If you’ve recently welcomed a German Shepherd puppy into your home, you’re in for an exciting journey filled with playful antics, heartwarming moments, and, yes, a few challenges along the way.
Training a German Shepherd puppy is not just about teaching them the basics of sit, stay, and heel; it’s about applying a month-by-month puppy training schedule.
In this guide, we will dive into the essential German Shepherd puppy training schedule that will help your furry friend grow into a well-behaved, confident, and happy adult dog.
From mastering the art of potty training to socialization secrets and obedience essentials, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s get started!
Puppy Training Timeline
Your German Shepherd puppy training schedule should start at eight weeks old when you bring your new pup home. Start by teaching him that you are the leader.
Then, every month, teach 2-4 commands, starting with simple gesture-triggered cues and progressing to more complex and word-triggered commands.
Here is a tabled view of what to teach your puppy month by month.
|Age of Puppy
|German Shepherd Puppy Training Schedule: What to Teach Month By Month
|Set Primary Anchors
|“Sit,” “Down,” and “Stand”
|Sit and Stay
Continue Potty Training
|Reinforce Previous Training
Start Advanced Command Training, e.g., “Leave it” and “Wait”
Complete Potty Training
|Recognizing Commands for Various Places
|9 -18 Months
Other Tricks, e.g., “Crawl” and “Wave”
Understanding the Training Process
German Shepherds are usually adopted around eight weeks, but they are not yet completely grown, socialized, or trained.
If you’ve recently adopted a puppy, you may be intimidated by the idea of dog training, and more significantly, you may be curious about how easy or challenging German Shepherds are to train.
German Shepherd puppies are easy to train because of their intelligence. They yearn to show their owner loyalty and overwhelmingly desire to please.
They can understand simple commands in the first few weeks. However, more complex training is usually delayed until six months of age.
I assume you adopted the puppy when it was young enough to begin training at the appropriate age.
But don’t worry if you’re a little late to the party or bring home an older puppy or a rescue dog; remember that obedience training your German Shepherd may take a little longer.
When to Start Training a German Shepherd Puppy
Training your dog becomes more difficult as he gets older, so you might think it’s ideal to start training a German Shepherd while he’s just a few weeks old. However, there is such a thing as starting your puppy’s training too soon!
German Shepherd puppies should start training when they are eight weeks old. This is when they usually leave their mother and littermates and are mature enough to understand cues.
They will have already picked up on good canine behaviors but will learn more through association and positive reinforcement.
When it comes to puppy training, it’s preferable to err on the side of being later than eight weeks than the other way around. You have up to two weeks after the eight-week mark to start your pet’s training.
Even if you’re two weeks early, you risk confusing or frightening him by bombarding him with stimuli before he’s ready to make the proper connections.
During this time, a traumatic experience might have a detrimental and counterproductive effect.
Read further if you:
- Plan to get a German Shepherd puppy or already have one older than seven weeks.
- Want an approximate schedule for training your puppy.
- Wish to train your dog using ethical training methods such as positive reinforcement.
- Intend to commit to 1.5 years of casual dog training.
How to Train a 2-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy
As previously said, the optimal time to begin training your German Shepherd puppy is when he is eight weeks old.
You can’t take a position of control over your puppy for granted yet because he’s still learning your role in his life. This is a great time to learn how to train a German Shepherd puppy at home at ease.
Moreover, your puppy can only make the most apparent connections between command, response, and consequence, so it’s crucial to adapt your training strategy accordingly.
1. Set Primary Anchors
When training a 2-month-old German Shepherd puppy, wait until he’s doing something right before giving him a stimulus that he can naturally associate with the desired behavior.
If the puppy is running towards you, for example, you can begin clapping.
Once he has learned that clapping and running toward you are linked, he’ll run toward you when you clap. However, you can’t expect the latter to happen at this stage. For now, notice the following and set distinct anchors for each.
- Following you
- Eating food / consuming treats
- Assuming a natural heel position (probably if there’s another dog in the house)
Clapping, whistling, and a single word spoken in a specific tone can all be effective anchors. For the time being, you should avoid excessively similar anchors.
A grown German Shepherd might distinguish between the words “sit” and “run,” but a young puppy would classify both as “mouth sounds.” As a result, the anchor suggestions listed above are distinct.
