Your German Shepherd Puppy: Starting Off Right!


People often ask me at what age they should start German Shepherd puppy training. The answer is immediately! On this page you will find all the information you need to get the best start possible with your new German Shepherd puppy.

german shepherd puppy

How To Puppy Proof Your Home

Preparation is everything before you bring your German Shepherd puppy back to your home. You need to make sure it’s safe place, before bringing your new best friend home. If you’ve ever had a child, you probably know how to “puppy proof your home”. You simply have to check out your home for any safety hazard that could harm a curious puppy.

But what should you look for? Always start out by checking that your home doesn’t have any loose wires or exposed electrical cords. German Shepherd puppies likes to chew, and colorful cables are very tempting.

I would recommend you go down on all fours to get in to the perspective of puppy. This will seem extremely silly, but it works; it lets you identify any toys, object, trash or anything else your puppy could accidentally swallow. Decide early on if there’s any part of the house where the puppy shouldn’t be allowed – for example your child’s room; since there’s no reason to puppy-proof those rooms.

There’s lots of additional resources on how to puppy proof your home, and I recommend you check out Cesar’s Way for additional tips.

Supplies You’ll Need

Before bringing your German Shepherd puppy home, be sure to have the following supplies:

  • The dog food that the puppy is used to eat at the breeder/rescue.
  • Stainless steel and water bowls
  • Identification tags with your GSD puppy’s name, your name and phone number.
  • A collar and a leather or nylon 6-foot leash. Check out my article on choosing a leash and collar for your German Shepherd for more information.
  • A crate.
  • Stain remover for accidents (that will happen)
  • Brushes and combs suited to your puppy’s coat; ask your veterinarian or breeder about an appropriate brush or comb for your German Shepherd.
  • Dog shampoo, toothbrush, and paste
  • High-quality, safe chew toys to ease teething
  • Flea, tick, and parasite controls
  • Nail clippers
  • Treats
german shepherd puppy

Bringing Home Your New German Shepherd Puppy

First of all, you should know that you shouldn’t treat a German Shepherd puppy as young as 6 to 12 weeks like an adult dog. Treat him the same way you would an infant, with patience, constant supervision, and a gentle touch.

The Ride Home

The most important thing to have with you when you go pick up your German Shepherd is a crate in which to bring her or him home. When you’re a first time dog-owner, you often forget that the dog also needs to be secured when driving in a car.

Remember, with puppies, the ride is probably their first ride a car. Puppies tend to be known for having a sensitive stomach – and a moving car might make them vomit. And trust me, it’s a lot better they’re in the crate rather than on your lap when that happens.

Another reason, for the German Shepherd puppy to be in their crate is that a puppy tends to be quite nervous and squirmy during their first car ride. They are in a strange place with a stranger – who wouldn’t be a bit nervous? Accidents have occurred because puppies have crawled under the brake pedal, knocked the gearshift, and simply taking the drivers eyes off the road.

The ride home is not a bonding moment, the only thing that matters is that everybody gets home safe.

The First Night

The first night home with your German Shepherd puppy can be a trying experience for both of you. It’s the first time your puppy is going to sleep without his mother or his brothers and sisters. Dogs are pack animals, and your dog knows by instinct that getting separated from the pack is very dangerous. When your German Shepherd puppy whines and cries during the night, it’s your puppy trying to call out for his pack to find him. This knowledge will only help you understand why, now you need to know what you can do to ease its pain.

Before bedtime: Take away any food or water after 6 or 7 o’clock, to make sure your puppies bladder is empty when it’s time to sleep (to avoid any accidents during the night). Shortly before its bedtime you should try and tire your German Shepherd puppy, for example by playing with him. Don’t allow the puppy to nap just before bedtime, otherwise you’ll have a playful puppy when you are about to go to bed.

You should let your German Shepherd puppy sleep in your bedroom to minimize the chance of whining or crying during the night. Also the more time your puppy is near you, the more it will adjust to you and establish you as its new pack leader.

german shepherd puppy

Important Appointments

Before picking up your German Shepherd puppy, you should’ve already made an appointment with your veterinarian to have your puppy’s health checked within the first 24 hours of bringing him home.

Some basics are an absolute must if you want your new German Shepherd puppy to grow up to be well-mannered, obedient, and fun to have around.

But if you’re a first-time dog owner, you may be feeling a little confused about where to start.

The first few weeks sets the tone for your whole relationship. An error in the beginning, will be tough to fix later on. So it’s a lot easier to just get off on the right foot.

