The German Shepherd Dog is an old breed originating in Germany and is probably one of the most versatile breeds in existence today. It is a true working breed, although the American Kennel Club classifies it as a herding breed today. It is one of the original breeds used as a seeing-eye guide dog. It continues to be a favorite breed for use in the military, police, and search and rescue. He can easily detect drugs, run down and hold a criminal on the run, and track the scent of a missing child. You will find him at work in Europe patrolling the border with the same vigor he did many, many years ago. The German Shepherd Dog also makes an excellent therapy dog and is a breed that can be counted on in any situation.
German Shepherd Dog training considerations:
o The German Shepherd Dog is highly intelligent and easy to train, given the right circumstances. He will not accept high levels of repetition and can easily become bored. If he finds you boring as trainer, he will create his own entertainment. You can train him in performance events like: obedience, rally, agility, herding, tracking, and Schutzhund. He excels in all areas. You should attend basic obedience classes at a young age and continue to train him from there.
o To train a German Shepherd Dog, focus on positive reinforcement and motivation. Once you know what motivates your dog, this is what will become his reward for learning. There is never any need for physical force in training.
o German Shepherds need strong leaders or they will lead you. The German Shepherd Dog is a not a Labrador and with good reason! He demands respect from his owner, and you should respect the dog. Becoming a strong leader means nothing more than establishing rules and boundaries from day one with your dog. Example of rules could be: increasing impulse control and patience with calmly sitting and waiting for dinner or to go outside; focused eye contact before a toy is thrown; a wait at a boundary line when guests enter the house. There are as many rules available as you can think of, and the dogs will thrive under this situation.
o While establishing rules, it is important to avoid all the ‘myths’ related to being an Alpha. There is no need to dominance roll your dog, and in fact, your dog may view this as threatening and bite you!
o The German Shepherd Dog makes an excellent guardian, but this is instinctual and no training is required. DO NOT ever attempt to ‘train’ in aggression!
o Pure aggression is not desirable in the German Shepherd Dog. Aggression comes from poor genetics, lack of socialization, or lack of training. Some dogs are genetically aggressive, but the more common cases come from lack of training and socialization. German Shepherds are bred to be aloof and suspicious of strangers. Without the proper socialization, they are unable to determine friend from foe. Many cases of dog aggression, territorial aggression, and stranger aggression can and do result from this improper training and socialization.
o German Shepherds can be known to chase anything that moves. Some have more prey drive than others, but know that early training is required to teach your dog to not chase cats, small dogs, or children. He should be taught a ‘leave it’ and an immediate ‘come.’
German Shepherd Dog training should be fun! They are so highly intelligent that training them is a real pleasure. Remember that early and on-going socialization, setting rules, thorough training, and being a respected leader are the most important things when training this breed.