German Shepherd Training Beginner’s Guide
As a dog trainer, I’ve worked and lived with German Shepherds and German Shepherd puppies for decades.
I KNOW the struggles and the joys, first hand.
And, let me assure you that if you train your German Shepherd Dog incorrectly, or neglect German Shepherd training completely, you will end up with an aggressive dog or a fearful behavioral mess.
Most basic obedience dog training programs, as of late, completely ignore impulse control, which is essential for a high drive, biting puppy that is expected to become a good canine companion. For more information on Impulse Control Training Check this out.
Before we get into German Shepherd training, I’m going to start with a brief history lesson, so you can understand the qualities that make this dog man’s best friend.
The German Shepherd Dog
It all started at an 1889 dog show in Karlsruhe, Western Germany. A medium-sized, yellow-and-gray, wolf-like dog caught the attention of Captain Max von Stephanitz. He was a working herding dog that was primal, powerful, possessed endurance, steadiness, and intelligence. The dog’s name was, Hektor Linksrhein, and was purchased by Max von Stephanitz on the spot. Von Stephanitz renamed him Horand von Grafrath; and he became the first registered German Shepherd Dog.
After an intense breeding program to develop the ideal German herder, Von Stephanitz focused specifically on breeding Horand and his best son Hektor until their blood lines were perfected, and suppressing undesirable recessive genes originating from the mixing of the original strains. Von Stephanitz then inserted the unrelated blood of a herding dog origin resulting in the ancestors of today’s German Shepherd Dog, and the rest, they say is history.
GSDs became popular in the United States in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the adventures of canine movie stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America formed in 1913, and is the American Kennel Club's Parent Club representing the breed.
Generally considered man’s best friend, and “an all-purpose worker, the German Shepherd Dog is a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the German Shepherd is truly a dog lover’s delight.” – American Kennel Club
If you’re thinking about a German Shepherd puppy…
Trying to decide if a GSD puppy is right for you and your family? Buying a puppy is a commitment that cannot be taken lightly and you want to make sure you are selecting the very best puppy for your needs, no matter the breed. Bringing a puppy home is the same as bringing home a human child (except German Shepherds mature faster and are more loyal!).
You must first research the breed so you know everything you can about German Shepherds. These dogs have an image problem; some people think they are inherently vicious when, in fact, they aren't. They were never bred to fight other animals or human beings. They were bred to be extremely obedient and willing to please. German Shepherd training is a huge part of ownership and something you need to be committed to.
You will be investing a lot of time in your new pup. In addition to normal exercise, it is vital that Shepherds receive lots of early training. Training a puppy will require frequent potty breaks - even during the night - and time away from other pursuits you may have. This can take lots of patience and hard work but the end result is definitely worth it. A good purebred German Shepherd from a reputable breeder can cost a considerable amount of money. They will bond with a family somewhat but will pick one person out of the family and be totally dedicated to that person.
If your job takes you away for extended periods of time or you like to go on frequent trips where you can't take the dog along, then maybe a German Shepherd is not right for you. German Shepherds are big shedders so consider this fact before you bring one into your home. German Shepherds have been known to live up to 12 years, so consider carefully the commitment needed to provide for your German Shepherd over the duration of its life. German Shepherds are predisposed to quite a few different diseases so a vet-check or obtaining a Health Guarantee before purchasing is very wise. Some of the more common diseases found in the German Shepherd are hip dysplasia, bloat, and aortic stenosis.
A well-trained Shepherd is a pride and joy of its owner but an ignored or neglected dog will probably not show many desirous traits. Unless you are experienced at training dogs it is highly recommended that you enroll both yourself and your dog in an obedience program. While both sexes will be equally loving and courageous, males tend to be larger and more muscular and will tend to be more territorial and dominant while the female tends to be smaller and more protective of her "human." The males will often be more tolerable of children than the females. If the individual puppy meets all of your criteria either sex will make an outstanding companion.
