The Ultimate German Shepherd Commands List (for Boss Level Training)

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Do you know why a German Shepherd commands list is essential for successful dog obedience?

Without a command list, you could unintentionally miss basic commands or worse-confuse some commands, making your training harder and more stressful!

But with my essential training commands list, you and your German Shepherd will have a smoother experience.

Let’s get started.

Types of German Shepherd Commands

types of german shepherd training commands listed

You may just need the basics to begin your training, and you’ll find that list below.

Or, teach your GSD a few advanced dog commands. Either way, you need to know what words to say and how to say them for the best training.

You definitely want your dog to master the basic verbal commands. These commands allow you to control your dog’s movements and give you more supervision over them.

If you want to impress your friends or make the most out of owning one of the world’s smartest dogs, then the more advanced dog commands might appeal to you.

You can even make a hobby teaching your dog new commands or tricks.

There are two basic types of obedience commands you can use with your dog.

First is the hand signals. The second is the verbal commands.

Your GSD and Hand Signals

german shepherd hand signals for command training

Hand signals, or hand commands, are a convenient way to communicate your needs to your dog in conditions where verbal commands are unsuitable, such as during noisy events or when your dog is far away.

Hand signals require your dog’s attention to focus on you to see the command signal, unlike with verbal commands that need your dog to hear you.

If you plan on extensively using hand signals, it’s a good idea to teach your dog to have the habit of looking at you regularly. For every verbal command, there’s a matching hand signal that means the same thing. 

Just remember that German Shepherds are more attuned to your voice since they are bred to work with handlers giving verbal commands while performing herding or guard work.

The Deaf Dogs Education Action Fund is a terrific resource for teaching your dog hand signals and learning more, even if your dog isn’t deaf.

The command training for your German Shepherd that we’ll focus on for your basic training is verbal commands.

Voice Command Training Your GSD

german shepherd voice command 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

match your voice and command for your gsd

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 command list and their meanings. This is followed by the steps to correctly give your GSD their first introduction to the basic commands.

German Shepherd Commands List

You don’t have to train these commands 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 commands:

  • Basic Obedience
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced Training

Basic German Shepherd Obedience Commands

Command Response
SitThe dog puts its bottom on the ground
StayThe dog doesn’t move until you go to them
DownThe dog drops to their belly and stops moving forward
ComeDog moves forward to you
StopThe dog stops its movement and stands still
NoThe 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
Go PottyTells your puppy it needs to use the bathroom

Intermediate German Shepherd Obedience Commands

Command Response
Roll OverThe dog turns to show you their stomach
CrawlThe dog drops to their belly and crouches low to move forward
HereThe dog comes to your front or side
StandDog stands up on all four paws
SpinThe dog turns either left or right in a circle
Drop ItDog releases an item from the mouth
Leave ItThe dog doesn’t pick up or follow an object they are interested in
Go InDog goes inside a room
Go OutDog goes outside a room
WaitDog waits until you give a release or another command
Speak (Bark)Dog barks for you
QuietDog stops barking
Paw (Shake)Dog gives their paw for a paw-shake
Watch Me (Attention!)The dog keeps eye contact with you
OffDog gets off the object they are on (couch, chair)
UpDog jumps onto an object (chair, couch, podium)
Kennel (Crate)Dog goes into their kennel, crate, or bed area
Go EatThe dog has your permission to go eat (usually given after a wait request)
HeelThe dog comes to your left side
FetchDog gets an item and brings it back to you
High FiveDog gives you a high-five
JumpDog jumps over an obstacle
PlaceDog goes to a particular spot you want

Advanced German Shepherd Obedience List

Command Response
Search (Track)Dog follows and looks for a person or object
TargetDog touches a target pad with their nose
BackDog heels backward
FrontThe dog sits in front of you
GuardThe dog is more alert and looks for hazards
BiteDog bites an object that you want

Now that you have a list of commands for your German Shepherd, you need to understand how to use them.

How to Direct a Good Performance

getting the right action from your german shepherd

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 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 is 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?

the power of 10

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, 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 list of German Shepherd training commands you need to know.

The Come Command

teaching your gsd the come command

Come is the most important dog command to teach your German Shepherd.

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. But for now, start indoors in a quiet area.

The No Command

teaching your german shepherd 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 and use the correct tone to startle their dog.

Use a stern face and commanding tone when saying no, and your dog will quickly catch on.

If you’re having trouble with teaching no, then try tugging gently on your dog’s leash. A quick clap or slap of your hands together while saying no is enough to get your dog to stop performing the action you want

Don’t use treats to teach your dog this command. Using treats to reward a behavior you don’t want or like only confuses them.

The Stop Command

teaching your german shepherd the stop command

The stop command takes a bit of skill and timing since it requires your dog to quit moving.

To teach the stop, place some distance between you and your dog. Have them on a long lead to start.

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 a hand held up with a flat palm facing them.

This command works best when taught with both the verbal and hand signals. The simple fact you are coming towards them makes them hesitate, which is a normal reaction.

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 must 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).

The Sit Command

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.

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.

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.

You can phase out your spacing of the reward so you’re not rewarding for every sit, just occasionally.

The Down Command

teach your german shepherd the down command

If you plan on having guests over, down is invaluable to prevent jumping or overexcited behavior.

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 go into 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 from any previous position they were in.

The Stay Command

german shepherd dog in stay position

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.

To teach your dog to stay, begin by having your dog go into their sit position first.

Say the command stay in a low, firm tone. Then, take a few steps back while keeping your eyes engaged in your dog’s eyes.

If your dog stands up to follow you—as they probably will—tell your dog to sit again. Then, once they sit, say stay. Take a shorter step back, so that your dog doesn’t want to follow you.

