German Shepherd: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners



Introduction To The German Shepherd Breed

German Shepherd owners like to praise the breed’s noble and unique appearance, especially the eyes, ears, and alert head carriage. Others enjoy the breed’s flowing, effortless trot. But most often, fanciers rave about the German Shepherd’s character: his devotion to his owners, his intelligence and train-ability, and his fearlessness in the face of danger.

The ideal German Shepherd is a playmate to the family’s children yet will also herd them away from danger. He is a jogging partner but will also sleep quietly under your desk at home. He is a tennis ball fanatic, retrieving every ball thrown, and then will rest unobtrusively while you visit with friends. The German Shepherd can be silly and playful, yet when the situation warrants, he will protect his family and friends against all enemies, even if it results in his own death.

german shepherd training dog

Exercise, Grooming and Diet

A German Shepherd getting plenty of exercise, is quiet and easy to live with, while a dog confined and kept inside, will become a noisy and annoying creature that is really hard to live with.

User Your German Shepherd’s Energy

Dogs have inherited genes from their wild ancestors, the wolves, which gives them a desire to be active, so they can keep their bodies in good shape for hunting. These active features have been enhanced through selective breeding for having breeds with great energy and endurance to different kinds of work. In our day, an average dog owner doesn’t have that much time for their dogs. In addition, most dogs no longer have any work. Often family dogs have a lot more energy than their owners can cope with, and a German Shepherd is no exception.

A Family Dog

The German Shepherd is one of the most devoted breeds known to humanity. When you are loved by a German Shepherd, you will always be greeted with a “Ooh ooh ooh!” (By the way, German Shepherd are very vocal and think they can talk!) and a wildly wagging tail, even if you’ve only been gone a few minutes. They are devoted family dogs, loving all members of the family with equal loyalty and affection. They are also very devoted to their friends. Once you have been accepted as a friend, you will be greeted each and every time the dog sees you, even if it’s only a few times a year. It might be a great surprise, but the German Shepherd actually have great memory.

However, reaching the point of being accepted as a friend is not something that happens automatically. This breed does not look upon every member of the human race as a friend and often views strangers as potential threats. However, if his owner has accepted you, the German Shepherd will watch for awhile to see if you appear trustworthy and then may add you to his list of friends. Don’t try to baby talk to a German Shepherd, if you are in the hopes of making friends; German Shepherd have entirely too much dignity and intelligence to be fooled by that.

German Shepherds can also become one-person dogs, sometimes to the point of becoming dangerous to other people. Some fanciers feel this trait as hereditary, while others believe that if a dog is not socialized enough as a puppy, he can become too attached to one person. Until we know for sure what causes this tendency, breed experts recommend lots of socialization to dogs of all ages, sexes, and ethnic backgrounds during puppy-hood and adolescence.

A German Shepherd Will Defend Your Family

One of the breed’s historic occupations has been as a police and law enforcement dog. The breed’s strong protective instincts, distrust of strangers, and high trainability have created an all-purpose working dog with few rivals.

In your home, your German Shepherd will bark when anyone approaches your home, property, or vehicle. If the person is recognized, the bark will turn to vocalizations of joy. However, if the person is a stranger, the barking will continue until the person leaves or you tell your dog, “That’s enough, thank you.” If someone should be foolish enough to break into your house, these dogswill not hesitate to use force to defend their home and family. And this feature is not something every dog breed possess.

Most German Shepherd puppies are so giddy, cute, and silly that some owners feel the dog may be missing out on those protective instincts. Some will go so far as to encourage any signs of protectiveness. Unfortunately, this encouragement can cause problems later. Most German Shepherd puppies begin to feel more protective when they are about 10 to 14 months old, and even then they should be discouraged from expressing too much of this. At this age, they are still mentally immature and are not ready to make adult decisions. Later, when the dog is 18 to 24 months of age and mentally mature, his natural protectiveness can be encouraged through responsible training.

