So you have your new German Shepherd puppy at home, we see.

Glad to hear they’re doing well – puppy eyes shining bright, and tail that doesn’t seem to stop wagging. 

We’ve also heard they have gained a special liking for your living room carpet – as the perfect place to go for a wee. Oh, and your favourite shoes…sorry to hear they’ve been chewed on. Apologies to your neighbour Alfred too; we heard his favourite pair of trousers were left muddy after your puppy showed such enthusiasm to say hello. 

We’d love nothing more to see you both become a wonderful duo; one that has overcome the hiccups of starting fresh, and only see bright days of licks, treats, and cuddles ahead. 

In this training guide, you’ll learn everything to tackle those first 8 weeks with your German Shepherd puppy and be as well prepared as possible. 

Every question you’ve asked yourself is pretty much covered. What you do need to know is that everything will be just fine – only happy days lie ahead of you.

Prerequisites for training my German Shepherd puppy?

What age can I start to train my German Shepherd puppy?

As soon as you get them home. Puppies’ brains are a lot bigger than we think; they soak up so much good information despite their young age.

It’s no secret that German Shepherds are super clever. Besides being loved as pets by families, they are proud members of the police and loyal service dogs. Learning won’t be a problem for them at all!

What do I need to train my German Shepherd Puppy?

It might look like a long list. It’s not really – just the basics. 

We recommend investing in the following equipment to train your puppy

  • A treat pouch 
  • A soft collar
  • A harness: One that doesn’t pull or tighten when it’s on your puppy and they walk. 
  • A 2 meter training lead
  • A piece of non-slip vet bed or a soft mat  
  • Treats: The more smelly, the better. We’ve written more about treats here.
  • Two identical toys: Great for swaps
  • A soft grooming brush 
  • A crate and playpen: Optional, but pretty handy if you ask us.  

You’ll also need to practice a couple of other things on your behalf such as:

  • Patience: Put into perspective, puppies are only toddlers in human years. It might take them a while to get the gist of everything you’re teaching them. 
  • Persistence: The puppy training journey becomes a lot less of a labyrinth (and more of a yellow brick road) when you are consistent with your training practices. 
  • Time to practice: In line with being persistent – allowing time to practice their training everyday is key for a bright, trained puppy. 

Good to know about training German Shepherd puppies

What are German Shepherds bred for?

The name says it all. They were originally bred to herd sheep, and to be big and noisy enough to keep predators out. We might think of them being the ultimate police dog since they’re so great at protecting and searching but deep down, they still have the instincts to move sheep around.

Alsatians vs German Shepherds – what’s the difference?

Absolutely nothing! Before World War 2, the UK and Europe called German Shepherds Alsatians due to the region they came from – the German French border area of Alsace-Lorraine. In the US, the “German Shepherd” name stuck across the world.  

German Shepherd Behaviours 

German Shepherds have some classic behaviours associated with them – namely the need to protect and being triggered by movement – not in a bad way. They just get kind of activated by something moving around.

You should know these two are perfectly normal behaviours as they’re intrinsically rewarding – this means it’s so embedded into their DNA that it just feels that good to do them. 

PRO TIP: Many German Shepherd owners will see these normal natural behaviours as problem behaviours. Lunging at a car or barking at a stranger does look like a problem to us, right? 

But there’s no need to stress. The key is to give them an opportunity to practice, manage and train them in day to day life from the get go with breed-specific training so all things you see as problems, flutter away. 

What does this have to do with how I train my German Shepherd?

It’s a fair question actually. A dog is a dog is a dog right? But knowing the context and breed characteristics might help you train your German Shepherd puppy better and understand why they do certain things the way they do.

Here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • German Shepherds love to work and are extremely trainable.
  • They are incredibly loyal and have strong (but fun) personalities.
  • They often feel a strong bond with one person. It takes a village to raise a dog though, so try your best to get the whole family involved in training.
  • They are a large breed and need training in order to be manageable. Wouldn’t want your German Shepherd as an adult to be jumping up at strangers at the park. Don’t want to make scene! 
  • They have high (…perhaps even more than high) energy levels and require a lot of exercise and active home life – they’re definitely not the kinds of dogs who’d enjoy becoming a couch potato.
  • German Shepherd puppies need lots of exposure to the wonders of the outside world when they’re young as their socialisation window is often shorter than other breeds. There’s more about this below.
  • This is a good one for you to prepare for: They probably won’t lose that guarding and herding instinct completely. Actually, it simply just won’t happen. Because of this, it’s much better to give them an appropriate outlet so they won’t feel like barking or chasing anything that moves. 
  • They generally prefer to live in the countryside where there’s room to run, and space to imagine a life of protecting sheep on a hillside. They will also adapt to city life, as long as you remember every day is a school day for them to learn new things, and provide plenty of mental stimulation.
  • They have a strong sense of smell, so they’ll always be thrilled to play a game of tracking or searching. 
  • Given their love for sports and adrenaline-filled bodies, they will be quite happy going out in all weathers and getting filthy in the mud. So yes, this also means you’ll be getting wet, caught in thunderstorms or gale-force winds. But your German Shepherd must. Go. Out.
  • Don’t let their police background fool you – German Shepherds are often affectionate and have worked for the praise of shepherds for years. Give them lots of encouragement to feed their soft side as well.
  • They are sensitive dogs who thrive on human company – make sure you do lots of alone time exercises when they’re young to help prevent Separation Related Problems (it’s all in the ZigZag app).

