7 Quick Ways to Train a 1 Year Old German Shepherd

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While most people associate training with puppies, the reality is that you can learn how to train a 1 year old German Shepherd using the proper techniques.

No, it’s not too late to teach them new tricks!

And, you might even find that an adult German Shepherd is easier to train than a young puppy because they have more attention span and self-control.

Here’s what you need to know about how to train a one year old German Shepherd so they can gain new skills and become a part of your family.

How to Train a 1 Year Old German Shepherd

1 year old german shepherd training
Is it too late to train your 1-year-old German Shepherd?

A 1-year-old German Shepherd may still show many puppylike behaviors, but also have behavior you find troubling in other ways.

He might test his independence and show undesirable behaviors, or has never been given proper training to understand how to live in a home.

It’s essential to keep training your German Shepherd as it matures to keep its mind sharp and to stay on top of any unwanted behaviors. You’ll also need to offer the mental stimulation and structure that it needs to live happily in your family.

These tips are useful for owners that have recently adopted an adult dog, or they can be used to train an older dog that needs to gain new skills.

1. Give Them Proper Socialization

The first step to training your 1-year-old German Shepherd is proper socialization.

This could prove more challenging than socializing a puppy because your 1-year-old German Shepherd may have developed some reactivity or fears around certain triggers. You must take things slowly when socializing.

Keep your dog at a safe distance from new animals or people and reward him as he pays attention to you rather than the other people or pets.

Don’t visit busy places with lots of activity. Instead, try walking around your neighborhood first to see your dog’s reaction to people and animals.

If they do well at a far distance, then:

  • move slowly closer on the next walk
  • allow your dog to sniff when it’s ready to investigate
  • use positive rewards during all socialization training, such as a tasty special treat

If your dog reacts with fear, anxiety, or shows avoidance behaviors you are moving too quickly. Step back and go to a place your dog feels safe.

Remember to be patient, give plenty of extra rewards, and understand that setbacks might happen. You might not have the most social companion in the world, but you can definitely help your pet learn to become friendlier and less scared (source).

2. Teach Them Commands They Should Know

teach your german shepherd basic commands
Your new young dog needs to know the basic commands.

Keeping your dog safe is a priority.

So, teach him to come on command, and practice this essential command until your dog returns to you…

Every time.

Teach this on a short or long leash first to prevent them from making mistakes and hindering their training to the command.

In addition, teach your German Shepherd:

  • sit
  • down
  • and walk nicely on a leash
  • as well as the “leave it” command

Teaching the basics allows you to communicate with your dog and to enjoy their company more.

And when you teach the “leave it” command you train him to understand which items are for chewing and which are not, as well as to not pick up any unknown items while on walks that might be hazardous to their health.

Follow the German Shepherd Training at Home essentials for teaching them their basic commands.

3. Stay Consistent

When training your 1-year-old German Shepherd, there are some basic steps you can take to improve your success rate.

Your one-year-old dog needs consistency.

If you occasionally reward unwanted behaviors, such as jumping, those behaviors will continue. Consistently ignore problem behaviors and don’t give your dog attention when they jump on you or others.

Only reward behaviors you like, such as sitting by the door to greet guests.

Don’t give your dog mixed signals by hugging and patting him when he jumps on you. You must respond the same to the unwanted behavior in order for your dog to learn the expectations you have.

Don’t Mix and Match Commands

Say one unique word for each command you teach them.

For example, if you say, “down” when you want your dog to lay down and also use the same command when you want him to jump off people or furniture, he’s going to become confused with your instructions.

Instead, use unique commands for each action.

Say “off” when you want him to get his paws off people and “down” when you want him to lay down on the ground.

If you need ideas of what to call your commands, then search for the word in this List of German Shepherd Commands.

4. Meet Their Energy Needs

meet their energy needs
The right exercise is part of any training for your one year old German Shepherd.

Burn those massive energy reserves that seem to be built into every young German Shepherd.

Walk your dog at least 45 minutes to 1 hour twice a day. But know that even this amount of exercise is generally too little for a German Shepherd.

Check with your vet to ensure your dog’s bones are fused before continuing with high-impact sports, such as running or agility. If your dog’s bones aren’t fused and you do these exercises you could damage their joints for life, so it’s best to stay away from high-impact exercise until they are at least 18 months old.

Some good, healthy exercises for a German Shepherd include tossing a ball for fetch, tug (as long as this doesn’t turn into a power-match) and swimming.

You could also start to train your pet for nose work and tracking for fun and competition.

One-year-old German Shepherds have a lot of energy.

So, it’s best to include exercise before training sessions to improve their focus.

Your one year old dog also needs time to chew on appropriate toys to help release their stress and provide them with an outlet for their energy. Provide a tough German Shepherd chew toy that helps keep them calm.

It’s best to provide plenty of chew toys and treats for your German Shepherd, rather than have them find their own things to chew in your house.

5. Keep It Positive

Using reward-based training is more effective than punishment when you’re learning how to train a 1-year-old German Shepherd.

Reward based training works on the principle of rewarding good behaviors so that your dog wants to repeat them in order to get a treat, or the reward (some owners use special toys during training for dogs not motivated by food).

Ignore bad behavior, so your dog doesn’t get a benefit from it and the behavior lessens and then eventually stops as a result.

