So you’ve made it through the first few months with your adorable German Shepherd puppy. Those messy first weeks of potty training and sleepless nights caring for a needy newborn pup are behind you. Now at six months old, your puppy is growing rapidly and going through many developmental changes.
While young German Shepherds are full of energy and mischief at this age, they are also eager to bond with you and soak up your guidance. This makes six months an ideal time to fine-tune training and establish expectations that set your puppy up for success as an adult dog.
What to Expect From Your Growing Puppy
At six months old, your German Shepherd has likely reached 50-75% of his adult weight, though he still has lots more filling out and growing to do. He has boundless energy and wants to explore everything the world has to offer. Smart and eager to please, this pup will astound you with how quickly he picks up on new cues and commands.
However, he’s also becoming more independent and willing to push boundaries. Without proper guidance, these traits could lead to unwanted behaviors. The key is learning to harness your pup’s intelligence and energy for good through engaging training activities and plenty of exercise.
The six month mark also brings big hormonal changes, as your puppy enters adolescence and sexual maturity. Intact male German Shepherds may start “feeling their oats” and become more assertive with other dogs. Females tend to mature faster, and may go through unpredictable mood swings or periods of seeming aloof.
For all young GSDs, this surge of new hormones can negatively impact their training progress if you don’t stay consistent and ignore pushy or dramatic behaviors. Be patient, stick to routine, and make sure your pup has outlets for his energy. The hormonal chaos will balance out as your dog matures.
Preparing For A Growth Spurt
Between two and five months, German Shepherds experience their most rapid bone growth. Your six month old may look almost full grown, even though he has a lot more maturing to do. Make sure you are feeding him a high quality puppy food formulated for large breed dogs, which will have optimal calcium and phosphorus levels to support this crucial development stage.
With those long gangly GSD legs also comes increased clumsiness and a tendency to accidentally bowl people over. Be patient if your pup seems to trip over his own paws more often lately. He’s getting used to the length of those limbs.
You can help build coordination by doing slow, controlled leash walks over varied terrain. Avoid too much high impact exercise, as those joints are still soft and vulnerable to injury. Allow plenty of rest time too, since growing puppies need more sleep.
These adolescent dogs seem to live by the motto “Go big or go home!” When excited, they’ll zoom around at top speed, sometimes knocking over furniture or startled humans. Be ready to gently redirect that enthusiasm into positive outlets like playing fetch, tug toys, or training games.
Your pup may also start testing his independence by wandering farther away when off leash or refusing to comply with previously learned cues. He’s not being disobedient on purpose, but rather trying to assert his new feelings of autonomy.
The Importance of Consistency
The six month mark is prime time for your German Shepherd to start testing boundaries. As you laugh off his silly puppy antics, don’t forget to reinforce expectations. Jumping up, nipping, demand barking, and other rude behaviors should always get the same consistent response from you.
For example, if your pup jumps on guests, give a firm “Off!” each time while stepping between him and the person. When he has all four paws on the floor again, praise and give him a toy to hold as the guest greets him. He’ll learn his paws belong on the floor, not people. Consistency from the whole family is vital, as German Shepherds are quick to exploit any loopholes.
Your puppy isn’t currently showing aggression when growling over toys and food. But left unaddressed, this resource guarding could worsen over time. Use positive reinforcement to teach him to “Drop it” or “Leave it” on cue for rewarding treats. Handling him and his food while he eats can also help prevent future guarding.
German Shepherds live to please their owners, so preserving your role as protector and guide is essential. Set limitations, but avoid scolding or punishments that could damage your bond. Your pup wants someone to look up to, so be that consistent strong leader.
The Value of Ongoing Socialization
The key socialization period for puppies ends at around 16 weeks old. However, socialization remains crucial through adulthood for any dog. At six months old, your German Shepherd is experiencing another surge of independence and confidence.
Fear periods can also pop up sporadically over the first 18 months of life. To avoid potential problems, make sure your pup has continued positive exposures to anything he could encounter as an adult. This includes:
- Other dogs and puppies: Seek out tolerant adult dogs who enjoy puppies for playdates. Also expose your pup to dogs of all sizes. Always monitor play and end interactions on a positive note before puppies get too wound up. Sign up for a puppy manners class for more controlled socialization.
- New environments: Take your puppy on car rides, outings to new parks, or just walks around novel parts of your neighborhood. Let him sniff and explore while reinforcing good walking manners.
- Unfamiliar people: Have friends, family and neighbors give your puppy treats and gentle praise when they first greet him. Teaching him to sit politely to “say hello” is also useful. Include people of diverse ages, appearances and mobility levels.
- Noisy situations: Desensitize your puppy to commotion like vacuum cleaners, construction sounds, crowds, or traffic by exposing him gradually and pairing the noises with food rewards.
Proper socialization teaches your German Shepherd to handle new stimuli with confidence rather than fear. While genetics play a role, good early exposure makes a huge difference in preventing reservist behaviors. Never force interactions, though. Let your puppy dictate the pace and watch his comfort level.
Providing the Right Exercise & Enrichment
You have an energetic teenage German Shepherd on your hands! While physical and mental exercise are always important for this breed, they become even more essential around six months old. All that youthful vigor needs positive outlets to prevent destructive or obnoxious behaviors from developing.
- Two or more 20-30 minutes walks per day
- Safe off leash play in fenced areas
- Games of fetch to bolster recall skills
- Puppy push ups (sit/down repetitions)
- Slow leash walks up and down hills or stairs to build rear muscle strength
- Snuffle mats or puzzle toys stuffed with kibble
- Kongs and chew toys (use some meals for stuffing)
- Training sessions to learn new commands or tricks
- Nosework games tracking treats indoors or out
- Change up walking routes to provide new scenery
Puppies have short attention spans, so keep training focused and fun. Practice commands already learned, then end on a positive note with a new skill or game.
