27 German Shepherd Puppy Training Tips You Should Know

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Knowing even a handful of German Shepherd puppy training tips can make or break your early training efforts.

And these tips are so good they’ll not only give you a solid start with your dog obedience, they’ll give you the confidence you need to live happily with your soon-to-be powerful breed.

All you have to do is keep reading to learn the best tips for training your German Shepherd puppy with confidence and ease.

1. Have Fun!

the word fun with various animal toys spread around it

Training should be fun for you and your dog. Research studies confirm that when dogs look happy with a wagging tail and wide eyes, they learn more quickly (source)!

Therefore, your dog’s happiness during training is connected to their success! Keep obedience light and don’t stress your pup out.

If you’re feeling stressed, skip training for a day and try later.

2. Find the Right High-Value Rewards

food based rewards
Food is a great motivator!

Reward, reward, and then reward! Positive motivation is a key component of highly trained dogs (source).

Keep trying different rewards to get the behavior you want. Increase the tastiness or toy-value if your pup doesn’t respond.

You don’t even need food. Try petting or scratching your dog and words of affection, as many dogs perform well without food rewards.

3. Socialization is a Priority

The American Veterinary Medical Association says the first 3—14 weeks is the most important time for your pup (source)!

Don’t keep your pup isolated in the home. Take them around town with you, out hiking and exploring, and expose them to unusual sounds or activities in the home.

Let them meet different people, animals, see weather patterns, hear unusual noises, and walk on a variety of surfaces.

4. Puppy Proof Your Home

woman plugging in electrical cables to a surge protector.
Puppies love to chew electrical cables. So, hide these!

Tie up loose cables that puppies will find and chew, put away the good bed sheet and blankets, and remove any objects that are valuable.

Get on your hands and knees and take a puppy view tour of your home to discover anything that looks even remotely interesting.

Remove those items, as your pup will find them even more interesting than you! As your pup grows they’ll find new objects to explore, so make regular “crawl-throughs” on all fours as your dog grows.

5. Create Boundaries

Don’t wait until your dog destroys your favorite rug or carpet to decide you should have installed baby gates.

You can close off doors, but German Shepherd puppies prefer to see their families and a closed-door can contribute to anxiety.

Don’t buy a regular baby gate, as your dog can get their head caught inside the bars. Instead, buy a pet-safe baby gate that won’t allow your dog to have any accidents if they try to push through.

Baby gates help introduce your dog to boundary training. Boundary training teaches your dog what areas are off-limits and are a useful tool as your pup gets larger.

6. Keep Family Rules Posted… and Follow Them

Colorful notes on wall
Use notes to keep the family on target with training.

Be sure to have a family meeting to discuss the rules for the dog. Get the whole family involved to help with a balanced pet and happier home.

Print off a set of commands to stay consistent. List what behaviors are and aren’t allowed and your dog’s basic commands.

Set the rules for your pup early. Then, follow them!

7. Expose Them to Grooming Early

teach your puppy about grooming
Expose your pup to grooming now so they are easier to handle later.

Do you want an easier to groom full-grown Shepherd? Then groom your dog as a puppy now!

In the beginning, use a soft rubber brushing glove. The glove tugs less on your dog’s skin, making grooming more acceptable.

Begin exposing your pup to grooming early so that when you want to groom them as adults, they are happy to comply.

8. Use Simple Words

learn word scrabble letters
Simple is better.

Don’t make your commands any harder than you must. Dogs prefer short and easy commands.

You can use whatever commands work for you. But remain consistent in their meaning so that your dog understands you better. Shorter commands of one word work better than multiple word commands.

Don’t say “sit down” because that’s two commands (sit and down). And don’t say “come over here” when “come” will work. Pick what works for you and stay consistent.

9. Use Positive Training

Use rewards and steer away from punishment. It’s shown that physically hurting your dog leads to anxiety and aggression.

