How to Take Care of a 3-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy

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Bringing home a 3-month-old German Shepherd puppy is an exciting time! These highly intelligent, energetic dogs make wonderful companions when properly cared for. At 3 months old, your German Shepherd is transitioning from the puppy to the adolescent stage, bringing new needs and behaviors.

With the right balance of nutrition, training, socialization and veterinary care, you can set your puppy up for a happy, healthy life.

CategoryTips
Nutrition– Feed high-quality puppy food with at least 22% protein and 12% fat
– Feed 2 cups daily split into 3-4 meals
– Limit treats to 10% of daily calories
Training– Start obedience training (sit, stay, come, etc.)
– Socialize to new people, places, dogs, noises
Exercise– 20-30 minute morning/evening leash walks
– Afternoon play/training sessions
Grooming– Brush 2-3 times per week
– Bathe every 4-6 weeks
– Trim nails weekly
Veterinary Care– Continue vaccines and deworming
– Well visits every 3-4 weeks
– Start parasite prevention
Sleep– 18-20 hours of sleep per day
– Provide comfortable, quiet area for naps and nighttime
Chewing/Teething– Provide chew toys and frozen items
– Keep inappropriate items out of reach
Proofing/Safety– Puppy-proof house by securing hazards and valuables
– Use baby gates to restrict access

Understand Your Puppy’s Growth and Development

The 3-month mark brings significant physical and mental changes for your German Shepherd. Here’s what to expect at this age:

  • Size: Males are around 9-11 inches tall and weigh 22-30 pounds. Females are usually 8-10 inches tall and weigh 17-26 pounds. Puppies from working lines may be on the smaller end. The gender size difference becomes noticeable now.
  • Teething: Your puppy is teething now. Adult teeth are coming in as baby teeth fall out. Provide plenty of chew toys to relieve discomfort and save your belongings.
  • Coat: The fuzzy puppy fur transitions to the adult double coat. Expect shedding as the coat changes.
  • Activity Levels: Boundless energy and curiosity arrive with the juvenile stage. Be prepared for your puppy to run, jump, play for hours.
  • Training/Socialization: Your puppy is ready for early obedience training and socialization now. This is a crucial time for shaping good behaviors.

Knowing what to expect will help you meet your puppy’s needs at each stage of growth and development. Monitor your puppy’s progress at vet checkups.

Feed a Nutritious Diet

Nutrition is vital for fueling your rapidly growing German Shepherd puppy. At 3 months old, your puppy needs a diet high in protein to support muscle growth and development. Here are some feeding tips:

  • What to feed: High-quality dry or wet puppy food formulated for large breed dogs. Look for at least 22% protein and 12% fat.
  • How much: About 2 cups of food per day, split into 3-4 smaller meals. Follow label feeding guidelines.
  • Supplements: Ask your vet about supplementing with omega fatty acids for skin/coat health and glucosamine for joint health.
  • Avoid overfeeding: Overweight puppies are at risk for joint issues. Stick to recommended portions.
  • Treats: Limit treats to 10% of total daily calories. Use small treats for training rewards.
  • Consistency: Feed the same brand and type of food at regular mealtimes to avoid stomach upset.
  • Clean water: Always provide fresh, clean drinking water. Change water frequently.

Feeding a nutritious diet sets the foundation for your German Shepherd’s lifelong health. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions about your puppy’s diet.

Crate Train for Safety and Comfort

Crate training offers many benefits for your German Shepherd puppy. When introduced positively, crates become a place of comfort and security. Crate training also helps with potty training and prevents destructive chewing behaviors. Here are some tips for crate training your 3-month-old:

  • Choose a crate large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down. They’ll outgrow puppy crates quickly.
  • Make the crate comfortable with a pad, blankets and safe chew toys.
  • Start crate training slowly. Feed your puppy in the crate with the door open at first.
  • Practice crating your puppy for short periods during the day and extend the time gradually.
  • Praise and give treats for calm crate behavior. Never use the crate for punishment.
  • Ensure your puppy has pottied shortly before crating to help avoid accidents.
  • Crate your puppy at night nearby your bedroom to help them feel secure.

With positive reinforcement methods, your German Shepherd puppy will accept the crate as their safe personal space.

Prioritize Exercise and Play

German Shepherd puppies have boundless energy starting at 3 months old. Without adequate exercise and playtime, your puppy may become frustrated and destructive. Plan multiple activity sessions throughout the day:

Morning: Take your puppy for a 20-30 minute leash walk around the neighborhood or backyard. This gets their energy out and encourages pottying.

Afternoon: Have a long play and training session in a secure area. Play fetch, let them chase toys, work on commands. Avoid rough play.

Evening: Take another leash walk and have some free playtime. Interactive toys and chews help settle your puppy before bedtime.

Weekends: Go on outings to new parks, trails or beaches. Exposure to new sights and sounds is enriching.

Finding fun physical outlets helps prevent boredom and anxiety in your energetic adolescent pup. Adjust activities based on your puppy’s stamina and recovery. Don’t overexercise them as their joints are still developing.

Start Obedience Training

The adolescent period from 3-6 months old is a prime time to start training your German Shepherd puppy. Their minds are eager to learn new things. Focus initial training on:

  • Basic commands: Sit, stay, come, down, leave it. Build these through positive reinforcement.
  • Leash manners: Proper leash walking, not pulling or zigzagging.
  • Socialization: Safely introduce your puppy to new people, dogs, places and noises.
  • Bite inhibition: Teach them to be gentle with their mouth when playing.

