Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Knowing how to train a 2 year old German Shepherd can make or break their life with you.
An untrained young GSD is a nightmare to handle!
Training a two-year-old German Shepherd the right way will give you a life of comfort and happiness.
And these training tips will show you exactly how to get the dog of your dreams!
How To Train A 2 Year Old German Shepherd The Right Way
Training a young German Shepherd can become difficult if not handled in the right way.
Stay away from:
They need to know you are a fair leader who has their best interest at heart!
But there’s a lot more to know to train them.
Let’s talk about a 2-year old’s German Shepherd behavior so you’re more prepared to train them.
2 Year Old German Shepherd Behavior
At two years old your new German Shepherd probably still has some of their puppy behaviors to deal with.
They are boisterous and highly energetic dogs that need plenty of training and to be shown the proper way to live in a human world.
Consider your two year old GSD equivalent to a teenager that is going through adolescence. Because your dog is at the age where sexual maturity is still taking place, their hormones are raging uncontrollably.
Male and Female Behavior
Male 2 year old German Shepherd behavior may include sexual gestures such as mounting and males may begin to mark (urinate) on their territory or fight with male dogs as a show of dominance.
Female German Shepherds will enter their first estrus period around two years old. They may begin to escape their yard or dart out the door seeking a mate.
While your dog looks 98% full grown, their behavior is still turbulent and in a transitional phase from a rebellious teenager to a more stable, mature adult.
During this time your German Shepherd may become unpredictable, seemingly uncontrollable, and hard to handle on a daily basis.
It’s never too late to train a 2-year-old German Shepherd using the right techniques.
Remember, when training your dog:
no confusing commands
no intimidation with body language or voice
You are looking to gain your dog’s respect.
And using any of the negative training ways above will not only cause them to not listen to you but will ruin your loving bond (source).
Instead, use the following ways to learn how to train a 2-year-old German Shepherd and help them become a happy, trained member of your family.
1. Little and Often
Begin training your two-year-old German Shepherd similar to how you’d train a puppy – little and often.
Don’t overwhelm your new dog. Stay away from:
long training sessions
multi-step commands (like sit and stay at once)
Instead, train your dog this way. Aim for:
short training blocks of 5 – 10 minutes
small training sessions of 4 – 5 times throughout the day
simple, easy-to-understand basic commands
Always reward them when they do the correct thing. And end your training on a good note with a command they know and a treat or cookie with lots of praise.
Next, you can move on to easy tricks, such as “shake” or “give paw” to break up training commands and do something more fun with your dog.
Can You Use Hand Signals for Training?
Another option is to use different hand signals for commands such as sit, stay, come, and down, and all of the commands if you wish.
It’s a good idea to train both verbal command and a hand signal in case you were in a noisy area, or when staying quiet is necessary.
You can come up with your own hand signs, but make sure they are each unique and different.
It’s also fun and interesting for you and your German Shepherd!
Young German Shepherds require consistency in their training, especially a two-year-old.
They will try your patience at almost every turn as they begin living with you. You must remain consistent with your commands and your expectations of them.
Don’t allow them to jump on one person, but reprimand them when they jump again on someone else. Correct their actions consistently the same way so they understand what you want.
Once your GSD doesn’t perform the command you ask, don’t get angry.
This just means they didn’t remember the training and you need to go right back to the basics.
If you’re training them every day and breaking down the basics into small steps, then you help them to remember their training and they will give you the behavior you ask for.
You start with the baby steps and create a foundation through consistency.
Training The Recall
Never, ever let a new German Shepherd off their long line (when practicing outdoors) when there is even the slightest hint of danger of them not returning to you when you ask them to “come” or recall them.
This only sets you up for failure since they’ll ignore you.
Instead, work only on the long line outdoors to ensure you can gently guide them to you when you ask them to come using tasty treats, slapping your leg, or making interesting sounds.
Don’t jerk them to you or they will resist!
Offer them rewards of pats, praise, and treats for a good recall. Repeat this consistently in different situations, at home and outdoors, to ensure they understand the command.
Teach them that coming to you is a great thing. A strong bond with your GSD helps to ensure a strong recall.
GSDs want to please their owners, but you do need to create the bond for this and that might take some time with a young, untrained dog.
3. Positive, Reward-Based Training
German Shepherds respond best to positive, reward-based training.
This means that you generally give them a small tasty treat for good behavior to a command or a pat on the shoulder and happy praise.
If you don’t have much experience with this type of training, then use this positive online dog training program that gives you 24-7 access to step-by-step training. It’s also fun because it teaches you tricks and games that increase your bond with your GSD.
In reward-based training, your dog is taught to build upon the small steps of success into harder and more challenging obedience.
This is done in a positive way that avoids stress and confrontation, two things your breed doesn’t need in their life!
Training a young dog is first about the right type of communication. Everything has to be taught and what your dog learns must be rewarded and reinforced.
Praise vs. Treats
Some people find that dog treats don’t work for their dog.
Their dog only concentrates on the treat and not what you are asking them or teaching. In this case, use praise so they’ll respond better and focus more.
When your dog responds positively, praise them and pat them on their side or shoulders. Avoid yelling at your dog no matter how frustrating you get.
GSDs love to please their owners so as you work with them, offering and giving plenty of praise or treats, the training will get easier.
Using Shock and Prong Collars on a GSD
Don’t use a trainer that relies on shock collars and prongs, as this generally isn’t necessary for your companion dog.
You want your dog to respond to your commands not because they are frightened of you giving them a zap or pinch with their collars.
Patience, love, and understanding will turn your untrained GSD into a well-mannered dog in the end, but don’t be a wimp and let them walk over you.
German Shepherds are brilliant dogs and able to learn well throughout their lifetimes, even at 2 years old with the right training.
