Originally, German shepherds, also known as GSDs, were bred to protect herds and dwell in packs. These traits make them naturally dominant. They love being in charge. Still, they are some of the smartest dogs around and are quick to learn new tricks. Regardless, you should not wait too long to start your training. The older your GSD gets, the harder it is for you to teach him new tricks.
Start your training as early as when they are two months old. Here are 5 basic commands you can teach your German Shepherd, along with steps that just might help you get there.
1. Teaching Your Dog The Command “COME!”
- Step 1 : Always start this training indoors. Wait until he is playing with his toys and then call out his name. When he responds by looking at you, show him his favorite treat and urge him to come get it by saying the command “come.”
- Step 2 : When he comes, shower him with praises and giving him his treat. This way he will learn the positive association of responding to your commands.
- Step 3 : If he does not come willingly, gently tug on his leash and repeat the word “come” while showing him his treat. Do not be excessively forceful or harsh on your dog when teaching him this command. Be patient enough, and try different treats until he can respond to your command. Give him a treat whenever he responds positively.
- Step 4 : Take your training outdoors after two days of training and repeat the exercise.
- Step 5 : Keep escalating the training by increasing the distance between you and your dog and repeat the exercise until he can understand the command “come” without the need of a treat.
This is one of the most important commands you will ever teach your GSD as it can help keep him out of trouble.
2. Training your German shepherd to “SIT”
This is a crucial command that will assist your dog to become well-mannered and obedient.
- Step 1 : Wait for your dog to stand or sit in front of you. Hold his favorite treat in your hand and then flash it before his eye and make sure he sees it. This should get him excited and grab his attention.
- Step 2 : Slowly hover the hand holding the treat over his head towards his rear side. All the while, ensure the treat stays in line with his nose so that he can sniff the treat to fuel his excitement.
- Step 3 : Your dog will automatically drop his rear to the floor in a sitting position to maintain eye-contact with his favorite treat. Once, his behind hits the floor, hand him the treat and praise him for a good job.
- Step 4 : Do not use the word “sit” at this level. Instead, practice this exercise until he can sit on seeing the treat on your hand. Only introduce the word “sit” after a few days of practicing.
- Step 5 : Have the treat in your hand and then use the word sit. If he is not able to respond by sitting on the ground, gently press his coup down and then repeat the command. Do not reward him with the treat until he can respond to the command. Keep practicing until your dog can sit even without treats.
3. Teaching your dog the command “DOWN”
This command is handy in helping your dog calm down, especially when it is agitated by a new sight or sound.
- Step 1: Wait until your GSD is seated, and then place a treat between your thumb and index finger. Move your hand close enough to his face so that he can see and sniff his favorite snack.
- Step 2: Next, move the treat towards the floor while preventing him from getting up from his sitting position. Use the word “down” as you prevent him from getting up.
- Step 3 : Also use the command “down” when he tries to get a hold of the treat while lying down.
- Step 4 : As soon as he stops trying to reach for the treat and is completely rested, pat him affectionately and praise him so that he can know that you are pleased. Give him the treat.
- Step 5 : Repeat this exercise until he can respond to the command even without a treat.
4. Training your dog the command “LEAVE IT”
This command is particularly helpful when trying to get your dog to let go of something. Some GSD puppies resort to destructive behaviors like chewing and biting on household items. This command will come in handy during such times.
- Step 1 : Start your training by holding a treat and calling your dog by his name. Wait for him to come for the treat and then drop it on the floor.
- Step 2 : When he tries to get the treat, place your hand over it and in a firm voice say “leave it.” Following this command, pick up the treat and pull your arm away. Wait a few minutes and then repeat the same exercise. Always be firm and clear when commanding it to “leave it.”
- Step 3 : Repeat the exercise until your dog can respond to “leave it” without you having to place your hand over the treat. If he responds positively, reward him with the treat.
5. Training your dog to respond to the command “STAY”
This command will help you to stop your dog from chasing after your neighbor’s cats or squirrels.
- Step 1 : Before you start teaching this command, make sure he understands the command down.
- Step 2 : Now, teach him to stay in the “down” position with his palm over his head, when you say “stay!”
- Step 3 : Maintain eye contact when you deliver this command during the time you want him to stay put. Repeat the command if he tries to get up or lift his head. If he obeys, give him a treat and praise him to let him know that you are happy he is following your command.
- Step 4 : Repeat this exercise, while gradually increasing the time of the “stay.”
Conclusion . . .
The foundation of good dog training is based on correction and rewarding. Always use a firm “No!” when correcting your GSD. Do not yell or involve physical punishment such as spanking. Also, it is important to note that most female dogs may seem reluctant to training during a pregnancy. Avoid pushing them too hard during this period. Reward your dog with tasty dog biscuits, their favorite toy to play with or shower him with praises such as “Good dog!” in a happy voice.