German Shepherd Puppy Training Guide for Beginners
When it comes to training your new puppy, first-time GSD owners may need a little help. The thing is there’s too much information out there and it’s a bit intimidating to know where to start.
At what age should I begin training my puppy? What should I teach my puppy first? Is it ok to crate my pup overnight? What are the basic commands every puppy must learn? How to motivate my puppy? If you have asked these questions, you are in the right place.
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How To Use This Training Guide?
We are no expert in GSD training and not pretending to be. This article is only a collection of training methods and resources that we compiled together for you to kick start your training with a new puppy.
Whether you are preparing to get a puppy or has just brought a puppy home, this guide will be useful and handy along the way.
Every dog is different, some learn faster than others. And all you need is patience, consistency, and a lot of positive reinforcement. Keep that in mind.
Here is a list of 7 parts of the training we suggest for beginners:
While you can hop on to any part according to your puppy’s situation, some training must be done before the others. For instance, parts 1-3 are the basic house training you and your puppy will need once she gets home. You can start right after she comes home.
Once your puppy becomes comfortable with a leash, you can start the “7 Common Commands” session to solidify obedience for your pup. These commands together with the leash training can prepare her to go out with you for socialization. Last but not least, jumping and biting training can be introduced anytime when the problem emerges.
Most sessions will be accompanied by video(s). Some sessions have suggested reading materials for those of you who want to learn a bit more. It is reasonable for your GSD puppy to master all the skills within 2-3 months.
Let’s lay out the basic foundations to set you up for success.
How Is It Different to Train German Shepherds?
German Shepherds are very intelligent and they learn fast. This makes training very easy.
Many GSDs are play-motivated in addition to food-motivated, which makes it very easy to train new behaviors with a toy or ball as the reward.
They could also be very environment motivated, so would rather sniff around and explore than take a treat if outside.
“If you think a dog is stubborn he’s probably smarter than you are.”
What this means is, if you think a dog is “stubborn” then you’ve either not doing it right or you just need more patience.
Here are the training books we like, click to check other buying options on Amazon:
You may also like: 10 Books Every German Shepherd Owner Must Read
When Should I Start Training My GSD Puppy?
You can start training your German Shepherd puppies as early as they are 8 weeks old.
Crate training and potty training are the very basic skills you and your puppy will need once she gets home. You can start right away when she comes home. (usually at 8 weeks old)
In fact, it’s so easy to train them you have to remember that you’re always training—whether you think you are or not.
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Always Use Positive Reinforcement
The method we recommend is based on modern learning principles which emphasize motivation and positive reinforcement.
This means that you will always create a situation where the dog will naturally seek to do what you want.
Praise and reward work best for motivating your German Shepherd puppy. She will quickly learn what she needs to do to please you.
Please note that using punishment has been proven to deter your training efforts, and it will often discourage your German Shepherd from learning.
Three Types Of Rewards:
Voice: A happy, lively, and motivating praise by voice is positive reinforcement.
Always praise and reward your puppy when she does something right. Use your voice and follow with treats, a toy or a touch.
Treats: It’s almost inevitable to use treats when you teach the dog something new. It works especially well with food-motivated puppies who are always hungry.
The treat reinforces your praise and gets the dog to repeat the behavior.
When you first started, you may need to try on different treats based to see which one your pup likes. The treats should be in bite-size and easy for your pup to chew. Cheese cubes, cooked chicken, or small bread cubes are quite popular with young puppies.
To further motivate your pup, you may also like to have different kinds of treats in one training session. This will keep your puppy looking for more.
Playing and Petting: When your puppy has a good understanding of the exercise, or if she is not food-motivated, you can reward her with a toy and petting as alternatives.
It can be a tennis ball or a frisbee. Or you can just give her a warm pet after praising her, which is something almost all dogs are fond of.
Timing is VERY Important
Reward your puppy at the right time
If you want to reward your puppy for doing the right thing, you must do it right after she exhibits the desired behavior. If it’s given at a later time, the dog may not be able to associate the praise with that behavior.
For instance, you should praise her by saying “Yes!” in an excited tone, then follow by giving her the treat as a reward for doing something you want her to do.
It is therefore extremely important to have your reward (treat or ball) ready in your pocket so you can give it to your pup immediately.
While you give your puppy the treat, you teach her that the signal “Yes” means “correct behavior – the rewards are on the way!”
When your puppy learns that the treat will come after the word “Yes”, it does not matter as much that it takes a few more seconds before it receives its reward.
Keep Training Sessions Short
After all, your puppy (8-10 weeks old) is still a young child at this age. She has a limited attention span and may get distracted easily.
Thus, it is not the quantity but the quality that counts!
It is suggested that you train your puppy the same trick several times a day, repeating 8-10 times in each session, preferably 5-10 minutes each time (even shorter sessions puppies).
Always finish while the training is proceeding nicely and the dog still seems interested and always end with success.
What to Expect?
Not only will these training sessions prepare your puppy to exhibit the desired manner, you will also take advantage of the time spent to bond with her. The more you practice with your puppy, the better and faster your puppy will learn.
There will be accidents and at times your puppy may just turn around from you. That’s the learning process. After all, she is only a baby, you need to give her love and patience.
Are you ready? Let’s go!