German Shepherd Basic Puppy Training

We have received requests to help with basic puppy training. So below we will be have some training for your German shepherd puppy or any puppy from housebreaking to basic obedience.

puppy training

Ready for training!

Basic Puppy Training

One of the most important things a puppy can learn isn’t where to go to the bathroom, but where not to go. According to some experts, insufficient house training or housebreaking is one of the most common reasons that dogs are relinquished to shelters. This is not surprising, because while house training is not a complicated process, when house breaking fails, the results can be disgusting.

Just as with children, dogs must be taught the proper place to eliminate. Strangely, though, some people believe that dogs automatically know that the potty is outside. Rather than simply hoping that your dog is one of the few who magically gets it right, there are a few simple steps that you can take to start your puppy training off on the right paw and keep your floors and furniture clean.

Two Steps to House puppy training or housebreaking your puppy

When you bring a new puppy into your home, you have transported him to a foreign land. He doesn’t know your language, your habits or your expectations. If he could, he would probably just cut to the chase and ask where the restroom is. In fact, he probably did ask, but you missed it.

House training failures can almost always be attributed to the lack of two simple ingredients: scheduling and supervision. While it helps if you have realistic expectations, a little patience and a sense of humor, you can housebreak your puppy if all you do is keep him in sight and take him out at regular, predictable intervals. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, what sounds simple often is not. We’re all busy, and watching a puppy day and night waiting for him to need to go to the bathroom is definitely not why we got him in the first place. We have jobs to attend, meals to cook and movies to watch. Can’t the dog just let us know when he needs to go out? Yes, he can, if you show him how. It takes time and a little work, but it’s better than years of nasty cleanup.

gsd puppy

This is fun!

Schedule Potty Breaks while puppy training

When a meeting is called at your place of work, you are typically given such information as where to meet, what the topic of the meeting will be, and when it will end. Armed with this knowledge, you can stop by the powder room on the way to the meeting feeling confident that all is well. However, if you were called to an urgent meeting with no chance to take a break beforehand and no idea when the meeting would end, how long could you “hold it?”

You put your puppy in this position every time he needs to go out if you don’t set up a schedule for him. Obviously there will be times when you need to take him out before the scheduled moment arrives, especially in the beginning, but when he can rely on you to take him out to go potty at certain times or after specific events, he will begin working at holding it until the appointed time. For example, always take your puppy out first thing in the morning, not after coffee, not checking your email or chatting with your friends on Facebook. Take him out first thing.

Next, take him out after he eats. Puppies need to go out after every meal, so don’t let him down. He also needs to go out after any period of time that he has been left home alone. If you are away from home at work, school or shopping, take him out the moment you get back. If you don’t, you’ll spend that walking time cleaning up instead. Once your puppy learns that he gets to go out as soon as you get up, after every meal, and as soon as you get home, he will know that you aren’t going to leave him hanging and hurting trying to figure out when’s the next potty break.

Freedom is Overrated

Until your puppy training is complete and your puppy is reliably house trained, you will increase the speed of his success the more you decrease the number of accidents. This means that you must keep your eye on him all of the time, because you need to be there to act when it’s time for him to go out. You already know that you must provide him with a consistent schedule, but not every potty break can be dictated by the clock. When you observe your puppy sniffing the floor, circling, arching his back, lifting his tail, or just whining for no apparent reason, get him outside quickly.

During those times when you cannot watch him, you must confine him. You must. You cannot leave him free to roam your house and use it as a bathroom. You can place him in a crate, or lock him in a safe room, use a playpen or whatever works for you, but you must confine him. If you have a safe yard where he can wander at will, that’s OK, too. Just do not give him free access to your home.

Consistency Equals Success

Most house training failures are not the fault of the dog. We get busy, we have unrealistic expectations, we expect dogs to read our minds and know what we want without training. Really, though, it all comes down to scheduling and supervision. If you can remember these two simple things, you can housebreak your dog. Click on the image below to learn more.

Basic Puppy Training

All youngsters need training, whether they are puppies, ponies or children. This is not news. We send our children to school for a good many years before we consider them trained. Fortunately, dogs don’t take as long.

Puppy training itself is not difficult. Dogs are smart. German shepherds are especially smart, because we have bred them to be independent thinkers. They love a job, and they love puzzles. This means that training can either be easy or frustrating. It is frustrating if your dog seems to be smarter than you are, which he will indicate to you through his bored body language and lack of attention span. It is easy if you know the key to really successful training.