Ultimately, your dog will stop following you, sit, and stay in their position. They will need more training for longer distances.

Lengthen this distance slowly as your dog learns impulse control and the stay command.

The Go Potty Command

The go potty command is great for training your German Shepherd puppy to use the bathroom on cue.

It’s useful for early house training and can help your puppy to understand what you want of him when he’s outside or in his potty area. When using the cue make sure you say the command right as your puppy is doing their potty business to help them learn the cue.

Eventually, you’ll use the command to get them to potty on cue when outside for your walks.

Use this fool-proof potty training guide for German Shepherd puppies to read more about potty training your puppy.

The Only Training Equipment You Need

german shepherd basic training list with a checklist of equipment

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!)

I like this reflective heavy-duty leash with a padded handle to withstand a strong pulling German Shepherd.

The double-handle allows you to use the regular length handle for leisure walks and to allow your dog to enjoy some grass time. While you can use the short handle for training, to increase control when another dog or person approaches, or when you are nearing a busy street.

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 I prefer because the clips withstand pulling and hold up great 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.

I use this safe breakaway collar for peace of mind. If my dog gets caught while playing outside in brush, I know she’ll get released and stay safe.

Treats Equal Training Motivation

treats equal motivation for your gsd

Don’t forget to purchase some tasty treats of your choice.

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, like the Zuke’s Mini Natural Training Treats. These treats got my GSD’s attention when I was training the commands.

These are the same tools I used to train my own GSD, so they’re tested in real-world situations with my hyper German Shepherd.

Start Small and Build Up

slow steady training progress

Using a training command list for your German Shepherd allows you to identify the commands that you need to work on.

It’s a smart idea to have a list of German Shepherd obedience commands that you can refer to.

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.

Some handlers and trainers use a different version to these on the German Shepherd 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 the Basic Commands List

german shepherd command list

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 commands list as quickly as you want.

It’s a long list and a 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.

Recommended Reading: Keep your dog’s attention by meeting their physical needs first and making sure their excess energy is spent. Use this guide on the perfect exercise routine for your German Shepherd.

How to Make Training Easier

make training easy

There’re many tips that will help keep your training manageable. Here are some top tips that can increase your dog’s chance of success.

  • Stay patient and confident your dog will learn.
  • Go easy and take your time.
  • Make sessions short and simple—only 3 minutes long for a puppy and 5 to 10 minutes for an adult.
  • Make training fun and entertaining—don’t always work on the same commands the whole time.

To be sure that your dog is ready to learn, see that you and your dog are:

  • In a calm, confident mood
  • Well-rested and with a positive attitude
  • At least one hour from their last meal

If you or your dog show stress, are tired, or too full, you won’t have enough success during training.

You’ll have better results by training your dog when they are a little hungry—it gives them extra motivation to earn tasty treats.

Remember, your most important tool while training is your good attitude.

It’s much harder to muster positivity if you’re worked up or stressed out. And a sick or over-excited dog is less responsive to any goodwill that comes their way.

If you or your dog doesn’t have the right attitude to train, allow yourself and your dog time to relax and rest. Try again the following day when you both are in better states of mind.

The Best Way to Phase Out Treats

phase out treats

It’s unwise and also unhealthy for your German Shepherd to expect a treat after every successful performance.

This means you it’s better to phase rewards out from your training exercises once they have a specific command down.

A positive way to phase out rewards once your dog has mastered a distinct command is to present the reward as part of the training of a new command.

Once your dog has mastered down, instead of providing a treat after giving the down, offer them a lesser treat, verbal praise, or petting instead of their usual expected reward.

Your GSD will probably notice the reduction of the normal treat and let you know they’ve noticed. This is a good time to move on to your next command where they’ll receive a tastier reward for performing a new skill.

Reintroducing Treats with a New Command

treats and teaching a new command

Show them you still have a treat ready by letting them see and sniff the hand with the treat. But now they have to work for it a little more than usual by learning a new command.

Once you have their attention, start teaching the new command. Offer the treat as a lure for the new command and then reward them when they’re successful.

You’ll find that your dog’s initial reluctance quickly ends.

You can also use a popular toy instead of treats when training. Be sure you use a safe and durable toy, which will last through a strong chewer.

Clicker Training

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 gives 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 with the command list. You can use your voice and see wonderful results.

Change Your Distance

change your distance

Give your dog the command from different distances.

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 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

vary your dogs training setting

Once your dog masters a command in a quiet environment, try training them in a more distracting environment.

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.

Is Your German Shepherd Not Listening to Commands?

german shepherd not listening to commands

If your German Shepherd is not listening to commands, then you need to adjust your tone and test them to the basic commands.

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.

Recommended Reading: Learn how to avoid behavior issues with your new puppy by showing your puppy leadership through discipline.

Be sure to test your dog after each new command by having them perform the command repetitively and successfully.

If they can’t get the command correct after multiple attempts at training, then step back from your training. Go back to the last command they performed right and begin from there.

Use different distances and locations to train the command to make sure that your dog understands that location doesn’t matter when you give them a command.

Using the Command List for German Shepherds

The cornerstone for good training is consistency, positive rewards, timing, a favorable attitude, and patience.

Use this German Shepherd commands list to improve the relationship between you and your dog. Begin with the easiest commands on the list for your German Shepherd and work your way through to the more difficult commands. Your GSD wants to please and is one of the smartest dogs.

But don’t push them too hard as too much training can be a stressor to them.

Having and using a list of German Shepherd commands takes the stress off confusing the basic commands and gives you a goal to aim for.

Understanding how to use the list to create a well-behaved dog truly makes you a boss level trainer!

Ready for a perfect performance using kind and scientifically-based German Shepherd command training? Then join thousands of others using brain training for their highly intelligent breed. It’s the same program I used to train my German Shepherd!

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