An Intelligent Breed

There are few breeds as intelligent and as trainable as the German Shepherd. Created to be a superb working dog, a German Shepherd is smart enough to think through problems. For example, many have learned how to open doors of various kinds, even those with round handles. German Shepherds have been taught to do many things, from complicated trick training to carting and weight pulling; from therapy dog work to guide and service dog work; from tracking and search and rescue work to Schutzhund (a type of competition that includes tracking, obedience, and protection work). This intelligence and train-ability can be awe inspiring at times.

Luckily, most German Shepherd do want to please their owners, especially once they are past the challenges of puppy-hood and adolescence. This desire to please, combined with the breed’s high intelligence, means that training must be a prominent part of every German Shepherd’s life, from early puppy-hood on into adulthood. Training should be fun and positive, yet structured and firm. Without structure, household rules, and guidelines for social behavior, a German Shepherd will take advantage of you. However, with structure and rules, and fun training, a German Shepherd will thrive.


german shepherd training puppy

Problem behaviors are common among dogs who doesn’t get enough exercise, since they are trying to find an alternative outlet for their great mental and physical energy. Dogs with too much energy gnaw on everything in the house, chasing fantasized intruders every time it hears a sound, stealing things, becomes obsessed with finding food, whimpers and run away to find entertainment. They jump up, is noisy and thoughtless, and find it difficult to concentrate on learning or please their owners.

If you only have a limited time for your German Shepherd, you need to use the time efficiently. Dogs need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Physical exercise should be aerobic in the form of a run, playing and building endurance by walking. Teach your dog to come back when you call and to retrieve, so it is reliable off leash and easily exercised.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

How much exercise you need to give your dog depends on your dog and its needs. Two daily walks for about an hour is enough for a healthy, young German Shepherd. In addition to physical exercise, dogs must have the mental exercise as play and exercise. Take the time to learn different games, so you can easily train the dog mentally home without too much effort. Finding hidden things in boxes or around the house is good mental stimulation. Learning new tricks and exercises will keep it active and involved in your everyday life with the advantage that it will be tired when you want to rest or go to work.

Proper Nutrition Is VERY Important

The diet has a huge impact on your German Shepherd’s health, both mental and physical. It will increase its ability to overcome illness and will influence how your German Shepherds feels and behaves.

The Right Diet

Just like humans, dogs need food that gives them energy and nutrients. A balanced dog diet should contain the following:

  • Fat
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Water

Dogs must have the right amount of fat compared to proteins as well as all 10 essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. Homemade diets can contain all this, but most owners prefer the easier option to buy dog food from feed factories offering a special balanced diet.

german shepherd training for protection

The disadvantage of using feed from a factory is that it often contains artificial preservatives and may contain chemicals to provide color and fragrance. Further, all the food are cooked before packing, and that might hurt some of the nutrients. The advantage is that it is incredibly convenient. Be sure to buy from a reputed company, so you are sure that the feed contains everything your dog needs in the correct proportions. Some owners prefer a more natural diet of raw meat and bones, pureed vegetables and other additives. The advantage is that this feeding method is more natural, and there is no need for preservatives. The downside is that it takes time, and it is difficult to ensure that the diet is balanced.

What goes in must come out, and this applies to both treats and water. Limit treat volume. Frequent treats are okay, but offer small bits instead of big bones. Watch the water intake as well. The rule of thumb is to make sure your puppy has plenty of water to clean his system. But offer the water in small parcels, relevant to your dog’s size. This will keep a good flow of water moving through his system, but in predictable time periods so you can structure his “output” and keep accidents to a minimum.


What goes in must come out, and this both applies to treats and water. Limit the treat volume. Frequent treats are okay, but offer small bits instead of big bones. Watch the water intake as well. The rule of thumb is to make sure your puppy has plenty of water to clean his system. But offer the water in small parcels, relevant to your dog’s size. This will keep a good flow of water moving through his system, but in predictable time periods so you can structure his “output” and keep accidents to a minimum.