Your German Shepherd craves having a job to do, so give him one through structured activities. Regular exercise and training will help tremendously with behaviors like jumping, mouthing, and destruction. A tired puppy is a well behaved puppy!
Curbing Unwanted Behaviors
Despite your best efforts, chances are your six month old German Shepherd will eventually engage in some undesirable behavior. Puppies love to chew, dig, nip, jump up, and otherwise wreak occasional havoc. Here’s how to curb common issues:
Chewing/Destruction – Puppy-proof your home by keeping shoes, TV remotes, and other tempting items out of reach. Provide plenty of sturdy, enticing chew toys and use food puzzles or stuffed Kongs to occupy your pup. Bitter sprays can deter chewing on forbidden objects. Manage access to off-limit areas until your pup matures.
Demand Barking – Ignore all attention-seeking woofs. Reward with affection or walks only when your dog is quiet. Teach a quiet cue like “Enough” as an alternative behavior. Ensure your pup gets sufficient physical and mental exercise.
Jumping Up – Stand still and fold your arms whenever your dog jumps, then wait for him to settle down before giving attention. Reward four paw sits with treats and praise. Practice “Off” cue whenever someone approaches or when excited.
Nipping/Mouthing – Say “Ouch!” and end all play for 15-30 seconds whenever teeth touch skin. Encourage carrying toys instead. Be consistent so your pup learns the consequences. Avoid waving hands/feet near your dog’s face.
Submissive Urination – Greet calmly without direct eye contact to avoid overwhelming your pup. Take him straight outside to relieve himself before greeting. Clean soiled areas thoroughly with enzyme cleaner. Build confidence through reward-based training.
Resource Guarding – Hand feed meals and provide high-value chews to establish trust. Trade up for something better when removing any item. Teach “Drop it” and “Leave it” cues. Avoid reprimanding guarded behaviors.
With patience and consistency, you can guide your German Shepherd puppy to grow into the wonderful companion you know he can be. Keep training sessions upbeat and engaging. Be firm but fair at all times. And make sure to give your clever pup plenty of outlets for his energy and large appetite for learning new things.
Preparing For Adolescence
Raising any puppy has ups and downs, but the German Shepherd’s large size and super smarts make preparing for adolescence especially important. Between 6-18 months, your pup will be going through rapid physical development and mental changes.
Here are some tips to help you navigate adolescent behaviors:
- Upgrade to an adult food formula at around 8-12 months to support your dog’s growth needs
- Increase exercise duration as your dog’s stamina develops, avoiding too much repetitive activity like stairs or running until growth plates close
- Maintain training throughout teenage months, increasing impulse control and obedience challenges
- Get your dog spayed/neutered to avoid unwanted pet pregnancies and reduce certain unwanted behaviors
- Ensure your home and yard are securely fenced so your adventuresome adolescent doesn’t take off
- Acclimate your pup to car rides and being crated or confined on cue, which allows for vet visits and travel
- Microchip and properly ID your pup; adolecents can be escape artists when motivated
- Keep up socialization to boost confidence around new places, dogs, and people
- Be patient! Adolescence can bring bouts of selective deafness, goofiness, and forgetfulness as your GSD tests boundaries
While adolescence can be challenging, this is a period of great opportunity. Stay engaged with your German Shepherd through training, exercise adventures, reinforcement of manners, and relationship building. You’ll form an incredible bond with your pup that carries through to adulthood.
What To Expect From a Mature German Shepherd
Congratulations – if you’ve raised, trained, and socialized your German Shepherd properly through puppyhood and adolescence, you now have an amazing adult dog by your side! At 1-3 years old, your dog still requires plenty of activity and attention, but settling into adulthood comes with many perks. Here’s what to expect:
- A strong work ethic makes them eager training partners, capable of learning complex tasks and commands
- Loyalty and protective instincts emerge more strongly as your bond deepens over time
- Energy levels remain high but activities can shift to more strength and endurance training vs. puppy play
- Chewing issues and other destructive tendenciesdecrease tremendously as adult chewing needs are met
- Prey drive, reactivity, aggression and other behaviors tend to stabilize as your dog matures, making them more reliable
- Socialization should continue but your German Shepherd can now read other dog’s signals better and have more controlled interactions
- Your grown dog will still love affection and attention from his family but settles down indoors and doesn’t require constant supervision
- Appetite and nutritional needs level off compared to the voracity of adolescence
Your adult German Shepherd truly thrives when he has a job to do. Involve your dog in family activities, training routines, sports or other engaging tasks.
Meet his needs for exercise and companionship, while reinforcing house manners and obedience cues. After all the hard work of raising your GSD puppy, enjoy the unwavering loyalty and protection of your grown dog for years to come.
Raising a German Shepherd puppy has its challenges, but also brings immense rewards. At six months of age, your puppy will start showing more independence, along with some adolescent behaviors.
However, this is also an ideal stage for continuing training and solidifying your role as your pup’s leader. With proper guidance, exercise outlet, and training, your six month old will grow into an extraordinary companion.
Patience and consistency are key when dealing with normal puppy antics like mouthing, jumping, and chewing. Avoid punishment, and instead manage the environment and teach your puppy what you DO want him to do.
Socialization, training, exercise and mental stimulation should all be part of your pup’s daily routine. Thriving GSDs have an outlet for their intelligence and enthusiasm.
Before you know it, you’ll have weathered the trials of puppyhood and adolescence and be left with a beloved grown dog you’ve raised yourself. There’s no other bond quite like that between owner and German Shepherd.
With some knowledge of this breed’s developmental stages, you’ll be ready to take on the joys and responsibilities of guiding your smart, energetic puppy into an amazing adult dog.