Below are some tips to consider when selecting your puppy:
Get your puppy from a good breeder.
One of the best resources in finding a quality German Shepherd puppy is to contact the GSDCA Regional Clubin your area. There are many sources that offer purebred German Shepherd puppies, but finding the best source takes time and study. Puppies in pet stores are mostly from puppy mills or the occasional backyard breeder whose main objective is producing puppies for profit. Please be careful here as health problems may be common as the "for-profit" breeder does not select the best possible bloodlines that will be compatible for good health, longevity and good temperament. When potential German Shepherd owners select a badly bred puppy, they will be faced with a lifetime of problems which can include temperament issues (aggression, reactivity, poor nerves, fearful, etc.) and health issues (hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, degenerative joint disease, allergies, EPI, irritable bowel disease, etc.). When a potential German Shepherd owner selects a reputable, responsible breeder they drastically reduce the chances of having a dog with such issues.
This one is equally as important as number 1
Always, Always, ALWAYS meet both of the puppy’s parents, all of the littermates and see the kennel/home. You want to make sure both the dam and sire have desirable temperaments, are in good health and are in a clean environment. This can tell you so much about what you can expect from your pup in the future and a clean environment means house training will be easier.
Decide if you want a male or female.
Males are larger and heavier (24-26 inches at the highest point of the shoulders and 65 to 90 lbs.). Females are somewhat smaller and lighter in weight (22-24 inches in height at the top of the shoulders and 50-70 lbs.). Secondary sex characteristics should be pronounced for males and females, e.g. a male looks like a male with pronounced masculinity and a female should look feminine with more delicate features.
Do not select a shy puppy.
You do not want a puppy who is afraid of you, or runs and hides. This type of puppy is afraid of people, places and things. Do not feel guilty for not picking the runt or the anti-social puppy in the corner. Instead, pick a puppy that is healthy looking, has clear eyes, is energetic and outgoing, one that is playing with his littermates and isn’t afraid of you, or to be handled by you.
A good breeder wants the very best available home for their puppies. Expect them to ask you questions about your lifestyle and the home you will be providing it. Don’t force the match, instead find the perfect fit.
Is a German Shepherd Rescue Right for You?
Unfortunately, some German Shepherd Dogs will find themselves in a situation where they need a new home. The first reason for giving up a GSD puppy is because of a behavioral problem. Behavior problems usually occur because the owner did not research and/or clearly understand what it takes to raise a German Shepherd Dog to be a responsible community member.
The second reason for giving up dogs is due to lifestyle changes. Change is inevitable. The loss of a job, divorce, death, birth of a baby, a diagnosis of a severe medical problem, responsibility for the care of elderly parents can all lead to a person being unable to continue to care for their dog and he winds up in a shelter or German Shepherd rescue.
When you invite a rescue dog to join your family you MUST establish a good German Shepherd training routine establishing yourself as the leader. It is not necessary to do this with force but it is absolutely necessary that the owner be committed to providing appropriate attention, exercise and consistent, positive reinforcement, and realize that they may be a lot more work; but the payoff can be worth it.
German Shepherd Training - Traditional Methods Don’t Work
A German Shepherd Dog is very sensitive.
They have been bred to be emotionally and intellectually connected to their trainer so that they can be efficient dogs for police, military and other K9 training. They need mental stimulation and positive reinforcement. (Learn more about the breed here)
As such, traditional basic obedience and correction based training can completely emotionally shut down, over stimulate, or create fear in this breed. Meaning, German Shepherd training with leash corrections will make some German Shepherds afraid of training and making mistakes; and it can make others with stronger personalities lash out in aggressive behaviors trying to bite their owner for using the leash incorrectly or introducing pain. Consistency and positive reinforcement, reward based training will yield excellent results. He is happiest when he lives with his family. He should be raised in the household and exposed to the family’s activities.
