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Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew the best ideas on German Shepherd puppy care to have a successful life with them?
If you’re like me, then you want all of the essential information that’ll give your dog the best life possible to make sure your days go smoothly and stress-free.
All you have to do is read along to feel confident in understanding your new, rambunctious GSD puppy.
1. Hit the Ground Running
You’ve been waiting for months or even years to bring home your new puppy!
But, don’t let the excitement overwhelm you.
Instead, focus on what you can do now to prepare yourself to feel confident that you understand how to care for your German Shepherd puppy.
Plan for your new puppy’s arrival by having all of the necessary supplies on hand. Have their special puppy-safe area already set up for them.
Choose an area for their bed where the family spends much of their time so your pup isn’t alone for too long.
Place their bed in a corner of the room, out of the way of busy footpaths.
Make sure their bed is away from cold drafts or hot heaters.
Pick a place to put their food and water dishes that will not cause your family to trip over them while they’re eating and drinking.
Keep your pup in their special room when you can’t watch them. It only takes two seconds for them to soil the carpet, eat a table leg, or chew an electrical cord.
Be sure to use the pet safe baby gates instead of closing doors. Keeping doors shut prevents your dog from seeing you, and this can cause anxiety and stress, especially in a GSD that craves and needs human attention.
2. Communicate the Essential Information
When learning how to take care of a German Shepherd puppy, then you must commit to the role of teacher and guide for your dog.
They look to you to learn the ways of their world and want to understand what you expect.
The best way to accomplish this is through clear, effective communication.
Use the following words to convey your message.
German Shepherd Puppy Communication Guide
Encourages your pup to follow you, use on loose-lead walks and around the house.
“Wait” / “O.K.”
“Wait,” tells them to control their impulse and encourages them to look to you for direction before proceeding, while “O.K,” tells them to proceed, use this pair of words when going through doors or crossing roads.
This keeps your pup’s behind on the ground and is useful when you need to get their attention or keep them from going through with another unwanted behavior, use this before giving them their meals or a treat.
“Stand,” tells your dog to raise to all 4 paws and allows you to get them ready for their next command or for grooming, use this for bathing or brushing.
Encourages your dog to think about where they’re at in relation to you and reminds them of their manners, useful when your dog blocks your way into a door or room, runs into you, or ignores your directions.
This word places your pup on their belly to keep them in a position for a longer time or while you’re busy, use it when you’re standing while talking to a friend for a longer period.
“Settle,” tells your pup they need to relax. Use this command while they go to a specific place (like their dog bed) and you need quiet time, or when you are reading silently, or having dinner and don’t want them under your feet.
“No” tells your dog they’re performing an unwanted or inappropriate behavior and need to stop it, it’s best used when catching the in the thought process before a behavior, for example – use “no” when you see your dog sniff the air in the kitchen near the countertop where you just set down the cooked chicken (before they place their paws up on the counter to grab the food).
“Uh oh” works best for younger dogs (under 4 months old) to discourage inappropriate behavior, use “uh oh” to discourage their interest in objects or rooms you don’t want them in.
Teach your dog their name and associate it with food during the early stages (8 to 10 weeks old), use it to get your dog’s attention and preceding any command to let them know that you’re speaking directly to them.
These are some basic puppy commands you should use.
Familiar words such as those in this list help your dog feel connected and to start bonding with you.
Your dog doesn’t develop impulse control until 6 to 8 months old. Keep this in mind when discouraging behaviors and using corrections.
After safety and security, your dog has five basic needs:
and playing (This includes training, too!)
They live their days around these basic needs.
Your dog may become easily overwhelmed if you don’t meet these needs. A dog who nips and scratches you isn’t always wanting to play but may have other needs that you aren’t meeting.
It’s your job as their leader to understand what your puppy needs and to make sure you meet these demands.
3. Everyday Meet Their Needs
In this section, see all the best ways to communicate information to meet their needs and understand how you must meet these needs on a daily level.
Your Dog’s Need
Key Words or Phrases
“Water, want a drink”
Keep the water dish in the same spot and show them the water bowl when they are likely to have thirst (after playing or after a walk).
“Hungry, eat, go eat, want dinner”
Schedule all feeding times and don’t allow them to eat all day. Keep the food dish in the same area and have your pup sit before offering their meals to them.
“Go play, toy time, ball, bone”
Ensure all four paws are on the ground before you give a toy or toss a ball. Maintain a play area inside and outside the home in the same areas so your dog knows what actions to expect.
“Go to bed, on your mat, to your crate, nap time”
Have one spot in each room you share with your dog that is their quiet sleeping space. Take your dog to this spot when you give the phrase and offer them a chew toy to keep them on the spot and quiet.
“Go potty, outside”
Take them to their designated potty spot and follow a potty schedule.
You can use your own special command as long as you stay consistent with saying it.
Leaders meet needs.
Every time you meet your German Shepherd puppy’s care need, they develop a stronger bond with you.
Over time, this bond grows as you continue to show your pup that you can and will meet all their needs.
4. Choose the Right Food
Puppies eat frequent meals as they’re growing.
Split their meals into regular intervals throughout the day to suit their high metabolism.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Schedule
8 to 10 weeks
10 weeks to 4 months
4 to 6 months
This is a general schedule. Your dog may eat more or fewer meals at each stage.
Around 4 to 6 months old, your dog naturally eats less.
Your Shepherd’s longevity, health, energy, and overall condition all depend on the quality of their food. You must choose the right food that is not only age-appropriate but made especially for a large breed (akc.org).
A fit and healthy dog is one that is less likely to have behavior issues and gives you more daily cooperation. Poor nutrition increases your dog’s susceptibility to diseases and infections and could increase aggressive disorders.
It’s best to choose a top scientifically-researched food to keep your German Shepherd puppy healthy and avoid lifelong complications, like this Nutro Natural Large Breed Puppy formula for proper growth.
You can feed your puppy this formula for up to 18 months to ensure they grow at a steady rate and avoid stress to their joints.
All while getting the proper nutrients and keeping your mind at ease.
5. Play Routines for Stimulation
Your dog wants to explore their world through fun and excitement. Use play to help your dog understand appropriate behaviors.
Think twice about using confrontational and rough games like roughhousing, when your dog is little and forming connections between you and their behavior.
Stick to cooperative games such as:
playing with toys of all types together
brain games (like dog puzzles) and
gentle play that avoids confrontation
Some people think rough games early on may produce a more confrontational relationship later. Whereas cooperative games instill a fun-loving attitude that doesn’t involve your dog having to pit their strength against you.
Many new puppy owners dread the dirty bits of care—like the house and potty training.
But it’s a necessity that you can’t overlook.
Good news! Shepherd pups are easy to train and catch on quickly to new routines. If you keep to a regular schedule, you can excel at the house and potty training.
Puppies usually want to eliminate very shortly after:
They may signal this by putting their nose down and sniffing or walking in circles with their heads lowered down. Quickly place your dog in their designated potty area. Praise them when they urinate or mess in the correct area.
It’s pointless to punish your pup after an accident and even worse to shove their noses in their mess or hit them! If you catch them in the act a simple stern “Uh oh” is all that’s needed.
You must always watch them when they are loose in the house, or else they will have an accident.
You need German Shepherd training to get the best behavior from your dog and enjoy a happy life with them. Read these posts to find out what type of German Shepherd training works the best for your breed.
Your German Shepherd’s health, as well as your dog’s specific breed history, contributes to their overall life span. These posts will help you become aware of your dog’s health problems and how to help solve or improve them.