German Shepherds are a beautiful, intelligent, loyal breed of dog. This is why they are one of the most popular dog breeds to own across the world and are an absolute joy to raise as well. However, as any German Shepherd owner knows, it takes a lot of work to get your German shepherd to that point. Training is a crucial part of raising a well-behaved pup.
But how do you know when to start training a German Shepherd puppy? When is too early, and when is it too late? German Shepherd puppies are usually ready to start training at about 7 weeks old. This is when you should start the first steps of training, which are simple commands.
But there’s a lot more to know about training your German Shepherd puppy. It’s not as simple as training them at seven weeks and then just haphazardly teaching them new things.
There is an important timeline you need to know and plenty of useful tips and trips to learn along the way. Read on to find out everything you need to know about when to start training a German Shepherd puppy!
When Can I Start to Train My German Shepherd Puppy?
As stated earlier, the best time to start training your German Shepherd puppy is at about seven weeks old. This is old enough for them to be able to retain the commands you’re teaching them while also being young enough to not have bad behaviors already engrained.
It’s recommended to stick to a fairly strict timeline when training your German Shepherd puppy. At seven or eight weeks, you can start training them in simple commands and socialize them.
From three months to nine months, you should begin really focusing on obedience training. Things like impulse control and reliable recall are great things to focus on in this time period.
From nine months to twenty-four months, you’ll want to reinforce all the training you’ve done so far, and you can start training in more advanced or niche techniques like tracking, herding, and other special things this breed is capable of.
Tips Before You Start to Train Your German Shepherd Puppy
Training a German shepherd might seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are some great tips and tricks you can use to help you make sure your pup is on the right track! Read on below to get some great tips for training your puppy into an intelligent, loyal German shepherd.
Start With Short Training Sessions
When you’re first starting to train your German shepherd puppy, it’s important to start with shorter training sessions. This will allow them to more easily absorb the information they are being given and also not be too long for their short attention spans. However, you’ll want to do these short training sessions frequently throughout the day.
Starting from about seven weeks old until around three months, try engaging your German shepherd pup with five three-minute training sessions daily. Break the sessions up a bit to make sure your German shepherd isn’t getting bored, as this will cause it to pay less attention.
Socialize Early and Often
Many puppies, including German shepherds, have a crucial window of socialization that lasts until they are around twelve to sixteen weeks old. For this reason, it’s very important to socialize your German shepherd at a very young age in order to make sure it is comfortable around other people and pets.
German shepherds are especially in need of this training, as they are guardians by nature. This means that they are often alert and can perceive strangers and other animals as a threat. If not properly socialized, this can cause problems in the future. Make sure your German shepherd is comfortable around dogs, cats, people, and anything else it will frequently run into!
Employ Crate Training
Crate training can be an extremely useful tool for young German shepherds. Some alone time for your puppy can help stop it from developing separation anxiety and help it be able to function on its own.
Start by using the crate when you feed the pup. This will be a very brief period of time, and your puppy will be distracted by food, so they probably won’t even notice or care that they are in a crate by themselves.
Leave them in there for ten or so minutes, and then let them out. This will help them grow accustomed to not only being in a crate but being alone for periods of time.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Using positive reinforcement is the best way to train your German shepherd into the behaviors you want it to exhibit. This is because if it is rewarded, it will know to repeat these behaviors and not others.
Food can be a great motivating tool for puppies who need this positive reinforcement, so don’t be afraid to use it! Small treats, especially healthy ones, can be a great way to train your dog into good socialization behaviors, following commands, and other basic training techniques.
Train in Different Environments
Make sure to train your German shepherd in a number of different environments. Try training indoors, outdoors, at a dog park, in a public place, and anywhere else you think you might be bringing your dog often in the future. This will help the puppy get used to the differences between environments and know how it should act in each.
Ignore Bad Behavior
Do not punish bad behavior. This is not only harmful to the animal, but it is ineffective as well. If bad behavior is punished, it might cause the dog to fear the owner, resulting in more bad behavior. To avoid this cycle, use positive reinforcement rather than negative.
But what are you supposed to do if your German shepherd pup does something wrong? The answer is actually quite simple: ignore it! Puppies do not like being ignored, so if your puppy does something you deem to be inappropriate, just ignore it! This will teach them it isn’t proper behavior without harming them or causing them to fear you.
What Kind of Training You Should Teach a German Shepherd Puppy?