Use positive words, treats, toys, and physical touch to encourage positive behaviors. Don’t verbally demean your dog or use a harsh tone. When your pup is misbehaving try a redirection of their attention instead.

Related: “How to Discipline a German Shepherd Puppy (11 Easy Tips)

10. Short Sessions Work Best

short training sessions
Short training sessions work best.

Puppies have a short attention span. Don’t train your pup over 2-3 minutes at a time.

The best German Shepherd puppy training tip I’ve learned is that short sessions throughout the day with only a couple minutes of training, rather than long sessions, keep a dog more engaged and eager to learn.

11. Build Upon Your Puppy’s Success

build upon success
Break down tasks into smaller pieces.

Help your dog learn the result you want by building upon their successes first. Work in small steps to achieve the behavior you desire.

For example, if you only can get your pup to sit for a few seconds, don’t expect them to sit for 3 minutes in the next session. Build into their sit each session by just a few seconds. See each session as a building block.

You must master each small block to build larger, longer or more complicated training.

12. Dogs Need Rest Days

puppies need rest days
A day off may be in order.

Just as you have bad days and can’t focus or concentrate, so does your dog.

Allow your pup an off day if they don’t seem interested, are agitated, or grumpy.  Return later in the day to see if they’re ready to learn. But don’t force them through a session if they aren’t interested.

Maybe they’re just bored and need a walk. Or, maybe there’s something more serious you should see your vet about.

13. Teach House Manners

teach house manners
Teach house manners to create a dog that’s a joy to have inside.

House manners include a respectful door greeting, no jumping on guests, you or your furniture (unless you want them on the furniture), no unnecessary barking, and no chewing on unapproved items.

House manners will help keep your home more at peace and, most importantly, safe from harm. Integrate teaching your German Shepherd house manners into your daily routine.

House manners are part of the training that creates a dog that is a joy to live with.

14. Train in Different Areas

Don’t make sessions all indoors or all in the same area. Use a variety of environments and techniques to reinforce your training.

Use the outdoors, your backyard, playgrounds, or other new locations to keep things interesting.

By using different areas, your dog understands that “sit” means not only when in the living room or in your garden, but anywhere you ask. Start in quiet areas and progress to areas of distraction.

Related: “The Ultimate German Shepherd Commands List (For Boss Level Training)

15. Use Play Time for Learning

You can even incorporate commands into playtime!

Ask your puppy or dog to sit before you throw their ball. Or for a down when they come back with their toy.

Puppies love to play! Keep them learning while playing, and you have a perfect combo!

16. Invest in Quality Chew Toys

Chewing is natural for a dog, especially a teething puppy. If you don’t give your dog an approved chew toy, then they’ll come up with one of their own!

If you see your pup chewing on an item you left out, don’t yell at them.

Instead, take the item away and offer them a German Shepherd approved toy that is safe and non-toxic instead. Praise them when you find them chewing on the right toys.

17. Have Patience

have patience
Stay patient with your efforts.

Rushing your dog through training doesn’t make your dog learn any faster!

It takes time and repetition to gain a new skill. How long does learning a new skill take?

It depends. But your German Shepherd is one of the top 3 smartest breeds. So, you have a shorter time to wait than most.

19. Get Regular Check-ups

get regular checkups
Don’t forget your pup’s check-ups.

Schedule and keep your appointments so your puppy or dog stay healthy and strong. Don’t skip a routine exam because you think nothing is wrong with your pet.

Vets train to look for the smallest details and can spot small issues before they become big ones. A sick puppy can go downhill quickly.

Your GSD also needs a set of vaccinations in order to train outdoors and around other dogs.

20. Buy a Crate that Grows with Your Dog

buy a crate that grows with your dog
Your dog is small now, but will grow quite large!

Buy a crate that is built for a growing German Shepherd. And teach your pup how to love it.

Don’t purchase a small crate and keep buying a larger one as your pup grows. Instead, buy a crate with a movable divider.

