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German Shepherd training can feel overwhelming at the beginning, especially if this is your first dog.
The truth is…
Training your German Shepherd is a big project, especially for an absolute beginner!
But, it doesn’t have to feel daunting if you take it step-by-step.
If you follow this easy guide you’ll be well on your way to getting started with ease.
So let’s get down to business.
German Shepherd Training for Beginners
Are you ready to start training your German Shepherd and want to get it right from the very beginning?
Proper training and socialization are part of your dog’s basic needs that help set you and your German Shepherd up for a successful relationship together.
It’s important to begin training your German Shepherd as soon as possible so they don’t develop any unwanted behaviors and are easier to live with.
Here is some beginner training information to get you started:
Prepare for Owning a German Shepherd: Owning a German Shepherd means knowing what to expect from this gorgeous, high-energy breed. Stay ahead of their training by understanding the basics of ownership.
Play Daily German Shepherd Games: Training your German Shepherd should be fun! You probably already know that it’s easier to learn when you’re having a good time, so play some games with your dog daily to keep learning upbeat.
Provide the Best Diet for a German Shepherd: Have you heard the saying, “You are what you eat?” This is even more true for your athletic dog and she needs the right nutrition for her breed type in order to train to her fullest.
Learn How to Discipline a German Shepherd for Biting: Be warned, German Shepherd puppies have shark-like teeth! And if you’ve adopted an adult dog they still might not have the right manners, so learn the steps to discipline your dog the right way — without ruining your relationship.
Enjoy Bonding With Your German Shepherd: When you spend the time to bond with your German Shepherd your training will go even faster in the beginning. Plus, bonding activities create a dog that is a joy to have around and gives both of you confidence.
Let me take a wild guess…
This is your FIRST German Shepherd!
Welcome to all the joys of picking the best breed in the world!
I know that sometimes training a German Shepherd, especially a new puppy, can feel like banging your head against a wall.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Let’s take a look at some more beginner information for training your German Shepherd.
House Training and Crate Training
Most German Shepherd owners plan to let their dogs live indoors with them. You’ll need to teach your dog where to eliminate so they can begin to learn the most basic of manners.
It’s a must they understand house training rules, also called housebreaking or potty training.
This essential beginner skill is one of the first things you need to work on with your German Shepherd as part of their foundation training.
Using a crate, called crate training, is generally a very helpful part of house training.
Crate Training Your German Shepherd: Here are the basics of training your German Shepherd dog or puppy to enjoy their crate. Not only does using a crate help with potty training, but it gives your German Shepherd a quiet, comfortable place they can call their own.
How to Potty Train Your German Shepherd: Although house training can seem complicated in the beginning, it’s really a matter of timing, consistency, and having a watchful eye over your new dog. These 3 concepts are key to the housebreaking process and will help you achieve results faster.
While your German Shepherd will spend most of their time indoors, they’re going to need to learn how to walk on a leash.
Leash Training German Shepherd Puppies and Dogs
It’s a fact that most areas have leash laws to prevent accidents to others and your dog. There’ll be times when keeping your German Shepherd on a leash is not only safer but also a requirement.
Having your German Shepherd trained to walk politely is a lifesaver for your hands, shoulders, and back as she continues to mature and get bigger. Knowing this skill will make the walking experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog, and you’re more likely to enjoy exercising with her.
Socialization doesn’t mean exposing your German Shepherd to as much as possible whenever you can. It’s the process of helping your puppy or adult accept new people, places, and animals through positive exposure and training.
This means that your dog has new experiences that give her confidence, not make her fearful. Socialized German Shepherds are less likely to develop behavior problems down the road and are generally more welcomed by other people and pets.
Proper, positive socialization can help prevent the development of fears, phobias, and negative associations with certain objects, places, or people.
The bottom line?
Socializing your German Shepherd dog or puppy will make her a happier, more enjoyable, well-rounded dog.
Basic German Shepherd Training Commands for Beginners
You’ll need to train your GSD in not only the basics but other important training:
Training a German Shepherd to Leave Things Alone: Puppies are known for getting into mischief and that’s especially true of brilliant German Shepherds. Help keep them away from trouble by teaching them the “leave it” command to keep them safe.
Teaching a German Shepherd to Come When Called: Having your German Shepherd come back to you when called is one of the most important commands for a beginner to learn. Some even say it’s THE most essential training you can learn as a beginner.
German Shepherd Commands List for Training: You can help plan your own German Shepherd training in the beginning by knowing what commands you want your dog to know. Use this list of commands to check off what you want to train and what your dog or puppy already understands to keep you on track with your training plan.
