Are German Shepherds hard to train?

Are German Shepherds hard to train

German Shepherds are one of the preferable dog breeds, both on the personal and professional front. They are lovable, caring, affectionate, and on the other hand, these masculine personalities make the best guard dogs.

However, before bringing home a German Shepherd, individuals often come up with questions like,

Are German Shepherds hard to train? How long does it take to fully train a German Shepherd? And What if my German Shepherd turns out Violent, aggressive, and disobedient?

Because keeping a dog is not gameplay, everyone wants to make sure certain things are right at the start. And one of the main concerns we are going to discuss today is ‘Training a German Shepherd’.

In this detailed guide, we will take a look at how hard it is to train a German Shepherd? How to train a Stubborn German Shepherd dog? Golden rules of training and how long does it take to train a German Shepherd. What are some of the mistakes you should avoid making during their training? We also go over how to train a puppy and an adult German Shepherd.

Article Published on 16th November 2021 » Updated on 13th January 2022

aditi chef editorWritten By Sergey Uhanov Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.

Are German Shepherds hard to train?

German Shepherds are one of the easy-to-train dogs, and also the best-known breeds. It takes no more than 5 to 7 repetitions of a new habit, and your Shepherd will easily catch it. However, the exact time frame may vary from the dog’s age and, of course, every individual of them.

For Example, it is easy to train a German Shepherd in his/ her puppyhood. Puppies from the age of 6 to 7 weeks are ready to learn with simple commands.

However, while you rescue an adult dog and try to train them, the process might become a little overwhelming.

How to train a German Shepherd?

Proper training plays a very important role in raising a smart, intelligent, obedient, and socializing canine.

A well-trained Shepherd is a pleasure to have around, and with the right and proper training, the same can be ensured.

The only hack to finely train your German Shepherd is by getting inside their head (not literally).

They can become stubborn sometimes, but a smart and firm approach will invest rightly in the deed.

How to train a puppy German Shepherd?

The best time to train is during Puppyhood be it for German Shepherd or other dog breeds. It is easier to carry habits from a very young age instead of adulthood.

The logic goes like with humans. Every good or bad habit we learn during childhood goes along with us for the rest of our life.

Puppy training your German Shepherd

Training a puppy German Shepherd ideally must start when they are 7 to 8 weeks old.

  • For training the basics start with gently handling their ears, nose, paws, feet, and other sensitive areas.
  • This will keep them from freaking out later on, especially when you cut their nails, clean their ears and eye, and so on. Dogs who are trained this way are easier to handle further.
  • Begin their training with simple and basic commands.

Sit, stand, walk, relax, stop are a few of the beginner’s commands. Make sure you do not complicate it with more words.

Also, if your Shepherd may take too long to respond to these words; do not frustrate in such circumstances.

  • Crate train your puppy so that they know that it is a good and safe place to go. Fill their crate with a few blankets, their favourite toys and one or two treats.
  • Define their eating schedule for an entire day which you will rigorously follow for the whole week. Feed your Shepherd in that exact time frame every day.
  • Once your Shepherd pup is done eating, within half an hour, take them to poop. You can choose a few designated spaces and teach your pup to poop nowhere else than those places.
  • Take your German Shepherd puppy out often, especially to places where they can socialize with both dogs and humans. A dog park or dog pool can prove one great spot for the same. This will help them stay less anxious around new people and animals. Also, later on, when your friends and family come home, your dog will behave friendly towards them.
  • Signify yourself as an Alpha of the house. Once they know you are their boss (in a positive manner), Shepherds will tend to take your commands. However, instead of being harsh and loud for the same, be calm and gentle yet affirmative.

How to train an Adult German Shepherd?

For individuals who adopt German Shepherd as adults, the training process differentiates a little from puppies.

Because a grown-up dog already has a certain set of habits, reversing them and teaching new learnings can become a tricky process.

However, it is not that difficult as well.

Training an Adult German Shepherd

If the adult German Shepherd you own is new to your home, first learn about their mental and physical health.

Both mental and physical conditions can limit training effects and even interfere with their response/obedience.

No matter young or old, begin the training with basic commands. This will also help you in figuring out how much the dog is already taught about.

Though if they don’t even respond to commands like eating, stop and sit, begin training them just like a puppy. Be patient and let them take their time.

While your adult German Shepherd show even a minor improvement with training, praise them with rewards. It can be anything from treats to their favorite toys.

Just make them feel they are doing good and you are proud of them.

For adults’ dogs who are difficult to train at home, professionals come for great assistance.

You can hire a professional dog trainer who will make your Shepherd trained in a month or so.