2. Establish Authority
You must establish yourself as your dog’s guide early on in his training. As you train your pup to understand and respond to more complex commands, this helps eliminate a lot of the resistance.
As a result, the initial step should be to persuade your German Shepherd to stick close to you. We all know that dogs are descended from wolves, and wolves follow the pack leader, which means you!
Needless to say, when training a 2-month-old German Shepherd puppy, you have to incentivize him to follow you.
You can get away with deferring nice things for longer periods with older dogs, but you’ll have to praise, snuggle, or reward your pup with training treats at first.
Don’t take too many abrupt turns in the first week of your puppy’s training. You need to build a positive reinforcement loop and let your German Shepherd establish an association between following you and receiving a pleasant experience.
You can start taking unexpected turns and training your puppy to follow you (despite the direction changes) after your puppy has become motivated to follow you for the reward.
3. Reduce Socializing Obstacles
German Shepherds are meant to be social, but if they aren’t exposed to enough people or situations early in life, they can acquire uncharacteristic introversion.
At a young age, you should take your puppy out and about and allow him to utilize his sociability potential.
One method is to pay visits to friends and family. You might also look for a dog park and take him there. Remember that your pet is still learning to walk with you and follow directions.
He won’t be able to go large distances. Unfortunately, many pet owners let their dogs’ physical limitations turn into social limitations!
Make sure your pup has a positive experience outdoors. It is worth noting that you should socialize and introduce him to new experiences as often as you can, preferably daily.
4. Start Potty Training
You should start potty training your German Shepherd puppy the first day you bring him home. Start by showing your pup where you want him to potty, such as a sectioned-off area of your yard or garden.
Make the area you want your pup to potty quite different from the rest of your yard so he’ll learn to recognize it. I cordoned off a small area and added some bark chippings.
Even now, my GSD will not go on the sidewalk or hard surfaces! It has to be grass or somewhere soft.
Next, you need a potty training schedule. Always take your puppy out first thing in the morning, after mealtimes and play, hourly, and before retiring to bed.
5. Deter Biting
If you read my blog regularly, you know that I am opposed to punishment-based training. But, if you teach your dog from a young age to avoid harsh bites, you won’t need aversive training strategies.
In any case, using physical force or yelling at your pup will only instill fear and distrust and can actually cause aggression.
If someone recommends such negative approaches, you should approach a qualified trainer and learn how to train a German Shepherd puppy not to bite.
You can check out my article, Disciplining a German Shepherd for Biting: The Do’s & Don’t’s, for greater insight into this topic.
When training a 2-month-old German Shepherd pup, you can put him in a timeout if he bites too hard, but he’ll be less likely to grasp what he has done wrong!
Instead, you can wait until your GSD bites during a positive activity before stopping it. This will help to anchor the result better.
For example, if your German Shepherd puppy fiercely takes a treat from your hand, you can withhold the second treat until he learns to take it gently.
But in contrast, if he bites you while you’re sitting watching TV, there’s little you can do in terms of constructive punishment. You should act upset and convey that what he has done has hurt you.
To do so, make a high-pitched shriek like “OUCH!” and then redirect the biting by giving him a chew toy.
Use positive reinforcement to encourage proper behavior by rewarding with a treat. Your German Shepherd will quickly learn that good behavior is rewarded with good things.
Puppies must continue to learn bite inhibition (soft-mouth) by continuing the work their mother taught them and what they learned from their littermates. Don’t worry; German Shepherds pick up on this technique quickly.
Watch This Cool YouTube Video All About Puppy Biting and Bite Inhibition Training…
6. Instill Patience
You have to use your best judgment and patience when training your dog. In general, by the tenth week, your German Shepherd will be mature enough to understand self-control.
You can learn more about how to train an 8-week-old German Shepherd in my beginner’s guide.
How to Train a 3-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy
If you’ve successfully trained your puppy from the eighth to the eleventh week, you can now expand his training.
You’ll teach your German Shepherd how to respond to commands and position yourself as a companion over the next few weeks.
1. Teach the Heel Position
While your 3-month-old German Shepherd puppy will initially follow you, adjusting your pace will soon have him walking alongside you in the heel position, on your left side, without a leash, harness, or fear of punishment.
To train your puppy to assume the natural heel position, use a clicker, whistle, or use your voice as a marker.