Use subheadings for each type of training with 2-3 sentence-description underneath.
If possible, include a timeline on different types of training in each growth stage.
(At least 7-10 growth stages, include one or two training types for each stage.)
In most cases, you probably won’t have your puppy yet in the first couple of weeks of its life. This is because it is best for the puppy to stay with its mother and its litter. This is the infancy of the dog’s life, where it will be unable to see and hear and obviously, therefore, unable to be trained.
Once it begins to see, walk, and hear in the proceeding weeks, it is still smart to keep the puppy with the mother and its litter. Here, it will learn basic things like reading and using body language, bite inhibition, and other basic forms of socialization.
Humans are not nearly as good at teaching these basics as the dog mother and litter will be since the puppy’s brain has not developed to the point where it would be able to understand commands, take cues, or respond to positive reinforcement anyway.
Weeks seven to twelve is when the real training is able to start. This is a great time to start with the very basics of socialization and commands. Expose your puppy to plenty of new situations and environments in order to socialize them. During this time, you can also use positive reinforcement such as treats to start teaching basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and other popular dog commands.
Crate training and house training are also fantastic in this time period. As mentioned earlier, try starting crate training at mealtimes. Housetraining is also great during this time because this is when positive reinforcement starts to really work. Try giving your pup a healthy treat every time it uses the bathroom in the right place during this time period.
Week 12 – 3 months
Between the start of week 12 and around three months is a great time to start working on more obedience training. More specifically, make sure your dog knows who the leader of the “pack” is, so to speak.
Here, make sure that you are leading your dog on walks, it is listening to your commands, and is patient, and waiting until your “OK” to do things like eat, run, and approach people.
This is also a good time to allow your pup to be a little bit more independent. Let it out into the yard on its own (if you have it fenced in), and feel free to start leaving it along for a bit of a longer period of time. It’s important to teach your dog a bit of independence, as you can’t have it attached to you at all times.
3 months – 9 months
From months 3 to 9, you can really ramp up the obedience training. This is where you drive home commands like sit, stay, and come that you’ll be using on a daily basis. It’s very important to have these commands engrained in your pup before it’s too old, as you’ll be using them every day to control your dog and make your life easier.
You should also try to teach your dog the recall skill in this time period. Recall is the ability for your dog to come quickly when it’s called. This takes time and practice, but it’s a very valuable skill for your dog to learn!
The last thing you want to teach in this time period is impulse control. Impulse control is the ability for your German shepherd puppy to control some of its urges and impulses, so it can be more well-behaved. This will remove a ton of unwanted behaviors like over-barking, chewing, chasing, and other things German shepherds do if they’re left bored and unattended.
9 months – 2 years
Here, you can continue working on things that your puppy might not be great at yet. Whichever training area your puppy is struggling in most should be the focus. You don’t want your German shepherd getting too old and having these bad behaviors ingrained in them as something that’s okay.
Otherwise, continue working on things like obedience training and impulse control. These two areas form the core of what makes a well-trained dog, so they’re very good things for your dog to be practicing regularly.
You can also start with more niche and advanced techniques like tracking or herding if you’re so inclined.
Two years and onward
This is where you can continue with the teaching of more advanced techniques. It’s good to keep reviewing old stuff, but after two years, your pup should be pretty solidly trained. This is when you can use the intelligence of your German shepherd to your advantage.
Try teaching your German shepherd protection skills and having it guard the home. Likewise, you can teach it tracking, hearing, and other niche techniques for working with other animals. This is also a good time to teach it agility and strength-based tricks, and perhaps have some fun with your pet!
What You Should Not Do When You Train Your German Shepherd Puppy
There are a number of things you should try to avoid when training your German shepherd puppy. Training a puppy can be very hard work, and it’s easy to want to cut corners or not realize there are mistakes you are making.
It’s very important that you train correctly in these sensitive early weeks and months, so read on for a list of things you should not do when training a puppy of any age!
Do Not Use Negative Reinforcement
As mentioned earlier in this article, using positive reinforcement is the best way to train your German shepherd puppy. On the other hand, negative reinforcement will cause your dog to fear you, leading to a cycle of bad behavior, punishment, and more bad behavior. That’s why you should avoid using any kind of negative reinforcement to train your German shepherd puppy.
This should go without saying but never, under any circumstances, punish your puppy physically. Physically abusing your puppy is not only a terrible thing to do, but it is also completely counterproductive. The same can be said for verbal abuse/screaming, as this will only cause fear in your puppy, which leads to more bad behavior.
