Jamie Johnson

tricks to teach german shepherd

As the keeper of an intelligent, loyal and active German Shepherd, you might find it hard to channel all the energy and enthusiasm of your beloved pet. Don’t worry, this blog post has got your back! Here, you’ll find all the tricks to teach your German shepherd positive behaviors. From positive reinforcement techniques to leash training basics, this post dives deep into the key strategies and tips to help you and your K9 companion form a healthy relationship. Moreover, you’ll find out how to develop your dog’s physical and mental stimulation and learn about the importance of socializing. This post will help you become the responsible and confident pet parent you always dreamed to be!

Table of Contents

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is a reward-based training strategy that encourages desirable behaviors or actions by providing positive stimulus. When used properly, this type of training creates an environment of mutual respect and trust, allowing your pet to learn quickly and efficiently.

Benefits of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement has several distinct advantages:

  • Enhances obedience: Your German Shepherd may be the most obedient pup around when you successfully combine positive reinforcement with other positive training methods. This will encourage the animal’s desired behavior and increase its compliance with commands.

  • Encourages preferred behaviors: Positive reinforcement can help you encourage the behaviors you want from your pet and discourage behaviors that you don’t. With consistent rewards, you can shape your pup’s unwanted behaviors in no time

  • Strengthens the bond between you and your pet: Consistent positive reinforcement helps create a strong bond between you and your pup, ensuring both your safety and comfort as you navigate life together.

  • Builds confidence in the animal: As your German Shepherd progresses through training, they will gain confidence in themselves and in their abilities. This newfound confidence will make them more resilient to challenges and workloads that they may encounter in the future.

Examples of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can be anything from verbal praise to treats to toys. Here are a few examples of way you can use positive reinforcement:

  • Praise: When your pet successfully completes the task, provide them with verbal praise or a pat on the head to let them know they did well.

  • Treats: Every once in a while, give your pup a treat when they have shown willingness to learn.

  • Toys: If your German Shepherd is starting to get bored with the same old rewards, switching to a toy can help keep them engaged and motivated.

Guidelines for Implementing Positive Reinforcement

Now that you know the benefits of positive reinforcement, here are a few tips for implementing it effectively:

  • Be consistent: Positive reinforcement will only be effective if it is given consistently. To ensure your pup’s obedience, make sure to reward them every time they do something correctly.

  • Never punish: Punishment will only serve to confuse or frighten your pet. Instead of punishing, focus on reinforcing good behavior with positive reinforcement.

  • Keep training sessions short: Long and drawn-out training sessions can cause fatigue in your pet, leading them to be distracted and unfocused. To keep them alert and engaged, keep the sessions short and sweet.

  • Provide immediate reward: To reinforce the desired behavior, make sure to provide your pup with a reward immediately after they complete it. Delayed rewards could cause confusion or frustration and could lead your pup to ignore the command.

Story Illustrating Benefits of Positive Reinforcement

One German Shepherd owner found success with positive reinforcement when teaching her pup complex commands. She used consistent rewards, such as verbal praise and treats, to nudge her pet in the right direction. After a few months of training, her German Shepherd was obedient and well-behaved.

What’s even more impressive is the bond that formed between the pup and its owner. Through positive reinforcement and patience, the pet learned to trust its owner, and the two grew inseparable. And ultimately, the pup gained confidence in its own abilities, inspiring its owner to tackle even more complex commands.

Full body positive Asian female ballet instructor sitting on floor and helping ballerina girl to stretch body in modern ballet school

Tips on Teaching Basic Commands

Having a pet can be a lot of fun, but if you want to get the most out of your relationship it’s important to take the time to train your pet. German Shepherds are particularly intelligent and eager to learn, making them an ideal dog to train. Here are some tips and tricks on teaching basic commands to German Shepherds and ensuring they obey commands successfully.

Starting with a Positive Reinforcement

When starting to teach commands to German Shepherds, it’s important to start with a positive reinforcement. Start by rewarding desired behaviors with rewards such as treats. This helps to establish a positive relationship between you and your dog, and will make the training go smoother.