German Shepherd Puppy Training Classes Don’t Work
Taking a new GSD puppy to obedience classes before training them at home will not work. It is your responsibility to teach your dog obedience and impulse control in a boring and undistracted environment.
Taking a puppy, who hasn’t received any kind of training at all, to puppy classes and expecting him to learn new concepts is like taking your 2nd grader to Chuck E. Cheese with his friends and expecting him to sit down and learn a new math concept.
It isn’t fair!
It also isn’t likely to be effective at all!
The excitement level pushes the puppy WAY over his threshold and he ends up frustrated and you end up angry.
Even if you can get some basic focus, this environment is not conducive to learning, much less fair.
Don’t get me wrong! I am ALL ABOUT obedience classes, but I want my German Shepherd puppy training to begin at home so he will be set up for success when I add that kind of stress and distraction!
No, Obedience is NOT Enough
There are many benefits to obedience training, including building a closer, positive relationship with your dog, teaching your dog life and social skills, and helping to prevent your dog from developing unwanted behaviors. A dog that will come when called may help avoid life threatning situations, such as being hit by a car or having a bad encounter with another animal. Though obedience training has many benefits, is it enough for your German Shepherd training?
Puppies and adult dogs who have never learned it, need Impulse Control!
I have had friends, whose dogs have won obedience titles and trophies that look AMAZING on the field, but who would steal food off the table and knee cap you going down stairs. It was like they learned obedience “conditionally’. They were obedient in certain circumstances and certain conditions, but had no idea how to cap their “drive” or control their basic impulses.
The majority of our German Shepherd Dogs aren’t going to be working dogs living in kennels. Most of us want a good companion. But, our dogs’ brains are wired differently. They get too impulsive or too excited and have a hard time controlling themselves.
Does Your Dog Get Impulsive in These Scenarios
Being TOO excited to see other DOGS (or animals)
Being TOO excited to eat
Being TOO excited to play
Being TOO excited to chase
Being TOO excited to greet guests
Being TOO excited to let loose
So, we are going to show you a SNEAKY little game that your German Shepherd Puppy needs to learn in order to begin containing his excitement when faced with any of the situations in the above list!
What I’m talking about…
Not raising a spoiled brat that none of your family wants to be around.
Bark all the time and fail to be quiet
Jump on people
Invade your space
The list is endless, but you get the picture.
So one of the first simple games you can teach is Door Darter Game.
Here’s a little video that shows you the first steps for how to train your German Shepherd Dog using this game:
And if you haven’t done so already, click here to download The Door Darter Game Cheat Sheet, so you can start transforming your dog’s ability to control his Impulses today.
Or if you’re the kind of person who just likes to cut to the chase, you should check out the course we offer below…
But, the thing is…
This one game, isn’t enough to raise a polite K9.
I have lived with these guys, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherds for decades.
I KNOW the biting, first hand.
I understand that these breeds have a serious lack of impulse control genetically. These genetics, help the German Shepherd Dog be amazing police dogs but make it miserable to live with a puppy that lacks bite inhibition! These guys need to learn, from an early age that biting and snatching isn’t a part of family life!
And we have created a game to help stop your German Shepherd puppy from snatching things from your hands.
But I GOTTA WARN YOU!
German Shepherd training isn’t for the faint of heart, but can be extremely rewarding! But, if you don’t follow some basic rules and ideals you will set yourself and your dog up for failure! And, the good news is, that if you are consistent you will see immediate results.
Here are the top 10 BIG MISTAKES people make with their German Shepherd Puppies:
1. Lack of Socialization
You will hear this time and time again, when it comes to German Shepherd socialization, the earlier the better! Your puppy is only young once. You have a limited amount of time to expose him to the world while he is learning to freely accept the things around him.
Skittish German Shepherds are abundant, and no one wants a 90 pound dog that lacks socialization that can lead to aggression. Nor does anyone want a large dog that runs from everything he visually doesn’t understand (things in his environment that can scare him).
