German Shepherd Training
Thank you for choosing a Vom Haus Reid German Shepherd. For years I have been breeding dogs for sound character, dogs that want to be a friend, companion, and watchdog. Our dogs have a true desire to work, whether at home or in the field. We have spent many hours with your puppy and its littermates, familiarizing it with people and getting it accustomed to being handled and loved. I sincerely hope you have many good years with your German shepherd.
The most important time for you and your puppy to make that special attachment is between eight and sixteen weeks. Your commitment to loving him and being the leader your dog needs, will determine whether or not your puppy will grow into a happy, obedient dog. You and your puppy will enjoy many happy hours together, but first comes the foundation of that relationship.
Upon receiving your puppy, you should check for healthy signs in your puppy. They are: eyes should be bright and clear, ears should be clean and without odor, nose should be moist except in cold weather, when it should be dry. Normally, in the Northwest every puppy has worms. Even though your puppy has been wormed two or three times prior to you receiving him, he’ll need to be wormed again, usually around 4 months of age and then annually thereafter if you choose for preventative care. Puppy shots should be given at seven weeks, with boosters at ten and thirteen weeks. Although, you will need to check with your own vet for their recommendation.
Your puppy’s first night away from his mother and littermates is a very stressful time. I recommend that you first prepare you home and family prior to the day of his arrival.
- Prepare a safe place sectioned off from areas that he is not welcome. Decide where the puppy will sleep before he comes home. If he will be sleeping in your room, don’t let him sleep there the first night. I strongly recommend using a crate. Crates are safe and secure. Like a wolf, dogs enjoy a ‘den’ like area to rest and sleep. If he is sleeping alone, provide a nice thick blanket along with an old T-shirt of yours. This will help him ‘bond’ to your smell. An old fashion alarm clock, one that ticks, will keep him company throughout the night. Soft music playing is also helpful. There will be some crying the first night or two. Resist the temptation to go to him. He will quiet down and learn to sleep by himself. If your puppy will be sleeping in your room, place him in his crate close to your bed. If he fusses, gently touch him and quiet word will comfort and reassure.
- Food and water. Your puppy may be too excited or stressed to eat as soon as he gets home. Once he has settled down, you should feed two to three times daily. Every dog is different, depending on his or her individual needs and amount of exercise. You should start with a total of two cups, and adjust as the puppy grows. Provide a quiet place to eat. Give him fifteen minutes to finish his meal. What ever is left should be picked up and no more food given until the next mealtime. I recommend using “Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy”. Fresh water should be in easy reach at all times except at night or in the crate.
- House training needs to be addressed from the minute your new arrival comes home. Puppies and dogs will always try to return to the same area for their elimination needs. Choose this area before he comes home. Shortly after your arrival, take the puppy out on his leash to this predetermined spot. Stand quietly until the puppy has relieved himself, then lavish with praise. A puppy can be taught to relieve himself on command. Every time he is taken to his ‘spot’, quietly say the command words over and over. Reward the puppy when he goes. The phrase I use is “Hurry-up”. He will soon relate the word to the function and then the reward.
Puppies relieve themselves quite often. Most puppies will wet two to three times within a ten minute period first thing in the morning. Do not be fooled in thinking they are done after the first time. This will gradually decrease to just once. He will probably move his bowels at this time also. Take your puppy out after each meal and after each nap. Watch for circling and sniffing. NEVER hit or even threaten him if he has an accident. A strong “NO” is sufficient, and then take him to his spot. When he has done his business where and when he is suppose to, reward him with words and praise and/or treats. Accidents do occur. Remember, a puppy or dog will go back to and area he has wet before. So, it is important that once an accident occurs, use paper towels to soak up as much as you can, then use warm soapy water plus a little vinegar to eliminate the scent.
- Chewing. Let’s face it; puppies and dogs love to chew. From the minute they come home, all through their “teething” age and up into adulthood they will exercise their need to chew.
Choose a variety of quality products that are safe for a dog to chew; rawhide bones, “Kong”, the tug-a-war rope toys are a few. Do not use knotted up socks, old shoes, or personal items. Keep toys in each room the puppy will be in.
When he chews on something he is not suppose to, gently squeeze his muzzle to make him drop it and tell him “No”. Then give him his rawhide bone and praise him. To start a puppy on a rawhide bone, let a new bone soak in warm water for a several minutes. This will soften it so a puppy with his baby teeth can chew on it comfortably. Soon he will not need it soaked.
Teach your puppy to fetch. I recommend using a “Kong”. These hard rubber dog toys are great for teaching coordination and improving reflexes. Do not use tennis balls. A tennis ball fits nicely in the throat of an adult German Shepherd; WE hear of a dog choking on them quite frequently.!
Never leave your puppy unattended, even with plenty of toys. Until he learns what is right and wrong to chew, he’ll find your best pair of shoes or your child’s favorite stuffed animal. There are commercially made products that can be sprayed on items that he has learned to target.
Never hit your puppy. German Shepherds naturally love to please. Generally, a sharp tone is all that is needed for your puppy. Hitting could lead to becoming hand shy or biting back out of fear.
- Training begins the very day your puppy arrives home. He learns to eat at certain time, where and when to relieve himself, what to chew and what to leave alone, who he can dominate and who he can’t. Your German Shepherd is a baby now, but he will grow into a 65 to 95 lb bundle of energy. It is in your own best interest to direct that energy into channels that the whole family can live with.
As mentioned before, I recommend using a crate in helping with housebreaking. It also becomes a safe and quiet haven for your dog. It is his own bedroom and can be placed where he can view kitchen or family room activities as well as providing a “time-out” area.
An eight week old puppy can learn to come, sit, down, and stay in a matter of a couple weeks.
Use a special soft doggie treats. Get your puppies attention with the smell and then move the treat slightly up and over its head. At the same time, say “sit”. It will naturally follow the smell of the treat up and at the same time drop into a sit. Instantly reward with the treat.
I feel the most important command is “come” or “here”. From the time the puppy first comes home; always have treats in your pocket. At various times, call the puppy to you. Get excited and even backwards. This will encourage your puppy to follow you. Treat the puppy every time he comes to you. NEVER call your puppy to you to punish him—next time he won’t come to you. This command will be one of the most useful commands throughout your life together.
Leash training should be done immediately. Allow the puppy to drag the leash behind him when he plays (a few minutes at a time). Then have the puppy take you for a walk. In other words, you let the puppy decide the direction and you follow. The important thing is to allow the puppy to have a good feeling towards the leash.
I recommend professional classes. Pet Village offers puppy classes where we teach the heel, sit, down, stay, and come exercises. It also socializes your puppy around other dogs and people. It is a fun class and designed for puppies that have shorter attention spans than adult dogs.
Continuing classes such as the novice and advance classes are also offered at Pet Village. Your German Shepherd will be a large dog and to teach him to properly function on walks, at the park or beach, or just around the home is a must. Your German Shepherd loves to work and these classes will become the best part of his day.
- Socializing. When socializing your puppy with people, do so away from the home. Do not teach your puppy that every one that comes to your home is a friend. If you do, your puppy will learn to wag its tail at everyone that comes to your door.