This saves you time, money, and stress!

Don’t be the pet parent with 5 different sizes of a crate in your garage storage. Pick the best crate size for a German Shepherd to ensure a great fit and show your pup that a crate is a safe place to relax.

20. Teach Handling Skills

teach handling skills
Handling gives your pup confidence.

Handle your puppy with the intention to train them to tolerate later real-world situations.

Inspect their ears like your vet. Brush them and cut their nails, as your groomer would. The American Kennel Club suggests a daily dog massage to introduce and acclimate your pup to touch, which gives them confidence (source).

Associate your handling with good things, and when an adult your dog will not fear routine, necessary events in life. This includes getting them used to baths.

Related: “21 German Shepherd Bathing Tips for Stress-Free Baths

21. Include Mental Stimulation

mental stimulation

Mental stimulation, or brain games, help your dog to use their minds to solve problems. There are many brain games on the market.

But you need not spend any money to create your own brain games.

There’s plenty of mental exercises for your German Shepherd that teaches your pup higher-level thinking skills and engages their minds.

Related: “15 Mental Exercises for German Shepherds”

22. Expose Your Pup to a Collar and Leash

collar and leash training
Leash and collar training improves your chances of having calm walks.

Expose your pup to their collar and leash early and with positive training. Go slow with their exposure to the transition to wearing them easier.

You may need to start with placing the collar and leash on your pup’s neck, without attaching them, if your pup hasn’t already been exposed to a collar and leash.

Learning to accept a collar and leash helps you to walk your dog calmly and creates a positive experience for your pup with these training tools.

Don’t know if you should put a harness or collar on your puppy? Read up on what you should be using for your young dog!

Related: “A Harness or Collar for German Shepherds? (Amazingly Helpful Advice)

23. Teach Loose Leash Walking Skills

loose leash walking
Start loose leash walking soon to develop solid obedience skills.

Your German Shepherd puppy will soon be capable of heavy pulling power!

Don’t let your dog walk you. Instead, train them as soon as possible for loose leash walking.

We’ve all seen an owner getting yanked down the sidewalk by their dog.

Don’t be that owner. Learn to train your GSD puppy to walk on a leash from the start.

24. Use Mealtime for Training

training at meal time
Mealtime is a perfect time to work on obedience.

Don’t miss another daily training opportunity!

For mealtimes have your dog perform a command. I like to have my dog “sit” or “down” for their food.

Once your pup is in their place and performing the command you gave, offer them their meal. In time, your pup will offer the behavior sooner expecting their food and this helps keep order in your day.

Do you know the right amounts to feed your new puppy? Read about how much to feed your GSD pup.

25. Break-Away Collars Save Dog’s Lives

red break away dog collar
Breakaway collars release when your dog gets hung up.

There are thousands of collars on the market.

But few of these collars break away to save your dog’s life.

Break-away collars snap away from your dog’s neck when there is enough physical pressure applied. But they are strong enough for walks on a lead.

If your dog is ever in trouble and they catch their collar, the break-away design allows for a safe release.

This is a collar that is a must for everyday wear, especially with a young, active, mischievous puppy.

German Shepherd Puppy Training Tips That Last a Lifetime

Training is only the beginning of your life with your puppy.

These helpful German Shepherd puppy training tips will get you started, but there’s much more to caring for your new puppy.

Your dog is counting on you to provide not only the basic commands but also a commitment to their health and guidance to teach them how to live in your world.

GSDs are one of the world’s smartest breeds and need an owner who will take the time and patience to train them. They are independent thinkers that need guidance to live a happy home life with you and your family.

Have you considered enrolling in an online training program that encourages your breed’s superior intelligence while working on all the basics?

Find more information about this scientific breakthrough by reading more about my review of the Brain Training for Dogs Academy.

The best German Shepherd puppy training tip is to invest in basic obedience skills and house manners to help your dog learn to live happily with you while meeting their desire to learn.

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