There may be several such facilities or services around your area.

A trainer will either visit your home, or you will be required to report every day at the facility.

How to Train a Stubborn German Shepherd?

Training a German Shepherd isn’t that hard until the dog is really Stubborn. And if you happen to own such a dog, the training process can give you a real hard time.

German Shepherds are affectionate and loving, but their Stubbornness, too, isn’t uncommon.

A lot of professionals and experts suggest positive reinforcement strategies for training a stubborn German Shepherd.

The basics start with ignoring any stubborn behavior and acknowledging the positive development.

Secondly, consistency is another key to training a Stubborn German Shepherd. Even though they listen to your command or not, you must never stop using them.

Be repetitive with the process until and unless the dog gives up in Infront of you.

Thirdly, as we discussed earlier as well, establish yourself as the Alpha. Stubborn dogs often make their human follow them.

However, when you are bringing a pet home, the scenario should work the other way round.

Thus, instead of giving up Infront of the Stubbornness of your dog, be politely strict with their training.

Further, make the most use out of your dog’s daily walk and play hour. Like a stubborn human child, Shepherds, too, will behave headstrong if they do not want to go through the entire training session.

However, if you involve the process in a gameplay situation, the result may come out positively.

For Example, when you are walking on a quiet sidewalk, command your dog to run.

Or while you are on a busy road, command them to stop, walk slow, don’t bark, etc.

This way, they will obey your instruction and learn a new habit as well.

Add training to your daily lifestyle, especially with stubborn dogs.

While you are home and going on with your everyday routine, include your German Shepherd along as well.

Shortly, you will discover that your dog is adapting to take command from you.

Last but not least, invest time and effort into their mental stimulation. Dogs who suffer from boredom often tend to develop certain Stubbornness in their behavior.

That is why mind games and mental activities are a must for them. For Example, hide their favorite toy and ask them to search. Or, if required, you can also invest in dog puzzles and games.

How long does it take to fully train a German Shepherd?

Training a German Shepherd fully takes anywhere from 7 weeks to 12 weeks.

And with a maximum of 18 weeks to 20 weeks of training, your German Shepherd is completely trained.

However, like humans, the learning process in dogs too never ends.

You can train them with a new habit, a fresh command, or other antics throughout their life.

Common Dog Training Mistakes- German Shepherds

There are several ways to train a dog, and with that, there are also ways to not train a dog.

In other words, there are certain things neither professionals nor dog owners should follow during the training process. Here’s a closer look at them:

Common German Shepherd training mistakes you should avoid:

  • Avoid longer training sessions, rather focus on short and multiple ones. Does it get boring when your class goes for 2 hours? After a certain time, you start feeling bored, and your brain stops taking notes. The same happens with dogs as well. Thus, keep training sessions for 10 minutes and do not extend them for more than 30 minutes at max.
  • Avoid training approaches that are violent, aggressive, and forceful. Remember, German Shepherds, are wild dogs filled with certain levels of aggression.  Their genetics are not designed to take violent behavior too well, and at times, they can even cause you harm.
  • Avoid inconsistency. Maintain a training hour for your dog, and follow the same format every single day. You can skip one or two busy days; however, your dog will lose the flow and interest if you get more inconsistent.
  • Avoid behavioural inconsistency as well. For Example, if your dog is taught to eat in the lobby, do not force them to eat outside. Mixed actions and reactions can confuse your Shepherd.

Golden Rules of Training a German Shepherd

  1. German Shepherds love to work both physically and mentally. They are extremely trainable and will catch most of the things you will engage them into.
  2. German Shepherds are not apartment dogs; thus, one should refrain from training them for the same. They need a lot of outdoor exposure, and the world outside is the place they rightfully belong at. Instead of restricting them, owners should make sure that Shepherds are getting their share of freedom and space.
  3. German Shepherd has a built-in-breed specific function. Thus, they need training relatable to that. One cannot train a German Shepherd to become a couch potato, as it does not run in their blood and breed.
  4. Originated in Germany, German Shepherds are herd dogs, and their body is filled with passion for physical stimulation. Weather and wild conditions won’t restrict them. Instead, they will absolutely love wandering in all weather conditions, getting filthy in mud, and even roaming in the wild. Letting them all in the wild also means exposing them to force wind and thunderstorms.

Wrapping up…

Coming towards the end, we believe that training a German Shepherd is easy. They Afterall are affectionate and obedient dogs who build their whole world around their humans.

All humans need to do is maintain a positive and firm approach towards their training process. However, if that too becomes a task for you, hiring a dog trainer is never a bad idea.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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