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Do you know what’s amazing about training a German Shepherd puppy to walk on leash with manners?
It gives you the power and freedom to take your dog almost anywhere!
An out-of-control GSD that pulls you down the street and jerks the leash doesn’t allow you the freedom to live your life.
But you can have the secrets of German Shepherd puppy walking right here.
When Should I Start Walking My German
You should start walking your German Shepherd puppy at 8 weeks of age. Begin with only 10 minutes of continuous walking at a slow and relaxed pace. Add on 5 minutes of walking for each month your pup is old. If they show signs of tiring, such as lying down, lagging, or continually stopping, then end the walk.
Don’t over walk your young dog. And definitely don’t jog or run with a GSD pup as their bones aren’t fully fused to around 12 to 18 months old. Heavy impacts cause long-term damage.
Keep walks fun and casual as they build up the strength and endurance for longer distances. One day, your GSD will run a marathon with you and have what seems like endless energy.
But until then, allow a young pup’s body time to grow and mature to their full athletic potential.
How Long Should I Walk My German
You should walk your German Shepherd puppy 5 minutes per month of age. So a 3-month-old puppy can walk at a slow pace for approximately 15 minutes in one outing. Start off your walks slowly and at a leisurely pace. Gradually increase your walking time and distance as your dog gains stamina and endurance.
Don’t pull or rush your pup.
Let them take plenty of sniffs and watch for signs of tiredness like lagging, panting and laying down. Provide fresh, cool water before, during, and after your walk.
The GSD is a fast-growing breed and too much impact too soon can cause irreversible damage.
It’s better to take a slow and steady approach to long walks, rather than
rush your pup into exhaustion. You have plenty of time later to hike and run
marathons with your adult GSD.
Find a good walking routine that works for you and your dog. Here’s an example of how you can include gentle walks into your puppy’s day.
German Shepherd Puppy Walking
Schedule and Routine
5 to 10 minutes walk
A short walk just up and down your street is best, offer them off-leash walking in a secured yard as well
5 minutes potty/explore time
Take your dog out before you go to work to make sure they have the chance to eliminate and sniff and stretch their legs
5 minutes walk
Let your dog out around lunchtime or have a dog walker stop by to let your dog out and eliminate while enjoying a good sniff and human contact, avoid too long of a walk if the weather is too hot or too cold
5 minutes potty/explore time
Your dog has been indoors all day and needs to get outside to relieve themselves when you come home from work, don’t forget they aren’t able to hold their bladders all-day
5 to 10 minutes walk
Another walk is great in the evenings after being indoors most of the day, if you have access to a secure location allow them off-leash walking time so they can sniff and explore their environment
5 minutes potty/explore time
Your dog needs a potty break and last chance to eliminate, don’t rush them and allow them plenty of time to do their business
This schedule is for a puppy around 8 weeks old. Add an additional 5 minutes of walking for each month of your pup’s life, but let your puppy set the pace.
Your walk speed is SLOW and LEISURELY.
Don’t worry about how far you get, just that your dog stretches their legs and learns to enjoy their leash walking.
Stick to softer surfaces, like grass and dirt paths, while
your pup is young and their bones are not fully fused. Don’t be tempted to run
or jog with your pup on leash as they will try and keep up with you even if
they are tired, exhausted or in pain.
If you don’t have access to a safe off-leash area, then invest in a long leash that allows you to stay safe while keeping your pup tethered to you.
Training a German Shepherd Puppy to Walk on Leash
Most GSD owners simply want to take train their puppy to walk on a leash in the neighborhood and park without getting pulled down the street.
There are three basic ways to communicate how you want your German Shepherd puppy to walk on a leash with you: the stopping method, the turning method, and the luring method.
The Stopping Method
Open the door, but only open the door if your dog is sitting. This step could take some time and practice.
Once you both are out the door, have your dog sit again. You need to lock the door and your dog needs to sit for this.
Give the release (“OK” or “let’s go”) command and start your walk.
During your walk, have your dog sit for you at various times.
When he does offer a tasty, high value, quick-to-eat treat. Tell him “good sit” in a calm voice.
Now immediately start walking again and give the release cue. At this point, you’re teaching your dog to start and stop when you do.
If he doesn’t sit, then stand and wait on him. Don’t keep repeating the sit command as this teaches him you don’t mean sit the first time you say it.
Stand still and wait until he sits. This could take a while.
