to train if they are ill or anxious.
You also need to train your German Shepherd not only to the basic commands but also in various locations and distances. This teaches them that when you give the command you expect them to comply, no matter what environment you’re in.
Don’t forget that it’s your responsibility to care for your dog and to meet their needs, including their emotional needs. You might need to take a day off your usual training every now and then to add some excitement to their lives.
The valuable book gives you the tools for helping turn your playful pup into a happy, healthy, well-adjusted adult. The expert authors cover all the questions that a new owner generally has, as well answering questions you might not know to ask.
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Don’t let German Shepherd training commands stress you or become a bore or not have enough training ideas for your quick-minded dog.
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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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