The Diet’s Impact On The Dog’s Behavior

There is limited scientific studies on the impact of diet on behavior. One diet that suits one dog, might have a negative impact on another dog. If a dog has behavioral problems it can sometimes be an idea to change the diet to see if that helps the issue. If your dog always has unwanted behavior half an hour after it has eaten, it may be allergic to the feed. Talk to your vet about what food your dog need. Always change the feed gradually to avoid stressing its digestion.

The Need For Energy

Different dogs have different needs for energy. For example, a mother needs more energy to nurse her puppies, working dogs need more energy to keep going all day, a dog in cold weather needs more than a dog in hot weather. Always be ready to change the feeding amount to maintain the ideal weight. If you are training your German Shepherd a lot, then consider decreasing the daily ration, so there is room for extra treats during training.

How To Groom Your German Shepherd

When you own a German Shepherd, you have a responsibility to take care of it. And that doesn’t mean you only need to feed and walk it. It also entails that you regularly check your dogs health, to ensure your dogs hygiene and you might find abnormal signs and possible warning signs of disease.

Grooming your German Shepherd is not a fun activity – but it’s very important. Don’t skip it! You have to check the fur, eyes, ears, snout, paws, claws and teeth.

The Fur

German Shepherd’s fur is called stockhaar, which is a powerful fur consisting of an undercoat with tightly fitted hairs. The German Shepherd sheds naturally 2 timer a year, where the fur and hair is replaced, this usually occurs in the spring and autumn. You should brush your dog a few times a week to loosen the hair. Your dog will ALWAYS shed, but you are able to reduce the amount a German Shepherd sheds. While brushing your dog, you should inspect the appearance of the fur; it must be smooth and glossy.

You should also look for wounds, cuts and vermin.

crate training german shepherd puppy

The Eyes

The German Shepherd has brown almond eyes. The eyes are exposed to dust, so you should keep a lookout for any discharge from the eye. If you frequently see yellowish discharge, you should contact your vet to get some eye drops.Flush the eyes of any foreign matter and keep the eye moist.

The Ears

A German Shepherd’ ears is standing. However this is not the case for young puppies. Some puppies’ ears starts standing up when they are 8-10 weeks of age where others have to wait until 6-7 months of age.

A German Shepherd’ ears are very sensitive and must be kept very clean. You can clean the outer ear with a slightly moistened cotton ball, but don’t stick it too far into the ear. Contact your veterinarian if any of the following occurs:

  • If the ear starts smelling bad.
  • If fluid starts flowing from the ear.
  • If the German Shepherd starts shaking its head more than usual.

The German Shepherd’s right ear usually have an ear tattoo. All dogs must be marked and registered before the puppy is 4 months old. You can also insert a microchip into your dog. This means an electronic identification – a chip placed under the skin (usually on the neck). However microchips are not frequent in German Shepherds, since it really isn’t necessary. You should be aware that a German Shepherd must be tattooed to be exhibited in Germany.

The Snout

A German Shepherd’s snout is black. The nose is usually moist and warm. If the snout is very hot and dry, possibly with cracks, try to measure your dog’s temperature.

The Paws

A German Shepherd’ paws are closed with the hair, the dark colored pads. The feet should also be inspected regularly. Are there cracks in the feet, they can be lubricated with a little Vaseline. If there are long hairs between the pads, they should be cut regularly. During winter, you should rinse your dog’ paws with lukewarm water, to rinse off any the salt and snow.

The Claws

A German Shepherd’s claws are sharp, curved and dark in color. The claws grow quickly and can end up bothering the dog’ walk. If your puppy or adult dog only walks on soft surfaces, such as sand, soil and grass the claws will not be worn out naturally – and it may be necessary to cut them.

A German Shepherd’s claws are sharp, curved and dark in color. The claws grow quickly and can end up bothering the dog’ walk. If your puppy or adult dog only walks on soft surfaces, such as sand, soil and grass the claws will not be worn out naturally – and it may be necessary to cut them.

