How do you train your German Shepherd?

by Pete
(Athens, Greece)

6 weeks old...She grew into those paws

6 weeks old...She grew into those paws

I want to effectively train my 6 1/2 month old GSD, Sierra, as she has started at 3 months old with treats. At our current stage we can sit on command and down on command but she droops to a down position from a sit command because she feels its more comfortable.

I reset her to a sit command and she likes being her stubborn self. I weened her off of treats so maybe she is progressing backwards. For the heck of it, I talked with a dog trainer in my area and he tells me that he trains various breeds without use of treats or with a clicker.

Eventually I want to get her involved in security training for my family and property and the individual who does the training specified to me that using treats in our current stage will cause her to react negatively if I incorporate her with security training.

I'd like to hear from a professional standpoint how you train a GSD. With or without treats? What kind of leashes do you find help train easier choke chains, harnesses, or just regular collars? Do I use the clicker method?

This is my 3rd GSD, my previous two lived until almost 14yrs old.

Thanks in advance,


Total German Shepherd:

I don't consider myself a dog trainer by any means however I have always been very active in the training of every dog, German Shepherd or otherwise, that I have ever owned. And a lot of people have asked me over the years why I go to all the trouble.

And here's the main reason - because I live with my dogs and they are family members. Almost all of my dogs have always lived inside with me and there are many things I do and don't accept from them befavior wise.

And my dogs soon learn what that is and it's just my way of co-habitating peacefully with my animals. I have certain behaviors that I do and don't accept in my home and I want my dogs to be accepted by all there as friends - not as big, burly beasts that beat up the guests whenever they come over.

First of all, all my inside dogs are housebroken right away. Pee and poo in the house are always unacceptable in my eyes unless it is just an unforeseen accident that could absolutely not be avoided. So that is the first training I do with them.

Next, I always sign me and my new puppy up for dog training classes - as many as I can fit into our schedule. And we do a lot of practice at home - and yes, I do use treats, especially in the beginning stages of training, to quickly help the puppy learn the command and the action associated with the command.

And why would you not want to use treats? Especially in the beginning. I don't know about you, but I like to be paid when I work - do you think your puppy is any different?

Don't get me wrong, you can phase out treats later on but in the beginning I think they're very necessary. And not just any old treat either but something extra special that they only get during training to really make them want to work - like boiled chicken, hot dog slivers, liver, etc.

But collar wise, I would never suggest using those prong collars or choke collars while training. I really like the quick release collars myself. They come off easily if needed, they lay flat against the body and they're adjustable so they can last a long time.

And a 6 foot leash is a good length to use while training - it keeps the dog close where you can control it if necessary but also gives it a little bit of lee way too. You can find these in many different kinds of materials such as nylon, chains, cotton and leather.

I prefer leather once the puppy has outgrown the teething phase because these last a really long time - but I keep a collection of several, both at home and in my car, just in case I ever need them Plus, I believe that training is an ongoing process for life and I like to throw pop quizzes on them from time to time to keep them fresh.

Plus, I also have a 25 foot leash that I use with my German Shepherds while traveling or socializing out and about because it gives the dog a lot more freedom to explore if I feel comfortable letting them do so but yet the GSD is still on a leash so that I have that final control if needed.

Clicker training is good if you know how to do it correctly but this is something you must learn as the handler before you practice it on the dog. And positive reinforcement is always best - yelling or hitting your dog will only have negative effects on any training you'll try to do.

So, to tie it all up I would definitely encourage you to find a good dog trainer in your area and sign up for training classes for both you and the dog. If they use clicker training that's fine too - some do, some don't. But if they encourage negative methods, prong collars and the like, I would definitely find another dog trainer asap! Good luck.

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