Keep Training Sessions Short and Focused

Keep training sessions short and focused. Training sessions should be no longer than 10 -15 minutes. Short and focused sessions will help to keep your dog from becoming bored or overwhelmed. Also, make sure to be consistent with the commands and reward system as this will help your dog learn quickly.

Introduce New Commands Slowly

Introducing new commands shouldn’t happen all at once. You should take time introducing them one at a time and only move on when the dog has properly learned the previous one. Once they have mastered the command, start adding distractions to the environment. This will help your dog become accustomed to following commands even when there are distractions present.

Use Play Activity to Teach Commands

Using play activities can also be a great way to teach your dog commands. Not only is it fun, but it also allows your dog to learn in a stress-free environment. Playing fetch or hide-and-seek are both great methods to teach your German Shepherd commands while they are having fun at the same time.

Write down Commands

When teaching commands, it’s important to always write them down and keep a record of the progress. This will help you see which commands have been mastered and which ones need more practice. Additionally, this will help you remember what commands need to be taught and when.

Reward and Reinforce Good Behaviors

When teaching commands, it’s important you reward and reinforce good behaviors. Every time your dog does what you asked for, reward them with treats and plenty of positive reinforcement.

By following these tips and tricks you will have a better chance of successfully teaching your German Shepherd basic commands. Remember to start by establishing a positive relationship, keep sessions short and focused, introduce new commands slowly, and reward and reinforce good behaviors. By doing this, you’ll be on your way to having an obedient and well-trained pet.

Top view of peaceful female with closed eyes wearing sportive top lying with hands behind head while resting on sport ground near water bottles

Teaching Advanced Commands & Tricks

If you’re the proud owner of a German Shepherd, you know how intelligent and eager-to-please they are. With the right training, you can teach your German Shepherd a whole range of commands and tricks. To get the best out of your pup, here are a few simple tips.

Exercise & Mental Stimulation

If you want your German Shepherd to learn advanced commands and tricks, regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential. Your dog needs to practise regularly and in different places, like the park, porch, street or even the living room. When designing a training routine, aim for both physical and mental activities, such as agility training, walking for distances, scent-training and other trick-based games. Spending time and interacting with your dog is also an excellent way to keep their minds busy.

Use Positive Reinforcement

When it comes to training a German Shepherd, positive reinforcement is the way to go. Rewarding your pup with treats or toys after satisfactory performance can easily encourage a quick and effective learning process. Make sure to use high-value treats or toys while training, like bits of cooked chicken, cheese or freeze-dried liver. You can also give ample affection and praise.

Practice In Multiple Locations

Until your German Shepherd understands a command or trick, you must practise regularly in different places. You need to work on generalisation, which is the process of teaching your pup to remember commands, even in the face of new distractions. Different locations will introduce varying types of distractions, like people, animals, and other noises. Teach your dog to focus on you and follow your commands, even in a noisy environment.

Teach Specific Verbal Commands

Be precise when it comes to using verbal and non-verbal cues while training your German Shepherd. For example, don’t just say ‘sit,’ say ‘Scout, sit’ (or whichever name you’ve chosen for your pup). Similarly, use specific and consistent hand motions, like the point-and-look method or two-finger point, to accompany verbal commands.


It’s not uncommon to experience difficult behavior while training your pup. If you’re struggling to teach your German Shepherd a basic command, like ‘sit’ and ‘lie down’, avoid force and punishment. Instead, break down the command into smaller steps, and work on them one at a time. You can also try multiple strategies and alter the environment to make learning easier for your pup. Above all, remain consistent, stay patient and be encouraging.

By following these simple tricks, you can teach a whole range of complex commands and tricks to your German Shepherd. Remember, practise makes perfect. Good luck!

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Breaking Down Steps Into Smaller Parts

When teaching tricks to a German Shepherd it is important to break down the desired behavior into individual steps. To illustrate, imagine teaching the dog to “sit” on command. The initial step is teaching it to lower its rear end until it is touching the floor. Introduce the associated command slowly and make sure to use repetition. For instance, say “sit” while gently encouraging the dog’s rear end to lower. Repeat this until the dog completes the desired action.