Chances are, at first, your German Shepherd will also try to change his pace to walk behind you because of habit. You can avoid this problem by walking where your dog is used to.
That’s why it is essential to take him to many different places in the earlier weeks, constantly working on socialization.
2. Assume Positions on Command – Sit, Down, Stand
Your 3-month-old German Shepherd puppy is now old enough to learn how to sit, stand, or hold a down position. You can teach him these new skills and assume a heel stance, which you have previously taught him.
You may notice that your puppy can tell your words apart once he’s three months old. So by the time he is four months old, you can use the position cues and positive reinforcement to get your dog to follow.
3. Activate Anchors – Start Recall Training
In weeks 8-11, you established anchors for some of your puppy’s positive behaviors.
These included a clicker, whistle, clap, or saying a specific word to show your German Shepherd is doing a good job, generally followed by a well-deserved treat. Now is the time to see whether the anchors work!
You used to whistle when your GSD approached you; now, you must whistle for him to start his run.
You are training your 3-month-old German Shepherd puppy to associate the whistle’s sound as your cue for him to run towards you. This is the foundation of his recall training.
There’s no need to be disappointed if this doesn’t work immediately. It’s a never-ending task to teach good recall.
I didn’t observe a significant improvement in my German Shepherd’s recall until she was 12 months old. Don’t try to force the dog, as this will confuse him.
If your German Shepherd isn’t responding when you activate the triggers, keep re-establishing the anchors and try again after a few days.
4. Build Comfort With Crowds – Work on Socialization
You’ve been training your German Shepherd to recognize close friends and family for a few weeks. While this allows the puppy to be more social when visitors arrive, an adult dog must learn to walk outside without behaving badly.
It’s now time to take your dog to slightly more crowded settings and expose him to various stimuli.
5. Teach Your German Shepherd Target Training
Teach your German Shepherd to ask for treats! Here, I use the word “treats” loosely.
Whether it is a cuddle, a pat, attention, or something tasty, you must teach your pup target training, for example, teaching him to touch a target with a specific part of his body, such as his paw or nose.
Remember that your German Shepherd may end up biting or clawing to communicate if you do not teach him more acceptable communication methods.
I recommend teaching your German Shepherd to use his nose to touch your hand. While you’ll actively encourage him by holding out your hand, he’ll quickly learn to touch your hand with his nose gently.
This is a fantastic bite substitute! Hand targeting is a fun way to train your dog to trust you and get him to use his brain!
Training a 4-Month-Old
When your German Shepherd reaches sixteen weeks, he is ready for big-boy training!
You’ve established a solid foundation of discipline and positive reinforcement, making it easier to train him to obey increasingly complex commands.
You’ll teach him to take varied positions, follow your commands as he moves away from you, and react to more complex anchors over the next few weeks.
Remember, though, that a 4-month-old German Shepherd puppy has a short attention span, so you’ll need to avoid long training sessions, just a few minutes here and there.
1. Teach the Sit and Stay
Teaching your GSD to sit and stay is an essential command to teach. You’ve previously taught him to sit for a reward, but now you can take it a step further by teaching him to stay and keep his eyes on you at all times until you release him.
Don’t expect too much too quickly, as your dog may struggle to understand this at first. Begin by asking him to sit for a few seconds and gradually extend the time.
Learn How to Teach Your Dog to Sit and Stay…
2. Train Your Dog to Fetch
If you have taken your German Shepherd to public parks and he has watched other dogs play fetch, it will be easier to teach him to retrieve whatever you throw.
You can use one of your dog’s favorite toys and throw it a short distance away. Your GSD may not return the toy to you for a second time, but he will eventually figure it out.
Over the next few weeks, you can gradually turn it into a game of fetch, rewarding your puppy with high-value training treats. Your German Shepherd will learn “FETCH!” in no time!
3. Continue Potty Training
In the fourth month of German Shepherd training, you will continue toilet training to a degree of independence. Reward your dog for not making a mess by giving him a treat every time he doesn’t!
Maintain a regular schedule and match your walks with his natural cycle to coincide with when he needs to go.
4. Teach Your German Shepherd to Walk on the Leash
Walking on a leash outside is an important element of dog training. Use it to control your German Shepherd and test his ability to follow commands off-leash.
