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German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and for good reason!
These beautiful, intelligent, athletic dogs make great family pets and working dogs. With how popular they are and the reputation they have built over the years, it’s no wonder more and more people are thinking about adding a German Shepherd to their family.
One of the foremost things on people’s minds prior to getting a German Shepherd is how much training this breed of dog requires.
Are German Shepherds easy to train?
German Shepherds are extremely easy dogs to train. They are intelligent, responsive, and willing to please their owners. Their athleticism and enthusiasm for training make them an ideal dog to have for many types of dog sports and dog jobs.
Below we will look at what makes a German Shepherd an easy breed of dog to train, the ideal time to start training your German Shepherd, how to go about the training process with your German Shepherd, and what you can actually train your German Shepherd to do.
5 Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Easy To Train
Reason 1: High Intelligence
German Shepherds have a well-deserved reputation for their high intelligence levels.
While these dogs may only have a brain the size of a tangerine, they are considered one of the smartest dog breeds in existence today.
The intelligence of a German Shepherd makes them ideal candidates for training complex behaviors, which makes them great for use as working dogs in law enforcement, military, search and rescue, and as service dogs. Contrary to some other breeds of dogs, German Shepherds were bred over time to have this high level of intelligence.
As a pet, they excel in basic and advanced obedience classes and are a favorite among various dog sports and competitions. They are easily able to understand verbal cues, hand signals, and training sequences, and they pick up new concepts quickly.
Outside of their natural intelligence levels, German Shepherds also tend to have a high degree of common sense and problem-solving skills which can help them work through difficult training concepts.
This high degree of problem-solving skills often makes the German Shepherd a winner in various competitions where dogs are asked to perform in various environments and with a large number of distractions.
Reason 2: Willing to Please
Intelligence levels aside, German Shepherds also have a wonderful reputation for their loyalty to their owners and their willingness to please.
Provided they are treated right, German Shepherds can and will do almost anything their owner asks them to. Even if they don’t quite understand what it is you are asking of them, German Shepherds will try and try again to see what they can do to make you happy and get their reward!
This pleasing attitude helps German Shepherds focus on training and figuring out what they need to do. Unlike some other breeds of dogs, like the Great Dane, this “work hard, play hard” attitude that German Shepherds have tend to make them far less stubborn when it comes to training.
Their willingness to please also helps the owner find various ways of motivating their German Shepherd.
With some dogs, treats are often the only way to motivate them during training sessions. With German Shepherds and their high interest in working with their owners, the motivation can extend beyond just treats and food rewards and can include toys, play time, walks, or even just extended attention from their owners.
Reason 3: Responsiveness
Some breeds of dog tend to get a reputation of being “lazy”. Not so with the German Shepherd!
In general, German Shepherds tend to be very responsive to training and show a keen interest in learning new things, which goes hand-in-hand with their willingness to please.
They are responsive to instruction from their owners and if trained patiently and consistently with appropriate rewards, their response time to cues is almost instant.
This is also why they are a favorite breed for use in television and movies, as they are very responsive to the trainer’s cues despite all of the chaos on a film set.
Since response times are so important in a lot of dog-related competitions and in various dog-related jobs, German Shepherds are also a top breed choice for those who are really interested in competing in various training sports or who are looking to have a dog with a job.
Reason 4: Athleticism & Physical Abilities
German Shepherds, while a larger breed of dog, are highly athletic and tend to be very agile in their movements.
This makes them ideal candidates for any training that involves a lot of movement or endurance, such as trick training, agility courses, Schutzhund trials, or other intensive training programs.
Their endurance and stamina also increase their trainability because they can handle longer training sessions and won’t tire as quickly as some other breeds of dogs. This also makes them a great breed for those owners who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking!
Some of the most popular sports you will find a German Shepherd in include things that are very physically demanding, but German Shepherds are also capable of training in things that work the mind more than the physical body, such as nosework trials and rally obedience.
Reason 5: German Shepherds Enjoy Training!
As a working breed, German Shepherds do truly seem to enjoy their training sessions and working alongside their owners.
This enthusiasm for training makes the German Shepherd an ideal dog for use in a variety of different dog sports and dog jobs.
