13 Super Smart Ways to Make German Shepherd Training Easier

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Imagine you knew how to discipline a German Shepherd puppy the right way so that your bond with your dog grew instead of fell short!

Wouldn’t your life look more peaceful, calm, and happy with the right German Shepherd training?

Learn how to communicate with your pup and get the behaviors you want using these simple and easy methods for training a German Shepherd puppy.

How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy the Right Way for Fast Results

GSD pup lying in grass
At 8 to 12-weeks old your puppy is just a baby that isn’t mature enough to know they are misbehaving.

You might think your German Shepherd puppy behavior at 8 to 12 weeks is on purpose or because they’re being bad. But in reality, a 12 week old German Shepherd still doesn’t have the maturity to fully understand their bad behavior.

While you can redirect their attention to wanted behaviors or away from their undesired actions, it’s best to not harshly discipline a pup while they’re this young.

They may become frightened of you or fear your presence, depending on how severe your discipline is. Anxiety may even develop with too much punishment or useless corrections.

Training a German Shepherd puppy at 8 to 12 weeks old? Yes, you can!

A GSD pup of 8 to 12 weeks of age or older still needs positive reinforcement for the best behavior changes. Disciplining your GSD should not involve hitting, kicking, slapping, intimidation, or yelling. But you can and SHOULD start training a German Shepherd puppy when they first arrive home with you.

Do you want your German Shepherd puppy to stop their unwanted, bad behavior and turn into the sweet angel you want them to be?

Then follow these easy disciplining and training tips that’ll keep your relationship with your dog strong, while still overcoming bad behavior. You can easily learn how to train a German Shepherd puppy if you work smarter…

Not harder!

1. Start early and remain consistent with your expectations.

start early with german shepherd discipline
Training a German Shepherd means knowing what to do when your puppy acts up.

You shouldn’t begin disciplining your puppy if you’re not sure what to do, but you SHOULD at least have a set of rules to live by and stick to it before you bring your dog home.

Shepherd pups are one of the smartest dogs on the plant and learn quickly what you expect of them. But the best way to learn how to train a German Shepherd puppy at home is to work on your own behavior first.

You should show them what behavior is unacceptable in your house. This means that you must stay consistent when responding to their behavior. If you aren’t consistent, it will confuse your puppy, which makes it harder to prevent bad behavior (source).

For example:

  • If your pup jumps on you and you redirect their attention to a toy to chew on instead.
  • But, then your pup jumps on your friend and your friend lets them and you say nothing.

Your dog will be uncertain about when they shouldn’t jump. This makes it likely that your dog will jump on whoever they feel like in the future.

Don’t give conflicting commands and expect good behavior.

👉🏼 Curated content just for you:

How to Quickly Discipline a German Shepherd for Biting: A Step-by-Step Guide

2. Use reward-based training.

use reward based german shepherd training
Use reward-based German Shepherd training techniques to get the quickest results.

Reward-based training helps your puppy recognize when something is a bad choice (source). When your pup performs what you ask, offer a tasty treat and words of praise. Your pup learns those good things happen when they are doing what’s asked.

For example:

  • Have your pup sit when you are by the front door getting ready to go for a walk.
  • Get them to perform this command before you even open the door and don’t let them start the habit of rushing out in front of you.

This teaches them that when they behave, they are more likely to get what they want. You can ask your puppy to perform a behavior or command once you’ve trained them in the basics of obedience.

A quick way to learn how to train a German Shepherd is by following this free guide:

Easy German Shepherd Training Guide for Perfect Obedience at Home 🐕

So What REALLY is the Best Way to Train a German Shepherd Puppy?

brain training for dogs online program
The best way to train your German Shepherd is by following a fun, engaging program that teaches not only the basics but covers problem behaviors, too.

The best way of training a German Shepherd puppy is not only by using positive reward-based techniques but also by incorporating fun games that work your breed’s super intelligence in a productive way.

Sound difficult?

It’s not, because you can learn how to train a German Shepherd puppy easily with this inexpensive online Brain Training for Dogs Obedience and Games Program from the comfort of your home. It teaches you how to get your pup to learn positive behaviors. 💡

Training German Shepherd puppies is fun when you know how and use the best program from the start.

Don’t make the mistake of missing out on early German Shepherd training…

Or you’ll regret it later when your GSD is larger, more powerful, and won’t listen to you!

