It can be very rewarding to be a German Shepherd parent, but it’s important to get this breed trained early. GSDs are one of the most exuberant, energetic dog breeds you can bring into your home.
The serious working dogs you see assisting law enforcement officers, rescue workers, and people with disabilities are the product of professional dog training. Without that training, German Shepherds can easily run amok.
Worse, German Shepherds are easily aroused and can become protective to the point of aggressiveness, which means bringing an untrained German Shepherd into contact with strangers or dogs, especially in your home, on your property (your GSD’s territory) can be dangerous.
Make sure to use positive reinforcement dog training when teaching your German Sheperd. They respond very well to gentle handling and German Shepherds look forward to working every day. There is never a need for force, choke, shock or prong collars in dog training.
Many German Shepherds (and working dogs) would rather work and train for toys or games like bite work, search and rescue, nose work, or a game of fetch or rope tug. Toy rewards and environmental rewards will outweigh even the highest food rewards when training a German Shepherd.
However, remember that dogs don’t come “hardwired” to know what a toy is nor how to play with it. As always, parents must teach a dog to enjoy dog toys and basic dog obedience training to drop it, leave it, take it, and fetch.
GSDs were initially bred as boundary working herding dogs. These are very smart dogs, they also function as traditional herding working dogs with livestock. And understanding this helps you understand why they’re both protective, intelligent, and motivated. They’d be useless for the task they’ve been bred for if they weren’t.
Because German Shepherds are smart and large, they can be a handful and dangerous if untrained. Especially since most German Shepherds are mouthy dogs and like to chew things.
Before being trained by Fun Paw Care, many of my clients have been pulled to the ground at the site of a squirrel or other triggering stimuli. If a German Shepherd has not been trained to look to their parents for guidance and advice in new, unfamiliar and potentially scary situations, the dog will react instead of respond, causing a potentially dangerous situation.
Once you establish a bond through gentle positive reinforcement dog training and they see you as a trustworthy source of guidance and understanding they become eager to prove themselves as outstanding partners and additions to your family.
Training isn’t just about teaching the dog standard cues. Dictating like a drill sergeant what to do and when to do it. In many cases, it’s also about teaching you how to portray yourself as a parent that understands your dog and communicate with them effectively as a teacher that your dog can trust. Dog training is also about learning for ourselves how to communicate and be clear, concise, and consistent with your dog: a confused German Shepherd will make mistakes.
Never get rough, force, or be aggressive with a German Shepherd. Training should always be fear, intimidation, and pain-free for you and the dog. Training is a way to connect, engage, and deepen a bond with a dog. The more forceful you become with a German Shepherd, the more shut-down, unpredictable and dangerous a dog will become to you and society.
In addition to reactivity and aggression if trained inappropriately or not at all, German Shepherds may be prone to:
Many times an untrained German Shepherd will engage in other undesirable behaviors as well. These may also be the result of lack of stimulation, socialization, play, exercise, enrichment, training, punitive training, or boredom. GSD’s need a lot of stimulation, attention, training, and playtime to succeed at being wonderfully behaved pets.
If you were unable to get your German Shepherd trained up as a puppy, consider bringing your dog to our Los Angeles Dog Training Boot Camp. Parents bring us their German Shepherd dogs from all around the world to focus on training, behavior modification, and rehabilitating dogs who have fallen into bad habits or who are demonstrating a wide range of problematic dog behaviors.
Learn About Our German Shepherd Training
German Shepherds are a large dog breed that needs to be trained well with gentle, positive reinforcement dog training to achieve the best (and most humane) dog training results. Regardless of the age of your German Shepherd, whether they are a puppy, adolescent, or senior GSD, all of the following will help a parent throughout the life of your German Shepherd Puppy.
German Shepherd Puppy Specific (in addition to the above)
The short answer is No. German Shepherds and other high energy, highly motivated, and intelligent dogs take more skill and understanding on the part of the pet parent.
The parent learning curve would be very steep and with such a large dog the potential danger to you, other people, dogs, cats, etc., could be much greater. German Shepherds are best suited for a person that understands the dog breed and who has had other more challenging, working dogs in the past.
