If you’re looking for tips on training your GSD dog, we’ve got you covered.
Below, we’ll peek at some basic training strategy do’s and don’ts for these wonderful family dogs.
You can also apply them to other herding breeds!
Ready to get started?
Tips for Training Your GSD Dog
German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent dogs with a people-pleasing nature that makes them fairly easy to train.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can get away with doing the bare minimum!
It just means that your GSD won’t stress you out quite as much as training a Husky or other stubborn breeds.
Let’s start with the best training strategies and some do’s for GSDs, then we’ll go over the don’ts.
German Shepherd Training Do’s and Don’ts
German Shepherds are strong athletic dogs that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.
They thrive on challenging activities and respond best to positive feedback. With that in mind, let’s go over the do’s and don’ts.
GSD Training Do’s
Think of these do’s as sort of a basic outline for training your GSD dog. When applicable, I’ve included some helpful videos as well.
DO socialize your GSD early
GSDs need socialization from an early age so that they learn to get along with others.
Expose your pup to plenty of different people, other animals, and situations. German shepherds get along great with everyone from kids to cats as long as they’re socialized.
The video below has some good socialization tips.
DO consider a puppy training class
Puppy classes aren’t just great for teaching you and your dog the basics, they’re an excellent socialization opportunity.
Of course, you’ll want to wait until he’s had his basic shots, as most clubs won’t allow pups without proof of vaccination.
DO use positive reward-based methods
The most important tip for training your GSD dog is this: stick to positive reinforcement and reward-based training strategies.
German Shepherds are extremely bonded with their people and genuinely want to please us. Positive training strengthens that bond.
DO combine treats with praise
Food rewards are great motivators, but don’t forget the praise, too. It’ll really help later on when it’s time to remove the treat from the equation.
While some dogs remain food-motivated forever, German Shepherds respond just as well to a genuine “Good boy!” as they do to a tasty morsel.
In fact, my GSD was often so focused on her task that she didn’t even want the treat, she just wanted my feedback to let her know she was doing well.
DO be consistent
GSDs are fast learners and almost seem to intuitively know what you want. However, consistency is still vital.
Choose your commands early on and stick to them. Teach them to everyone in your family.
Speaking of commands, here are the first 7 all dogs should know:
DO keep him mentally engaged
Like all dogs, a bored GSD can be very destructive. I can’t tell you how many shoes, pillows, and even couch cushions I lost during my GSD’s puppyhood.
Once I learned that she needed a lot more mental stimulation, though, her reign of terror came to an end.
As herding dogs, GSDs excel at agility training, which is both mentally and physically stimulating.
When the weather keeps you inside, try a game of fetch with a soft ball.
Puzzle toys are good for when you can’t play with your dog, too. Honestly, though, my GSD preferred more interactive (and just plain active) games.
GSD Training Don’ts
While some of these don’ts for training your GSD dog apply to all breeds, they’re particularly important for your people-loving Shepherd.
DONT use negative training strategies
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, negative strategies that involve “dominating” your dog or using shock collars really don’t work well.
Sure, proponents of such strategies point to their “successes” as proof that they’re right, but the cost is too high.
Your dog may obey, but he’ll also be more anxious and less trustful towards you.
Plus, evidence shows that these strategies tend to breed more aggressive dogs. So, keep it positive.
NEVER hit or scream at your dog
Please, please, please do not hit or scream at your dog. This isn’t training. It’s abuse. Plain and simple.
Remember, when your dog “fails” to obey, it’s not because he’s being obstinate, it’s because he doesn’t understand what you want.
In blunt terms, you’ve “failed,” not your dog. Pick yourself up and reevaluate your strategy.
DON’T isolate your GSD
Remember, GSDs are extremely bonded with their people. He just wants to be with you. Locking him outside all the time causes him real emotional pain.
Again, to be blunt, if you don’t want a dog in your house, don’t get a dog at all. It’s that simple.
DON’T choose the wrong puppy class
When choosing a class, check out a few first. Some don’t welcome GSDs (like pit bulls, they have an unearned reputation for being aggressive).
If they ask you to muzzle your dog, move on to another class. No reputable dog training class would require a dog to be muzzled.
DON’T give up
While GSDs are easy to train (in my experience), there are exceptions. Some just take longer to catch on than others.
Don’t give up on him. Again, it’s not his fault. It’s 100% on you to make sure you’re using strategies and commands that he can follow.
Readjust your strategy (but don’t ever resort to negative training), reevaluate your commands, and get back to work. He’ll get it sooner than later!
As far as training your GSD goes, it all boils down to one thing: keep it positive. If you do that, your pup will be a well-manned boy (or girl) in no time!