Why is it so important to start your German Shepherd (GSD) on obedience training as soon as he joins your family?
Well, a well-trained GSD will know his place in your family and will be obedient and respectful to you. Certainly you wouldn’t want a GSD who keeps creating havoc in your home.
It is important to start training your GSD as soon as possible (Training can start as early as when he is 7 weeks old). The longer you leave your pet in his set of behaviors, the more bad habits he will pick up.
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How To Train A German Shepherd To Be Obedient?
Start your German Shepherd obedience training by teaching your GSD on basic obedience commands, socialization, crate training as well as leash training to make him a well-behaved pet!
Start With Basic Commands
You want to start with the basic commands as they are simple and easily picked up by your GSD.
Your first obedience training command should be ‘sit’. This is very simple and can be done with your dog sitting in front of you.
The next command will be ‘stay’ and this will require your GSD to stay in his position as you move away. You should reward him with a treat when he obeys and performs the desired reactions.
Do not delay in giving him his reward as what you want is to let him associate the positive experience of getting his treat right away after he performs an intended action.
This will encourage your GSD to do more such behavior.
The next command that should be taught is ‘come’. This is best taught after your dog knows how to sit and stay.
Stay away from your GSD for a short distance and say the command “come”. When your dog comes over to you, you should praise him and give him a treat for obeying your command.
Be Consistent In Your Commands
When you decide to use the word “sit” to command your GSD to sit on the floor, use the same word throughout the training session. Do not interchange the word with “sit down” as that would confuse your dog.
Usually, you might overlook the need for consistency when using the command to train your GSD as “sit” and “sit down” seem to have the same meaning to us, correct?
Your training will be much more difficult if you are not consistent.
Keep Training Session Short
Dogs usually have short attention span. So if you want to get the maximum efficiency from the training, keep each training session to be at most 15 minutes. Any duration longer than that will make your GSD lose his focus and attention on the training.
Reward Him For Good Behavior
The key to successful obedience training is to make your dog associate good behavior with getting a reward. However, you shouldn’t be constantly giving your dog treats for doing nothing.
Rather, reward him when he follows your instruction and do what you had asked him to perform. He should learn to earn his reward.
If you keep praising him “good boy!” whenever he does something that you had wanted him to do, he will eventually learn to do that thing when you say the command. He will also begin to understand what that specific command means.
Build the Bond And Trust
It is my opinion, the real rewards come from the extra time spent playing with your GSD. Playing games, whether it is fetch or tug-of-war, or learning a new trick, or finding hidden treats, or any activities that your dog enjoys, seems to be such a tremendous reward for your dog.
You see, nothing is more valuable to your GSD than spending his time with you. Dogs are social animals, and they like to be with their pack.
By simply being with your dog, this offers him much comfort and makes him trust you and more willing to follow your guidance and be an obedient pet.
Your dog will love you for the attention and would want to please you. He will do so much for you when you just ask him.
Be His Alpha
Dogs are constantly educated and informed by their pack leaders to adapt to different situations and environments. When that leadership is missing, a dog may take on that role as the leader to protect the pack and this can result in an undesirable dominant behavior.
So it is imperative that you provide your GSD with strong, clear, and consistent leadership. This not only creates a harmonious relationship between you and him, but will also make your dog understand that when you give a command, you are serious, he must follow it.
Now, this does not mean that you should be harsh and that your dog should fear you. What it does mean is that your GSD will respond to your instruction just like what he would do to obey his pack leader.
Properly Socialize Your GSD
A dog cannot be expected to be relaxed and calm in the presence of an unfamiliar environment or people without first being taught on how to react in these situations.
This is why proper socialization must take place before your GSD is 20 weeks old or so.
Your GSD must be socialized to be well-adjusted. Well-socialized dogs tend to be calm around people and actually enjoy playing with them.
They are also easily trained to respond to their owners’ commands. This is because they have been taught that the commands are coming from someone who they can be trusted.
There are numerous methods of properly socializing a dog but a common one is simply spending time each day to expose your dog to different people, environment and scents.
The idea is for your GSD to observe these people and start gaining some good experience. In this way, your dog will learn to accept these stimuli without any fear.
As your dog gets comfortable with people, you can start to allow him to be around with other dogs.
Use Of Clicker
The use of a clicker is to let your GSD to associate positive behavior with the clicking sound and some treats. This will lead to some positive behaviors that you are expecting to see from your dog.
Clicker is often used in obedience training to cue or signal your GSD to do some desired action such as”sit” or “stay”.
When he has obeyed and followed your instruction, it is important to reward him immediately so that a positive association is made with this action.The treating is the reinforcer.
Clicker training is such an easy thing to do and it is a great tool to help you with obedience training as it applies positive reinforcement on your dog.
Your Mental State During The Training
Dogs are extremely good at observing human emotions. If you are showing signs of agitation or excitement during the training, that would affect your dog emotion.
He will likely react to your emotions and act in a nervous or anxiety state. This is going to reinforce the bad behavior to him.
So keep calm and neutral when conducting the training session with your GSD and most important of all, be patient and do not lose your temper.
It is inevitable that you will have to put your dog on a leash during the initial training phase to better “manage” him.
So part of the dog obedience training is to teach your dog on how to react with a leash on him. Certainly you do not want him to keep pulling the leash!
You want him to relate leash walking to positive experiences and leash training is best done with positive reinforcement.
If your GSD pulls on the leash or gets too far ahead, give him the “stop” command and lure him back to your side with a treat and then praise him once he is back to your side.
Start walking again and if he pulls on the leash again, repeat the process. Your dog will gradually understand that pulling on the leash is not okay once he hears the command “stop”.
It is okay to take a few steps before you give the “Stop” command. This is teaching your dog that he can’t just walk anywhere with the leash on, he has to pay attention to you and the walk will be more enjoyable for both of you.
Do not confuse your GSD by allowing him to walk for a long time before stopping him. That will teach him to pull on the leash when you stop.
As you begin to take the leash off, keep repeating the “stop” and “back” commands, and remember to reward him with a treat and praise when he follows through the training.
German shepherds have oodles of energy. This can be a problem if they are not given opportunities to use that energy in a positive way.
A routine schedule with daily exercise, walks, training, and play time will help to burn off that energy and keep him from exhibiting any undesirable behavioral problems such as nervousness, anxiety, frustration and jumping on you.
One of the main things that can make obedience training a little more difficult is that GSD are quite boisterous when they’re young and want to be very dominant.
They may also want to urinate everywhere they go in order to mark their territory. As a result, this makes crate training a necessity for them.
Many people see crate training as being inhumane but in actual fact, it is highly humane and is a great way of training your puppy. The fact that dogs are den animals shows that they are always on the lookout for their safety and crate offers them that secure and private space.
You can start your crate training when your GSD is 12 -16 weeks old. This is the perfect time to begin with. At this age, he will start to learn new behavior and might pick up some bad habits such as chewing your favorite pair of shoes and doing his elimination everywhere in your home.
By crate training him, you will also be creating a safe place for him to escape to when he is scared or just wants some personal time to be alone. This will make him calm down and will certainly help to reduce his behavioral problems.
It is also a place where he can go to rest and sleep, when he is getting too tired.
Make sure that you are making your GSD comfortable with his crate. There should be a warm blanket and toys to keep him company in the crate.
Remember, a dog would want to go into the crate because it is a place of comfort, safety, and security, and a place where he wants to be.