You can use special clippers with stops for dogs. You must be really careful not to cut too much, since nerves and blood vessels are located in the claws, and they can’t be seen on the German Shepherd due to the black color of the claws.

The Teeth

The teeth must also be inspected. In some puppies the milk teeth doesn’t fall out by themselves, and the new teeth will simply appear right next to them. If this happens, try giving the puppy a medullary bone (also works great against tartar) and the milk teeth will probably fall out by themselves. If that didn’t do it, you should contact your vet, that will have to remove the milk teeth to ensure the permanent teeth are not damaged. The puppies switches teeth when they are about 4-5 months of age. A puppy has 28 milk teeth, 14 in each mouth part whilst an adult dog has 42 teeth – 20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw.

The German Shepherd has a scissor bite, i.e. the incisors must fit scissor-like to each other so that the incisors of the upper jaw overlap those of the lower jaw in a scissor like fashion. Level bite, over-or undershot bite are faults as well as larger spaces between the teeth (gaps). Equally faulty is straight alignment of the incisors. The jaw bones must be strongly developed so that the teeth are strongly embedded in the dental arch.

Giving Your German Shepherd A Bath

german shepherd training leash

On rare occasions a dog might become so dirty or smell so bad, that it needs a bath. Some German Shepherds loves a bath, whilst others could probably think of a better displacement of time.

Rinse the dog in lukewarm water – if this this is not enough, use a special dog shampoo.

The dog’s skin does not have the same pH as people have and therefore you should use a dog shampoo to not dry out the skin and hair. Rinse the dog thoroughly and dry it well. If you do not dry it well you might end up getting a shower yourself.

Annual Health Check

An annual health check with your veterinarian is always a good idea. The dog should receive the vaccines recommended by your veterinarian. It is very important to get the annual, professional health check, since one human year is roughly equivalent to seven dog years.

If your dog produces too much tartar, your veterinarian will recommend a teeth cleaning, so as to avoid any dental disease, oral cavity diseases or bacteria in the dog’s bloodstream. Such bacteria can settle on the dog’s heart valves and will wear on the dog’s kidneys.

The vet can optionally take a blood test on your dog to tell about any disease on the dog’s major organs. A blood test is recommended for older dogs, to ensure that any disease is detected at an early stage. If you catch it early you can often prevent your dog getting a serious and / or painful and perhaps expensive illness. Your best friend deserves the best care!



Understanding Your German Shepherd’s Mind

Just Like Us

The social behavior of dogs is very similar to ours. For example, they happily welcome back a member of the family, they are sad when they lose someone they love, and they do a lot to maintain the relationship. If we look at our own behavior in our families, we can clearly see parallels to the canine world.

Same Feelings

Dogs seem to have many of the same emotions as humans, including joy when they are having fun, loneliness when they are separated from the group, fear when they are threatened, angry if they are always told what to do. Even though we can’t confirm that they feel the same as us, there is a lot of reasons to believe just that. It is because of these similarities in social skills and emotional richness that we invite them into our homes, where they are often a very successful pet and companion. But because they often seem so human, it is easy to make mistakes and treat them like children and expect them to behave like a human child. In reality, dogs have a very less sophisticated brain – mainly because their ancestors developed their brain to survive.

german shepherd training dog

Different Brains

Although the dog’s brain is similar to a human’s, it is proportionally smaller and lacks the cortex, which is the part of our brain that is responsible for reasoning, language and all the many advanced features that are essential for humans. Dogs have a good memory, but their ability to reason is very limited compared to us. They are very attentive to human gestures, body language, our mood and facial expressions, but most dogs have great difficulty learning words. That is because a large part of a dog’s brain is used to process information from the physical senses such as smell and sounds, which gives them information about the world around them, which were mainly used for hunting by their wolverine ancestors.

Therefore,dogs are not small humans in fur – they have a much smaller capacity for thought and a different way of seeing the world. If every dog owner knows that, they would have a more realistic expectation for their dog’s abilities and not ask them too much when training them. It is important that you help your dog when it does not understand what you want of it, and that you allow it the benefit of the doubt when you doesn’t know whether it is stubborn or simply doesn’t know what it should do.

