An In-Depth Guide on The Intelligence and Trainability of This Breed, How to Train Your German Shepherd
Are German Shepherds easy to train? Have you been wondering how smart the German Shepherd breed actually is? What can you do to ensure training goes better? Are there any tips and tricks that will help? We will cover this and more in our in-depth guide!
German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds around. As such, they learn quickly. They easily pick up on various behaviors, tricks, and more! As such a keen breed, Shepherds can also develop unwanted behaviors and must be worked with from puppyhood. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key.
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss just how intelligent German Shepherds are and what it’s like to train them. We will also go over how to train your German Shepherd, how to work with this breed as a puppy, and much more. Let’s dig in!
So, exactly how easy are German Shepherds to train?
First off, we’ll discuss exactly how easy these dogs actually are to train and why. The difficulty level of training will depend on various factors. The dog’s age, breeding, previously learned behaviors, and distinct personality, to name a few.
It’s important to remember that every dog is unique. This means that no matter what breed you have, their individual personality and upbringing will have a lot to do with how easy they are to train. Other factors can also impact whether or not your dog will be highly trainable as well.
Age and Ingrained Behaviors can Impact Training Difficulty
A dog’s age and past will impact its trainability. For example, a German Shepherd who is 6 months old and has been living in a household with no rules might be difficult to train and unruly. Meanwhile, an 8 week old Shepherd puppy with no bad habits will likely be eager to learn and more pliable.
Breeding and GSD (German Shepherd Dog) Genetics/Bloodline Matters
In addition to this, German Shepherds can be bred to do different jobs. A dog from a motivated and driven working GSD bloodline will be easy to train for law enforcement work or guarding. However, this same dog may not make the best family pet.
Similarly, a show GSD bloodline that has been bred for calm balanced temperament characteristics may be great in a family. This same dog might not be cut out for work with a special operations team as a drug-sniffing dog.
Training This Breed Can Be Easy, as Long as You Know What to Expect
As you can see, various circumstances can impact a dog’s trainability. It’s important to keep this in mind as you begin your dog training journey. That way, you can set yourself up for success and anticipate potential problems more easily.
Remember, just because a dog is smart doesn’t mean that it will be easy to train. It’s important to keep in mind that training and obedience go hand in hand. Intellect and obedience, however, do not. Smart dogs can sometimes find ways to get into mischief that will leave your mind spinning.
As pawesome.net explains, these dogs are very easy to teach as long as you know what to expect. Knowing what your dog will need as you train them will help you better provide a good training environment. Building a strong bond and training properly are both equally as important in the world of obedience and GSD ownership.
As the author, Kwinten Alexander explains, the intellect of the German Shepherd breed is immense, and using their keen intelligence to your advantage can be helpful. She goes over the differences between obedience and intelligence and why it matters as you work with your GSD.
How to Train a German Shepherd and What to Know About Training
Now that you know about how trainable these dogs are, we will get into how exactly you might want to approach your training regime.
We’ve included some great training guides, various tips, training commands, and gone over some of the dos and don’ts of GSD training.
Do German Shepherds have unique thoughts and ideas?
While the science isn’t precise on exactly what dogs are thinking, German Shepherds can be very intelligent and thoughtful pups.
You can see the wheels turning in their doggo minds as they try to figure out the world around them. These dogs seem to always be watching and learning about everyone and everything in their environment.
This is one of the reasons that proper training and handling can be so important with this breed. The goal is to provide the dog with the right boundaries and information. You will want to show them what they should and should not be doing with their smarts.
German Shepherds are a breed known to develop anxiety and destructive tendencies when they’re bored. This can manifest as behaviors like barking, digging, whining, aggression, and even depression. So, you will want to be prepared to properly stimulate your Shepherd mentally.
Playing games with your dog can help them stay entertained!
To keep your dog’s mind busy, you can provide them with an array of activities. Walks and physical stimulation are great, but this breed needs entertainment and a job to do. Teaching them tricks is a great way to do this.
Some dog toys are also designed to keep your dog’s mind busy and prevent boredom. German Shepherds also love to problem solve. There are games that you can play to help keep your dog busy. They are also able to solve puzzles and learn a wide range of behaviors.
To see for yourself how well a German Shepherd can solve problems, you can watch them interact with their owners and puzzle out real-life scenarios.
There are a lot of resources available that offer you insight into the breed and how it behaves. In fact, as shown by this GSD owner in a YouTube video, German Shepherds can even solve some kinds of puzzles. The results are pretty entertaining!
How smart are German Shepherds?
German Shepherds are one of the smartest dogs in the world! They are among the top 3 smartest breeds and have an intelligence level comparable to that of a 2 or 4-year-old child. This means that you will want to be prepared to engage this dog mentally from the get-go.
As explained by GSM, these dogs are very smart. Knowing how intelligent this breed is will help you better understand any challenges you may face with training or GSD ownership.
The German Shepherd’s intellect is one of their breed characteristics. This dog was bred to be versatile, capable, and determined. As such, they can have a bit of an independent streak.
However, this is also one of the most loyal and devoted breeds, so it all balances out well. That’s another reason they’re so popular as pets in the United States.
What tricks can a German Shepherd Learn?
A German Shepherd will easily be able to learn all of the tricks that other breeds can learn, and then some. Tricks like sit, stay, lie down, and come, are child’s play for a German Shepherd. Their capability is almost limitless.
The GSD’s ability to learn complex behaviors is one of the reasons that they are the singular choice for many special forces agencies. These dogs are known for their work in the military, police forces, and more.
You may enjoy teaching your German Shepherd to track and locate items like your remote control, keys, or phone. It can also be fun to teach your dog to play games like “hide and go seek”!
To teach your German Shepherd to play “hide and go seek”, you will first need to master the sit and stay commands. Then, call them to you from another room.
