How to Obedience Train a German Shepherd

Categorized as German Shepherd
german shepherd obedience training 101

German Shepherds are an elite breed, known for their strength, intelligence, discipline, courage, and obedience. And all of those traits make them invaluable candidates of K-9 Police Dog.

Now, you might be asking, how difficult it is to train German Shepherd? It is not an easy task, but if you can tame German Shepherd’s strong-willed nature, then you will find the best companion that will always guard and protect you with his life.

What Can You Expect from Obedience Training?

  • German Shepherd is a dog born with a strong-willed nature. On the other side of the coin, they born with several nuisance behaviors such as barking, chewing and jumping on people. Obedience training can help correct all of those nuisance behaviors.
  • You will deepen a relationship with your dog.
  • You will nurture a great dog that will become an invaluable member of your family. He will watch, protect and guard all of your family’s members without expecting anything in return.

Now, you have learned all the benefits that you can get from obedience training, this brings us to the next question “when is the best time to start training your dog?”

The Best Time to Start Training

The first 16 – 20 weeks of your dog’s life is the most critical time to train him. In this period, his mind is exposed to anything that happens around him. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, your dog will absorb everything that he sees, touch, smile and hear. As a result, what your dog will become when he grows up will be decided at this age. During this period, you must introduce proper socialization and positive experience.

Let’s start our obedience training by learning how to socialize your puppy.

How to Socialize your Puppy

Giving your puppy proper socialization is one of the very first things you must do. Socialization is the act of exposing your puppy to the world. If done correctly, your puppy will grow up into a confident, playful and outgoing adult dog. Done wrong, your puppy will grow up into a frightened, aggressive adult dog.

Here’s how to do proper socialization:

  1. Bring your puppy to meet friends or family outside.
  2. Invite friends or family to your house.
  3. Ask your friends to bring their dogs to your home. Make sure their dogs are safe and friendly dogs.
  4. Don’t let your puppy play with dogs that you don’t know.
  5. Bring your puppy to meet different new people, but make sure the people that you are about to meet love dogs.

When you bring your German shepherd puppy to socialize, it is important to recognize any negative hint from your puppy. A certain situation can give him a bad experience. This bad experience at an early age can leave a negative impression in his mind for years to come. Here are some hints that you should be aware of:

  • cowering or clinging
  • lip licking
  • sleeping
  • yawning
  • tail tucking
  • ears down and back

When you find any of those hints in a certain situation, you should bring your puppy away from that place until he is relaxed.

Now, after reading about proper socialization above, you might have arrived at this conclusion”every experience that your puppy gets must be a positive experience”.

That conclusion brings us to the next point:”positive reinforcement”.

The Fundamental of Reward

What is the correlation between positive reinforcement and dog obedience training? According to canine behavioral experts, positive reinforcement is the act of giving a reward to your puppy because of his good behavior. Then the rewarded most likely will be repeated again.

Every dog training method that I know revolves around this concept. You should reward your dog when he/she does something pleasant. Then what kind of reward that you should give?

Tasty treats, compliments, hugs, and kisses are the kind of rewards that you should always ready to give.

The Fundamental of Punishment

Punishment is the opposite of a reward. You need punishment as much as a reward to train your puppy. It is a way for us to communicate with our puppies that we don’t like their actions and we expect them to correct that behavior.

When your puppy does something that you don’t like, bring him to his isolation room and leave him there for two minutes. The isolation room is a quiet place where no one around, for example, your ex-kitchen, backyard or cellar.

Remember These Two Rules

There are only two rules that you need to remember when you train your dog. First, your dog must learn you are the alpha leader, and second, you must train your dog in a way that he will understand. These two rules must be reinforced over and over again throughout your dog’s life.

The Application

There are various training applications steaming from the Dog Obedience training field. For example, you can train your dog to sit, to track, to jump, to guard, to bite and much more. In part 2, we will talk about 4 different common dog problems and how to solve them: chewing, scratching, biting, and jumping.

Chewing Problem

German Shepherd chewing dog toys

At an early age until 7 months old, puppy chews a lot of items. Your puppy can chew your shoes, bags, table legs, clothes, and a lot more. To prevent that thing from happens, you need to introduce the “No” command to your puppy.

Whenever you see your puppy chewing on something that you don’t want to, come to your puppy and say “No” clearly, then give your puppy chew tow as a replacement. Give your puppy three chances, when he is failed after the third chance, bring him to his isolation room (the isolation room should be a safe place where no one around) for two minutes.

You must give a replacement for your puppy to chew, never try to stop your puppy from chewing altogether otherwise your puppy can get an early tooth loss and tooth inflammation when he grows up.

You need to repeat this training over and over again. After quite a while, your puppy will understand that he is not allowed to chew every item in your house.

More resources:

Destructive Chewing Problems – ASPCA has a great article on how to deal with dog destructive chewing problems. I recommend you to read ASPCA’s article for more information.

Scratching Problem

GSD scratching problem

Just like chewing, you must not stop your puppy from scratching altogether. Scratching is important to develop healthy claws and paws. Instead of letting your puppy scratching every item in your house, you can give him a dedicated scratch mat as a replacement.

Biting Problem

GSD biting problem

There is a difference between nipping and biting. Nipping is a way to ask your attention, but biting can make you bleed. Nipping is only allowed at playtime. Outside playtime, you should not accept puppy nipping. When he tries to nip you outside playtime, you should gently block his nip with your outside arm, then say “No” clearly.

Give him three chances, when he is failed at the third chance, bring him to his isolation room. Repeat the sequence over and over again until he understands.

Jumping Problem

GSD Jumping Problem

Jumping is a common problem that many dog owners faced. If you find your puppy jumping annoying, you can limit it by introducing “No”, and “Sit” commands. You might want to check out these posts for more information: How to train a German Shepherd to sit.

When your puppy jumps to seek your attention, don’t greet him with the same level of excitement, just stand still, breathe deeply and look away. When you are calm, your puppy will be calm too and no longer, want to jump up.


Remember to reward good behaviors and punish bad behaviors. Keep calm and be patient when you train your puppy.

Here are some of my favorite German Shepherd supplies

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful and useful as you raise and train your German Shepherd.

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