You can also have fun right at home with these games for German Shepherd puppies.

3. Offer your puppy another option when they begin jumping on you for attention.

ignore jumping when your german shepherd puppy wants attention
Jumping on other dogs might be fine for play, but it’s not safe when a large, powerful German Shepherd jumps on people!

When your dog tries to get your attention by jumping on you, it’s best to either ignore them (although that’s easier said than done) or better – give them another option that you DO want.

Think about what your puppy is trying to get when engaging in jumping and bad behavior to determine when to ignore them.

When your pup jumps on you when you come home, they probably want your attention. Withholding your attention when they are acting out shows them they need to act differently to get your approval (source).

Instead, offer them pets and praise when they have all 4 paws on the floor. You can also place them behind a puppy gate until they learn not to jump in order to avoid them scratching or nipping house guests when they arrive.

After you teach them their basic obedience, ask them for a competing behavior like a sit or down when they begin to jump.

Always remember to reward the behavior you want to see again!

Ultimately, your puppy learns that good behavior earns your affection and attention more quickly. Your dog soon understands that they get nothing from you when they act badly.

Here are some great commands for a German Shepherd that you can work on training.

4. Redirect bad German Shepherd puppy behavior.

how to train a german shepherd puppy using redirections
Does your puppy jump, nip, chew, bite, or dig and you want to know the right discipline?

When your pup is taking part in bad behavior, get your puppy’s attention by making a distracting noise.

Try clapping your hands, making a clicking sound with your tongue, or smacking your lips to get your pup’s attention to turn on something you DO want them to try — like a squeaky toy.

The noise and disapproving tone distract your dog from bad behavior (source).

Now, redirect their attention to a more desirable behavior you want, for example:

  • Coming to you and leaving what they’re doing by offering them a tasty treat and praise.
  • Showing them a favorite toy.
  • Offering them another option you would like that is more constructive.

Don’t scold them when they come to you or you’ll make your dog scared of you later on.

Pay attention to your dog’s behaviors when they are near known distractions so you can prevent the bad, unwanted action before it even happens.

You want to remember to watch out for:

  • If your dog chews inappropriately on a pair of expensive shoes, get their attention by making noises or calling them to you and immediately offer the correct approved chew item.
  • If you know your dog tends to bite you during play, have a toy nearby you can show them that you want them to bite instead of your arms.
  • If you know they get wild and crazy in the evenings, have a list of these easy German Shepherd brain games to distract them and funnel their energy.

Set your pup up for success and don’t give them opportunities to act bad!

5. Use time-outs appropriately when training a German Shepherd puppy.

how to discipline a german shepherd puppy using time outs
Keep a kitchen timer nearby or use your phone’s alarm so that you don’t keep your puppy in time out too long!

When your dog engages in bad behavior, remove them from what is causing the unwanted behavior. Put them in a different environment that is more calming and quiet instead.

Respond immediately to the bad behavior and use the same routine every time to maintain correct discipline.

Time out should:

  • Not be done with force or yelling.
  • Not be in a closet or other dark, scary area.
  • Work to calm your puppy down, not frighten or stress them.
  • Give your puppy a break from over-excitement.
  • Not be a long punishment.

Timeouts are generally recommended for only 1 to 2 minutes for puppies.

Don’t put your pup outside since this provides an opportunity for them to engage in the outdoor environment, like chasing birds, digging, or running around. Also, remember that closed doors can cause anxiety in dogs, so use a reliable pet-safe baby gate so that your puppy knows that you are still nearby.

If they begin to whine and cry, don’t immediately pick them up and let them out.

Wait until there are at least 15 to 30 SECONDS of them NOT crying before removing them from time out or they might learn that crying and whining get them what they want.

Remember, when training a German Shepherd puppy:

  • Time out should not last over 1-2 minutes.
  • Watch for when your puppy is calm and quiet for a very brief period (15-30 seconds long of calm).
  • Then let them out quietly, without scolding them.

And don’t close a door on a young puppy inside a room!

This can cause anxiety. Remember to use a pet gate to separate them from the excitement that caused the unwanted behavior, while still allowing them to see you and not feel trapped.

Don’t allow them out of time while they are barking, whining, scratching, or otherwise acting out. This only serves to reinforce the unwanted bad behavior and doesn’t discipline them effectively.