What Can Dogs Feel?

Can dogs feel guilt, remorse or hatred? Unfortunately we can’t ask them, and as of today there hasn’t been made any scientific studies. But there is reason to believe that even though they have basic emotions, they can’t process them in a human way. They can’t hold grudges or wanting to take revenge. They can’t have feelings for a larger cause, and if they seem to happy to see you, it’s because they really feel it. The inability to show fake emotions, makes them very attractive in a modern world filled with deceit.

The Wolf Within

The German Shepherd and all other breeds are descended from the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Although they are very different from their ancestors, many features are retained. Selective breeding has highlighted the traits useful for our dogs.


The gray wolf are an evolved group of hunters of large prey. Although they catch small animals as mouse, rabbit and even fish, they are able to work together as a team to trap much larger prey as deer, elk and reindeer. To hunt as a team, must wolves live together so they can build and maintain a close connection. They have to be social and must be able to cooperate. It is these features which makes our dogs successful as working dogs and family dogs.

german shepherd training dog

The Wolf Becomes A Dog

There are many theories about how wolves were domesticated. The most likely theory is that dogs evolved over many generations of wolves that lived on the outskirts of human settlements. As the years went by, the wolf would become less and less afraid of people, and they would eventually become a new breed with other instincts. They probably looked like the wild dog that can be seen in many developing countries today.

Selective Breeding

The first wild dogs would have gradually through selective breeding developed all the different types and breeds that exist today.

Understanding Non-Verbal Thinking

We all wonder from time to time what our German Shepherd is thinking. If we wonder aloud, perhaps when mealtime is approaching and the German Shepherd is looking expectantly at us, we might say something like, “I’ll bet Buddy’s thinking, ‘When is my food going to be ready?’ ” In all likelihood, Buddy isn’t originating any thoughts about ‘when dinner will be ready.’ It is more likely Buddy is imagining (or ‘imaging’ in his mind) the words and movements you usually say and perform before getting his dinner; something like, “You want your food, Buddy?” All that tail wagging and those pleading eyes are aimed at stimulating you to say it.

But, an inability to originate thoughts in a spoken language does not make dogs dense. Even people don’t actively think in a spoken language unless they actively ‘speak’ it. For instance, during a short vacation to Denmark, if you don’t already speak the language, you’ll probably pick up the interpretation of a few words. After a few natives look at you in the evening and say “God Aften,” you may eventually learn that they’re not curious about where you’re from, but are wishing you a “Good Evening.” Still, you won’t think in Danish terms unless you live there for a few months and actively speak it. Even a German Shepherd will never learn to speak or think in the native lingo because their tongues and lips can’t formulate the sounds of Danish … or English, or French, etc, etc. The limit of our German Shepherd’s language-learning is the meaning of the sounds of certain words. Luckily, German Shepherds are quick to learn the sounds that are important to them.

With this in mind, when Buddy is begging us to give him food, we’d be wise to discard ideas about complete sentences being originated and thought about, and replace them with the non language concept of mental images. To illustrate this further; when most Buddys are asking for dinner they actually look from their owners toward the place where it is served.


How German Shepherds Learn

The German Shepherd are a totally different species than we are. Behavior that you find offensive in a person is often normal in canine terms. Imagine waking up one morning surrounded by another species who use a language you don’t understand and who have unfamiliar customs. You can learn the new language and what this community finds acceptable and unacceptable, but someone is going to have to teach you in terms that you can understand. This is your role and responsibility with your German Shepherd.