If you just think the puppy’s bad habits are cute, just you wait till the puppy has grown into an adult German Shepherd weighing 80 pounds.

How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy?

German Shepherd puppy training is very important, it’s not an option, it’s a necessity. You may think of it as just another chore that comes with the job of owning a dog. But, it can actually be a lot fun, for both your puppy and you.

I also recommend you go check out my Ultimate German Shepherd Training Guide for further details on training your German Shepherd.

Becoming the Pack Leader

Every German shepherd puppy knows that its survival is dependent on the pack leader’s skill and consistency. For a family dog the human is the pack leader. And if you’re a first-time dog-owner, then you need to know a few things.

Right from the start you need to convince the puppy that you are a skilled and reliable pack leader. If you succeed, the dog will devote entirely to you, and will do everything to make you happy and comfortable. But the puppy will put you to the test, again and again until it feels safe and secure. In a wolf pack, the father of the puppy will discipline its children when they are approximately 7-8 weeks old. And you need to be able to take the fathers place, and try to give the puppy the uprising it needs.

The keyword is consistency!

You need to decide on what the puppy is allowed to do – and what it’s not allowed to do. The whole family must be in agreement, and all must be aware that a ban must not be violated. “Just for once” is the worst sentence that can come out of your mouth. Remember, the dog “knows” that disciple is for its own security and survival.

Some people accept that the puppy begs at the table, jumps in furniture, jumps on family members, and sleeps in the beds and licking the kids in the face. However other families do not accept these types of behavior. It depends on the family’ individual rule book – there is no right or wrong when it comes to which rules it must contain. As long as you are consistent.


There are a lot of different ideas on how to potty train a new German shepherd puppy – lots of good ones, and lots of bad ones. The worst one is where you grab the dogs head and smear its snout around the dung –personally I think that idea is thought of someone who hates dogs.

A second approach is putting newspapers around the house which the puppy pees on. This idea is better – but it is still not the best approach. It takes a long time, as the system is to move the paper outside step by step. And there is also the disadvantage that the puppy does not always hit the newspaper. The best approach is to get the puppy peeing outside. You simply wait patiently outside, until the puppy has done its small or big errand. When it does, you quickly praise the puppy, preferably whilst it is in the middle of peeing. And then you move inside, and you keep praising the dog. You need to create good habits.

Praise the dog when it pees outside, and do nothing if it pees inside. This is a very important principle when raising a dog, and trust me, this is fastest and easiest way. A small puppy, who has left its previous flock (mother and siblings), arrives in a new and strange place. It really wants to be accepted into its new flock, and is very keen on impressing its new pack leader. It will seek security.

Therefore, praise and kindness are of great importance for the puppy, and it will make a huge difference if you praise every time the puppy does something right.

german shepherd puppy

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should Your German Shepherd puppy be fed and with what?

A German shepherd puppy grows rapidly, and must be fed with the proper nourishments right from the start. You should feed your puppy 3 times a day until the puppy is 5 months old, after that you can start only feeding the puppy 2 times a day. If the puppy doesn’t eat the food within 10 – 15 minutes remove it. Always keep the puppy’ food bowl clean, to ensure that old food doesn’t produce bacteria, which can end up giving the puppy an upset stomach. If the puppy shows a loss of appetite for more than 2 days, you should contact your veterinarian. The puppy should always have access to fresh water.

Regarding the food, there are many great dry food products on the market. Never buy the cheapest food in supermarkets, since it’s often of a poor quality. Always read the declaration thoroughly to ensure that the puppy’ needs are covered.

It is highly recommended that you feed your dog with dry food of a good quality, as ordinary household food will lack the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals needed by the puppy. You usually get a little “puppy”-food from your breeder, since it’s important that the puppy gets the same diet the first few days at its new home. Otherwise there is a chance that the puppy’s stomach can run wild, and nobody wants that. Believe me. Little by little, you can carefully and gradually change the diet to something else, which of course should also be healthy.

It’s also a good idea to give the German Shepherd puppy a chew toy or a large bone once in a while, just don’t overdo it – otherwise the puppy might end up getting constipated. The bone also does an excellent job as a calcium supplement, and it ensures to keep the teeth free of tartar. It should always be cooked cattle bones, never port or chicken legs – these will shatter in the dog’ stomach.

Dried fish in moderate volumes will give the puppy portions of unsaturated fatty acids. If the dog eats too many, it can get bad breath. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food is good for the puppy’ hair and eyesight. You can simply use 1 tbsp. household oil, it’s cheap and healthy. Besides that, you should not worry about other supplements – as long as the puppy gets quality dry food.