5. Exercise and Games
A 2-year-old German Shepherd’s bones should be fully fused and able to withstand longer distances and jogging.
The length of the walk is only limited by your time and energy when you own a young, healthy GSD. A German Shepherd can walk all day long because…
That’s exactly what they were bred to do!
Ideally, aim for 45 minutes to 1 hour walks daily. Two walks a day is better if your schedule allows.
Don’t go from a half-hour walk a day to a twenty-mile hike overnight. Build up their strength, muscles, and energy slowly to avoid damage to their body.
How to Exercise a Two-Year-Old German Shepherd
Don’t only walk your dog as your breed is highly athletic and needs to work on different muscle groups.
Choosing safe, appropriate exercise improves your dog’s behavior, increases their bond with you, and helps to keep them healthy.
It’s best to let your German Shepherd train and exercise or play games on:
dirt paths and trails
These softer surfaces help prevent impact injuries and are easier on their joints.
If you must walk them on asphalt or sidewalks, then:
vary the pace to ensure their bones and muscles are impacted differently
try to use grassy shoulders
take different routes
drive to places that have softer ground – go hiking!
Aim to exercise your GSD off-leash where appropriate. A dog park is not ideal for a new-to-you dog because their behavior is unpredictable.
Look for areas where your dog is safe from other unknown dogs or people.
Always, always, always keep a long-lead on them when in doubt to keep them safe and avoid dangers. The long-lead makes sure you still have control over your German Shepherd while allowing them room to roam and explore.
If they have joint issues then avoid high-impact, long distances and take the advice of your veterinarian.
What games are best for training your intelligent, energetic German Shepherd?
Using games in between training sessions helps your dog to burn energy and keep training fun.
It also breaks up the training sessions so that your dog doesn’t get bored.
The best games to play for training include those that increase your dog’s mental stimulation. Pick a couple of these fun games for German Shepherds to give you and your dog a break from too much training.
Easy training game ideas:
Throw a ball from a tennis ball launcher to work on fetch skills and commands, such as “drop it” or “release.”
Use a flirt pole and have your dog catch the lure and then work on “leave it” or have them perform a “down” after catching the flirt pole’s lure toy.
Remember that your dog will continue to play in all types of weather, so avoid overheating them in hot and humid conditions.
Take fresh water with you to offer your dog to keep them cool. Avoid the hottest parts of the day in your area.
Remember, you can avoid frustration with your training by using the games found in this online positive dog training course. This program walks you through exactly how to play obedience games to increase obedience.
Don’t underestimate learning how to train a 2 year old German Shepherd by including lots of games.
Using games frequently also helps your dog to bond more strongly with you.
How To Socialize a 2-Year-Old German Shepherd
At this age you might not know much about your new dog.
They could have lived with other dogs and people, or been alone in a kennel or backyard.
Whatever their history, it’s a good idea to introduce them to other people and dogs slowly.
You don’t want to overwhelm them, cause them anxiety, or find out they don’t get along with other animals.
Positive Ways to Socialize a 2-Year-Old German Shepherd
A good way to learn how to socialize your dog is through slow introductions. You can do this by going for a walk.
Here’s how to socialize a 2 year old German Shepherd:
Walk them, on a leash, in your neighborhood, or on the outside perimeter of a park where there are not many people or dogs. This gives you a chance to see if they are comfortable with other animals or strangers.
If you have a friend who has a dog that is known to be good with other dogs, ask them to meet you in a neutral zone, such as a local park at a quiet time. This gives you the opportunity to see how your new dog reacts socially.
You do not need to approach any dogs or people that you pass, but if your German Shepherd greets another dog when you are out walking in a positive manner this is a good sign.
Work on lessening the distance that you can approach other dogs. Take your time if you see your dog become upset.
Should your GSD experience any anxiety or stress don’t force socializing on them. Instead, take them away and find a behaviorist to help work on their socialization skills.
If your GSD barks, growls or shows negative behaviors while meeting other animals or people, don’t yell at them or harshly tug and jerk them away. This will only cause them to become more excited and anxious.
Not to mention…
This creates a negative experience they will remember with meeting new dogs or people making training your two-year-old GSD so much harder!
Watch Your German Shepherd’s Behavior
Don’t overwhelm your new GSD by introducing them too quickly. This is too much at once for them.
Keep your distance from the dogs that cause your dog to become upset and never, ever let your dog loose in a social situation and just hope for the best!
That isn’t’ training…
It’s a disaster waiting to happen!
Tiny steps of progress, even looking in the direction of another dog and not getting upset, is still progress. Don’t rush socializing your dog.
Consider Their Background
Your GSD may not understand how to interact properly due to many different reasons from their previous lives before you, such as:
lack of training or the wrong type of training
lack of human interaction
lack of socialization
not being shown love and kindness
But you can start to work with them from the first day when they come to live with you.
Basically, begin training as soon as your new dog is settled in.
No German Shepherd is ever too old to train.
But dogs that have been mistreated, ignored and abused are more difficult to train and require much more patience, kindness, and time.
A two-year-old GSD will bond with you, but it may take longer than a puppy would to bond.
Whether you are bringing them home from a shelter or rescue, or you’d like to work with your own dog and haven’t in the past, there’s no reason to delay learning how to train a two-year-old German Shepherd.
An untrained German Shepherd is capable of learning all you want to teach them if you break down the training into small, baby steps.
Your New German Shepherd And You
This is the beginning of your relationship with your dog.
Training is a lifelong event and two years old isn’t too late to start.
While you’ll have times of frustration don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Your dog doesn’t learn any faster if you yell at them or push them into position.
They are counting on you to show them the right way to behave and act in your world. Be their number one fan and a fair teacher.
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.
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.