Importance of Rewards

Providing a reward after each successful attempt is key to reinforcing the desired behavior. Foods like small pieces of cheese, kibble, or treats can be used as rewards. These can help the dog to focus on the desired result, and their enthusiasm for learning new tricks increases. It is also important to praise the German Shepherd for their accomplishments, as this can help to boost their confidence for understanding and following commands.

Moving Up Steps

Once the dog starts to understand the initial step, gradually move onto the next steps. This doesn’t necessarily have to be after every successful reward, it depends on the individual dog and how quickly they comprehend commands. For example, you could move on to teaching the dog to stay in a sitting position once they have learned the “sit” command.

Praise and Positive Reinforcement

Praising and positively reinforcing your German Shepherd is essential to keep them motivated and focused on the task at hand. When the dog responds correctly to your commands make sure to show your appreciation for the progress by speaking in a happy, comforting voice and/or petting and scratching them. Even if the dog doesn’t respond correctly, never make them feel bad – speak positively, redirect their attention and provide a positive reward to hopefully help guide them to success.

Rewarding Good Behaviour

It is also important to reward good behaviours throughout the learning process. If a German Shepherd displays self control, for instance by stopping a behavior like barking at a passerby, make sure to reward them for it. This helps to further shape the bond between man and pet, and the dog will be more likely to respond well to commands.


Teaching a German Shepherd new tricks takes time and patience. Breaking down the desired behavior into smaller steps, providing rewards and positive reinforcement, and praising the dog when they respond correctly, can help make the process easier. With the right approach and plenty of love, teaching a German Shepherd tricks can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

A Pregnant Woman Training Her Dog

Using Treats As Rewards

Treats can be an effective and highly rewarding way to motivate your German Shepherd to learn. Why? Not only do treats taste good, but they will also instantly let them know when they have performed the right behavior.

Introducing & Using Treats

To use treats effectively in training your German Shepherd, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Start with Bite-sized Treats

Start with bite-sized treats that can be delivered quickly and easily while they’re learning new commands. Small treats like hot dogs, kibble, or cheese are usually welcomed with enthusiasm.

Establish a Training Phrase

Use a training phrase or hand signal and a treat for desired behavior. For example, if you want your Shepherd to sit, begin by saying “sit” and then giving them a treat when they do so. Over time, you can begin to fade out the reward and eventually your German Shepherd will know to sit on command.

Monitor Eating Habits

Be aware of how much your German Shepherd is eating and adjust their treat portions accordingly. Just like people, too much of a good thing in your German Shepherd’s diet can lead to weight gain and other health concerns.

Different Types of Treats

Different types of treats can be used as rewards, depending on the desired result.

Soft Treats

Soft treats can be used for emphasizing commands in situations with a lot of distractions. They can be broken up into pieces, or alternately given as a whole treat. Soft treats like hot dogs can be eaten quickly, which is important when a prompt response is desired.

Long-lasting Treats

Long-lasting treats like rawhide chews provide an opportunity for self-reinforcement. The time it takes to eat the treat can act as a reward and encourage the desired behavior.

High-value Treats

High-value treats such as chunks of hot dog or cheese can be used to speed up order acquisition. These treats are especially useful in distracting environments because they capture and keep the German Shepherd’s attention.

An Example

To illustrate the importance of making training fun and rewarding, consider a story of a German Shepherd that quickly learned commands using treats as rewards. The owner began by introducing a training phrase and then provided treats as a reward for each right response. After a few days, the German Shepherd had learned to sit, stay, and come when called. The owner gradually reduced the amount of treats offered and in no time the Shepherd was responding to commands without the reward of a treat.

Using treats as rewards can be an effective way to train your German Shepherd. Remember, start with bite-sized treats, establish a training phrase, and monitor their eating habits. Different types of treats can be used, from soft treats for emphasizing commands, to longer lasting treats like rawhide chews. Make sure to keep training fun and reward your German Shepherd for performing the desired behavior. Before you know it, your Shepherd will be responding to commands without needing a treat every time.

tricks to teach german shepherd

Leash Training Basics

When it comes to training your beloved German shepherd, leash training is a critical task that will help your pup both understand boundaries and have a bit more freedom and independence. For a successful leash training session, there are basic supplies that you’ll need: a 4-6ft leash, a collar and treats for positive reinforcement.