PRO TIP: If your German Shepherd puppy switches off or starts acting silly (often a sign of stress) they may resort to doing what they know best – nipping or barking. Shift to some play, let them have some downtime and revisit training later – we want training to be associated with fun, and not something they begin to dread. 

How do I socialise a German Shepherd puppy and why is it important?

All puppies have a socialisation window. This is a sensitive period where they’re the most eager to learn about the world and make connections which affect how they view things, often for the rest of their lives.

Within this is period of time, there’s another one called ‘the Fear Period”. This is where puppies learn to interpret hazards – for example children, loud noises, or unfamiliar surfaces. In German Shepherds, the time they have to interpret these hazards is shorter than other breeds so it’s quite important that you socialise them early so you don’t run into any trouble later. 

Actually, studies say that German Shepherd puppies are actually quite afraid of new objects and sounds than other breeds. Ironic isn’t it, that they’re often in charge of saving us from danger. 

Here are easy ways to socialise your German Shepherd puppy:

  • Find out what your breeder is doing to socialise your puppy before they leave them – good puppy socialisation programmes to send them are Puppy Culture and Avidog.
  • Follow the exercises in this training article (don’t want to brag, but we give great advice). 
  • Read our full article on socialisation here.
  • Don’t be afraid to take your puppy out before they are vaccinated, but do it safely! German Shepherd puppies get quite big and hefty, so why not be like Yogi Bear here (owned by my friend and colleague dog trainer Marie Miller) and invest in a carriage for your puppy to keep them safe? Save your arms from working extra hard. 

At Zigzag, we’re of the opinion that the benefits of early socialisation outweigh the risks of disease when exposing unvaccinated puppies to the outdoors. We’re not alone in this though, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior agrees!

Overview of the training programme and topics we’ll cover

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, you were looking for the ultimate guide on training a German Shepherd puppy, right?

Good, then you won’t be surprised by the long list of topics we’ll be touching on: 

  • Sitting
  • Lying down
  • Learning their name
  • Coming when you call them
  • Walking nicely on a lead
  • Playing fetch
  • Sleeping in their crate
  • Coping with being left alone
  • Going to the toilet in the right place 
  • Teaching your German Shepherd puppy to not bark

Yep, you’ll most likely be using it all. But nothing to worry about – we’ve made it nice and simple to follow!

How we build this programme: Push Drop Stick

Here’s a good resource for you to have – the Push Drop Stick game. I like to use this game to see whether puppies are ready to move on in their training, or if they need to spend more practice runs.

Did we need to remind you how intelligent German Shepherds are? Make sure to keep them stimulated by progressively making their exercises more challenging. They really do need to be given a job to do rather than allowing them to be self-employed…who knows how that can end up.

What is Push, Drop, Stick?

Push, Drop, Stick, is a way of systematically raising the difficulty of an exercise or behaviour.

If exercises are always kept too easy, then dogs will keep doing them correctly because they are being rewarded (cheeky). However, progress will be slower as they’ll get ‘stuck’ at this level. 

If lessons are too hard, then it’s likely that they’ll give up since treats won’t be coming as easy. Looks like they’d be quite good businessmen as humans.

‘Push Drop Stick’ can help avoid both scenarios by maintaining enough momentum: It will keep your puppy winning enough times to keep them interested and not quit, but not so much that they aren’t thinking about how to be rewarded by trying harder.

How does it work?

By doing 5 repetitions of an exercise, we are going to keep track of how many the dog gets right. Based on how they perform, we’re going to choose whether to do which of the following:

Push – Go to the next level of difficulty (raise criteria)

Drop – Back to the previous level of difficulty (drop criteria)

Stick – Stay at the current level of difficulty (stay with current criteria)

 How many out of 5 did the dog get right?What should I do?Why?
Push5 out of 5Increase the difficultyWell done! They’re proficient at the current level, and can move on to harder things.
Drop0, 1, or 2 out of 5Make it easierHe might be close to quitting – this level is too hard for him right now. 
Stick3 or 4 out of 5Do another set of 5 at this difficultyHe doesn’t need you to drop, but he isn’t quite ready to be pushed yet.

Why should I train like this?

By training in repetitions of 5, we are less likely to get stuck at a certain point.

It also means that we’ll be able to keep track of where we’re at so that we can build stronger and stronger behaviours. Off to better things!

What is difficulty or criteria?

Difficulty or Criteria relates to the ‘three D’s’ Duration, Distraction and Distance. These refer to how long can the dog perform the behaviour for, what is the distraction like, and how far from us can perform the behaviour.

What will be the end result once I’ve trained my puppy?

Cheeky, wanting to know the end before you even start. 

Well, if you’re really eager to know, this programme will help you in your first steps to having a brilliant dog. 

Week 1 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

In the first week, we’ll dive straight into socialisation exercises, training and husbandry tasks. 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Let your puppy explore the garden
– Teach your puppy about surfaces
– Name
– Sit
– Recall
– Retrieve
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Alone Training
– Quiet Training
– Brushing
– Hand Touch

Congratulations! It’s your first week of training your new puppy. How does it feel to be a new puppy parent? You must be chuffed.