But, remember to keep the treat as a reward that is used for special occasions, like your training.

Keep the treat in your pocket or treat pouch where your dog can’t easily see it. If you have the treat in your hand all the time to reward them they will begin to listen to you only when he sees a treat.

Reward-Based Obedience Class

Because you probably don’t know for sure the type of experience your adult dog has had with training in the past, using positive, reward-based training is your best option.

Using healthy, tasty treats and lots of verbal praise are highly effective training methods for a one-year-old dog.

Enroll in a supportive online brain training and obedience class to practice your training at home and to keep things fun and upbeat. Use a class that includes brain games to mentally stimulate your German Shepherd, as engaging your dog’s mind is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

If you have experience working with dogs, you may be able to train your dog by yourself with your own knowledge, but it’s best to use a step-by-step obedience class that’s set-up for easier training.

6. Include Games for Fun, Easy Training

include games for fun training
Keep training fun by using games.

Make training fun so that your dog and you don’t get bored and lose interest.

Instead of the same old training routine every day, incorporate interesting German Shepherd games to help teach your dogs the basics.

Games are useful training for a 1-year-old German Shepherd because they take advantage of the energy and youthfulness that your dog still has.

They also help get your dog excited about learning and create a stronger connection between you and your German Shepherd.

Train with the motto, “less is more” if you see your dog begin losing interest in training, walking off, or having an unusually difficult time following what you’re teaching.

Take a time off, a mini-vacation day, to give him a break. German Shepherds who aren’t paying you any attention won’t learn anything.

7. Use Counter-Conditioning

Counter-condition your German Shepherd from the beginning, right away

At 1 year of age, your German Shepherd is old enough that he may have developed a fear or two, and it’s your job as the new leader to provide him with confidence.

He may react extremely negatively in the face of those fears that he’s acquired and need some counter-conditioning training to help him overcome these challenges.

Instead of letting him tremble and act nervous when it’s time to clip his nails, show him that nail trimmings lead to something good and pleasant — that’s the basis for counter conditioning. For example, give him an extra special treat just for looking at the nail clipper or being in the same room with it.

Then, give him a treat when he sniffs it or walks over to it. Slowly show him that there’s nothing to fear by taking your time and staying with positive training.

Counter-conditioning, when done correctly, will result in a more confident companion and a more resilient pet.

1-Year-Old German Shepherd Training Problems

one year old german shepherd training problems
Your dog’s previous lifestyle, as well as their health, can affect their learning.

An adult German Shepherd may have been able to do things in its previous home that you don’t want him to do in yours.

This could include unwanted behaviors, such as jumping on guests or pulling on the leash. They could have developed bad habits that need to be extinguished so that you can live comfortably with them.

Comprehensive training doesn’t happen in an eight-week training class. Training your dog is a life-long process.

It should be ongoing no matter what the age of your German Shepherd. And, training helps avoid an out-of-control German Shepherd.

Special Considerations

While your new dog may arrive with some problem behaviors your breed is highly trainable and wants to please you.

These tips will help you teach your German Shepherd the appropriate behaviors you want in your home.

  • Start teaching your one-year-old dog the rules for your home as soon as they arrive and are comfortable.
  • Be sure everyone in your family is on the same page for training. It will be easier to train your German Shepherd when everyone agrees on appropriate behaviors and uses the same commands and rewards. They will learn faster and retain their training longer.
  • Take the time to know the unique personality of your dog to help them excel at training and living with you. Learn what really makes your dog tick and you’ll be able to train them more effectively.
  • Take into account any health issues you might be unaware of. Get your dog checked by your veterinarian. They may have problems with obedience due to underlying health issues, like painful hips.
  • Work out what areas of your dog’s training are weak and target those areas.

Have Patience

If you’ve just brought your one-year-old German Shepherd home, then allow them some time to adjust. They come with their own background history that can make them nervous about their new surroundings and even their new owners.

Don’t give up on them after just a few days, when your dog needs a longer period of adjustment.

It may take months for your dog to become comfortable in their new home. Training is an excellent way to bond with your German Shepherd and understand him more.

Once your new German Shepherd realizes they’ve found their forever home and owner, they’ll settle into a great routine with you and your family.

Need More Help Training Your German Shepherd?

A new German Shepherd can be a challenge without the right help. And a one-year-old GSD needs all the help you can give tem to become a well-mannered companion.

Insteaed of guessing what they’re trying to tell you, read this helpful book, The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet, to learn what your German Shepherd’s different tail wags mean, how to deal with an anxious dog (great for new German Shepherd owners), and how to tell the difference between boredom barking and warning barking.

Can you really afford to not help your new German Shepherd learn all they can to live with you?

References and Resources

Nicholas, Jason. “How to Help a Dog That’s Missed Early Socialization.” Preventive Vet, 26 February 2019, https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-help-adult-dog-with-socialization.

Buzhardt, Lynn. “Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?” VCA, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/can-old-dogs-learn-new-tricks.

Bender, Amy. “How to Train an Older Dog to Do New Tricks.” The Spruce Pets, 4 November 2019, https://www.thesprucepets.com/training-tips-for-adult-dogs-1118253.

Gibeault, Stephanie. “The Importance of Training Your Senior Dog.” AKC, 21 April 2017, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/training-your-senior-dog/.