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Everyone knows that German Shepherds are famous for their ability to learn and follow commands. That said, are German Shepherds easy to train?
With consistency and a regular training schedule then yes, a German Shepherd can be quite easy to train. This is because your German Shepherd wants to make you happy and also happens to a be very smart dog. If you take the time to teach them, then they will take the time to learn.
Today we’re going to build on this and teach you some basic commands, such as ‘sit’ and ‘hurry’, as well as one of the neatest tricks around – the ‘find’ command! With a bit of patience and love, your German Shepherd will quickly these commands and more. You’ll just need to set a training schedule and stick to it!
Are German Shepherds Easy To Train? Always use positive reinforcement
Before we begin to explore training your German Shepherd, we want to be very clear on something. You should NOT punish your German Shepherd when they do something that is not what you want them to do. Your dog will not understand this and it could very well make them trust you less.
It is better to instead promote good behavior by always rewarding it. This can be with something like saying ‘good dog’ and petting them or simply giving them a treat. In this way, you will be constantly teaching them what they SHOULD do, rather than often scorning them for things that they should not do.
While it takes a little time, your dog will take notice, and they are going to start repeating the behaviors which have earned them praise and treats. Little by little, you will notice the things that they have learned starting to become daily habits, and before you know it your German Shepherd will transform into a well-behaved dog.
This won’t happen overnight, but if you keep encouraging the behaviors that you want to see, your dog is definitely going to notice and adjust their behavior accordingly. So, be patient, and resist the urge to punish your dog when they potty in the house or won’t stop barking. Punishment will just make training take longer!
Create a training schedule
While your Shepherd is still a pup, they are going to have short attention spans, so this is something that you’ll need to anticipate and work with while you are training them. We recommend that you start things off by scheduling 5 training sessions every day of no more than 3 minutes in duration.
Any longer than this at the beginning and your dog is likely to get frustrated or simply unable to properly focus. By keeping the sessions short, frequent, and spaced throughout the day then you will make things easier for both you and your dog.
Schedule specific times for training and also limit these sessions to teaching 2 commands for the day. You don’t want to teach more commands than this, as it will be confusing for your dog, although you can certainly ‘test’ yesterday’s commands before you start the new ones to make sure that your dog is learning them.
This will help you to keep your puppy focused and to ensure that they learn at a consistent pace, without becoming overwhelmed. After each training session, be sure to give your dog a little quality playtime as this will help them to look forward to a new training sessions in the future – and for longer sessions when they’re ready!
Teaching your Shepherd to sit
If you haven’t taught your Shepherd to sit on command yet, this is a foundation that you are going to need. The ‘sit’ command is very useful and vital for teaching which behaviors are encouraged or discouraged.
For instance, when your dog is barking, you can call them to you and tell them to ‘sit’. If you repeat this enough, they may well learn on their own to simply bark enough to get your attention and then to come to you and wait for another command.
To teach your dog to sit, all you need is a treat and a little patience. Hold out the treat where your dog can see it and tell them to ‘sit’ in a firm, clear voice. When your dog sits, praise them and give them the treat. Repeat this exercise 5 times for 3-minute training sessions each until they have learned this.
While it seems simple, ‘sit’ is essential for teaching more complicated commands and for ensuring that your dog will stop and sit when you tell them. This is useful to keep them from jumping on guests or to prevent them from acting on fear or territorial aggression – so it’s vital that they learn this!
Teaching your dog to come immediately
Getting your dog to come to you when you say their name is a pretty basic command, but you’ll notice that it doesn’t always work immediately and this is something that you can change. To teach your dog the ‘Hurry’ command you’ll want to arm yourself with some treats and practice calling to your dog.
When they don’t respond right away, hold up a treat and say ‘Hurry!’ and this should bring your dog over right away. Praise them and reward them with the treat for a few days during the week and then try using the ‘Hurry’ command without a treat.
If your Shepherds hurries to you immediately, then you’ll know that they have learned this command. Otherwise, just keep practicing and be patient – this is a command that most Shepherds will learn very quickly. It is also nice to know that when you or another family member need the dog to come quickly, your German Shepherd will always come running!
Give your Shepherd something to do
Another important thing that you need to know when training a German Shepherd is this – they get into trouble mostly because they don’t have something to do. This can manifest in different ways, such as a Shepherd that barks at someone because they aren’t used to people. They might want to meet them, but they don’t know-how.
Teaching your dog to behave around people and animals can quickly fix this. For instance, if you have friends visiting, you should introduce them to your dog. Put your dog’s harness on (always use a harness, as this won’t hurt their neck like a collar), and bring your dog over for an introduction.
Next, tell your dog to sit and give them a treat when they so and introduce the dog to your friend. While they won’t understand the words, your dog will understand the tones that you are using and learn which friends are ‘okay’. They will also learn that it’s okay to approach people and politely sit, instead of simply barking.
Get in the habit of calling your dog over when they are playing with a toy, as well. Tell them to sit and give them a treat. If your dog tries to leave, then call them back. Repeat this regularly, and your dog will learn to play at your feet – which is an excellent way to keep your Shepherd from getting into trouble!
Teaching your Shepherd to find things
One of the neatest things that you teach your German Shepherd to do is to find things and bring them back to you. This makes for a fun game, but some owners have even taught their Shepherds to bring them back tools and other useful things, so it’s definitely a trick worth teaching.
To teach your dog to find things you want to start off small your dog will need to know the ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ commands. If they do, then simply get a new ball or an old item you have around the house that you want your dog to find. Take your dog outside next and then show them the item, letting them sniff it.
Move the item somewhere close, but out of the dog’s immediate view. Putting an overturned bucket in the yard is an easy way to do this. When you place the item, show them you are putting a treat there, too, and tell your dog ‘go get the ____’ and point, taking a few steps back.
Your dog will run for the treat and you should point and say ‘get the ____’. This takes practice, but every time they get the named item, you should give them a treat. Once they learn the basics, start hiding and sometimes changing the item in a hidden location – your dog will quickly become a pro at finding things on command!
Some final words
In this article, we’ve explored the subject of training your German Shepherd. These smart dogs are indeed easy to train, you just need to make sure that you schedule regular, daily training in short sessions and that you never, EVER punish your Shepherd. Punishment will just damage trust, so stick to positive reinforcement.
With short, regular training sessions every day, as well as plenty of treats and love, your German Shepherd will enthusiastically learn whatever you want to teach them. Just start with basic commands and build up from there – with these clever dogs, the sky is truly the limit!