We all want a confident dog!
But, you need to take the steps to give your puppy the training to achieve that confidence. Go to the park, to as many dog-friendly stores as possible, take your dog on errands with you, go on car rides together, etc. Take your German Shepherd puppy with you wherever and whenever you can.
German Shepherd socialization will occur whenever your puppy is introduced to new situations, new people and animals, and new places. They need to actively participate in socialization for it to really work - that means you must let them safely interact with new people, places and things.
Many studies have been done that show the critical socialization period for a puppy is from eight to sixteen weeks of life. During this period it is essential that the German Shepherd puppy safely and positively experience as many new things as possible. Some of these experiences will be a little stressful, but you must support your puppy during these times and encourage them throughout the entire critical GSD socialization process.
And, remember; with socialization you have a limited amount of time before your German Shepherd Dog is older and less able to socialize without some resistance. You don't want him developing scary dog to dog aggressive issues, so be sure not to just turn him loose at the dog park or with children you don’t know. It is crucial to control his social experiences and make them positive. Socialization doesn’t mean “reckless abandon” or he might have a negative experience that could carry him through life.
This is so important we made an entire course on how to train this process right that you can check out here:
You can also check out these free articles for more information:
2. Lack of or Resistance to Crate Training
I can’t tell you how many people “try” crate training their puppy for the first 2 nights and then simply “give up”.
Or the amount of people who simply refuse to crate train!
It astounds me!
In order to have a well-developed, well socialized and good canine companion, you need a dog that is happy in a crate. Why? Because at some point your dog will be in a crate: at the vet, the groomer, or pet sitter’s home. He can’t avoid being in a crate for the rest of his life.
And, wouldn’t it be nice if you gave him the skills to not be bothered no matter where he is at? I work at a veterinary clinic and occasionally take my dogs to work. My Fury is so comfortable in a crate or cage that she flips upside-down and sleeps. Not a stress in the world. I also crate them when we go to sporting events.
I have competed in agility, obedience, dock diving, lure coursing, and Schutzhund protection sports and there isn’t a single venue where having your dog out of a crate all day is appropriate. Crates also give me more options to travel. Not only will some family only allow me and my dogs to visit if they are crated when I am gone, some motel/hotels that don’t allow pets will allow your dog with a crate too. There really isn’t any reason NOT to crate train.
Remember all puppies will throw a fit for a few nights, just like all babies have trouble transitioning from a crib to a bed or just out of their parent’s bed. However short term fits are better than a lifetime of chewed articles and a dog that has some separation issues because he is never alone and never expected to do things he doesn’t want to do.
After all, life is full of things we think we don’t want to do, but then realize we actually like them or see the benefit to them. Imagine if we allowed children to just decide they didn’t want to go to school, because they didn’t like being away from home or just couldn’t get along with the other kids. Don’t allow your puppy to dictate how you will live your life, or what kind of dog they end up being.
Because if your puppy is in charge, he will eat cake for breakfast every morning 😉
Need help crate training, click here. https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/crate-training-basics/ and
3. Not Teaching Leash Manners at Home
I think people are under the impression that puppies break from the womb with an understanding of leash manners and training. It is as if, leashing them at home and around the house isn’t even considered. Usually, the first time they are introduced to a leash is when the person is trying to walk them outside.
Some puppies buck and resist the leash. Most German Shepherd puppies, however, are confident and more likely to pull on the leash toward things that excite them. Neither of these behaviors is ideal. One of the most important skills you will need throughout the life of your German Shepherd Dog is appropriate leash manners.
Ironically, I worked with a lady, years ago, whose 2 German Shepherds had pulled her down and broke her arm in 2 places. It is sad that she didn’t teach and instill better understanding of the leash and training in her German Shepherd puppies so that she wouldn’t later have to endure the pain and physical therapy of a broken arm.