Take a look at these first few articles. These will be key for establishing a solid, comfortable base; they’re all about toilet training, crate training and alone time training. All the ingredients you need for a happy home. 

Sleep Training – The First Week

Eventually, wherever you want them to. But for now, beside your bed is the best place for your puppy to sleep – it will help them feel safe.

If you were a teeny baby, you’d probably want to sleep next to someone too. Having them sleep beside you will also be of great help with toilet training – you’ll be able to rush them to the toilet as soon as you hear them squeak.

There’s something else you should know. You probably won’t be sleeping incredibly well for the next few weeks – puppies take a while to have full control of their bladder, so you can prepare to sleep with one eye open for now. Don’t worry! You’ll be back to sleeping with both eyes closed soon enough.  

How To Start Sleep Training – Follow Our Easy Steps

  1. Set up the crate or puppy pen next to where you’re sleeping.
  2. Make your puppy’s crate like a cozy, warm den. Puppies like their crates rather cave-like; we suggest covering it with a blanket to block out light, but keep the front open so that they can see outwards. Make sure to make it snug inside with something like a vet bed or a blanket, or why not take it up a notch with a heat pad or hot water bottle to recreate the feeling of their mother. Nothing feels more comforting than that.
  3. Before you head to bed, take your puppy out for one last round of loo-going. Set your bedtime at a later time too – midnight sounds about right.
  4. Come back calmly, and place your puppy in the crate and turn out the light.
  5. They probably won’t settle straight away – quietly talk to them or reach over and put your fingers through the crate. It’ll let them know you’re there if they need you.
  6. When (not ‘if’…because they very, very likely will) your puppy wakes up in the night, listen to see if they are going back to sleep, or if they continue to squeak. If the latter then it’s time to slide your sleepy head out of bed and take them to the toilet. 
  7. In the first weeks with your new puppy, you’ll have to start your days much earlier than you’re probably used to – around 6:00 am or 7:00 am. Carry them to the toilet quickly before you do anything else – they’ll be desperate!  

Stuff you should know about Sleep Training your German Shepherd

  • Your puppy will wake up several times in the night and will need the toilet at least once! Be prepared for not-so-deep sleeps and tired mornings – just for the first few weeks. 
  • Having them sleep next to you is only temporary.
  • Consistency is key! The more you stick to the routine, the better they’ll get at holding it in. As for you, full nights of sleep will start getting closer and closer.   

Alone Training

How can I teach my German Shepherd puppy to be ok on their own?  

It’s a fair question – and we’re here to help you see through those puppy dog eyes and help your puppy cope from the very beginning.

  1. Start by feeding your puppy in their crate during meal times. It’ll give them the chance to start feeling comfortable in their own space without you.
  2.  When they’re busy eating, walk around and do something else around the house. Don’t get out of sight just yet – make sure you’re still visible to them. Most puppies love their food with a passion, so they’ll hardly notice you’re gone (don’t take it personally – food is just too good.)

TIPS

Take it slow: It works much better than trying to speed up the process. If they seem worried by you leaving, stay in view, and just pop right outside their confinement area.

Keep it short and sweet: No need to stay away for long, 60 seconds tops will do for now. 

Repeat: Do this at least once a day to make progress go steady and smoothly.  

How to teach your German Shepherd puppy to not bark. 

German Shepherds are known for liking the sound of their own voice. It makes a lot of sense though, it’s essentially because they want to guard and alert people for danger. What can they do, they just love you?

They also find barking self reinforcing, so once they start they can really rather enjoy it. While barking is a very natural and normal behaviour for dogs, it can be annoying for humans – it’s not quite like music, is it.

Here’s how you get them to stop barking:

First, find out why they are barking. Dogs can bark for a variety of reasons, but usually, it’s one of the following: 

  • Territorial reasons: Alerting you to a threat. Can’t blame them, they just want to make sure no one comes and gets you. 
  • Fear or Anxiety: Barking or whining makes your puppy feel good and is often self soothing. Kind of when you sing in the shower. 
  • Attention: A German Shepherd bark is loud and hard to ignore. Again, like your shower-singing habits. 
  • Excitement: This happens most often when playing, they’re just letting you know how happy they are!
  • At other dogs: There’s always time for a chat. Who knows what they’re really saying, it can really be anything from  ‘Where did your owner get your lead?’ to ‘Your breath is disgusting, please stay away.’ 
  • Boredom:  Barking makes dogs feel good when they’re bored. Strange, but true. 

Although these are all good reasons to bark, barking can become a problem in the human world. Here’s a couple steps to follow to help you out on this:

  • Look at the reasons why your puppy is barking/ If they’re worried, bored, wanting attention or barking at other dogs, scroll through our guide for exercises to help you or check the ZigZag app. The app will give you access to expert support from a great team of puppy training experts like me! 
  • Reward the good behaviour. For instance, if someone knocks on your door and your puppy doesn’t react by barking, well done! They can get a treat.
  • If they bark, give them a clear and friendly ‘thank you’ (they’re alerting you to danger, after all) and then reward with a treat – this is called a positive interrupter. Bet you didn’t know that fancy term.