Keep training sessions brief (5-10 mins) and end on a positive note, praising success. Be patient and consistent. Enroll in a puppy kindergarten class for structured socialization and training if available.

Manage Teething and Chewing

The teething stage brings mouthy, nippy behavior. Your puppy will seek relief from sore gums by chewing everything in sight. These tips can save your belongings:

  • Provide acceptable chew toys to redirect your puppy’s need to chew. Try frozen items for numbing gums.
  • Avoid plush toys which can be shredded and ingested. Opt for tough rubber or nylon chews.
  • Give marrow bones, frozen carrots or chilled wet towels for sore teeth relief.
  • Keep shoes, clothing, kids toys and other tempting items out of reach.
  • If your puppy nips or mouths during play, say “ouch!” and stop playing briefly to teach bite inhibition.
  • Be patient! Teething is uncomfortable, but the behavior should improve around 5-6 months as adult teeth come in.

With some redirection and tolerance, you’ll both get through the land shark phase of puppy teething. Supervise closely if any aggressive biting develops.

Groom Regularly

The fluffy puppy coat sheds out as your German Shepherd’s adult fur grows in around 3-4 months old. During this transition, you’ll notice more shedding. Here are some grooming tips:

  • Brush: Brush your puppy 2-3 times per week to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Use a slicker brush and natural bristle brush.
  • Bathe: Bathe your puppy once every 4-6 weeks or when dirty. Use a puppy shampoo to avoid drying out their skin.
  • Nails: Trim nails weekly. Have the vet show proper technique to avoid hitting the quick.
  • Ears: Check and gently clean your puppy’s ears weekly. Never insert anything into the ear canal.
  • Brushing: Help your puppy become comfortable with having their teeth brushed using doggie toothpaste.

Regular at-home grooming keeps your puppy’s skin and coat healthy while establishing good habits. Reach out to a professional groomer once vaccinations are complete.

Provide Plenty of Rest

Don’t be surprised if your energetic puppy suddenly turns into a couch potato. German Shepherd puppies need around 18-20 hours of sleep per day at 3 months old. Support healthy development by providing the right sleep environment:

  • Allow uninterrupted nighttime sleep in the crate or bed nearby owners.
  • Have comfortably cool sleeping areas away from high traffic areas.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake up schedule.
  • Take daytime naps after meals, playtime and training.
  • Curb nighttime wakeups for play with boring potty breaks.
  • Consider calming aids like blankets with litter scent or white noise if having trouble settling.

Puppies grow tremendously during sleep. Making rest a priority prevents overtired problem behaviors. If your puppy has difficulty settling, consult your veterinarian.

Stay Up to Date on Veterinary Care

Frequent veterinary visits ensure your rapidly growing German Shepherd puppy remains happy and healthy.

  • Vaccines: Puppies receive boosters of core vaccines around 16 weeks old. Rabies may be given at 4 months.
  • Deworming: Puppies are dewormed every 2-4 weeks until around 16 weeks old.
  • Spay/neuter: This can be scheduled between 5-12 months. Discuss timing with your vet.
  • Well visits: Go to the vet every 3-4 weeks for weight checks, preventative care and addressing concerns.
  • Parasite prevention: Use veterinarian-prescribed treatments to protect against fleas, ticks, heartworm and intestinal parasites.

Keeping up with your puppy’s veterinary needs prevents illness and keeps vaccinations on track. Be proactive about your German Shepherd puppy’s healthcare.

Puppy-Proof Your Home

The curiosity and poor judgment of an adolescent German Shepherd puppy can spell trouble at home. Take time to thoroughly puppy-proof your environment:

  • Keep phones, remotes, eyeglasses and other tempting items out of reach.
  • Secure trash cans and prevent access to food waste and compost.
  • Use baby gates to restrict access to parts of the house. Confine your pup when you can’t supervise directly.
  • Ensure no small, swallowable items are left around. Check for holes or gaps behind appliances.
  • Move houseplants out of reach. Many common plants are toxic to dogs if ingested.
  • Keep cords tucked away and tape down rugs/mats that may be chewed.
  • Install latches on cabinets and doors your pup could get into.
  • Check your yard for spaces under fences, toxic plants and hazards.

Taking the time to puppy-proof thoroughly now prevents costly mistakes later. Reevaluate as your home and puppy’s abilities change.

Troubleshoot Common Behavior Issues

Adolescent puppies are famous for problematic behaviors. Don’t get discouraged – with patience and positive training these are improvable:

  • Mouthing/nipping: Redirect to chew toys, yelp if nipped, use training aids to discourage.
  • Jumping: Turn away to remove attention. Train and reward an alternative behavior like sitting.
  • Destructive chewing: Exercise more, provide chew alternatives, confine when unsupervised.
  • Begging/stealing food: Don’t give in. Train “leave it” and reinforce ignoring food.
  • Separation anxiety: Slowly get puppy used to alone time – don’t make departures emotional. Provide enrichment activities like food puzzles.
  • Submissive urination: Greet puppy calmly, take them outside immediately if excited urination occurs.

The adolescent phase brings new training challenges. Be patient and consistent using positive reinforcement to help improve pesky puppy behaviors.

Enjoy This Fun Stage!

The time from 3-6 months is one of huge learning and growth for your German Shepherd puppy. While challenging at times, remember to enjoy your playful, affectionate pup. Shower them with praise, play and love as you continue raising them into a happy, well-adjusted dog. With your dedicated care and training, the work you put into your puppy now pays off hugely down the road!

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.