The best place to learn, new and important behavior is at home! Leash manners and German Shepherd training is no different. When I trained Service Dogs for people with disabilities we would tether those puppies and adult dogs to us in the home. This tether allowed us to keep bad behavior, like stealing items or jumping on the counter, from ever really happening consistently.
It also, ironically, taught the dog to respect and not pull on the leash!
How can I stop my puppy from pulling me when we go for a walk?
Consider why puppies pull when they are walking; there are many things that tempt your dog when you’re out for a walk, like children playing in the yard across the street, you neighbor grilling some hot dogs and that squirrel in the tree at the park. Your pup will try to get where he wants to go, even if that means pulling you along with him! If he pulls on the leash and you allow him to, you’ve reinforced that pulling gets him what he wants. Once you’ve allowed him to do this, he’ll do it again and again:
He wants to investigate his surroundings;
Our job is to alter that natural instinct and teach them to walk nicely on the leash. It takes time, but patience and practice will reward you with an awesome walking buddy for years to come.
Remember, the best approach to leash training your dog is:
Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side, if he begins to pull, stop or change your direction then click and treat when he reaches your side again!
As soon as puppy looks at you, click and reward him with a treat, then take a few steps back and engage puppy to follow you (through calling his name, taking small bouncy steps and keeping your shoulders relaxed) not by pulling the leash;
As soon as puppy comes towards you, click and reward with a treat and a “good boy!” and immediately continue walking.
Puppy will soon realize that tension on the leash stops forward movement and as soon as he approaches his handler, the tension is released and he gets to move forward again.
4. Creating Possession Aggression
Did you know you can actually create a dog that has possession aggression issues? And, German Shepherd Dogs, like similarly trained Schutzhund dogs are genetically more predisposed to be possessive. The drive to possess an item is actually something that many breeders of the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd pup breeds for, sounds crazy right?
Until you realize that these highly trained police dogs need to want to “possess” the bad guy in the bite suit. I have seen puppies literally wrap their arms around an item and try to swallow it, which is a highly desirable trait in these protection dogs. So, chances are, your German Shepherd puppy is already predisposed to some of these feelings.
Now, if you do the wrong things, you will strengthen this bad behavior. The difference is that your German Shepherd pup isn’t likely to chase and capture bad guys, instead he is going to threaten to bite YOU or your children!
So first off... Don’t CHASE Him!
Do Not Reprimand Him and Take Things Away
You should put up your important things, and if he grabs something he shouldn’t have, you should exchange it for something better. Read this for a different take on this problem https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/teaching-thief-retrieve/
If you are always getting in his face and stealing the things he thinks he has worked for as he gets bigger he might just challenge you and your children. Don’t put yourself in that predicament.
Read this to understand more about possession aggression https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/possession-aggression-dogs/
It is easier to exchange and item and avoid conflict. Here's a free exercise you can download that shows you how to start this part of the training process.
5. Not Building Drive and Learning to Control it
The German Shepherd Dog typically has an incalculably high prey drive.
Remember that description of the K9 chasing the bad guy? German Shepherd Dogs easily learn this game because they have a high prey drive. Chasing the man, is like chasing a bunny or a cat. It is a genetic instinct in many of these K9 chosen breeds.
Most people think that in order to control their dog’s prey drive, they should teach their dog to ignore it all together, which is practically inconceivable! The best way to teach your German Shepherd Dog to control his instincts is to BUILD them and then add control! The Border Collie, a herding dog in Scotland, doesn’t chase sheep at its own whim, he also doesn’t kill them.
Its prey drive is built and then he is taught if he wants to play with the sheep; that he must learn to control it! I use a ball on a string to build my dog’s prey drive. Then I can use that ball as a reward for good behavior.
Learn how to build your dog’s drive and then teach him that obedience will bring about the “chase” game that he desires.
Check out how easily this little boy controls his Belgian Malinois (much like a German Shepherd) with a toy. His obedience is simply amazing!