PRO TIP: German Shepherd expert Sue Kewley has a great video that outlines the idea of a positive interrupter. Take a look here.

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Letting your German Shepherd puppy explore the garden

Besides the gnomes and questionable garden furniture you may have, letting your puppy explore your own garden is a great and safe way to start showing them the sounds, lights and wonders of the outside world.

When they’re outdoors, they’ll be able to experience what wind, and rain and sunshine feels like, as well as get familiar with walking on different surfaces. 

PRO TIP: Gardens are the perfect toilet areas for puppies. Teach your puppy where the toilet area is in your garden, by rewarding them when they go for a pee or a poo, and also by rewarding them simply for being outside – just so they get fully on board that it’s a fun place to be. 

Teach your German Shepherd puppy about surfaces

Teaching your puppy to walk on different surfaces is a pretty good way of teaching them some confidence for when they’re ready to go outside. 

Exploring different surfaces exercise

  1. Get your treats ready.
  2. Make sure that the surfaces you use are safe – nothing too crazy just yet.
  3.  Gather surfaces such as
    • An oven tray with a small layer of water 
    • A piece of astro turf
    • A carpet tile
    • A large piece of tin foil, cardboard or something crinkly

PRO TIP: Set up for this exercise in the room your puppy spends most of their time in – it will help them to feel safe and confident.

  1. Pop the surfaces out safely on the floor and allow your puppy to investigate them. Let them do as they please – giving them choice will help them feel braver and like they’re more in control.

PRO TIP: Feel free to give the treats at random to show them that surfaces are not scary or dangerous. 

  1. 15 minutes should be good enough for the exercise. They’ll be able to take their time and go at their own pace. 
  2. You can aim to add three new surfaces per week to explore to help build their confidence…just don’t go for things like Lego. Nobody has ever enjoyed walking on those. 

TIPS

Some pups are confident from the start and can’t wait to explore, while others might take more time.  Remember to be patient! Your puppy is still very much in the learning phase; they’ll get the hang of it soon.

Training To Do this week

Teach your German Shepherd their name

Just like with people, it’s important that our puppies know their name. Kind of awkward if they don’t. 

Lucky for you – teaching them their name is easy peasy.

  1. Say their name in a happy jolly tone and reward with a treat.
  2. Repeat five times, 5 and take a break.
  3. Practice this 2 or 3 times a day so they get the hang of it.

Teach your German Shepherd puppy to sit

Teaching your puppy how to sit is a popular one. Not only is it something we like to teach because they look incredibly cute, but sitting also means that there will not be any jumping up and down on people – It’s also a fairly easy trick for puppies to pick up. 

How to prepare

  1. You’re going to introduce a word that tells your puppy they got it right –  something short and sweet ‘good’,‘yes’ or even ‘cheese’ if you like. The first two are far more common though.
  2. Keep using this word when they do the right thing, and then follow it up with a food reward.

PRO TIP: Remember that the stinkier the treat, the better. In puppy logic, stinky means yummy. 

How to do it

  1. Start at home; where there are no distractions. Just make sure to shut off Gogglebox in the background.  
  2. Pop the treat on their nose and slowly take it up to your waist
  3. They should follow the treat and pop their bottom on the floor
  4. Say your marker word ‘good’ and reward

TIPS

·   Finish your training session with some play to end on a good note.

·   Keep your training sessions short – take a break after 5 sits. It’s still the early days anyway. 

Recall – How to teach our German Shepherd puppy to come back when called

Your puppy already knows their name at this point, so this should be a walk in the park. But if it isn’t, remember that it’s alright. 

‘Safety first’ should always be words you live by when you’re doing anything with your puppy – but in this case, you should keep them in mind even more. 

How to do it

  1. Treats and a cheerful voice will be what works here. 
  2. Call out your puppy’s name in high spirits and cheerfully once, and not too loudly.  
  3. When they look at you, drop the treat on the ground near you  

TIPS

  • You don’t need to reach out or grab your puppy when they come to you just yet – you’re just teaching your puppy to ‘hang out near you’ – where all the good stuff happens like treats dropping on the floor. 
  • Do these exercises before meal times so your puppy is more motivated.
  • Practice this 5 times a day and in 3 different places in your house and garden to get them used to coming to you in all settings. 

Retrieve/Fetch

Dogs love playing retrieving games – you’ll find that most of them have a natural talent for them. Teaching your German Shepherd to fetch can be a great way of starting out with retrieve work, which will then be great for teaching them to retrieve hidden items. Perfect for when you lose your keys at the beach.

How to prepare

·   Get your treats ready, and find that toy your puppy can’t get enough of. Bonus points if you have ‘two of a kind’ it will help with trades later on.

How to do it

  1. Show your puppy that you have their favourite toy, and start to get them excited about it.
  2. When they show interest, throw it a little bit away from you. 
  3. They will likely follow it and pick it up. 
  4. If they do, encourage them back to you with your voice, so remember to sound happy!
  5. Swap the toy for a treat or another toy and do the process again.
  6. Repeat this about 5 times.

