Training a German Shepherd
Germans Shepherds are one the most intelligent and trainable dogs you could ever hope to own. Independent, friendly, and fiercely loyal to the end, they are the embodiment of the maxim “man’s best friend.” Training a German Shepard is an ongoing process that will require plenty of time, care, and above all, patience. Things won’t happen overnight, but as the bond and the rapport between you and your Shepard strengthens, positive results will come in thick and fast.
It’s no wonder that German Shepards are the go-to canine for the Police and armed forces. As the Chinese proverb espoused, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago — the next best time to plant a tree is now”. The same can be applied to training your dog, the sooner you start, the better for you, and them in the long run. There are three fundamental steps to training your dog, that will act as the foundation for teaching him things in the future. Shall we begin?
Show Your Dog Who’s Boss
Dogs are pack animals, so if you wish to have the very best chance of successfully training your German Shepard, they are going to need to know their place in the pack (you and/or your family). Promptly, you will need to establish who is the alpha leader. If you’re a single dog owner, this will be you, if you’re a family of owners, you will need to work out who that’s going to be and stick to it going forward.
This is a crucial step in training your German Shepherd as if it’s not established who is the Alpha Leader of the group they are going to assume it’s them and run you, your house, and your family as they see fit. They will think they are your boss, in effect, so don’t skip this step.
How do you Become An Alpha Leader?
Becoming the alpha leader isn’t as difficult or as complicated as it initially sounds. The popular misconception is that you need to be loud, brash, and aggressive; this is 100% wrong and will not help you or your dog to bond. The key to becoming the alpha is to elicit calm and assertive behavior at all times.
You need to set boundaries and rules for your Shepard and enforce their compliance, not through punishment but by rewarding your dog for good behavior and withdrawing rewards for bad behavior. The reward could be attention, or it could be a treat; whatever you chose to use will make it clear to your dog that a hierarchy exists, and although they are part of the pack, they are not the leader.
Toilet Training Your German Shepard
This is by far one of the most important things you will ever teach your dog, and it’s a huge source of stress for most people. Especially for those who are squeamish about cleaning poop up off the carpet, but this is part of owning a dog, and with a little hard work, grit, determination, and not to mention patience, you’ll have your Shepard house trained in next to no time.
Timing is Everything
Let your German Shepard out first thing in the morning and always take them to the same spot in the garden, park, or wherever you intend to go so that over time, they come to know that place as their “bathroom.” Be sure to praise and reward them for doing it in the correct place. If they do it in the house, withdraw the praise and attention.
You’ll want to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior while potty training, you’ll soon come to spot the signs, which tell you they are about to soil your rug. Make sure to take your dog outside plenty of times during the day and ten minutes or so after drinking water, and an hour after eating food. Repeat this over and over, and again, and you’ll see positive results sooner than you think.
Teaching Your German Shepard to Sit
Training your German Shepard to sit can take a bit of time to master, but once they’ve got it, they’ll have it for a lifetime.
You’re going to need a selection of your dog’s favorite treats to get this rolling and a tonne of patience, but bear with it, the first time they sit for you, is a special moment, one that will solidify your bond with them for a forever.
- Go to a place in your home or garden where your dog won’t be distracted.
- Collect a handful of their favorite treats and keep them hidden.
- Get your dog’s attention; you can do this by clicking your fingers or by using a whistle.
- Place a treat in your hand and gently tease your dog with it’s sent so that he follows your hand (now you’ve got him interested).
- Show the treat to your dog and place it in front of his nose, lift it ever so slightly, so he has to crane his neck a little.
- Now lift your arm forward over his head and say your command. It could be “sit,” “sit down,” or “sitzen,” they are German, after all! The logic behind this method is that by the dog craning their head to follow the treat, they will assume the seated position.
- Once your dog has sat down, it’s time to go wild, give him as much praise and attention as you can. Then? Repeat the process all over again.
The Fundamentals and Beyond
And that’s it; you’ve successfully taught your German Shepherd the fundamentals and the basics, well done to both of you! This is an excellent foundation to move forward with, but please, don’t stop there. Now that you’ve bonded and built rapport with your dog, the fun (and hard work ), has just begun. Remember to praise them whenever they elicit positive behavior and to withdraw when they don’t; this will be your guiding principle for their next training day and days.