Steps for Leash Training

Getting started with leash training will require you to introduce your German shepherd to the leash and collar. It’s important to first get your pup used to wearing the collar. You can do this by rewarding them with treats and petting each time they wear it. Make sure you’re rewarding them each time they remain calm while wearing the collar and while you’re attaching the leash. After they learn how to wear the collar comfortably and don’t get spooked, you’re ready to start leash training.

When leash training, it’s important to adjust the tightness of the leash. In ideal scenarios, your German shepherd should be walking alongside you and the leash shouldn’t be too tight or too loose. Too tight of a leash can be uncomfortable for your pup and too loose of a leash can make it difficult to keep them from running away from you when outdoors.

It can also helpful to bring along treats during walks. That way, when your German shepherd does something good, you can reward them with treats. This will help reinforce good behavior and enable them to learn more quickly.

Example of Leash Training Success

A successful leash training session for your German shepherd would look like both of you comfortably walking along a sidewalk. As you’re walking, your pup should be walking alongside you, with a gentle but firm hold on their leash, not pulling ahead or behind you. As they begin to master this, you can begin to reward them with treats and the occasional pet to show appreciation.

Troubleshooting Common Challenges

When leash training, there are a few common challenges that you may come across. One of the most prominent ones is leash pulling. When your pup starts to pull towards something, it’s important that you gently but firmly tug back on the leash and redirect their focus. Other common issues include barking and distraction. When this happens, it’s important for you to remain patient. If your pup approaches something or someone, you can distract them with a treat and slowly lead them away from potential danger.

Benefits of Leash Training

Leash training has a range of benefits for your German Shepherd. It provides your pup with the skills and confidence to safely explore new places, helps them understand how to control their impulses, and allows for a better bond between the two of you. All in all, leash training is a valuable skill that will have numerous benefits for your beloved pup.

Multiethnic thoughtful girls playing chess in modern room

Encouraging Socialization From an Early Age

Socializing your German Shepherd puppy is one of the most important things you can do for your pet to ensure a healthy and happy life. Early socialization helps them understand that new changes and environments are not threatening. It also helps them develop obedience and gain understanding of proper interaction with people and other animals.

When done right, socialization is an incredibly positive experience for your German Shepherd and helps them grow into an obedient, loving companion. The optimal socialization window is the first 16 weeks of life, but it’s never too late to start socializing an older dog.

Tips for Socializing Your German Shepherd

It’s important to approach socializing your German Shepherd with a positive attitude and focus on rewarding them for good behavior. If done correctly, socializing your puppy can be a lot of fun for both of you! Here are a few of my top tips for socializing your German Shepherd:

Use Positive Reinforcement

Whenever you introduce your puppy to a new face, object, space, or noise, be sure to use positive reinforcement to create a positive association. Offer treats and praise when they demonstrate a good attitude or curiosity and let them explore the situation at their own pace.

Find Puppy Classes

There are a variety of puppy classes available where your German Shepherd can meet different people and other animals in a safe, supervised environment. Tracking down classes specifically catered towards German Shepherds can be beneficial as they will offer tailored and relevant training that helps your pup become more comfortable around their more specific kind and size.

Avoid Force

It’s important to remember to never use force or aggression when socializing your German Shepherd. If they seem uncomfortable or scared, give them the space to process their feelings and emotions without trying to push them to do something. Doing this will help them build trust in you and create her a positive association with new faces and environments.

My Story

My German Shepherd is one of the most curious and playful pups I know. Whenever she meets a new person or environment, I focus on allowing her to explore and take it all in, making sure she’s comfortable first before demanding any interaction. This helps her feel secure and gives me the opportunity to reward her for her curiosity.

In addition to allowing her to explore her environment, I consistently bring her to puppy classes and use positive reinforcement to encourage her to interact with other animals. Since following this approach, she’s become incredibly well-socialized and loves meeting new people and animals.