Eventually, he’ll learn that you’re in charge of the walks. This is important, especially because one day your little pup will be large enough to injure you if they pull you along on the walk wildly!
This will take lots of time and patience. But setting a strong and obedient walk foundation allows you to enjoy your walks more and maintain control over your large breed dog as they mature and grow stronger.
The Turning Method
Use the same steps as above to get outside your house and begin your walk, except instead of stopping and waiting on your dog, turn in the opposite direction and begin walking the other way.
Don’t jerk on their leash but think of the action as guiding them along in the direction you just walked.
This shows your dog that pulling you along doesn’t get them ahead, but they must turn around.
Don’t yell at your dog or speak harshly to them during the turns. Quietly turn around and guide them along when they get a few steps ahead of you.
This method also takes a long time, as it’s difficult for your dog to understand why you keep turning around when they so desperately want to sniff all the wonderful smells ahead of them.
You may also tire of turning. But stick with it.
Either of these techniques takes plenty of patience and a
strong mental character. It’s not easy to wait out a dog that wants to pull in
every direction to smell and explore!
But your dog loves to learn. Their mind is like a sponge at this young age, but they also lack obedience skills and an attention span.
What if My German Shepherd Puppy Won’t Walk on Leash?
Hold the treat at their eye level in front of them so they can see and smell the treat.
Take one or two steps forward, having them follow the treat with their nose and eyes. They will probably keep following the treat.
Keep taking a couple of steps forward and praising them with “good dog” and offering a tasty treat.
If they are so scared and timid they don’t move, even with a treat, then begin in a quieter area, such as your backyard or even right in front of your home. Make sure there’re no distractions, if possible, and keep motivating them with treats.
If the treats don’t help them along, I’ve found that squeaky toys motivate my dog. She loves them! Squeak the toy and get your dog’s attention, but don’t give them the toy yet.
Take a couple of steps forward while squeaking the toy. As they follow, keep stepping forward and squeaking the toy.
After a few successful steps forward, let them play with the toy as their reward. Keep up this game to motivate them to follow you.
Eventually, your dog gains confidence in their new surroundings and with your help and will walk on their own.
Leash Walking Tips
Never allow your dog to run loose near traffic. Even if you think your dog can’t run fast towards a street, GSDs can cover a long distance in a short time.
Never unleash your dog in a new area. You don’t know the hazards or where the path leads. Maybe there’s the wildlife that will cause your pup to run after them?
Never allow your dog to eat objects found on the ground. They could be poisonous!
Never think a person running or someone on a bicycle sees your little pup. Puppies are quick moving and can dart in front of a moving person causing them to trip and fall. This can also injure your dog as they may fall on top of them or kick or step on them.
A long line leash is the best way to walk a pup when you don’t have access to off-leash, safe areas. It’s also a great tool for working on your pup’s recalls skills as you can guide your pup to you when they are learning the “come” command.
You’ll be surprised by all the ways to exercise your new dog!
German Shepherd Puppy Walking Problems and Solutions
Puppy won’t walk on leash
Use the lure and reward method described above; use the extra tasty treats mentioned as they have a high smell factor that entices pups to move forward.
Pup is distracted
Remember that being outside for your dog is equivalent to you going to Disney Land! Give them a chance to develop their attention skills, or use the high value treats to make them pay attention to you.
Dog looks bored
Walk your dog in different areas so they don’t get bored. If you are limited in the places you can go, choose different routes so your dog gets new smells and sights.
The dog looks stressed or afraid
Find quieter areas to walk or use the lure and reward method to help them overcome their walking fears.
Pup keeps sitting or laying down
Your puppy can’t walk a great distance just yet. Carry them home and end your walk. Next time, go a shorter distance and time.
Pup pulls wildly ahead on walks
Use the stop and stand method or the turning method to show them you’re the confident leader on the walk. Use positive training and rewards to communicate.
What Type of Harness do I Use for Walking a German Shepherd Puppy?
Teaching Your German Shepherd Puppy to Walk on Leash with Manners
Training a German Shepherd puppy to walk on leash allows you and your dog to enjoy outdoor time together more.
Keep distances short and brief and don’t rush your pup into walking long distances too soon. This activity is usually one of the longest and hardest to teach since you are competing with the sights and smells of the great outdoors!
Stay patient, positive and stick to your training. Don’t allow your pup to develop bad walking habits.
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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