6. Ignore the unnecessary barking.

ignore your dog's barking when training a german shepherd puppy
German Shepherd puppies bark, but there are positive ways to help train them to bark and whine less.

Ignore your dog’s barking until they’re quiet for 15 to 30 seconds if they are still a puppy. This means you don’t give them any attention at all while they’re still barking.

Don’t talk to him, touch him, or even look at him. When they finally quiet down, even if only for a few seconds, reward them with a treat or praise.

To have success, wait until they are quiet and stop barking, even if only for a few seconds in the beginning (source). If you yell at them to be quiet, they may learn they still get attention for you, even if it’s negative attention. Next time they’ll bark for even longer because they’ve learned that if they bark long enough, you’ll give him attention.

If they continue barking and whining despite your inattention, figure out why they’re barking and either remove the item (if it’s an object), or place them in another area that is quieter (if it’s a sound).

For example:

  • If your puppy barks at joggers out the window every morning pull the blinds or curtains. If the behavior continues, place your dog in another room for a couple of minutes and repeat the previous time-out procedure every time they bark at the joggers (remember to use the pet safe baby gate and to not shut a puppy behind a solid door because it can give them anxiety).
  • If they are whining and crying at night, this could be a warning they need to potty. Make sure you read this post to know how to potty train a German Shepherd before you ignore all whining, barking, and crying.
  • If your puppy barks during play they might be too excited and you can offer them a chew toy instead or cut your playtime short to allow them to calm down.

Puppies bark for a number of reasons. One of the hardest parts of German Shepherd training is knowing what’s natural and normal and what’s a problem behavior.

But it does get easier to train your GSD over time as they learn what you expect.

7. Keeping your pup from nipping and chewing.

keeping your german shepherd puppy from nipping and chewing
Puppies have sharp teeth, especially German Shepherd puppies!

Puppies are energetic and must learn their limits for playing too rough (source). When your dog nips you, say “ouch” immediately and do your normal noise when something hurts.

Don’t immediately jerk your hand back or punish your puppy physically.

Puppies view you jerking your hand back quickly as part of a game and could also tear your skin. And physical punishment should never be given!

How to Stop German Shepherd Puppy Nipping and Biting

  • Move your hand calmly and slowly from your puppy.
  • Show them what they can chew, instead, such as their favorite chew toy.
  • Have plenty of safe chew toys to grab nearby to give your pup when they get wild and decide to bite you.
  • Don’t participate in rough play using your hands, as this encourages nipping and biting.
  • Always use toys that your puppy can chew and bite to play with — pick from this list of German Shepherd Chew Toys to Prevent Boredom so you have a safe puppy toy that can take their bites.

This teaches your pup you don’t like biting and nipping while offering them a positive alternative.

During play, work on the signal “easy” when your pup plays too rough. When they stop biting or nipping reward them with verbal praise and pets.

If they are still too rough, use a toy to show them what’s acceptable to bite or remove yourself from playing for a few minutes. Return later to try playing with your pup again and repeat the procedure.

Read this information for more helpful tips to stop your German Shepherd puppy from aggressively biting and nipping you.

8. Catch your dog being good and reward them out of the blue.

reward german shepherd good behavior during training
See your puppy acting the way you want? Reward them out of the blue!

It’s easy to get caught up in scolding when your pup when they are getting into trouble, but rewarding him out of the blue for being good shows them they’re doing the right behaviors (source).

Keep small bits of treats in jars around the house out of reach of your pup (or in your pocket or a treat bag on your waist) and use any opportunity your catch your pup doing good to reward them.

Here are some ideas for opportunities to reward your dog:

  • If they’re lying calmly on their mat, give them a piece of a treat. But don’t make a big deal of the situation or you’ll wind them back up.
  • When they’re playing with the toys you want them to chew, drop a tiny bit of treat out of nowhere.
  • If they sit and wait at the door, instead of dashing out ahead of you, reward them!

Training your German Shepherd isn’t always about catching bad behaviors, but also about rewarding good things your dog does. Dogs like to do things that you reinforce, even if you don’t think they worked for the reward it’s still part of training.

If you only worry about punishment and corrections, then you’re missing out on the opportunities to reinforce positive behavior.