If you’re looking to socialize your German Shepherd, keep in mind the importance of positive reinforcement and the power of patience. With these techniques, your dog will learn to become more comfortable in a new environment and form lasting positive relationships with other animals and people.

Man and Dog in Room

Housetraining Basics

Housetraining a German Shepherd properly can be challenging, but with a consistent schedule, some patience, and a reward-based approach you can help your pup learn quickly and effectively. By using the right house rules, crate training techniques, and an understanding of common mistakes to avoid, you can teach your German Shepherd some new behaviors that will make your life easier as a pet parent.

House Rules are an Important Part of Housetraining

When introducing new house rules and expectations to your German Shepherd, be sure to be consistent. Dogs learn best when there is no confusion in regards to what behaviors are and are not acceptable, so be sure to set clear expectations from the get-go. If a puppy has an accident, be sure to correct the behavior (though not harshly) and explain why that behavior is unacceptable.

Crate Training Matters

Crate training will be an important part of housetraining and it is important to create an attractive and comfortable environment for your pup in their crate. Place similar items in their crate such as their bed, favorite toy, and food and water so that the crate is inviting and comfortable.

When crate training, always stick to consistent schedules and keep in mind that puppies should not stay in the crate for more than a few hours when they are young. As they get older they can be left in the crate for longer periods of time. However, it is important to ensure that your puppy is not confined to their crate all day and is getting enough outside time and exercise.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to housetraining is overlooking or delaying when a puppy has an accident. As soon as your puppy has an accident, be sure to remind them that this behavior is unacceptable. If accidents are not addressed soon after they happen, it will be harder for your pup to understand what is and is not an appropriate behavior.

Another mistake is not consistently enforcing rules and expected behaviors. When you are introducing new house rules, be sure to stick to them and actively remind your puppy of the parameters that you have set. Furthermore, try to be consistent with rewards and punishments when your pup is learning and growing.

The Benefits of Reward-Based Training

Reward-based training can be a great way to housetrain your German Shepherd and can also save you time in the long-run. When a pup is successfully housetrained, be sure to give them plenty of positive praise so that they develop an understanding that this behavior is encouraged and will be rewarded.

By employing reward-based methods, you can also ensure that this knowledge sticks. Positive reinforcement through rewards can help your pup learn quicker, and help them understand which behaviors are appropriate and ultimately acceptable.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to effectively housetraining a German Shepherd, it is important to remember to be patient and consistent throughout the process. If you stick to a set schedule, employ reward-based techniques, and avoid common mistakes, you can successfully teach your pup some new behaviors.

An example of this is one German Shepherd owner and pet groomer, who successfully housetrained her pup by following consistent training methods, enforcing house rules consistently, and rewarding positive behaviors with treats. With patience, commitment, and a good attitude, you too can effectively housebreak your pup and teach them some new good behaviors.

German Shepherded Leaning on Grass

Grooming Basics

Grooming your German Shepherd is an essential part of keeping them healthy and happy. With the right tools, techniques and consistency, you can make the process stress-free for both of you.

Necessary tools and equipment:

There are a few items you should have on hand to properly groom your German Shepherd. A slicker brush, or a comb, works best for their long, dense coat. For clippers, use a pair designed to work with both the body and head hair. When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, look for a high-quality, moisturizing blend designed specifically for dogs with longer hair.

Teaching them to accept being brushed:

Getting your German Shepherd comfortable with being brushed should be the first step to take. Begin at a young age, and start with short sessions; use lots of positive reinforcement, like treats and praise. If your pup gets too excited, give them a break, but stay consistent in your routine and they will eventually calm down.

Introducing a bath tub:

If you plan to give your German Shepherd a bath at home, the process should begin before bath time. Start by introducing them to the tub or spa, allowing them to sniff around it and get comfortable with its presence. Give them treats for exploring, and make sure the whole experience is fun and positive. Grooming them before the bath can also be helpful; once they are used to being brushed and touched, the bath process should be much easier.