Understanding Instincts

German Shepherds instinctively dig, jump, chase, bark and perform other behaviors typical of their species. These are normal dog behaviors. If you are taking a lovely walk down the block and your German Shepherd sees a squirrel, he may instinctively race after it. This doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate behaviors that you don’t like, but it helps to understand what behaviors are normal for dogs.

german shepherd training dog

Feelings and Emotions

Anyone who has ever owned a dog will tell you that dogs have feelings and emotions, and a recent research study has shown that dog lovers have been right all along. Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, completed research demonstrating that dogs use the same area of the brain as humans do to feel. Berns found similarities in structure and function of a region of the brain called the caudate nucleus. In people, the caudate nucleus responds in anticipation of things that we enjoy, such as love, food, and money. In dogs, Berns’s research found that the caudate nucleus responds to hand signals indicating food and to the smells of familiar humans. Preliminary tests also showed that the caudate nucleus reacted to the return of a dog’s owner after the owner had momentarily stepped out of view.

What the study basically showed is that dogs have about the level of sentience as a human child, which is no surprise to anyone who has ever loved a dog. What else can you describe other than happiness when your dog greets you after an absence? If you’ve ever seen those heartwarming videos of servicemen and servicewomen returning from deployment to greet their ecstatic dogs, how could there be any doubt? If you’ve ever lost one dog of several, don’t the others appear to mourn?

Dogs are feeling, emotional beings, whether or not science has caught up with what we know to be true.

This is important when it comes to choosing a training program. If dogs can feel, do you want to hurt them to train them? Of course not. And you don’t have to—there are positive ways to train your dog to do what you want.


The Basics Of Positive Reinforcement

Positive training based in science is powerfully successful. It works with all types of dogs, even those considered “stubborn” or “challenging.” It works great with fearful and shy dogs. It also works with big dogs, little dogs, puppies, seniors, bouncy dogs, and couch potatoes – this is because it follows the fundamental laws of learning. You can train any species using positive training. Many wild animal trainers use positive training to get large, potentially dangerous animals to perform behaviors. If they can train elephants to willingly offer their feet for care, or if they can train tigers to sit patiently for blood draws, then you can train your dog without using force or intimidation.

german shepherd training puppy

There are lots of benefits of using positive training.

  • You don’t have to rely on physical strength to train your dog. It doesn’t require you to muscle your dog into position or push or pull him to do what you want. It opens up training to a much broader range of people with different physical capabilities and enables them to train bigger dogs, too. It also means that your kids can train your dog (with supervision).
  • It’s efficient. With positive training, sessions are very short. A couple of minutes are all you need for one session. Short sessions work best for dogs, especially young puppies with short attention spans! It’s also great for anyone with a busy schedule. You can always squeeze a couple of minutes in, and if you do that a few times a day, you’ll see great progress.
  • It gets fast results. Your dog will look forward to your training sessions and be more engaged with you, so you’ll be able to teach him faster.
  • You’ll get your dog to want to work for you, rather than be afraid to disobey you. This forges a strong relationship.
  • It’s fun! Training your dog doesn’t have to be a chore. By using positive methods, you and your dog will both enjoy the learning experience.

The whole process of housetraining can be successful if you adopt a caring and generous attitude towards you dog. Understand the breed, and work around the personality. Be firm and help your dog along, even if it means physically carrying him to the potty spot. When you get your dog home – you’ll see, he or she will be trained in no time!


The Essentials Before Starting Your German Shepherd Training

How To Motivate And Reward

The method I recommend is based on modern learning principles which emphasize motivation and positive reinforcement. This means that you will always try to create a situation where the dog will naturally seek to do what you want. We motivate, praise and reward the German Shepherd when it does what you want. The German Shepherd will by repetition quickly learn what it needs to do to please you, and thereby be rewarded. I recommend never using punishment during the learning process, since punishment will often inhibit and stressing the German Shepherd.

With reward based training you can start to train him or her when he is settled in the home. The German Shepherd dog will perceive the training positively and will strengthen the family as the leader. The dog will quickly learn the joy of cooperation and become a well-adjusted part of the family.