Use a stern but calm voice when you mean to discipline your puppy, and employ the ignoring tactic we talked about earlier in the article. If you cannot restrain yourself from harming your puppy, you should not own one!
The timeline given above is that way for a reason. Don’t try to skip certain steps or pack more training into a time period than there should be. A dog’s brain can only handle so much at a time, so it’s very important to take it slow.
This will allow each good behavior to be individually engrained into your puppy before moving on to the next one, ensuring they keep practicing good behaviors as time goes on.
This also applies to the pace at which you train. Give your puppy some time to relax between training sessions to avoid getting burnt out and start ignoring you. This especially applies to some of the earliest weeks where the attention span of your puppy is very short. Leave breaks for your puppy to relax and be a normal dog before you get back to training!
Don’t Use Low-Quality Treats
If you’re using kibble or treats that your dog might not like that much, it might not have the motivation to really commit to following your instructions. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use fatty, unhealthy treats. Just try switching it up until you find a food or treat that you are comfortable with that your puppy also really likes. This will give them the motivation to keep learning.
Remember, every puppy is different, so there are no one-size-fits-all treats for them to eat up while they’re training! Just try out a couple of different things. You can use human food as well, provided you do the proper research in making sure that puppies can eat it as well.
Don’t skip days
Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to training your German shepherd puppy. The only way to make sure that good behaviors are driven home and bad behaviors are ousted is to repeat the training process daily. This is especially true in the earliest weeks and months of owning your puppy.
Skipping days will allow for bad behaviors to go unresolved and good behaviors to be forgotten, creating large setbacks, especially if you make it a habit to skip days. Make sure you’re training every day!
Do not accidentally reward for bad behavior
It’s easier than it might seem to accidentally reward bad behavior. Usually, this will happen when bad behavior is performed close to when good behavior is, and the owner decides to reward the good behavior. The puppy probably won’t realize which behavior is being encouraged and continue doing both of them, or even just the bad one.
For this reason, it’s important to react appropriately when bad behavior occurs. If you see your puppy do something you deem inappropriate, immediately stop training and everything you’re doing and ignore your puppy for a bit.
After around 10 or 15 minutes, resume training and start over the training exercise you were doing. Wait for your puppy to exhibit good behavior without displaying bad behavior before you give it a treat. This will avoid confusion about what behavior is being rewarded.
Want To Train Your Dog With Peace Of Mind?
If you haven’t trained your dog properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.
The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.
With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.
So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!
And in most cases, it’s still going to be:
- Cheaper than hiring a professional.
- Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
- And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.
Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your dog completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.
And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!
So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!
(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)
Here are some questions that are frequently asked about training German shepherd puppies. Read on for the answers to these questions that readers like you have had on the topic!
Q: Are German Shepherd puppies easy to train?
A: German Shepherd puppies are not a particularly easy breed to train. They are intelligent, which helps a good deal, but they are also curious and active dogs. Training a German shepherd puppy takes a lot of time, effort, patience, and consistency, but it’s well worth the reward.
Q: How do I train my 8 week old German Shepherd puppy?
A: At such a young age, there is some training that will be beyond the grasp of your 8-week old German shepherd pup. Mostly, you’ll want to spend this time socializing with your German shepherd. This involves introducing it to other pets and humans and taking it to public places so that it can feel comfortable in more active social environments.
Training a German shepherd puppy can be a challenge, but it’s extremely rewarding at the end of the line. These dogs are some of the most loving, intelligent, and loyal of all the breeds, so all of your training will have been well worth it in the end.
Make sure you stick to the general timeline outlined above. Start training at around 7 or 8 weeks, and start with very basic commands and mostly socialization. Make sure your pup has learned proper bite inhibition as well.
After this, you can move into obedience training and slowly ramp it up as your puppy is able to learn more commands. Sit, stay, and come should be the core of what you work on first. After this, you can move on to things like recall.
There are plenty of things to avoid while training your pup as well. Make sure not to reward bad behavior, never skip training days, don’t punish your pup, don’t use bad treats, and don’t rush! These will be major setbacks for your puppy’s training.
Overall, training German shepherds is hard but can be a ton of fun as well. Make sure you’re doing it with the love and compassion that your German shepherd puppy deserves, so it can grow into a strong, happy, healthy dog!