Aim for one of these healthy treats that are the best for German Shepherds and pick carefully to ensure your dog stays athletic and fit. Food-based rewards are very motivating when training and disciplining a puppy.

9. Avoid physical punishment and harm.

avoid physical punishment when training
Your German Shepherd is your companion for life. Don’t ruin your bond with physical punishment!

Research shows that physically punishing your dog (for example hitting, kicking, growling, or staring them down) increases aggression in your dog (study source). 

Never use physical punishment to correct undesirable behavior.

Not only can this punishment injure your puppy, but it also ruins your relationship and causes anxiety.

Discipling a German Shepherd puppy or dog doesn’t mean using force, intimidating them, or hurting them.

It means setting expectations that they understand and staying consistent.

Physically hurting your German shepherd will ruin your relationship with them. They will lose their trust in you and begin to avoid you.

In the worst case, your dog could develop anxiety disorders, health issues, or even more problem behaviors. You could even accidentally injure your dog and they need vet care!

A German Shepherd that’s disciplined in this physically harsh manner could even turn on their owner and try to bite them in order to protect themselves from any more harm.

10. Use the right tone and body language to communicate.

use the right tone and body language when training a german shepherd
Different commands and body language conveys information for training to your German Shepherd.

Dogs aren’t born understanding the words “no” or “sit”. You must understand when your new puppy arrives and doesn’t understand the human language.

The different tones of your voice and body movements are better understood by your dog. The actual command words are of less importance to your puppy.

Use a direct tone and body language that matches what you want to say to your dog. But don’t lean over them and intimidate them or your dog will begin to fear you. And definitely don’t scream.

Some ways to try out your tone and body language:

  • When your GSD is tearing up your favorite shoes, stand tall, project your voice, and say “leave it” like you mean business (but don’t yell and scream). Then, offer them another toy appropriate to chew and take away the other item they’re chewing.
  • When training the come command, say come in a happy tone and squat down to get on your puppy’s level so you appear more friendly and inviting.
  • Even pointing to a missed treat on the ground is body language your dog learns to understand.

Still not convinced?

Try out your training with this extensive list of helpful German Shepherd commands and watch how much your dog is capable of understanding.

11. Training a German Shepherd doesn’t happen overnight.

stick with your german shepherd training

Shepherd pups want to please and have order in their home. Create more consistency for them and you’ll see fewer German Shepherd puppy problem behaviors.

To do this, stick with your training. Don’t confuse your dog by having different rules for different days or times.

Begin with a plan in place and disciplining your GSD will go smoother from the start. Don’t give up when your pup doesn’t understand what you want the first few times. Persevere with your training and discipline.

Remember that your German Shepherd is highly intelligent and needs your help to get the best from them.

If you feel like giving up, take a break from training for a day or two. It’s OK and your dog will still learn by having an owner who is more relaxed and calm than one who is stressed and frustrated.

In order to avoid training frustration, remember that just like you a German Shepherd needs time to learn the rules of the house and new commands. This is true especially of puppies or rescue dogs.

If you want to take a break from training and have fun, then include a few days a week of puzzles. You can read more about the best puzzle toys for your German Shepherd and find a few you like so that you and your dog don’t get burned out on training.

German Shepherds are one of the smartest dogs in the world, so training them generally takes a short time.

12. Never discipline by pushing your dog’s nose in their accidents.

never discipline a German Shepherd puppy for having accidents during potty training
Never discipline a German Shepherd puppy for having accidents during potty training.

Whether your German Shepherd is potty trained or not, never push their faces into their potty accidents.

Even if you think your dog soiled in your house on purpose, punishing them for having an accident indoors won’t necessarily prevent it from happening again. 

This also isn’t discipline for a German Shepherd, it’s abuse, both physically and mentally.

Your dog is counting on your leadership to show them the rules in a positive manner. Work on setting a consistent schedule with feeding and walks to avoid potty accidents indoors.

German Shepherds are easy to train given the right attention.

And they need to understand their schedule by having you teach them using consistent patterns, rather than receiving punishment or discipline.

Keep a potty schedule posted nearby so all your family can see it and help prevent your puppy from having an accident.

13. Use your bond with your puppy to your advantage during recall training.

use your bond with your german shepherd to train the recall
Use your positive bond with your German Shepherd puppy to work on early recall training.

