Training Tips for German Shepherd Puppies

German Shepherd puppies are not only fluffy and adorable but are also very impressionable at this time. Similar to children, your puppy will take cues from you, favoring the behavior that you reward. This time is crucial for German Shepherds because they grow (quickly) and if not trained properly, can cause some issues for you down the road.  Following these training tips for German Shepherd puppies will lead to success.

Many new dog owners and those who aren’t used to training dogs might be a little intimidated by a Shepherd pup, so here are some tips for being successful when it comes to training.

Tips for German Shepherd Puppies

Out for a Walk

Walking your puppy is important, and German Shepherd pups, in particular, need regular activity during the day to help keep them healthy while they are growing. Another reason walking is important is you can teach them not to pull on the leash while they’re small. Shepherds not only get big, but they also get very strong, if not trained properly, you might find your dog taking you for a walk (or drag) one day.

If your puppy starts to pull, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t Keep Walking – Stop walking and wait. Your puppy will try to pull for a bit before realizing that you’re not going anywhere. Make sure you reward the correct behavior with praise (and treats when you’re first starting out) as this will let your dog understand that pulling isn’t allowed.
  • Walk the Other Way – This is also effective when your pup tries to go off in a different direction. Simply turn around and head in the other direction. The puppy doesn’t have a choice and will quickly turn around and hurry to catch up to you. Once again, praise the good behavior as your dog quickly learns not to pull as well as watch you.

Feeding Time

As a natural instinct, dogs can become very protective of their food, which can cause them to bark, growl, or even snap at anyone who gets too close.  This is a behavior that you need to watch out for in a lot of breeds, and German Shepherds are no exception and can be a very undesirable trait, especially with small children in the house.

If your German Shepherd puppy gets defensive over food, try this:

  • Don’t Leave Food out all Day – This limits the opportunities for aggression. Feed your puppy the recommended amount and take the bowl away after it’s had enough time to eat (typically about 15 minutes).
  • Let Your Dog Eat in Peace – Because you’re not leaving the food out, it’s easier to grant your dog a little time to eat without being pestered by other animals or children. Doing this eliminates any concern for aggression while it’s eating.

Socializing is Very Important

There are many dogs that can be prone to aggressive behavior, especially towards other dogs. German Shepherds by nature have keen hunting instincts and are very protective of their owners. By socializing your dog regularly, you can prevent excessive growling, barking and the potential for attacking other dogs.

  • Other Dogs – Go for regular walks in the dog park. Remember, they’re dogs, so they’ll need a moment to circle and sniff. Just make sure you keep an eye on them to stop aggression before it starts and reward them for good behavior.
  • Guests – Dogs do a great job of warning you when someone has come to your house. To limit barking at strangers or guests, make sure you acknowledge your dog and offer praise, then take charge. This way the dog knows that you’re aware of this new person and that you’re in control of the situation.

German Shepherds are great dogs, and with the right training will both love and protect you and your family. Just be sure you understand what’s involved with training before you get one.


“Training Tips for German Shepherd Puppies”

Guest Author: +Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders, and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.

Photo: Allie Hanson,

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Do you have a German Shepherd Dog?  Is he well trained?

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10 thoughts on “Training Tips for German Shepherd Puppies”

  1. Nice Post Neil.

    Good tip about socialising – very helpful to do as a puppy!

    April, you shouldn’t worry about training a German Shepherd. As long as you are a positive and firm trainer, you shouldn’t have any issues. They were bred for the purpose of working and to be loyal to their master.

    Also, using positive reinforcement is a good way to train most dogs!

    Cheers Guys

  2. I want to get a German Shepard puppy, but have been worried about training it. I really like all these tips you have, especially the ones about socializing. I never thought of acknowledging the dog when they start barking at a visitor. Is there any punishment that should be used if they don’t calm down after you acknowledge them? thanks for the help!

    • Know that German Shepherds can be extremely stubborn! I have a German Shepherd puppy (9 months old) and he is currently in his 3rd training class!! His first two were positive treat/clicker training, and all he learned was he didn’t have to listen if I didn’t have treats or a clicker in my hands. And, since he is not food motivated (or toy motivated) those classes, ultimately didn’t do much for him. He is currently in a class that does not use treats, but corrections and praise. While it definitely would not be my first choice for dog training, it’s been the only thing he has responded to.

      Also know that German Shepherds have endless energy, and if they aren’t given enough exercise, they can get very destructive. My boy out-plays his Labrador and Golden Retriever friends every time they play. While they are on the ground, completely exhausted, he is nudging them to keep playing.

      Beautiful, good dogs, but very high maintenance.

      • The German Shepherd is my favorite dog. If you’ll notice on my signature at the bottom of most any of my blog posts, there’s a picture of Star, my German Shepherd. She died a couple of years ago from bone cancer at 14 years old. She was one of the best dogs I ever had. She, too, had 3 obedience training classes. Once she caught on, she listened to me very well. We also did agility training and she went into a couple of agility shows with me. I miss her. If I ever get another dog, it’ll be a German Shepherd. Thanks for your comment, GSD mama! I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂


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