Ear cleaning tips:

Regular ear cleaning is especially important for the German Shepherd, as their long ears can easily trap dirt and debris. Cleaning their ears should be done with a soft cloth and a specially formulated cleansing solution recommended by your veterinarian. To clean their ears, simply dampen the cloth with the solution and wipe away any dirt or wax. Be sure to move slowly and gently to avoid any discomfort.

Clipping their nails:

Getting your German Shepherd used to having their nails trimmed is essential for their health and safety. First, get them comfortable with having their paws touched, then start to clip their nails and reward them with treats whenever they let you. When trimming, use clippers designed specifically for dogs and be sure to not trim too low, as this could be painful for them.

Brushing their teeth:

Regular teeth brushing is important for any dog’s oral health, including the German Shepherd. Start by introducing them to the toothbrush with just a few strokes; reward them if they don’t react negatively. Choose toothpaste made specifically for dogs, and if your pup doesn’t like the taste, look into other products like dental chews or oral rinses. Make sure to stick with a routine, and your pupper will soon be comfortable with their teeth brushing session.

Two Dogs Chasing Each Other

Playtime Strategies For Physical & Mental Stimulation

Playing is incredibly important to keep your German Shepherds healthy, fit, and happy. People sometimes don’t realize how much energy and social needs dogs have, and that not fulfilling these needs can lead to aggression, obesity, and behaviors like chewing and barking.

But don’t worry! With the right balance of physical and mental activities, your German Shepherd’s routine can provide the stimulation needed to keep them healthy and in better spirits. Here are some suggestions for readjusting your German Shepherd’s schedule with physical and mental activities:

Set Aside Daily Playtime

To ensure your German Shepherd stays active and healthy, be sure to create at least 15-20 minutes of daily playtime. Going for a jog, playing a game of fetch, and spending time exploring outdoors are all great ways to get the exercise your pup needs. Not only will they be burning off energy, they are also developing their overall muscular, cardiovascular, and digestive health.

Participate in Physical Activities

Physical activities provide opportunities for your German Shepherd to socialize and bond with you. Try playing a game of fetch with them or taking them on an adventure. Make sure the activity is enjoyable for them, but also challenges abdominal and legs muscles. You can also take advantage of trails or parks to change up the scenery and keep them energized.

Socialize Early and Often

Socialization is key to keeping fear and aggression in check. Early and frequent socialization helps your pup learn how to interact with people and other dogs. Taking them on walks around your neighborhood, encouraging them to approach other people and dogs, and going to playdates are all great ideas.

Include Mental Activities

Dogs need mental stimulation just as much as physical activities. Offering more interactive play such as hide-and-seek and scent games can stimulate their brains and provide hours of fun and engagement. Fill a toy with treats and let them search for it or show them how to retrieve a thrown object and increase the distance gradually over time. Also don’t forget about everyday objects, like teaching them to do tricks with a rolling chair or box.

Monitor and Adjust

When it comes to playtime, pay close attention to your German Shepherds behavior and adjust their activities as needed to make sure they remain safe and stimulated throughout their lives. If they seem excited, try to increase the time or challenge of the activity slightly. On the other hand, if they seem overly tired or bored, it might be time to reduce time or switch up the activity.

By following these tips and strategies and finding the right activities that fit your pup’s personality and energy level, you will be well on your way to a fit and healthy – and most of all – contented German Shepherd.

Grey and White Miniature Schnauzer Running on Green Grass Field


Teaching a German shepherd a few tricks is one of the most rewarding experiences a pet parent can have. Positive reinforcement, treats, and lots of practice can help your pup learn basic, intermediate, and advanced commands in no time. It’s also important to spend plenty of time outdoors socializing with other animals and encouraging leash training. With regular grooming, housebreaking, and playtime, your puppy will be a well-mannered addition to your family.

When teaching commands, it’s helpful to break down each task into smaller parts to make it easier for your pup to succeed. Choose a reward based on the size of the accomplishment and make sure to be patient, provide plenty of positive reinforcement, and never punish or berate your German Shepherd. With the right training and lots of love, your pup is sure to learn the tricks you’re teaching them in no time.

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