A harness is a smart idea at first, so it’s utilized for outdoor training and walks as well.
Many dog owners will opt for a rear-attached harness. However, I prefer one that leads from the front, such as the Walk Your Dog With Love No-Pull Harness.
It’s the harness my German Shepherd wears, and it’s awesome for less pull and greater control. It’s reasonably priced, and there are various colors and styles.
I have a comprehensive article on how to stop a GSD from pulling on the leash that you’ll find helpful.
Training a 5-Month-Old
You have adequately socialized and trained your dog to recognize and associate attention, toys, walks, and food as rewards.
Your five-month-old German Shepherd puppy is now ready to be tested for general obedience and the capacity to deal with distractions. These could be other dogs, strangers, or animals like squirrels or birds.
1. Reinforce Previous Training
Now is the time to use the above as rewards and reinforce earlier training while introducing distractions and lengthening your dog’s time between rewards.
You can’t expect an eight-week-old dog to defer gratification, as I indicated earlier. But, if you introduce distractions gradually, your five-month-old puppy can deal with them.
2. Contain His Energy
At five months, your German Shepherd’s physical ability finally catches up with his enthusiasm and curiosity. You must be ready for your dog to run ahead of you now!
Assume, however, that you have built a strong bond with your puppy and worked on his training. In that case, he will stay close to you and prove his loyalty by sticking by your side.
How to Train a 6-Month-Old German Shepherd Puppy
This is the last month you can refer to your puppy as a puppy before entering his “teenage years!” He has reached the age of adolescence.
When your German Shepherd puppy reaches the 6-month mark, it’s time to start advanced obedience training. The good news is that all of your past training will make it easier for your dog to obey your instructions.
1. Conclude Potty Training
Your German Shepherd has had months to learn how to tell you he needs to go potty. He has also likely refined how to hold his bladder instead of peeing on the floor.
As a result, if your dog makes a mess, you can express your displeasure through your body language. But, all dogs can still have the odd accident up to one year old.
Besides, you must be prepared for your dog to relieve himself indoors if he is excited or frightened. This is known as either excitement or submissive urination.
2. Increase Exercise
You can increase your German Shepherd’s activity to thirty minutes twice daily now that he’s six months old. During this time, energy levels increase, especially in larger breed dogs.
While the average exercise for a pup before this is generally five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day, a six-month-old German Shepherd can exercise for one hour if you split his walks into two thirty-minute sessions.
3. Start Advanced Command Training
It’s also a good time to concentrate on your dog’s advanced training. To train your 6-month-old German Shepherd puppy, start with two commands that will be most useful.
“LEAVE IT!” is a command that tells your dog to let go of whatever he’s chowing down on. This will come in handy if he grabs something he shouldn’t, and it’s a great method to teach discipline.
The second command I recommend you train your dog is the “WAIT!” command. As previously stated, you will be exercising your German Shepherd much more frequently from now on.
The “wait” command might assist you in catching up if your pet is running too far ahead!
You can teach these commands or tricks in any order from six months onwards until your German Shepherd is a well-trained adult.
Training a 7-Month-Old
As your German Shepherd approaches seven months, you’ll want to keep much of the previous training consistent as you gradually teach him to understand more commands.
I recommend adding up to two new cues to your German Shepherd’s training schedule every month, or if he’s having trouble grasping a technique, keep working on it until he’s mastered it.
1. “TAKE IT!”
You can teach your 7-month-old German Shepherd to take things from your hand by giving him any command you want.
While most owners resort to “TAKE IT!” you may want to use different words so your dog isn’t confused when you use “take it” in everyday conversation. I use the “take it” cue, which works for me.
You order your German Shepherd to bark. Perhaps there’s a trespasser on your property, and you’d like your dog to scare them away. This is an excellent skill to teach your GSD and is one of the commands taught to police and protection dogs.
Training an 8-Month-Old
Your 8-month-old German Shepherd is now ready to learn even more commands. You’ll need to keep training your dog to hold and release objects on command, but you can add distance and additional background distractions.
You can train your dog to stop barking when you tell him to. Ironically, you’ll have to teach him to bark on command before he can learn to be silent on command!
Continue using the word “speak!” as a trigger and do something that causes him to bark naturally. Giving him a treat will strengthen the association between the word “speak” and his barking.