Types Of Rewards

Voice: Happy, lively and motivating praise by voice is positively reinforcing. Use the voice along with treats, playing or touch. Always follow up with praise when the dog does anything you ask it and / or if you see the dog doing something positive.

german shepherd training puppy

Treats: It’s a good idea to use treats when you teach the dog something new. The treat reinforces your praise and gets the dog to repeat the behavior. Train your German Shepherd when it is hungry – not when it has just eaten or are tired. Choose treats based on what the individual dog likes. The treats have to be very small and easy to chew. You should be able to give the dog 25-30 treats without it becoming satiated! Experiment and make a list of the treats your dog is happiest with, for example: Sausage and cheese into cubes, dried liver, cooked chicken, small bread cubes. Once the dog understands “training game “, these can be supplemented by other food rewards, such as: peas, carrots, French bread, diced cooked pasta into small pieces, dried food, etc.

Playing and Petting: When the dog has got the understanding of the exercise, or if the dog is not interested in food, you can reward the dog in other ways. Playing and petting can also be used as a positive reinforcement. Pay attention on the way you reward the dog; does it stress or calm the dog! For example: Playing with a tennis ball, football, Frisbee or socializing with other dogs is stressful and can be used if you want speed and intensity to the exercise you rehearse. Petting is something almost all German Shepherds are fond of, and if you need a calm and relaxed dog to the specific training session this is the optimal way of rewarding the German Shepherd.

Timing Is VERY Important

If you want to praise the dog for something, you must praise it whilst it exhibits the desired behavior or max. 1 second after the behavior. If the praise is given at a later time, the dog will not connect the praise with the behavior. It is therefore extremely important to have a treat or ball ready in your pocket so you can reward the dog immediately when it does what you want.

You should combine the treat with praise and say “Good!” While you give the dog the treat. It teaches the dog that the signal “Good” means “correct behavior – the rewards are on the way!” When this effect is achieved, it does not matter as much that it takes a few more seconds before it receives its reward. Practice praising the dog immediately when it is doing anything you want.

Short Sessions And ALWAYS End Succesfully

It is not the quantity but the quality that counts! Train in short sequences and have more breaks. However, you train several times a day, preferably 5 – 10 minutes each time (shorter will small puppies). Always finish while the training is proceeding nicely and the dog still seems interested and always end with success.


The Basic Commands
(Sit, Down & Come)

Teaching Your German Shepherd “Sit, Down & Come”

Experts recommend that you first teach your dog using only voice commands. Once your German Shepherd has completely mastered voice commands, you can start using hand signals for the same command along with the voice command. Soon your pet will start recognizing and responding to hand signals. And soon you will be able to get him to perform any trick using just hand signals.

german shepherd training puppy


  1. Stand in front of your German Shepherd and extend your right arm straight out in front of you 90 degrees to your body. Hold a treat that your doggie likes in your hand.
  2. Take the treat close to your dog’s nose and give him the voice command of “sit.”
  3. Gradually raise the treat over his head. He will go down on his haunches as you do so.
  4. Do not give him his treat until he sits down completely.
  5. Repeat this exercise a few times.
  6. This way he will associate your extending your arm out in front of you and bringing it down with the command “sit.”


  1. Tell your German Shepherd to “sit”.
  2. Bend your arm at the elbow with your palm facing downwards.
  3. Bring your palm slowly down to your side.
  4. Hold a treat for your pooch in the palm of your hand.
  5. Lower your hand that is holding the treat down to the floor between the dog’s paws.
  6. His nose will follow your hand that is holding the treat and he will get into the down position.
  7. Now you can release the treat to him.
  8. Practice this command until he masters it.


  1. Stand a few feet away from your dog.
  2. Get his attention by calling out his name.
  3. Extend your arm towards the dog and then raise it towards you in a conventional ‘come’ gesture.
  4. At the same time use the voice signal of “come.”
  5. Once he follows this command, give him a treat and plenty of praise.

