Training German Shepherd Dog
April 5, 2018
Training German Shepherd Dog
First of all, realize what this dog was originally bred for. Their personality, energy level and characteristics will usually reflect their original purpose. As part of the Herding Group, German Shepherds are classified as working dogs bred originally for herding and guarding sheep.
What to Do:
Encourage and motivate your German Shepherd dog! Offer praise for accomplishments and desired behavior! Use your body language.
Be pleasant and enthusiastic, but also firm. Your German Shepherd is, in many ways, like a child.
What Not to Do:
Don’t lose your temper and your calm demeanor. Be firm, but not to the point of physical punishment or harm. Don’t physically reprimand your dog if they do something you don’t like!
German Shepherd History
Early attempts were made in Europe in and around the 1850’s to standardize breeds. Herders of stock animals wanted an animal that could assist them in herding and protection. In Germany, shepherds selected and bred dogs they believed maintained the type of traits desired for this type of work, resulting in a variety of dogs with various abilities suited to the task.
In an attempt to standardize these various breeds, the Phylax Society was formed in 1891. Though disbanded just three years later due to indecision, they inspired others to carry on the task.
Thus in 1899, ‘Horand von Grafrath’ became known as the first German Shepherd dog, his purchaser Von Stephanitz founded the ‘Vereinfür Deutsche Schäferhunde’ (Society for the German Shepherd Dog).
German Shepherds were used by the German army during World War One, which added a big kick-start to their popularity. Movies like ‘Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart’ further augmented the popular dog’s name.
Behavior and Intelligence
Like all dog breeds developed to assist herding activities, German Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs!
However, this breed tends to view outsiders with suspicion and be a bit slow to accept others as ‘friendly companions’. They have a dominant nature, so it is important you establish an understanding of the hierarchal role they play in your family environment.
German Shepherd Service Dog Training
Their intelligence, trainability, and desire to work putt German Shepherds amongst the top of the list as the breed of choice for service tasks. Many dogs were and are selectively bred and used in various programs to help people with disabilities.
Even today, there are many programs and schools that are selectively breeding their own lineage for service work.
K9 Police Dog Training
Due to their heightened sense of smell, overall intelligence, and dominant nature, training the German Shepherd dog for police work took hold in the 1970’s, although Germany had used them for similar purposes many years prior.
Although they are often used to locate illegal substances in a wide variety of circumstances, their main purpose, above all others, is to help keep policemen and servicemen safe.
A well-trained canine team is essential to effectively deterring criminal activity, assisting police in locating illegal drugs and explosives, in tracking fugitives, and locating missing persons.
I can’t stress the importance of starting to train your German Shepherd dog early on! The first two to six months give a German Shepherd puppy the foundation for a harmonious living environment.
The key to training is consistency and patience/practice. In this case, practice only ‘makes perfect’ if it is done correctly.
Reward your German Shepherd dog with praise when it does something you want well. Be firm with the chastisement if it doesn’t, but only to the point of letting your dog know what isn’t acceptable.
Don’t shout or become physical with your dog! Especially at a young age; this would create a very detrimental dog training environment.
I personally think this is the most important aspect of training any dog, and it is best started early. Unsocialized dogs tend to not enjoy being around other dogs, other puppies, kids, new people in general, etc. They are the ones most likely to get into confrontations.
Especially with children; it is of the utmost importance you socialize your German Shepherd dog with children at a young age. Kids tend to poke and prod, not understanding why a dog may not enjoy it; you don’t want your pet biting anyone.
Introduce your puppy to various other animals and people at a young age. Have them offer your dog treats, or play; show your pet that these strange people/animals aren’t a threat. If you wait until adulthood, socialization often becomes much trickier and time consuming.