German Shepherds are prized for their trainability. These dogs are a marvel of genetic structure and are thought to be the all-inclusive alpha package of the canine world. Not only elegant and attractive, they’re agile, dominant, powerful, and extremely intelligent. To focus on the latter, there’s just about nothing this dog breed can’t seem to do.
From famous and unbeatable police and military dogs to service and search and rescue workers, the German Shepherd has proved that they’re intelligent enough to handle just about any task given to them.
If you’ve landed here, it might be that you want to know what you’re in for when it comes to training your German Shepherd. Before any other research is done, know that if you’re going to own a German Shepherd you will need to train him.
This is an animal with working-class origins that is as stimulation-craving as they are stubborn. Without the proper engagement of their intellect and a specific job to do, this breed can turn inwards and develop a poor temperament and behavioral problems.
Below are a few dog training tips that will help with the German Shepherd training process.
Take Your German Shepherd To Obedience Class
Professional obedience specialists will satisfy your German Shepherd’s intellect. Being that these dogs are highly versatile in their training, there are various ‘German Shepherd specialists’ which focus solely on your breed. While it’s possible to train them independently, this is a breed that benefits greatly from obedience classes.
The classes will satisfy their need for stimulation and lay the groundwork for you to build atop once your pup is at home. Obedience classes can be overkill for certain breeds, but most experts would say they’re an imperative for German Shepherds.
Be an Alpha But Not a Warden
German Shepherds are independent thinkers. They respond with the same directness given. If you’re stern and forceful then your pup will double down with his stubbornness.
However, these dogs naturally seek leadership from their owners. It’s paramount that you assert yourself as alpha of the household without holding too dominant of a hand.
This breed needs to respect your leadership not fear it. Once this trust and respect is created, your dog will be inclined to heed your direction, which means he’ll be more willing to learn from your command.
Consistency is Key
The sharp wit and keenness of the German Shepherd will startle you. Owners are often shocked at how quickly German Shepherds will process lessons (and often, quite dangerously, teach themselves). Sometimes this breed will learn things without you having to teach them. By imposing a set routine for your pup right from the get-go, you’re imprinting a structure that will serve as the home-plate of training.
When your dog is first introduced to the home, there needs to be a set place for him to eat and go potty, and set schedules in doing so. You’ll notice that your dog will pick up quickly on the structure you impose, which means if you’re inconsistent, he’ll grow confused with your lessons.
It’s a fact: every dog needs to be socialized. When you’re dealing with a canine as competent and dynamic as a German Shepherd, it’s important that in their puppy years they’re properly socialized. The German Shepherd is a natural guard dog. Without the proper exposure to different environments, people, and other canines, that natural protector instinct can become dangerous towards others.
This breed is not known for their aggressive streak, but being that they can cause serious damage it’s important to create a healthy foundation which will allow a proper temperament in adulthood.
No matter what the situation, you want your pup to be confident and comfortable in his environment.
Reward Good Behavior
Despite German Shepherd’s having a propensity to seek leadership in their owner, positive reinforcement is still the reward-system that’s most efficient.
If your dog has done something correctly, reward him with praise, treats (be careful with this one, as your dog can grow dependent on the treats and only act correctly if they’re offered), playtime, toys, or anything that falls within the positive reinforcement spectrum.
When your dog is misbehaving, ignore his bad behavior rather than scolding him. German Shepherd’s hyper-intelligence also begets hyper-sensitivity and if you play the hand of warden—as mentioned before—your dog can develop canine anxiety and turn inward.
Truth be told, due to the nature of this breed, there is no black and white way to train a German Shepherd. A number of specialists that have devoted their life to training the breed are plenty, and the vast array of different utilities the dog can serve grow every year.
While these tips are a great platform to build atop, ultimately it’s your decision as to just how trained you want your dog to be. But know this: German Shepherds need to be trained and there is serious work involved. However, if this pup fits your lifestyle and work schedule then you’ll be rewarded with one of the best pets in existence. After all, they’re the #2 most popular dog breed in America.