German Shepherd

Training

There’s a reason the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They’re typically loyal, steadfast, intelligent and eager to please the pet parents they love and trust. These traits can make them great dogs to train. Not only do they tend to learn quickly, but they are also capable of learning many advanced tricks and skills. If you have a German Shepherd puppy in your home or you’re ready to help your adult dog learn new tricks, here’s what you need to know about German Shepherd training. You can also check out Petco’s New Dog Guide to learn more about your new pet and make sure you have everything you need to start training.

German Shepherd training tips

Before we jump into the details of German Shepherd training, it’s important to begin the process with the right mindset. First and foremost, recognize that training begins and ends with you. Your German Shepherd is highly observant and eager to follow your lead.

Communication

As much as it may seem like your German Shepherd understands everything you say, the truth is that dogs don’t communicate in the same ways as humans. They do, however, pick up on things like the tone of your voice and body language. When giving training commands to your German Shepherd, use a calm and direct voice. You can also choose to pair a verbal cue with a hand gesture to help reinforce the direction. Focus on simple, explicit cues.

Train in a calm environment

German Shepherds—especially puppies—can be easily distracted. When you begin training, find a place that is quiet and as free from distractions as possible. This will make it easier for your pup to focus on you instead of getting distracted by their puppy food, other animals or kids.

Positive reinforcement, positive results

One of the best ways to train a German Shepherd is with positive reinforcement, which includes giving them tasty treats or lots of praise after they successfully complete a cue. Don’t yell at your dog or force them to physically perform. Not only can pushing or shoving your dog lead to injuries, but punishing them can also cause them to fear and mistrust you. You don’t want your puppy to associate you and training time with fear and anxiety.

German Shepherd Dog (GSD) training happens in small steps

When it comes to German Shepherd training, patience is crucial. Focus on teaching your puppy simple, specific cues first. More complex and advanced training will build upon this foundation. Even humans can’t be expected to learn complex tasks without knowing the fundamentals first. Likewise, your dog’s training needs to begin simply.

Consistency, consistency, consistency

A great way to get your training to stick with your German Shepherd is by being consistent in everything you do. German Shepherds don’t understand subtle nuances. You may think that the cues “come” and “come here” are the same thing, but your German Shepherd doesn’t. Use exact words for your cues and keep your rules consistent. If your dog isn’t allowed on the couch, it’s not OK to make exceptions on the weekends or when friends are over.

Start with socialization

German Shepherd training can go much easier if you make an effort to socialize your dog early. Socialization helps build your dog’s confidence, and a confident German Shepherd is usually eager to learn cues.

To help socialize your German Shepherd, spend lots of time with them. Play games and give them different toys with which to interact. Introduce them to extended family members and friends. Take them for walks and to dog parks. Help them learn that the world is a friendly, fun place and that you and your family members are trustworthy pet parents.

Just make sure your pup has their vaccines before interacting with other animals. You can get your pet’s vaccines done at Petco through our veterinary services. The socialization phase is also an excellent time to get your puppy used to grooming tools like brushes, combs and nail clippers.

Suggested German Shepherd training services

As German Shepherds are often loyal and obedient dogs, pet parents may be tempted to try to train their dogs themselves. However, several social and environmental factors can make German Shepherd training more difficult than you might expect. If you’re having trouble getting your canine to follow training cues—don’t worry. At Petco, we offer services that can help even the most distracted pup learn cues and practice good behavior.

Petco offers classes designed for dogs of all breeds and ages. All of our Petco certified trainers use a curriculum set and monitored by evaluators from the American Kennel Club. Our trainers use only positive reinforcement training, which can help teach your dog cues built on a foundation of trust and respect between you and your pet. Our Pet Wellness Council is led by experts who believe that this is the best way to train a German Shepherd—or any dog—and a great way to improve your dog’s social, physical and mental health.

Petco offers both group training sessions and private instruction for dogs who may be shy or nervous around other dogs or people. You can stop by your neighborhood Petco Pet Care center for in-store training or take advantage of our online training over Zoom for added convenience.

FAQs about German Shepherd training

Compared to some other breeds, German Shepherd training is relatively simple. They can be very obedient and smart dogs and often love to follow training cues. That being said, they are also typically energetic, and making sure they receive adequate exercise can often impact how quickly they follow your cues. This energy can cause them to become distracted. Firm cues and discipline will help ensure your dog stays focused and obedient.

No, it is NOT OK to use physical discipline to reinforce your rules or training cues. Hitting them has been proven ineffective in training dogs, and it is bad for their mental health, physical wellbeing and relationship with you, their pet parent. While training this particular dog breed requires firmness and resolve, this can be achieved through authoritative training cues and verbal discipline. Positive training techniques are always recommended.

Positive reinforcement is highly recommended when your pup displays good behavior, but what about German Shepherd obedience training tips for when they misbehave? Try redirecting your dog’s negative behavior toward something more positive. If they’re chewing on something they shouldn’t be, for example, try asking them to focus on a chew toy or distract them with a clicker, and then praise them when they correct their behavior.

Punishment shouldn’t be used during German Shepherd training, as the combination of negative and positive responses by pet parents can confuse your pet.

If you catch your pup doing something they’re not supposed to, loud noises like a hand clap or a sharp “no” can distract your pup from unwanted behavior. However, screaming or yelling is typically considered too harsh for pets and may cause your dog to fear you. Instead, you can promptly repeat a German Shepherd training command in an authoritative tone. Withholding treats and affection can reinforce your disapproval of your dog’s behavior, and leaving the room can cause them to worry about you and learn that what they did was wrong.