6. Not Rewarding Your Dog for Focus on YOU
There are very few puppies who don’t lovingly look up at their owners when they are out and about.
There are even fewer German Shepherd Dog puppies that don’t.
German Shepherd Dogs have been bred to care about their human companions. They bond fast and hard. The problem is that most people don’t notice or pay much attention when their dogs look up or back at them.
I want my dog checking in and paying attention to what I am doing.
I also want him ready for the next command.
If I ignore him, then he will search his environment for more exciting and stimulating things.
Let’s face it, after a while my puppy is going to realize I am not THE MOST exciting thing in his world. I mean, how can I compete with a squirrel or the neighbor kid? Unless, I reward him and play with him and convince him early on that “I” am KING and have everything he needs to keep him happy.
He also needs to know that I am reliable.
If he does what I like or what I ask, he will be rewarded handsomely.
Reward your dog for looking at you.
Reward your dog for paying attention to you.
Reward your dog for choosing to be at your side!
And, better yet, teach your puppy eye contact and focus.
7. Allowing Young Puppies or Adults to Run Free Off Leash
THE fastest way to teach your dog that you aren’t the most exciting thing on earth, is to let him run, alone off leash. I think we can agree, that being off leash and chasing wild animals at will, eating wild animal poop and all around exploring on your own is the best thing on earth! I mean, who doesn’t want to run around with a little reckless abandon, every now and again?
But, if you allow your German Shepherd puppy to run off leash without the obedience to back it up, you will struggle with his obedience for years to come. Again, whether it is true or not, I want my dog to think that I am THE BEST thing on earth. And, I simply cannot compete with wild critters and exciting smells.
Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean that your German Shepherd puppy will never be able to be off leash; the opposite is true. You just need to control his environment, play with him and build his drive for toys and games, and then teach him obedience.
So, when he goes off leash, he will have the obedience background to leave whatever distraction may crop up. I have called my dogs off baby bunnies and opossums among other exciting things. The reason I was successful, is because my dogs know if they listen and obey they will be rewarded (mostly with a game of ball which is their favorite thing).
They never learn how fun chasing bunnies can be if they don’t listen. And, let’s face it, bunnies are more rewarding than me… I just want to be smarter than my dog 😉 and never give him the opportunity to figure that out.
8. Creating Leash Reactivity and Aggression
Have you ever heard someone say, “He is only dog aggressive on leash.”?
Most often it is because people inadvertently, create it. Again, manners and especially leash manners should be taught at home. Tether your dog to you, early on, to avoid bad behavior and teach some leash respect and manners. Never allow your German Shepherd puppy to get in the habit of pulling you to and fro when he is on the leash.
The next thing to remember is Don’t Over-React.
A lot of times when the human is walking their dog and they see something the dog is likely to react and pull toward, the human stiffens up and pulls the dog in closer. The human’s heart rate is likely to raise and they may yell, correct or even hit their dog. This teaches the dog that “other dogs or people” or whatever the distraction is, brings pain and makes his human act fearful and odd. The dog associates the “thing” with something negative and so he connects negatively and emotionally to it each time he sees it.
He begins to get defensive and even aggressive whenever this new “trigger” comes into his view. As people, we think reeling our dogs closer and correcting them when we see other dogs or people is what we should be doing; but you are only negatively conditioning the “thing” for your dog. In essence, you are creating reactivity, fear and even aggression.
When training a German Shepherd, it is a lot easier to give your dog coping mechanisms and obedience so that he can ignore anything that comes into his environment without becoming fearful or forging any king of negative emotion to things.
We do this with a game called the "Look Away Game"
To get the 2nd part of this game, download this.
9. Too Much Exercise
There is a lot of debate in the dog world about puppies and exercise. Just about everyone who works with dogs seem to have an opinion on the subject. What veterinarians, breeders, and trainers all do agree on is that too much exercise is just as detrimental to your dog’s health as not enough or no exercise at all. The problem is that there is no set formula for determining how much is too much for your puppy.