Sometimes, you are the last thing on your puppy’s mind.

Especially when there are so many natural pleasures to see and explore outside. That’s why it’s so important to instill a bond with your puppy from the start by avoiding punishment.

When you call your German Shepherd, its obedience simply depends on whether the motivation to obey your commands outweighs what your dog is focused on at the moment.

So, what’s an owner to do to discipline a poor recall?

Puppies have a natural instinct to stay close to their leader — that’s you (or should be you). Use this to your advantage!

Tips for great German Shepherd puppy recall training:

  • Begin calling your puppy in as many locations inside as you can.
  • Give them a tasty reward or play a game with their favorite toy when they come.
  • Work your way up to a perfect recall by having others try to distract your puppy while indoors.
  • Next, move to your back or front yard (with your dog on a long leash like this so they stay safe nearby) and do the same.
  • If they don’t come when called they might be too distracted. You can disciple them by showing them your tasty treat and walking backward a few steps to encourage them to move toward you.

Don’t delay training the recall or you’ll miss out on a crucial learning period. Train the come command in all situations, including the home and outdoors, from the time your puppy is 6 to 8 weeks old to avoid discipline problems later on.

Need to train your German Shepherd on their recall?

Read these hand-picked posts RIGHT NOW 📣

You must train your German Shepherd puppy to come in all situations and reinforce your bond with them daily.

Recall means they get to enjoy something with you!

German Shepherd Training Checklist (Quick Reference)

TrainingQuick Tip
1. Start early and remain consistent with your expectations.Keep a training checklist where everyone in the family can see it and follow along.
2. Use reward-based training.Treats, praise, cuddles, games — it’s all fun for rewards!
3. Offer your puppy another option when they begin jumping on you for attention.Try: Ignoring them, offering them a toy to chew on instead, and have them perform another command that competes with the jumping.
4. Redirect bad German Shepherd puppy behavior.To discipline your German Shepherd, don’t punish them! Instead, show them what they can do that you want.
5. Use time-outs appropriately.Very short timeouts of 1 to 2 minutes are OK for a puppy that is acting wildly and can’t calm itself.
6. Ignore the unnecessary barking.Barking might be a sign of attention-seeking and it’s best to only offer attention when your puppy is quiet for a few seconds.
7. Keep your pup from nipping and chewing.Prevent your pup from nipping or chewing on you (and furniture) by always having the right chew toy nearby and showing it to them.
8. Catch your dog being good and reward them out of the blue.Don’t look for only bad behaviors, but seek out opportunities to reward your dog for all the good behavior… everyday!
9. Avoid physical punishment and harm.Punishment isn’t used if you want to keep your bond with your German Shepherd and have a friend for life.
10. Use the right tone and body language to communicate.No need to yell your commands; instead, try a firm, direct tone for some commands and a happy, lively tone for others.
11. Training a German Shepherd doesn’t happen overnight.Don’t expect miracles to happen in a short time since training a GSD is like taking baby steps one at a time.
12. Never discipline by pushing your dog’s nose in their accidents.This old-school type of training is harmful to your dog’s mental health and isn’t a form of discipline.
13. Use your bond with your puppy to your advantage during recall training.Puppies naturally look to their leader (YOU!) for guidance, so use this to your advantage and train the recall every day in different situations.
Use this German Shepherd training checklist for a quick reference to help!

Learning the Right Ways of Training a German Shepherd Puppy

Even the best of owners can sometimes do the wrong things.

The worst advice is to punish your puppy, and if that doesn’t work, keep punishing them more.

Your best course of action is to prevent the bad behavior in the first place by watching your pup and not leaving them unsupervised.

Learning how to train and discipline a German Shepherd puppy is difficult, but it can be done with consistency and patience.

Don’t give up!

Use positive training and catch your dog when they’re being good and reward those behaviors.

Ignore the actions you don’t like and they will begin to fade away.

The truth of the matter is that if you’re reading this you are a loving owner who wants to learn more about living with their German Shepherd.

Bottom line: German Shepherd training can be hard and you might need a bit of help and encouragement to do it!

Have you seen how thousands of other like-minded owners have joined the Brain Training for Dogs program to increase good behaviors?

Train your dog with compassion and science…

And you’re set for life with a beautiful, well-behaved German Shepherd that you can show off to your friends! 💗