TIPS

Never chase your puppy down when they have something you want (like a toy or your TV remote). Instead create more distance and excitement sounds to get them to come to you – puppies like to show off, so they will likely want to parade what they have!

  • Always swap the toy for something when they have it, this could be a treat or another toy.
  • Practice every day – most dogs love retrieving games, we can teach them that giving up things doesn’t mean the end of the game.

Prevention of Resource Guarding 

On a similar note, it’s important that your puppy learns how to give up items willingly as this will help prevent resource guarding.

Resource guarding occurs when we force puppies to give up items or snatch things out of their mouths. It can end up looking like an awkward game of tug of war – especially at the park when they steal someone else’s frisbee. 

What is resource guarding?

Resource guarding is when a dog protects a resource from being taken by someone else – dog or human.

For some reason, there is a solid list of things puppies find irresistible:

  • Socks
  • Pants
  • Shoes
  • Toys
  • Food

These can end up being guarded quite easily if we don’t handle the situation correctly! We’d be sad to hear your favourite pair of pink flamingo pants are no longer yours.

How do I help prevent it?

Swap swap swap! Practice swapping their toys for food treats, or other toys.

Many dogs love to retrieve, so they’re hard wired – they want to hold or carry things around in their mouths. In essence, this is fine when it’s a toy they can have, but not so fine when it’s something valuable or that could harm them.

Husbandry Exercises To Do this week

Hand Touch

Many puppies grow up to be adult dogs that are scared of being handled because they have been grabbed or handled too roughly when young, making handling a positive experience should be your first priority.

How to do it

  1. Sit on the floor of a room they spend most of their time in. 
  2. Let your puppy pace around you as they like
  3. If they walk off, leave them be and wait until they come back. 
  4. They’ll probably like to sniff and smell your hands. Yes, no matter where they’ve been.
  5. Once they are confident, you can start stroking them gently. Start off with their sides and at the base of their neck. See where your puppy likes to be stroked – perhaps stay away from their face and paws for now.

Week 2 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Fireworks
– Watch the world go by outside your house
– Play dress up
– Sit in the car
– Invite friends over
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Name – in garden
– Recall – cue word
– Fetch
– Drop
-Sit – add a cue word
– Leadwalking
– Grooming

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Fireworks

We all know what a headache fireworks can be for pets. Fireworks can be quite a surprise for puppies; as if someone’s dropped a bomb. Pun intended.

Personally, we like the Sound Proof Puppy App for helping with getting puppies used to noises.

German Shepherds can be quite sensitive to noise. In fact, they’re sensitive to a lot of things, and need your support to know how to deal with them. We recommend spending some time on making sure they’re comfortable around noises from a young age.

Watch The World Go By  

Although you can’t take your pup for walks just yet, you can still start teaching them that the outdoors is a rather nice place to be. 

With German Shepherd puppies, we want to teach them to ignore moving things, not chase them around. This is going to be a recurring theme as they grow up, so let’s start off slow. Make sure you reward them frequently for just ignoring the movement of cars and people – it will pay off, trust me.

How to do it:

  1. Pick a time when there are people around, but it’s not a busy time of day. 
  2. Carry your puppy simply outside of your house and let them look around at everything that’s happening outside.
  3. Stay there for around 10 minutes – long enough for them to notice everything and learn more about their surroundings.
  4. Giving your puppy the occasional treat (at around every minute or so) is a good way to keep them feeling happy and comfortable.

TIPS

–    This exercise is all about building positive associations with the outside world, so no need to rush.

–    If your puppy seems worried by something, move further away rather than closer to it. In the world of puppies, taking ‘facing your fears’ literally doesn’t really work – it will just be overwhelming and make them more fearful rather than less!

– If your puppy wants to chase, something this is a good time to learn from it. Next time they try lunging at something, make the distance from the moving thing bigger and reward them for being calm. Don’t worry, they’ll get better at it sooner or later. Or should we say…after getting enough treats. 

Play dress up

We knew you’d take this literally. To an extent, it is. 

You’ll be the one dressing up though!

Use things you may have at home to wear randomly around the house like it’s no big deal – here’s a few suggestions but feel free to use your imagination. 

  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Gloves
  • A hi viz tabard – maybe you have one for cycling or in the back of the car

PRO TIP: Do the exercise in the room where your puppy spends most of their time to help them feel more confident.  

Sit in the car

We want to make sure our puppies enjoy the ride. Car ride included. 

To be honest, we tend to rush the process quite a bit sometimes – we simply don’t think about it that much. Puppies can start feeling a little queasy when the car moves around, and later get worried that they MIGHT feel queasy when they ride on it again – turning everything into a bit of a vicious circle ending with a travel-sick puppy. 

Here’s how to help your puppy say Hasta La Vista to car sickness:

  1. Decide where in the car your puppy is going to be when you go on trips. They should be safely secured. 
  2. Also, have your puppy’s meal ready in a bowl.
  3. Take your puppy out to the car and secure them in their seat. 
  4. Pop down their food bowl and let them eat their meal
  5. Stay close by – sitting down if it’s more comfortable for you
  6. Once they have finished take them back inside the house

Do this same routine for a couple of days, then try it again with the engine running and you in the driver’s seat.