Reward-based training methods will only add to the enthusiasm and result in a German Shepherd who is not only willing to train, but has fun doing it, too!
When Should You Start Training Your German Shepherd?
Training your German Shepherd can really begin at any point in their life but starting sooner rather than later is probably best.
Puppies younger than 8 weeks can begin their socialization training but their attention spans can’t handle much more than that at that age, and because their bodies are still growing asking them to do too much in a training session can be bad for their health.
Beginning around 8 to 10 weeks, you can start working on very basic obedience skills such as Sit with your puppy and begin basic leash walking manners.
For adolescent and older dogs, training can begin at any time. Sticking to a good training schedule can really help keep you and your German Shepherd on track and will eliminate any confusion about cues, behaviors, and skills.
Training schedules are also a great way to monitor you and your dog’s progress and know when you should move up to the next difficulty level.
How Long Does It Take To Train A German Shepherd?
Since every dog is different, the amount of time it takes to train your German Shepherd could vary.
Because German Shepherds are so highly trainable, most of the time the training process can be completed very quickly. Consistency, patience, and lots of practice will further speed up the training process for your German Shepherd.
For additional enrichment in an older German Shepherd’s life, you can also continue teaching them new tricks well into their golden years.
Contrary to popular belief, old dogs CAN learn new tricks!
How Do I Train My German Shepherd?
The best thing to do if you are considering training your German Shepherd is to reach out to a local dog trainer who can help you with the process.
Group classes are a great option for German Shepherds who could also benefit from some socialization and training in distracting environments.
For German Shepherds who are fearful or have other behavioral issues, private lessons are a great option.
If you opt to train your German Shepherd yourself, research the different behaviors you are trying to teach and make sure you are being patient and consistent.
There’s no one way to teach a behavior or skill! Reward-based training is usually the best route to go with training and often leads to faster results.
Avoid working with trainers who promote outdated training ideas and equipment, and thoroughly research any training facility you are considering using. Remember to always be patient and keep your expectations realistic with what your German Shepherd can accomplish in a training session.
Understand that there is no fast fix to a lot of dog-related issues, but with time, patience, and consistency you can work towards teaching your German Shepherd to be a happy, healthy, well-trained pup!
How Much Training Does A German Shepherd Need?
German Shepherds should learn basic obedience skills no matter what, such as Sit, Stay, Come, Leave It, and leash manners.
Teaching your German Shepherd those standard behaviors will help make them a more polite dog in society and make it easier for you to handle them. Those basic behaviors, particularly Stay, Come, and Leave It, are also good “safety behaviors” which means they are all good behaviors to teach a dog for emergency situations.
Beyond the basic training, it is up to the personal owner on what additional skills and behaviors they may want to teach their German Shepherd.
If you are interested in teaching your German Shepherd more specific skills related to dog sports, service dog work, or other highly specialized skills then it may take quite a bit longer before your German Shepherd is considered an expert on those types of skills.
What Can I Train My German Shepherd To Do?
The sky is the limit as to what you can train your German Shepherd to do!
The intelligence and trainability of a German Shepherd makes them great candidates for any and all types of skills, behaviors, tricks, and jobs. Similar to Rottweilers and some other working breeds, German Shepherds are very versatile and can easily perform a wide variety of jobs.
This is why are they are often seen in everything from agility to protection dog work to service dog work. German Shepherds are also one of the most popular breeds in law enforcement, too.
With a little patience, consistency, and creativity, you can teach your German Shepherd just about anything.
Here is a video showcasing a German Shepherd competing in an obedience competition in one of the most well-known dog competitions, Crufts:
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Are German Shepherds Easy To Potty Train?
German Shepherds are especially easy to potty train.
You can set your German Shepherd puppy up for success by following a potty-training schedule, and in no time at all your German Shepherd will catch on and start forming a good habit of going outside to use the bathroom.
German Shepherds are an ideal dog breed if you are interested in having a smart, easy-to-train breed.
With patience, consistency, and practice your German Shepherd will take to training like a duck to water.
No matter what you’d like to train your German Shepherd to do, chances are it will be easy to teach them!