Although GSDs are very easy to dog train obedience with, the cognitive-behavioral aspect beyond basic obedience training is where a person’s past dog experience will come into play and help out.
German Shepherds are great around kids, families, and even cats! However, the caveat is only if the family is knowledgeable about the breed, has a lot of time, energy, and resources to implement training and behavior modification protocols.
If you get your German Shepherd as a puppy and socialize, train, play, enrich, and exercise your dog appropriately, your investment will pay off tremendously down the road with a well-balanced, calm and secure dog. If however, you adopt an older German Shepherd, you still must have the resources to hire a certified dog behaviorist to help you and the dog with any behavior quirks that arise.
Guess what? German Shepherds love training! They’ve been bred to be very good at following cues. Formal training programs tap into their deepest instincts and set them up for success. We’ve worked hard to make our training programs successful, engaging, and fun for both of you.
This breed’s intelligence means they should progress through the program with ease. Many German Shepherds can learn training very quickly.
Our training methodology sets you up for success, too. You learn how to work with your unique dog, their atavistic instincts, and breed. You learn how to change your environment, modulate your voice, stance, body language, and approach to work with the dog’s behavior, instead of against it.
The result? You’re a very happy pet parent and your dog becomes confident, socialized, easy-going, secure, and a well-behaved dog.
German Shepherds shed a lot and need a lot of care and attention. Frequent grooming, vacuuming, gentling, socialization, enrichment, and play will be needed. As with all dogs, health checkups, vaccinations, and veterinarian care will be mandatory as well.
All dogs need attention to their nutritional profile, however large breed puppy dogs need special attention to their calcium, energy, vitamin, mineral, and nutrient intake during their growth phase. As with all dogs health checkups, vaccinations and veterinarian care will be mandatory as well.
Nothing is a hotter topic than what to feed a dog. That’s OK because we are simply providing you with the facts, not conventional wisdom, belief, tradition, or hearsay or even my personal experiences. Just non-biased, evidence-based published research and review papers. I show you the most current and up-to-date canine nutritional evidence and you make your own decision regarding your dog’s health and what or who to feed them.
Should you feed a dog a raw diet, (also read here, here, and here) extruded dry kibble, organic, semi-raw, freeze-dried, or a homemade vegan diet? While dogs are classified in the Order Carnivora, dogs are not obligate carnivores like our other feline household pets. In fact, dogs are not carnivores and can thrive on plant-based diets.
All diets require being properly formulated, balanced, and complete regardless of what (or who) we are feeding our pets. Luckily for us (and dogs) dogs have adapted to scavenge and forage over tens of thousands of years and can digest carbohydrates.
However, since plant-based diets have by far the least impact on the environment and is sustainable, and is the most a person can do to lower the planet’s greenhouse gases we recommend plant-based diets. Plant-based diets are the best diet for the planet, all sentient beings, and are the most compassionate way to feed a dog. The only truly sustainable way to feed a dog is via an organic plant-based diet that is complete and balanced.
What to feed a German Shepherd Puppy has different implications and is very different than what to feed an adult or senior dog. Current research shows that large breed puppies need a certain formulation of dietary protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D and calories (energy) to prevent the onset of skeletal diseases from rapid bone, cartilage, tissue, and joint growth. Rapid growth causes skeletal diseases such as elbow and hip dysplasia.
Feed your German Shepherd Puppy reduced calories (energy) and reduced calcium. Focus on a large breed growth puppy food that meets these requirements and parameters (300-340 kcals/cup and between 0.8-1.0% dietary calcium.) Not all do!
Keep your German Shepherd Puppy and Dog lean not plump and always look for an AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement that indicates the food is complete and balanced for a dog’s particular life stage.
We are German Shepherd dog training and behavior experts. Our GSD certified dog behaviorists and trainers have been successfully helping parents with German Shepherd training for decades! Fill out this short form for an expert certified dog behaviorist and trainer to help you with your GSD’s training and behavior problems today.
1 Hour – $295
(In addition to the one-hour session, you receive a detailed dog training and behavior analysis plan with abundant supporting resources)
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