What to Do When The Puppy Growls At The Bowl?

In every herd of wolves, there’s always one leader and a rank division, and any member of the pack knows its rank. It was earlier thought that the strongest puppies pushed the others away during feeding time. However, it is more likely the opposite: the “wisest” will quickly figure out where the “best” nipples are, and by always getting the best nourishment they also become the strongest of the pack.

It fits nicely with a wild pack of dogs are in more need of intelligence from their leader, rather than raw strength. If you have been so lucky to get a puppy that was destined to be the next pack leader, you will at some point see the puppy growling over the food bowl. This is the puppy challenging its ranking and will try to initiate a power struggle. You need to tell the puppy that, “I’m the leader, and I make the decisions!” If you don’t address this early on, the power struggle will continue and intensify until it ends in tragedy.

You simply have to ignore the puppy’s growling! Don’t punish, don’t curse and don’t remove the food. Simply ignore it. Try to only give the puppy a small amount of food, of which you are sure does not satisfy its appetite. When it has eaten the food, you simply bend over and calmly give it more food without even noticing the puppy’ hysterical reaction.

You need to show the puppy, that you are allowed to touch its food bowl, but that you do not intend to take the food away from it. And that you aren’t afraid or angry, but completely indifferent of all its threats. You need to show a moral superiority – which also occurs when two adult dogs struggle for power. If one dog is calm, confident and morally superior, it is usually enough to impress the other and ward off a brawl.

And don’t play with the puppy whilst it is eating. Let the puppy eat in peace. And remember that this “unfriendliness” about food, doesn’t mean that your puppy is unwilling. It will still be eager to learn. All puppies have an instinctive joy of learning, and you need to cultivate and promote this by teaching the puppy new things and small tricks. And when the puppy has learned to “sit” and “stay”, or whatever you decide is the most important. Then you can use these tricks to get the dog to sit before it receives its food – thereby ensuring it knows who the boss is.

My German Shepherd puppy bites everything, what do I do?

Puppies, like children, have an insatiable curiosity. Everything a German Shepherd puppy can gets its paws on, needs to be thoroughly investigated, i.e. bitten beyond recognition.

This is indeed a bad habit, and the problem is that it usually happens without you seeing it. And if you scold the puppy 3 hours after the event, the puppy will have no idea why you are scolding it. Therefore, you should try and avoid the accident entirely. Never leave the puppy in a room where it can reach stuff you don’t want ruined. However, this doesn’t mean that the puppy should be moved to the bathroom or the utility room.

Your new German Shepherd puppy should be allowed to be with you and your family. This is a huge need for any puppy, and if it doesn’t get to spend a substantial part of its time with its family, your puppy will never turn into a proper dog.


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Comments 9

  1. Thanks a lot! As a first time owner of 3 months old GSD,your article has really helped me but still i would like to know:after how long should i bath my GSD? What quantity of food should i give to my dog? I like well buit or huge GSD;is it possible to predict this in a puppy for example,my 3 months old GS puppy has big legs,is this a good sign? Regards,Tom from Kenya

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  2. Hi there! Excellent article. We just got a 8 week GSD puppy last weekend and had a question about tug of war. My mom, who had raised a few GSD in her lifetime along with other breeds like Bernese Mountain Dogs has suggested that we should not play tug of war with our puppy in order to avoid potentially developing aggressive behavior. On line, I saw many articles that say its fine just need to know how to play the “right” way. What is your take on that?

    Thank you,


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  3. Thanks for this advice for German sheperd puppies. It’s good to know that the dog should always have access to fresh water. I wonder if you should have a designated spot for the water or if it could be good to have several water bowls around the house.

  4. Thank you for this information. I’m in the process of looking for a GSD puppy to adopt and I’m so excited about it. My last German Shepherd, Star, died a few years ago of cancer at the age of 14. I miss her so. I said that if I ever got another dog, it would be a Shepherd and nothing else. Now is the time. I love you site and am going to have a look around not. Cheers!

  5. It’s interesting that dogs see humans as their pack leader! All of my dogs crazy behaviors make so much sense now that I know he was testing me. I guess he decided I was a good pack leader, because he’s so sweet and obedient now.

  6. We got our beautiful GS puppy 3 weeks ago. I have a senior Yorkie, 14 years and a Schnoodle who is 12. The new puppy is so aggressive towards my little dogs that I cannot let me be together. What can we do so that they start getting along and so that my boyfriend can be at my house more often with the new pup?

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