When they find you, exclaim a special reward phrase like “You Found Me!” and then offer a treat. From there, you can teach them this fun tracking game.
As shown in this YouTube video, a few other helpful tips for training your GSD can be applied to make training easier.
How should you train a German Shepherd puppy?
German Shepherd puppies should start learning basic obedience commands from the moment you bring them home. This will help to ensure that your dog knows their boundaries and limits in your home.
You should by no means be overbearing with a young puppy. However, if you don’t plan to let them up on the couch as an adult, they should not be permitted on the couch as a puppy. Similarly, you should immediately begin potty training a new puppy.
Other behaviors like tricks and basic commands can be approached gradually. Teaching your puppy to come to their name is one of the first basic commands to master. This is usually fairly easy, as young puppies tend to naturally follow the people who feed them.
When to start leash training a German Shepherd puppy?
As time goes on, you will want to start working on more commands. When your puppy reaches the stage where they begin wandering away from you, it’s time to start enforcing those key behaviors that will stick. This will be when you will want to begin leash training as well.
There are various methods of leash training a puppy. Some dog experts recommend getting your puppy used to a leash before they hit their “wander off” phase. Other experts say that leash training can be avoided until you have built a very strong bond with your puppy.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s a good idea to make sure your puppy is comfortable with their leash and able to walk on it without tugging, pulling, or flopping over. This way, when your puppy grows into the large dog they are destined to become, they will be easily manageable.
What else is important to keep in mind when training a GSD puppy?
Apart from training at the right times and in the right ways, it’s a good idea to understand what type of training will work with a German Shepherd puppy specifically. This is a sensitive breed that is often eager to please. This means that you will need to be equally as sensitive to them as you begin your training plans.
German Shepherd puppies love to please their people. This means that they’re a breed that is often motivated by affection, play, and praise. Many other breeds are mainly motivated by edible treats. While many German Shepherd puppies do love treats, some prefer to play as a reward.
Other German Shepherd puppies tend to be motivated by praise and affection. These dogs can be easier to train at first but may become very sensitive. Just like people, all puppies are different. You will need to figure out what works for you and your pup.
Finally, we can’t emphasize enough how critical positive reinforcement is. This breed does very well with positive reinforcement in every sense. Being overly harsh or coming down too hard on a German Shepherd puppy can damage your bond.
Instead, consider ignoring behaviors you dislike with the “shunning” technique and rewarding positive behaviors enthusiastically. At least at first, this is a great way to train a young puppy while also building a strong bond. This way, your puppy will trust you.
As explained by German Shepherd aficionado Cynthia Olson, German Shepherd puppy training must be taken on with care and consideration.
As explained by the AKC website, there is a specific puppy stage timeline for the German Shepherd breed. Knowing the timeline lets you be more in-tune with your dog. Puppy stage timelines let you know what to expect as you train your puppy from 8-weeks of age to 2-years old.
Don’t forget that just like every adult dog is unique, all puppies are not the same. What one puppy may be ready to learn another puppy might not be able to. Let your pup set the pace. That way, you will be set up for success.
Is it easy to potty train a German Shepherd?
German Shepherds are one of the easiest dogs to potty train. They are very smart and tend to be cleaner than other breeds. For example, you’ll have a much easier time potty training a German Shepherd than a lab.
With that being said, potty training any dog can be challenging. This is especially true if you have an older puppy or dog who already has learned some bad toilet-related behaviors. Any bad behaviors can be hard to break with any breed. Smell-related behaviors, however, can be the hardest to get rid of.
Potty training involves scents and smells with any dog. German Shepherds have a keen sense of smell. They have more sensitive noses than many other breeds. So, training a dog with no bad habits is easy. Teaching your Shepherd to unlearn behaviors you don’t like can be very hard.
As explained by shepped.com, potty training at an early age is the best way to ensure that you’ll avoid trouble with breaking bad habits when the dog is an adult.
How important is socialization to training with the GSD breed?
Socializing any dog or puppy is important. This helps to ensure that they will be a balanced dog with an adjustable and even temperament. With that being said, socializing a German Shepherd may be more important than with other breeds. There are a few reasons for this.
First of all, German Shepherds were originally bred to be versatile sheepdogs. This means that they have a keen instinct for danger. They would protect flocks from predators like wolves. Some German Shepherds are prone to perceiving other dogs as threats because of this.
Additionally, German Shepherds are large dogs. This means that they can be perceived as threatening to strangers. So, your dog must be properly socialized and well-mannered if you ever want to take them around others.
Also, German Shepherds have deeply-ingrained protective instincts. This can be somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, these dogs are protective of their families and property. On the other hand, poorly socialized dogs may become aggressive, fearful, and dangerous.
Finally, if you have small children or other pets, socialization from a very early age is critical. German Shepherds have a pretty high prey drive.
As explained by petponder.com, socialization is key. You can and should train your German Shepherd to get along better with others through proper socialization techniques.
Can a German Shepherd be trained to be a guard dog?
Yes, German Shepherds can be trained to guard people, property, other animals, and more. The breed was originally bred to protect herds of smaller animals, so they naturally possess deep guardianship instincts.
Keep in mind that training any dog to be a guard dog should only be done by those with experience. Otherwise, you could inadvertently train your dog to behave aggressively or dangerously.
As explained by petcarerx.com, German Shepherds are natural Guard dogs. However, only experienced trainers should be training dogs for protection.
Wrapping Things Up: Do What Works for You and Your Dog
So there you have it! Now you know all about German Shepherds, their training, and how to practice proper training techniques with your dog.
Remember to do what works for you and your pooch, as there isn’t a one size fits all method for any breed. We hope that some of these tips are helpful and wish you a long and happy relationship with your German Shepherd!