German Shepherd Training Tips and Techniques

Before you begin training your dog, you may want to seek out German shepherd training tips that will help you be more successful. German shepherds make great pets, but they're working dogs and need a job to do to be happy. If you don't give them one, you may not like the job they find!

Exercise for a German Shepherd

German shepherds are working dogs, not the type of dog that can lie around sedentary all day. To have a properly trained dog, you will need to have a properly exercised dog. This means more than just one walk around the block daily. Fortunately, German shepherds are good at everything, so the activities are limitless: fetch, agility, tracking and running are just a few choices.

Mental Stimulation

If your German shepherd is digging or chewing during the day, he needs more to do. Most dogs aren't interested in toys when their owners aren't there to play with them, so you have to get more creative in your dog's activities.

Instead of feeding from the bowl while you're home, drop piles of your dog's food in clean places throughout your yard, so he can hunt for them. You can also put it in a toy that dispenses the kibble when your dog plays with it or stuff it in a hollow toy or bone with some peanut butter or cream cheese and freeze it.

Since German shepherds are known for their noses, teach your dog how to find his food by placing it in toys or paper bags and hiding it through the yard. Allow your dog to watch you, but make him stay until you are finished. Then, release him to search while you leave for work.

In the meantime, you can teach your dog not to chew or dig while you're home, observing his behavior. When you see him engage in one of these activities, tell him to leave it and redirect him to an appropriate toy or activity.

Teaching a Quiet Command

German shepherds are bred to guard, which may be one of the reasons you bought him, but your neighbors won't appreciate him barking at every noise.

To teach a quiet command, get your dog riled up during a game, encouraging him to bark. Then, stop and wait for him to be quiet. As he is, say "quiet." Reward with a treat and praise. Practice until your dog can stop in the middle of a barking fit.

When your dog barks, say "quiet" and calmly go check out the situation. Thank your dog for barking and then stopping with pets, praise or a reward. If he doesn't stop, put him in his crate or a quiet room until he calms down.

This will not kill his instinct to bark. In fact, if you don't tell him quiet, he will know something is wrong and be on high alert.

Separation Anxiety

German shepherds love their owners and don't like to be alone, so separation anxiety is common among more nervous dogs. Prevent this from the beginning by leaving your puppy alone for short periods of time as soon as you get him. Begin with just a few minutes to a half hour and gradually build up to longer periods.

This will teach your puppy that it's OK to be alone instead of suddenly leaving him alone for the first time when he's six months old. Before you leave, give him a yummy treat, such as a bone or peanut butter stuffed in a hollow toy. This will distract him and teach him that you leaving can be fun too.