When we think of puppy training, we envision teaching the dog things like sit, down, stay, walk on the leash, fill in the blank. Teaching each discreet command one at a time does work, and you’ll get acceptable results if you approach training this way, but wouldn’t it be awesome if you could essentially teach your dog to train himself? The secret that all great dog trainers have figured out is how to ignite that love of learning that dogs carry deep inside. Get ready to open up a whole new world of possibilities.

From the outside, enlightened training looks like any other training in the beginning. Your puppy has to learn the concept first. You start with very simple steps, and build from there.

Before any learning can happen, you have to get your puppy’s attention. Here’s how:

Getting Your Puppy’s Attention

The goal of this puppy training exercise is to condition your puppy to always look at you when you call his name. Get a handful of healthy treats that your puppy loves. In a quiet area with minimal distractions, approach your puppy and call his name. If he looks at you, say “Yes!” and give him a treat. If he doesn’t look at you, wave your hand in front of his nose so he can smell the treats, then say his name again. If he is focused on the treat but is more or less looking in your direction, say “Yes!” and give him the treat. Do this five times in a row several times a day for two days. If your puppy is a genius, and if he is a German shepherd the chances are high that he is, do the exercise anyway several times per day as described. The point is to establish a conditioned response so that every time you say your puppy’s name, he is conditioned to look for a reward. Eventually you can transition from using treats to simply praising him when he gets it right, but for now, use treats.

To clarify one point, your puppy is not born speaking English. You can use whatever word you choose to let him know when he has done what you are asking him to do. You can say “Good!” or “Awesome!” in place of “Yes!” The word isn’t important; its meaning is. This is the marker you will use throughout his lifetime to let him know when he has performed on cue correctly. Be consistent. If you say “Good!” one time and “Yes!” the next, your dog will be hearing “Maybe!”

Once your puppy has learned to expect a treat when you call his name, it’s time to introduce the final step of this exercise, which is getting him to look you in the eye when you call him, not look at your hand for a treat. You do this initially by luring his eyes to your eyes with your hand that is holding the treats. Call his name, bring your treat hand up to your face, and the instant your puppy makes the slightest eye contact, reward him. Do this several times, then move your hand a few inches away from your face. Call his name, and when he looks at your hand for a treat, do not give it to him. He will become confused, and at some point he will look you in the eye for clarification. Instantly reward him.

Practice this several time a day for a few days, gradually moving your hand away from your face until eventually it is in a normally relaxed position by your side while your puppy looks at your face when you call him. When you have mastered this exercise, you are ready to move on.

training puppies

Sable German shepherd

Puppy training-The Magic of Learning

If teaching your puppy to look you in the eye when you call his name didn’t seem all that magical, it’s about to. While you thought your puppy was just learning to respond to his name, he actually discovered much more. He learned that your words have meaning, not just to you, but to him also. He found that responding to your words is rewarding, and that he can earn those rewards by trying new things until he succeeds. For intrinsically motivated dogs like German shepherds, you just opened a whole new world to him.

Teaching the Sit 

the sit

I’m sitting!

Now you can accelerate your puppy’s love of learning using something as commonplace as teaching him to sit on cue. First you will lure him into position like you did when you brought his eyes to your face, then you will transition to having him sit when no treat is offered.

With your puppy standing next to you, call his name. Praise him when he looks at you, but do not give him a treat. Instead, place your hand holding the treat in front of his nose and lift your hand directly over his head. At the same time, say “Sit!” Do not touch your puppy to position him. Do not pull his head up with his leash, and definitely do not push his butt down to force him to sit.

Let him work this out on his own. He doesn’t know what this new game is and he doesn’t know what the word “sit” means, but eventually he will get tired of staring up at the treat and he will sit on his own. Instantly say “Yes!” and give him the treat. Step away, call him to you and repeat. Faster than you expect, he will drop his butt to the floor on cue and proudly accept his reward.

As soon as your puppy will reliably sit when you give him the cue and lift your hand over his head, give him the cue but keep your hand at his side. Don’t help him. Wait for him to work it out. If he gets frustrated and loses interest, show him the treat and try again. Eventually he will sit without needing you to guide him, at which point you will lavishly praise him and move on to the next lesson.

Puppy Training-Teaching Down and Beyond

puppy train-the down

Look at me! I am “down”

With your puppy sitting, show him the treat, then lower your hand to the floor and slowly out in front of him as you say “Down!”. Do not push him down, do not pull his front legs out from under him. Wait for him to lie down on his own. If he stands up to get the treat, have him sit again and start over. Eventually he will lower his front end to the floor. Instantly praise him and give him the treat.

Once your puppy will lie down consistently when you cue him and lure him with the treat, give him the cue and wait for him to lie down without showing him the treat. You may have to go back to luring him a time or two, but because you taught him how to learn on his own, eventually he will get it.