Besides training, it’s best to give your dog plenty of stimulating brain training.
What’s brain training you ask? 💡
It’s a way of helping your German Shepherd use up all that energy pent up inside of them so they don’t become destructive, bored, or act out with unwanted behaviors.
Let’s go over what you can do to train your German Shepherd from the beginning using mind games, an often overlooked part of owning a working breed dog.
Mental Stimulation: Brain Training for German Shepherds
German Shepherds are one of the smartest breeds in the WORLD. That means you’ll need to keep their minds occupied and busily engaged in suitable activities for their high intelligence level.
Do you think you’ll just walk your German Shepherd to burn off their energy and that’s all?
You’re out of luck!
Most healthy, fit, adult German Shepherds have limitless energy. Even my 10-year-old German Shepherd can out-walk me! Likely, you’ll tire physically long before your German Shepherd will.
Plus, German Shepherd puppies can’t walk far since they’re developing their bones, and exercising them too much could cause long-term and life-long damage to their joints.
That’s why it’s so important that you understand your responsibility to keep their minds engaged to keep them happy:
Mind Games and Brain Training for German Shepherds: Engaging your German Shepherd in activities that encourage them to think actually helps them become better-behaved dogs. Instead of them seeking out things to do when they’re bored, you play mind games with them to keep their brain satisfied.
Exciting German Shepherd Puzzle Toys: Did you know your German Shepherd can solve puzzles? There are plenty of puzzle toys for dogs on the market to choose from. Which puzzles will your puppy enjoy playing with you?
So what does all this mean?
That you’re missing out on the full potential of your dog’s abilities without using mind games.
Want to enjoy an online dog training program that focuses on enriching your dog’s intelligence?
And, let’s not forget how much German Shepherds love to play! German Shepherd puppies are known to get a streak of the zoomies and need ways to turn that whirlwind into constructive movement.
Games and Play
You return home after a long day of work, dishes piled high, the kids asking what’s for dinner, and your German Shepherd has just begun an Olympic training session throughout your whole house.
It’s complete and utter chaos — German Shepherd style!
For the first time, it dawns on you.
You don’t know what games to play with your German Shepherd.
If your German Shepherd keeps asking you to play and you don’t know what to do, you’ll both get stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, have your kids learn simple games they can play to calm down your dog, keep the kids busy, and let you get a moment to yourself.
Follow these tips to keep calm in the middle of the storm:
How to Keep a German Shepherd Entertained: Oh, yes, there will come a time when you need to know ways to keep your German Shepherd from boredom and find ways to entertain themselves (that spells trouble). Keep these ideas handy.
Kongs for German Shepherds: Do you have a few Kong toys for your German Shepherd? If not, read this to find out what size to get for them and how to stuff a Kong with their food to give them a taste of the wild — hunting and working for their meal. This guide also covers dozens of ways to use Kong toys to reduce behavior problems.
Jobs for German Shepherds at Home: Teaching your German Shepherd a job they can enjoy at home with you gives them a purpose. Once your dog knows what her job is you can put her to work for you!
Playing isn’t just to keep your dog busy. Games are also a wonderful way to sneak in some training while having fun.
Keeping Your German Shepherd Healthy From The Start
Along with training your GSD from the moment they arrive, you want to keep them healthy and happy. And that starts with the right foods and diet for them.
Instead of wondering what your athletically-driven dog needs, follow the scientifically-backed advice found in the following articles:
Healthy Treats for Training: In the beginning, it’s best to use food and treats to reward your German Shepherd for the actions and behaviors you like. Food is a powerful motivator for dogs during your initial training with them. Look for healthy treats for German Shepherds to keep their weight in check and avoid problems related to overweight issues.
German Shepherds have their own set of problem behaviors that you’ll want to nip in the bud to avoid bigger issues. While it’s best to prevent the unwanted behavior from starting during your initial training, sometimes you’ll need to know how to deal with the issue once it’s already happened.
Troubleshooting Behavior Problems
It’s best to prevent behavior problems rather than trying to troubleshoot or solve them later on. But, sometimes even in the beginning of training your German Shepherd, you might find a few problems crop up.
These useful guides will help you through some common behavior problems when training German Shepherds:
How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping the Fence: Your curious puppy or adult will likely one day decide there’s more to the great outdoors than just your backyard. Don’t let your German Shepherd get hurt by escaping the yard when you can use these tips to prevent it.
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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