Once your German Shepherd stops barking, say the word “QUIET!” and at the exact moment that he stops barking, again reward him with a treat, giving lots of praise.
He’ll learn to correlate the various commands with barking and silence during this month. This task is difficult, but your German Shepherd will eventually master it if you practice and keep consistent.
2. Teach Different Commands for Different Places
Usually, “BED!” is the perfect command to teach a dog to go to his bed or crate on cue. The eighth month is the time for training your German Shepherd to go to different places upon hearing your command word.
This could be for practical reasons or to maximize the intellect of your dog. In any case, don’t overburden him with place commands; limit him to two every month.
Training a 9-Month-Old
If the training you’ve done over the last month has proven effective, you can easily continue adding new places to your dog’s understanding. Alternatively, you might spend the ninth month teaching him a fun party trick!
Teach Your German Shepherd to Spin
By dangling a tasty treat in front of your German Shepherd and moving it in a circle until he starts to spin, you prime him for a command anchor. By saying “SPIN!” and giving him the treat, you associate the reward with this anchor.
After a week or so, you teach your German Shepherd to follow your finger without using a treat. Of course, you will still need to reward him after he obeys the command.
By the third week, you should be able to ask your dog to spin without using your finger to guide him.
It might take an extra couple of weeks, but I recommend this as an addition in the ninth month because it allows you to continue training your dog to learn previous commands better.
You can train him to go to different places, hold or release objects, and fetch toys.
Training a 10-Month-Old
During the tenth month of training your German Shepherd, you must reinforce earlier commands. That’s why, in the next four weeks, I recommend merely adding a simple “ROLL-OVER!” trick to his repertory.
Your German Shepherd has mastered the “DOWN!” cue at three months old. You can further develop this and teach him to roll over on command. Similar to teaching “spin,” use high-value treats with oodles of praise.
Training an 11-Month-Old
Your doggo’s first birthday is coming up in a month! Take advantage of this opportunity to teach your 11-month-old German Shepherd to “GO AHEAD!”
You tell your dog to stay ahead of you, which is the opposite of “WAIT!” This is also used in agility tournaments to command your dog to go ahead of you.
How to Train a 1-Year-Old German Shepherd
While the one-year mark may seem significant to humans, your dog’s capacity to internalize commands and learn to follow cues does not significantly change after this point.
Your one-year-old German Shepherd continues to learn at the same rate since he was six months old.
What will change is that your dog will interact with other people more frequently. You can train him to do additional tricks to give him a more appealing presence.
This will deter him from merely barking for attention. “CRAWL!” and “WAVE!” commands are perfect at this stage. You should also review previously taught commands and see any weak associations you can reinforce.
Training an 18-Month-Old
You will not need to drastically alter your German Shepherd’s training regimen if you have correctly trained him from the age of eight weeks onward.
If anything, this is the period where you tailor his training to your convenience. You’ve learned patience, changed your routine, and even made friends during your pet’s growth and learning.
But now is the time when your German Shepherd must learn to be harmonious with your life. From the 18-month mark onwards, you must train your doggo to be compatible with modern adult life (within reason).
It is frustrating to see owners give away their pets because of “behavior issues.” Such incidents are easily avoided if you properly train, socialize, and exercise your dog.
It’s also possible that you found this article after adopting an older dog. Do not be alarmed if you have an 18-month-old German Shepherd who appears to have had no previous training!
Start by establishing authority by having a positive yet commanding presence. Once your new friend recognizes your authority and sees you as his leader, treat him as a six-month-old, albeit on an accelerated schedule, and train him accordingly.
How often should I train my German Shepherd puppy?
You should train your German Shepherd puppy for short and frequent sessions, ideally 5-10 minutes, several times daily.
Puppies have short attention spans, so it’s important to keep training sessions short and engaging. As your puppy grows and matures, you can gradually increase the duration and complexity of the training sessions.
What are the most important commands to teach my German Shepherd puppy?
The most important commands to teach your German Shepherd puppy include “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come,” and “Heel.” These foundational commands are crucial for basic obedience and safety.
Additionally, teaching “Leave it” or “Drop it” is essential for preventing your puppy from picking up or chewing on unwanted items. These commands lay the groundwork for a well-behaved and responsive dog.