I am a proponent of exercise!
Puppies NEED exercise!
But too much demanding and monotonous exercise can be dangerous for your German Shepherd puppy. German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia and other degenerative joint diseases, genetically. And, there are two big factors in hip dysplasia; genetics and over exercise when the puppies are developing. You can’t help genetics, but you can search for the best genetic candidate who has been certified to have excellent hips. You have a better chance of avoiding genetic hip dysplasia and degenerative joint disease if both parents have “excellent” OFA certified hips. And, you can avoid demanding, monotonous exercise (regular exercise on soft surfaces will not hurt).
Years ago, when agility was taking the world by storm, people began training sessions with their puppies earlier and earlier for agility trials. They soon found that a large number of those puppies who started out young, were developing shoulder, hip and spine problems. The pounding of the shoulders coming off of the A-Frame and Dog Walk. The impact of the hips that continuously caught the dog over jumps. And, the way the spine curved around the weave poles created permanent damage and curvature.
We realized, what we did while our puppies developed into adults was important! It was crucial to allow the body to form before adding strenuous exercise regiments. I love teaching my dogs to pull tires and trikes; but I wait until they are adults and they have been cleared through x-rays to do so.
Don’t avoid exercise completely! As with humans, all the recommendations in the world boil down to an inconvenient reality: the amount of exercise your puppy needs depends on your puppy.
That will create a whole other problem with lack of socialization, exposure and needed exercise. Your German Shepherd puppy can run on soft grass, they can calmly climb stairs and they can go on long walks. But avoid rigorous running on hard surfaces, consistent jumping or anything else that will specifically stress joints.
Keep in mind, all breeds require mental stimulation, but high-drive, working breeds, need more mental stimulation than other breeds. Working German Shepherd training sessions into their exercise routine is just as important as exercise itself.
10. Creating Potty Training Problems
Potty training is serious business. According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, potty training problems are the most common reason that owners rehome their pet, accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs. Almost ALL of these housebreaking issues can easily be solved through proper potty training.
What most people don’t know is that teaching your puppy where to go to the bathroom is one of the easiest problems to fix with your new best friend. It’s true that potty training a puppy or adult dog for that matter requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency, but first you must realize the reason WHY your efforts at potty training have failed in the first place.
You want to think “prevention”, rather than just dealing with the problem. I’ve heard people say “It’s easier to just clean it up”. And many want to rely on “potty pads” (which I personally think are counterintuitive). But these attitudes only set your dog up for failure!
Each dog is a little different, but thankfully the German Shepherd, is generally among the easiest when potty training, but remember it is really all about YOU!
YOU need to get him outside every 2 hours!
YOU need to get him out after he wakes from a nap and after he eats or drinks.
If you aren’t consistent you are ONLY making your potty training efforts harder on yourself than you have to.
And, be sure to keep your German Shepherd puppy with you! If he is in the same room with you all the time, you will notice if he begins to sniff or squat so you can get him outside. When he is not with you, he should be in his crate. But he shouldn’t be stuck in the crate for too long. According to this article, “Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don't go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re guaranteed to have an accident.”
Also, go outside with him to make sure that he is getting his business done! Many times puppies get outside and get distracted with everything going on in the yard that they forget to go potty. You need to know what your puppy is doing and what his potty training schedule is like so that you can set yourself and him up for success!
Check out this video that shows you how to take a dog who's old enough to hold his bladder, and train him where to go potty in 5 days.
Puppies are sooooooo exciting! Heck I am excited for you, since I am, after all, a German Shepherd Dog fan! Your life is about to be enriched in a way that only a great and loyal dog can do! And, because you have spent this time, reading and studying and doing all that you can to set your German Shepherd puppy up for success I know that you will both be successful! You know what to do and what not to do while you are potty training your pup!
And, we will be here to support you and your new little bundle of joy every paw step of the way!