A Few Advanced Tricks


  1. With your dog sitting right before you, hide a treat in your right hand and start lowering it to the ground. Encourage your dog to paw at your hand by saying “shake” repeatedly. Reward your dog with the treat the moment his left paw comes off the ground.
  2. With your dog sitting right before you, hide a treat in your right hand and start lowering it to the ground. Encourage your dog to paw at your hand by saying “shake” repeatedly. Reward your dog with the treat the moment his left paw comes off the ground.
  3. Gradually raise your hand off the ground – making the dog raise his paw further and further. Keep this up, until your dog is lifting its paw to chest height.
  4. When your dog is consistently raising its paw, transition to using the hand signal. Stand up and hold the treat in your left hand, behind your back, and extend your right hand while saying “shake.” When your dog paws your extended hand, support his paw in the air while you reward him with the treat from behind your back.
  5. Repeat these steps with the opposite side to teach the trick for both paws.
german shepherd training puppy

Roll Over

  1. Start with your dog in a down position, facing you. Kneel down in front of him, holding a treat to the side of his head opposite of the direction you wish him to roll.
  2. Move the treat from his nose toward his shoulder blade while telling him to “roll over”. This should lure your dog to roll on his side. Praise and release the treat.
  3. When you are ready to move to the next step, continue the motion with your hand as you move the treat from his shoulder blade toward his backbone. This should lure him to roll onto his back, and over to his other side. Reward the moment he lands on his opposite side.
  4. As he improves, use a more subtle hand gesture.


  1. Observe what causes your dog to bark – a doorbell, a knock, the mail-carrier, the sight of you with his leash – and use that stimulus to teach this trick. Because most dogs bark at the sound of a doorbell, we’ll use that as an example. Stand at your front door, with the door open so your dog will be able to hear the bell. Give the cue “bark” and press the doorbell. When your dog barks, immediately reward him and reinforce the cue with “good bark.” Repeat this about six times.
  2. Continuing in the same session, give the cue but don’t ring the bell. You may have to cue several times to get a bark. If your dog is not barking, return to the previous step.
  3. Try this trick in a different room. Strangely enough, this can be a difficult transition for your dog. If at any point your dog is repeatedly unsuccessful, return to the previous step.

The Don’ts Of German Shepherd Training

A lesson isn’t complete until you know what not to do. Whatever has been said so far focuses on the affirmatives because only a positive person and a positive attitude can train a dog effectively. Even then, one is human and the tendency is to feel the frustration and let out the steam when the German Shepherd is not responding quickly to the housetraining methods. Even then you have to be careful. Here is 8 examples of something you should not do during a German Shepherd training session.

  • Do not EVER hit your German Shepherdor abuse him or her physically in any way if there is a housebreaking accident.
  • Do not EVER rub your dog’s nose in the mess to teach him a lesson. The dog has no idea that he has done something wrong and he himself can’t stand the messy stuff and just wants to get rid of it. By rubbing it in, he registers only the harshness of the punishment with you.
  • Do not isolate your dog because he has made a mess inside. Dogs are family oriented and keeping them apart aggravates and disturbs them. The insecurity that is caused by the isolation would also lead to more accidents.
  • Do not change the diet during the housetraining sessions, unless there is a health issue that necessitates a change. A change in the diet might affect a change in the dog’s bladder and bowel movements.
  • Do not leave the food bowl and the water bowl, lying around for the dog to have at any time of his or her choosing. Feed the dog according to a timetable and take away the food after 20 minutes. Whatever the dogs eats, in that time, is what his body needs.
  • Do not allow the dog to roam around the house, wherever he likes. Do not leave the dog unattended -he would most likely sniff out corners and do his job there without your knowledge.
  • Do not change the housebreaking routine all of a sudden. Stick to the program and try as much as possible for the first few months to maintain the regular pattern.
  • Do not expect too much too soon. Be realistic and fair with your dog. Two days is not enough for your dog to get the message. A week’s time of consistent practice would set the pace but you will still have to follow it up by maintaining the pattern for up to two months.

The whole process of training your German Shepherd can be successful if you adopt a caring and generous attitude towards you dog. Understand the breed, and work around the personality. Be firm and help your dog along, even if it means physically carrying him to the potty spot. When you get your dog home – you’ll see, he or she will be trained in no time!