German Shepherd Puppies Care and Training
If you want to get a German Shepherd puppy, you need to make sure you have everything it takes to care for them. This breed is known for its bravery, loyalty and energy. German Shepherds are such hard workers and excellent service dogs, which means they are quick to learn and easy to train.
Taking care of them, on the other hand, can be slightly challenging due to their highly active nature. You will need to devote a lot of time and energy to ensure their needs are met. Let's get started with the best German Shepherd care and training tips.
If you have been waiting months to bring your new puppy home from a breeder, don't let the excitement overwhelm you. Focus on things like preparing yourself and your living space for the arrival of the new family member.
Make sure you have the necessary supplies and a special puppy-safe area where your German Shepherd can relax and enjoy some time alone. Choose a bed area where your family mostly spends their time, so your pup doesn't feel isolated. Place their bed in the corner so it doesn't get in the way of foot traffic. If necessary, ask your vet for additional tips.
Teach them basic commands
You now need to assume the role of a teacher. Luckily German Shepherd puppies are quick learners, which makes them excellent service dogs. The best way to establish commands is through effective and clear communication and obedience training.
Use some of the following words to convey your message. It will help you control their temperament.
- Let's go – This will encourage your puppy to follow you. You can make a couple of rounds around the house.
- Wait / OK – “Wait” tells your dog to control their impulses and look to you for direction. "OK," tells them to proceed. You could use this pair of words when exiting a home or crossing roads.
- Sit – This command keeps your pet on the ground and it's a great way to keep them under control when they are misbehaving or when you are about to give them a treat or meal.
- Stand – "Stand" prepares your dog for the next command or grooming.
- Excuse me – usually when your pet blocks your way, ignores your command or runs into you, you can use this command.
- Settle – This tells your puppy they need to relax or go to their bed so you can have some quiet time.
- No – When your dog doesn't perform as you want them to or you need them to stop what they are doing, you use the "no" command.
- Uh ho – Use this to discourage inappropriate behaviour.
- Their name – Calling your pet by their name is the best way to get their attention. Remember to teach them their name when they are still young. This breed is very clever and will pick up their name early.
Get your pet the best puppy food Australia has to offer
Puppies need frequent meals as they are growing, especially if you want them to properly develop their hip bones. When feeding your pup, you could refer to this chart:
- 8-10 weeks: morning, midday, afternoon and evening meal
- 10 weeks – 4 months: morning, midday and evening meal
- 4 – 6 months: morning and evening meal
As they get older, dogs will eat less and will need one or two meals throughout the day. Your German Shepherd's energy level and overall condition will depend on the food quality they eat. You should choose high-quality food appropriate for their age and specifically made for large breeds.
A healthy and fit dog is less likely to cause any behaviour issues and you will be able to control their temperament. Poor nutrition can lead to all sorts of problems like digestive disorders, infections and diseases. If you don't know what food to give your dog, do some research and choose a formula packed with proteins that also contain a balanced amount of carbs and fats.
If after all this research you aren't sure what food to get, you could ask your vet for advice.
Pay attention to dog teeth cleaning
You need to clean your puppy's teeth regularly otherwise they may develop plaque, tartar or some oral disease. We always recommend using toothpaste that is specially designed for dogs. Do not be tempted to use human toothpaste because it contains ingredients that shouldn't be swallowed and can lead to poisoning.
When it comes to a toothbrush, there are plenty of models to choose from. Double-headed toothbrushes are best because they can clean your dog's teeth from various angles and improve their dental health.
Learn the joys of grooming
German Shepherds are fairly large pups and their long hair makes them a slightly demanding breed to groom. They will require a regular brushing routine that will keep them and your home from excessive loose hair and keep their skin healthy.
When it comes to grooming routine, here's what to expect:
- Brush your pup at least three times a week
- You could use grooming gloves
- Offer puppy treats to keep them calm
- Use a soothing voice and always tell them how good they are
In addition to grooming, your German Shepherd puppy will need regular bathing. Start from an early age to get them accustomed to water and puppy shampoo because some dogs aren't fans of water.
Keep your pet active
German Shepherds are highly active dogs and need their fair share of activities. These activities should be done in accordance with their age. If you have a German Shepherd puppy, their daily route should look like this:
- Brief walks two times a day
- Start lightly, with shorter walking sessions and then build up time and distance
- Gradually increase the pace, to avoid hurting your dog
- Remember that puppies can't walk long without getting tired
- An eight-week-old puppy should walk 10 minutes
Don't push your dog too soon because large breeds need some time for their hip bones to develop and increase in strength.
Socialisation is one of the crucial aspects of German Shepherd puppy training. After taking your pup to the veterinarian for their first set of shots, enrol them in puppy training. Some vets suggest you shouldn't take your dog out until the full set of vaccines is completed. This means you'll have to keep them inside until they are three months old. Considering the German Shepherd is a highly active breed, this might not be a good idea.
By then, your puppy's socialisation period will have closed forever and your chance to raise a friendly dog will drop drastically. It's ultimately your decision whether you want to take that risk. If you decide it's safe enough, you can either find a safe socialisation class or start working with your pet alone.
Teach them to use their mouth by introducing puppy chew toys
German Shepherd puppies like to chew pillows, carpets, boxes, toys, shoes and basically anything that they can get their hands on. Before you lose your mind and a couple of precious possessions, let's just say this is typical puppy behaviour.
When young, dogs will explore everything with their mouth and this is a great time to teach them how to soften their bite. Instead of letting them ruin your furniture and other items around your household, get them some quality chew toys for puppies that will keep them distracted and help them control their chewing instinct.
Potty train your puppy
Puppies will need to go to the potty more often than adults.
- Two-months-old: Every 2-3 hours
- Every additional month: Add one hour
- Six months and beyond: every 6-8 hours
Make sure to take your dog to the potty after a meal, sleeping and playtime session. Don't forget to praise them every time they are pottying outside. You must never punish your dog for potty accidents. If you didn't catch them in the act, it's too late to punish them. In case you see it happening, take them outside immediately to finish their business.
Use treats for puppy training
You've probably heard many things against using food for training and let's just say they are all wrong. A good trainer keeps their dogs motivated; to do this, you need to find what your pet likes the most and use it as a reward.
Food is most certainly one of them. But you could use anything else, toys, playtime, petting or walks. Just because you give them food doesn't mean your pet won't obey you when you don't have a treat.
To make obedience training work, you need to start with a hungry dog. The best way to initiate the training session is between feeding time. That way, you will ensure your pet will want to earn their reward. Always reward every good response because you want them to understand that they are only being rewarded for good behaviour.
When your puppy responds correctly 8/10 times, it's time to cut down on the treats. At this stage, you should offer them fewer and fewer rewards. But do it randomly so they can't predict when they will earn a reward for a good response and when they will not.
Allow your German Shepherd puppy to learn things in different places
When we learn something new, we tend to generalise this concept to various situations, but that's not how dogs work. They can't make the cognitive leap and teaching them to sit in the living room doesn't relate to other parts of your home and you will need to start training them from scratch.
Stop your puppy from jumping
A cute and tiny puppy won't bother you now but wait a couple of months and you will change your mind. To prevent your dog from jumping on people, it's crucial to train them when they are puppies.
As you come home, just ignore your pup and only greet them when their four paws are on the ground. If they start jumping again, ignore them and give them no eye contact, don’t kneel in front of them. Once jumping is under control, teach your dog to sit down when you get home so you can greet them.
Taking care of a German Shepherd isn't hard if you are willing to invest time and effort. Sometimes it might seem overwhelming but it becomes a walk in the park if you go through our tips and tricks.