If your puppy is happy and eating, you could try going for a drive just up the road – have someone else there on puppy duty so they can reassure your puppy if needed.

Training To Do this week

Alone Training

Keep up the good work you did last week with the alone training

Feed your puppy out of activity feeders and nip out the room while they’re eating – build up the time you stay out of the room slowly.

Crate Training

Is your puppy loving their crate yet?

Follow more tips in our crate training guide. 

Name – in garden

The garden will provide a lot of distractions for your puppy -remember how much they love to sniff?

Teach them their name just the same as you did inside. – lots of treats!

Recall – adding a cue word

Here we’ll be adding the word when you want your German Shepherd to come to you

How to do it

  1. Say your puppy’s name so that they look at you
  2. Drop a treat on the floor when he does
  3. Repeat this one more time
  4. Now you’ve done it twice, say your puppy’s name, just the same as you did before, but this time don’t drop the treat
  5. As your puppy comes toward you (because they’re expecting the treat) say ‘come’ or ‘here’ to start putting a label or cue word on the behaviour
  6. Reward your puppy with a treat as they get to you

TIPS

Make sure there are no distractions around – we want full focus when we’re training.

Fetch and Drop

Your German Shepherd puppy is going to go bonkers chasing down toys and then bringing them back to you. Even though they aren’t natural retrievers, they enjoy the chase the most – it gives them an outlet for their fiery need to chase things.

How to prepare

·   Have two identical toys that are soft, easy for you to throw and easy for your puppy to pick up and carry

How to do it

  1. Gently throw or roll your puppy’s toy as you did before
  2. When your puppy picks it up move a few steps backwards to encourage your puppy to follow you with the toy
  3. Stop after a few steps
  4. When your puppy gets to you take hold of the toy but don’t put any pressure on your puppy to drop it, so no tugging or pulling
  5. Show them the other toy and make it come to life – wriggling it around will get your puppy interested in this other toy
  6. When your puppy lets go of the first one, throw the second one for them to retrieve
  7. Repeat this exercise 5 times.

TIPS

If your puppy stops halfway and drops the toy, don’t worry or try and grab it, still show them the second toy

If your puppy isn’t keen to let you hold the first toy make the second toy really come to life. 

Sit – add a cue word

Let’s take the training up a gear and start really communicating with our puppies – having them ‘sit’ when we ask them to.

How to do it

  1. Instead of popping the treat on your puppy’s nose, hold it in at your waist in a closed hand.
  2. Your puppy will remember that last time they got a treat for popping their bottom on the floor, so they’ll likely do it at this point
  3. When their bottom hits the floor, say your marker word (good or yes)
  4. Now say sit before you bring your hand to your waist – did they sit?
  5. Drop the treat on the floor so that your puppy has to get up and collect it. Now they’ve done this they’re ready to it again
  6. Repeat this 6 times

TIPS

‘Hands off’ training means no pushing on bottoms or forcing them into positions – your puppy needs to work it out for themselves without force or compulsion.

Leadwalking – Introduction

I bet you can’t wait to be taking your puppy for walks, this is a skill you’re going to build on, for probably quite a few months. For this, we recommend you read our full article on lead walking training. 

Husbandry Tasks To Do this week

Brushing your German Shepherd puppy

Here’s some good news; German Shepherd coats are fairly low maintenance as dog coats can go. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy a bit of pampering. Brushing is a great activity to do to bond with your puppy too – they can definitely feel your care through your soft strokes.

Here’s how you get your puppy to enjoy getting brushed:

How to prepare

  • Go for a soft brush to begin with. A baby brush such as this or a Zoom Groom are both perfect for introducing grooming to puppies. Leave the wire slickers for later once they’ve got the hang of it!

Get grooming

  1. Load up your hand with treats, and pop them close to your puppy’s nose.
  2. Starting with easy areas like their backs and sides, lightly brush through their coat. 
  3. As you’re brushing away, feed them their treats through your fingers.

TIPS

If your puppy is very nibbly when you’re feeding them treats (we know those baby shark teeth can be way too much),  stuff up a Kong and use that instead.

Week 3 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining Exercises to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Scent Trails
– Go for a drive
– Invite Friends Over
– Write a puppy socialisation checklist
– Recall – outside in the garden
– Four Paws on the floor – Not Jumping up
– Down
– Generalisation
– Alone Training
– Harness fitting

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Scent Trails

Let’s harness that natural sniffing ability, and give them an outlet for those incredible search skills.

How to do it

  1.  Pop your puppy outside of the room or have someone hold them while you lay out a trail of 10 treats at around half a metre apart.
  2. At the end of the trail, lay a pile of the remaining treats.
  3. Bring your puppy in and show them the first trea. They will likely follow the rest of the rest of the trail all on their own.
  4. Add a cue word such as ‘find it’ as your puppy trots down the trail, eating the treats.

We’re sure your puppy will ace this exercise!

PRO TIP: Allow them to do what comes naturally to them. You won’t need to crowd them or give them too much help…they’re quite good at following their sniffs for treats.

Invite Friends Over

This exercise is about teaching your puppy that people that are different to you are not scary.

