You’re the proud owner of a German Shepherd (GSD) and are fully aware of your new responsibilities as a dog parent, or maybe you’re a veteran dog owner but are a little intimidated about the prospect of taking care of a GSD. Whatever the case, you understand the importance of when to start obedience training for German Shepherds. Or any other dog, for that matter.
Read on to understand the costs of German Shepherd obedience training and how it pays off in the long run.
Why is it important for your GSD to undergo obedience training?
German Shepherd obedience training classes, formal or informal, are a must for any self-respecting owner because of a GSD’s natural temperament. The following benefits for your GSD may be derived from obedience classes:
Much like a marriage, close ties with your GSD can only be strengthened through facing adversity together. If you have the patience and commitment to properly socialize your pet, your GSD will surely thank you for it by being the most well-behaved companion in your family.
Ease of management
An obvious positive is how much easier your life will be when you don’t have to worry about an 80-something pound GSD sweep you off your feet as you take it outside for a walk. Yes, it is a trademark of unprepared dog owners to run after their excited GSDs, so make your dog-owning life a lot easier by investing in obedience classes or even German Shepherd obedience training books.
GSDs are known to suffer behavioral problems when left alone, and in this sense, may benefit greatly from obedience training. Knowing how to respond to other dogs and people, and understanding how to properly conduct itself in a variety of social situations are all major benefits that add up to a healthy GSD’s strong character and temperament.
As a side note, paying for German Shepherd obedience training classes may have social benefits for you as well. If you’re a novice dog owner, you don’t have to worry about unknowingly mismanaging or incorrectly training your GSD. Also, you get to be a more visible and an involved member of your community by attending paid GSD obedience training classes.
Problems that can surface from non-obedience trained GSDs
Several behavioral problems can manifest themselves in your GSD if it is not adequately disciplined in obedience training. They include:
GSDs have been bred over generations as guard and service dogs, so confidence and protectiveness are personality traits inherent to this breed. However, untrained GSDs can exhibit this behavior in negative ways such as biting and attacking strangers.
The typical age for a young GSD to grow out of nipping and biting is about 4 months old. Poorly trained GSDs can exhibit this characteristic well into 6 and 7 months of age. While not particularly very problematic while it is still young, a GSD can grow to be a very large dog (with very large teeth) which can exacerbate this issue. Obedience training this bad habit can help a fully-grown GSD adapt well to its changing social surroundings.
Due to its strong sense of loyalty and pack mentality, GSDs are known to misbehave if they are not adequately obedience trained and left alone. Digging holes, scratching walls, barking erratically and desperate escape attempts are all undesirable qualities that can be “untrained”.
The best time to start obedience training for GSDs
The most critical time period for training GSD puppy obedience is when they are 7 to 8 weeks old. If you are a very conscientious individual, you may be able to train them at a later time and iron out the unwanted, learned bad habits later. But for all intents and purposes, the most opportune time for you to start obedience training your GSD is as early as possible.
Basic obedience training methods for GSDs
When in doubt, remember that assertive actions and consistency are key when obedience training your GSD. The following techniques have been proven to be effective in how to train your GSD puppy obedience.
Because it is easier to obedience train GSD puppies when they are little, you also have to account for their short attention spans. Food-lure training is a proven method that has been used time and again by many dog trainers in teaching their pets basic “sit”, “stay”, “down” and “heel” commands.
The basic premise of food-lure training is to use food as a reward (“positive reinforcement”) for your GSD when it performs a command of your choice. Gradually swap the food reward with affectionate petting over time. Food-lure training is a basic and required training tool in how to train GSD puppy obedience.
Food bowl aggression training
Poorly socialized GSDs tend to stiffen and growl when you get near their food bowl during feeding time. Grab some kibble and let your GSD eat it from your hand, then gradually fill your pet’s food bowl with kibble from the same hand. This should make it clear to your GSD that you are not a threat while it is eating. You can also take edible treats and drop them into the bowl while your GSD eats and you are near it.
Above all, never back off from your GSDs food bowl and make sure your pet knows that you run everything.
Enrollment in GSD obedience training classes and costs
Puppy obedience training classes are meant for 3-5 month old GSD’s and typically consist of socialization, housebreaking and problem-solving courses and basic grooming. Basic obedience training classes offered for GSD’s 5 months old and above involve more focused commands and how well your dog entertains them.
Typically, for basic GSD puppy obedience training classes, you can expect to pay between US$30 – 75 per session. Most individuals prefer to pay US$50. However, you can expect these costs to go for as much as US$100 or more if you decide to enroll your GSD in private obedience training lessons.
German Shepherd Obedience Training books
If online journals and blogs are not enough to satisfy your curiosity for GSD development and obedience training, the following hardcopy-available GSD training books are available for supplemental reading.
Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month
A highly rated guidebook that offers in-depth advice on raising your GSD from infancy to adulthood. Written by Liz Palika, Deb Eldredge and Joanne Olivier.
German Shepherds for Dummies
From the For Dummies series of books comes this informative piece of literature made specifically for GSDs. While it does not focus mainly on GSD obedience training tips, it does cover several topics about GSDs that should be helpful. Written by D. Caroline Coile.
A more in-depth and comprehensive list of German Shepherd training books can be found here.