How to do it

  1. Invite visitors to come to your house one or two at a time. More than that could mean too many people at once, and can overwhelm your puppy.
  2. We know it’s tempting, but make sure everyone knows not to grab or hug your puppy immediately! Instead, ask your visitors to sit on the floor and allow your puppy to come to them.
  3. Let your puppy sniff them in their own time. If they smell like something yucky they’ll probably want to sniff longer.
  4. Let your guest give your puppy a treat or play a gentle game with them…you know they’re dying to.

PRO TIP: Invite as many different people as possible to come over in the few weeks to make sure your puppy is happy with meeting all kinds of weird looking humans – to them. We’re not making fun of your friends.

Go for a drive with your German Shepherd puppy

Now that your puppy is happy sitting in the car, we can try and go for a short drive with them. Weee!

PRO TIP: Make sure this is done when they’re on an empty stomach and between meals. We’re sure you don’t want to spend your afternoon cleaning up puppy vom.

How to do it

  1. Pop your puppy in their travelling area, and ensure they are safe and secure.
  2. Go for a drive for approximately 15 minutes. It’s a good idea to drive to a place you’ll want to walk your puppy in the future like the park or the vet’s. 
  3. Choose a busier road so your puppy gets used to the increased traffic noises. Nobody likes loud honks but it will come handy to get them used to them. 

Watch out! Never leave your puppy alone in the car!

PRO TIP:  Remember to carry your puppy in from the car since it’s not safe to put them on the floor until they’re fully vaccinated. Lucky – they’re getting the royal treatment.

Write a puppy socialisation checklist for your German Shepherd puppy

Yes, there is a checklist and it’s a long one. But you can download it here, or read our full article about it here. It’s an enlightening read, honestly. They’ll give you the best ideas of things to do with your puppy to help them learn that the outside world is a positive place they’ll be happy to live in. 


As a German Shepherd owner, let us advise you to teach them how to keep calm around livestock when they’re young – especially if you live in the countryside. Don’t want any angry neighbours yelling at you for you puppy making their sheep go baaalistic (pun intended). In all seriousness, it’s also illegal for dogs to worry sheep. We’re sure you don’t want to get in trouble with the real police dogs.

Training To Do this week

Recall – Teaching your puppy to come when called, outside

Now your puppy is starting to learn to come to you when called inside, it’s time we get them to do the same outside…they’ll need to do it here a lot more than inside anyway.

How to do it

  1. Pick a quiet spot in your garden.
  2. Start off easy – just say your puppy’s name and ‘come’.
  3. Say your marker word ‘good’ when they come to you, and then throw the treat
  4. Now let’s make it fun! As your puppy comes towards you, run back a few steps. Careful, don’t run into a wall.
  5. When they reach you, give them the marker word ‘good’ and then give them a treat.
  6. Repeat this about 5 times and start to increase the distance you run backwards, so that your puppy is coming further each time.

PRO TIP: We’re going to be honest. Outside, it’s soooo difficult for puppies to focus on their owners, so don’t be surprised if they find it tricky at first. Be patient and give them lots of praise and be happy when they come back when you call them!

Keeping four paws on the floor (not jumping up)

Puppies jump up for many reasons. Life is good, what can they do? It’s perfectly normal and natural behaviour – but it’s not something we want to encourage since it won’t be so cute when they do so as adults.

How to do it

  1. Dogs jump up to get our attention. When your puppy goes to jump up on you, don’t give them any attention or interact with them in any way. Simply move away or turn your body – you want four paws on the floor not two in the air!
  2. As soon as your puppy has four paws on the floor, give them that longed for attention…let’s not keep them feeling so desperate for your love. 
  3. Tell them what a clever dog they are, and then give them a treat.
  4. Repeat this every time you greet your puppy or any time they jump up at you to make their paws stick to the floor more often.

TIPS

  • Let’s prevent jumping up by asking your puppy to sit when you know it’s likely they’ll jump up. Do it just before, just like you’re beating them to the jump.
  • Don’t get cross or punish them if your puppy jumps up, they’re just trying to show us that they love us! It’s kind of lovely they like to do that to be honest.
  • Here’s an important tip. Remember that everyone in your household MUST do this, otherwise it’s confusing for your puppy and they will keep trying to do it!

Generalisation – different locations

What is generalisation?

Generalisation refers to when your dog can do the things you have taught them in any setting. For example, you want to get them to sit whether it’s in your kitchen, at the train station, in your puppy class, or at the park.

Here’s the thing though –  dog’s don’t generalise automatically or very easily. It actually involves lots of practice in different environments.

To get your puppy to master generalisation, decide on 4 different places in your house and garden to practice this with your puppy – start with easy things your puppy knows.

PRO TIP: ‘But they know how to do it at home’ is a phrase you might feel yourself using sometimes when your puppy suddenly forgets how to sit in the park, but knows perfectly what it is at home. Remember that it just means your puppy needs help generalising –  there’s nothing wrong with either of you!

Teaching your German Shepherd puppy to lay down.

Handy for when you’re watching telly and they won’t stop blocking the screen. 

How to do it

  1. Let’s make it easy for them.  Start this exercise with your puppy sitting and have them on a non slip mat or carpet.
  2. Hold the treat on your puppy’s nose and take it under their chin towards their chest.
  3. Slowly take your hand down to the floor so that you end up with the treat between your puppy’s paws.
  4. Once you see your puppy’s elbows go down on the floor, and they are lying down you can give your marker word ‘good’ and give them the treat. Good job!
  5. Repeat this 5 times in a row to make sure it stays in their head and then take a break.

TIPS

·  When you hold the treat, think about positioning your hand as if you were throwing a ball underarm – it will make your puppy’s nose go over the top of your hand rather than trying to sniff underneath it, which will make them want to bend down

·  If your puppy starts to go a bit ‘frog like’ (where their front paws end up between their back legs), try the same exercise but have them start in a stand position – you’re looking for them to fold back, almost looking like a sphinx!

Alone Training

You’ll need to continue with your alone training so that your puppy can be left for about 5 minutes this time. 

Every puppy copes differently at being let alone, so don’t rush to leave them if they’re not ready yet. You’ve made a great start so far, so continue working at the pace your puppy is comfortable with to stay on a progressive track!

TIPS

  • Baby gates are a useful tool for alone training. Think about getting them to stop your puppy from following you
  • If your puppy feels worried when being alone, it’s no problem. There’s no harm in going for less time!

Husbandry Tasks To Do this week

Harness fitting for a German Shepherd puppy 

The days for going on walks aren’t that far away! To prepare for the big day, getting used to wearing a harness will make your puppy’s transition to the outdoors much smoother.  

Here’s how to prepare:

  • Pick a comfortable harness for them. A padded one that doesn’t squeeze them tight will be brilliant.
  • Adjust the harness roughly to the size of your puppy. If you’re hesitating, it’s generally better that it fits too big rather than too tight.

How to do it

  1. Let’s get them acquainted with each other. Sit on the floor holding the harness and let your puppy investigate it.
  2. Drape the harness over them, and give them a couple of treats.
  3. Encourage your puppy to put their head through the harness – reward them when they try it! They should think of the harness as being a good thing that brings treats galore. It’s half true anyway.
  4. When your puppy is happy with their head in the harness, fasten it gently and give them a handful of treats.
  5. Take the harness off, and practice getting it back on around 3 times – always and keep on, rewarding your puppy! We want them to keep thinking it’s a magic thing.

PRO TIP: Don’t adjust the harness while they’re wearing it…it will probably make them feel like it’s a dodgy piece of armoury. It if needs adjusting, take it off and resize before trying it on again.

Week 4 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Meet another dog
– Find a puppy class
– Settle on a mat
– Lead walking
– Recall games
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Grooming sensitive areas

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Meeting another dog: How to introduce your German Shepherd to a new dog

It’s important to socialise puppies when they’re still young to really make sure they’re at their friendliest and kindest with other dogs as adults. In humans’ or dogs’ worlds, everybody likes a friendly guy.

A good way to do this is by organising a visit from one of your friend’s dogs. 

PRO TIP: The other dog should be friendly with puppies, and up to date with their vaccinations! 

How to do it

  1. With your friend’s dog on the lead, bring your puppy into your garden, or a friend’s garden if you don’t have one. .
  2. Sit quietly with your friend and their dog.
  3. Let your puppy decide when they want to say hello to the other dog. At this stage they might be a bit wary, or they might be partying their heads off. Either is fine! 
    • PRO TIP: Just remember there’s no need to force your puppy to come say hello…letting them take control of how they want the interaction to go (either saying hello or walking away) will make them feel much more confident. 
  4. Give your puppy a treat while your friend gives their dog a treat – gotta make it a nice experience for both doggies.
  5. Repeat giving them treats around 5 times during the visit.

PRO TIP

We know that all you (as well as both dogs) may want is to let loose in some off lead play. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, keep the adult dog on lead for now; there will be plenty of time to play later on. Don’t worry you’re not being a Debbie Downer, you’re just making sure your puppy is safe, and is able to go one step at a time!

Finding a puppy class for your German Shepherd puppy

Finding a puppy class or a good trainer for your puppy can feel as difficult as trying to find a school for your children. But we’ve unfolded the decision-making process in much simpler terms in the article here.

PRO TIP: For German Shepherd puppies, it’s truly worthwhile finding a puppy trainer or attending a puppy socialisation class. They have a long list of brilliant advantages, some of the best ones being that you’ll get fresh ideas of all things training, and a happy trainer to help you with any problems you might be having. They will also help you keep track of your puppy’s improvement, and make sure that the difficulty is always right so your puppy is kept on their toes and eager to learn. 

Most importantly for German Shepherd puppies, it will give you a chance to work with them around other people, and different dogs from a young age.

Training To Do this week

Settle on a mat

Eventually, we want to be able to take our dogs everywhere with us and have them be able to relax – not chase every pigeon or child carrying a ball they see. For German Shepherds, this is something you can’t miss focusing on!

To make your dreams come true, teaching them to settle on a mat is what you’ll want to focus on.

How to prepare

  • Choose a mat – something portable and non-slip like a piece of vet bed is ideal for this. Even a bath mat can do.
  • Have your puppy’s harness on, and their lead ready. 
  • Have a stuffed Kong or yummy chew toy ready to go too. 

PRO TIP: Let us make it easier for you. Practice this at a time you know your puppy is tired!

How to do it

  1. Pop the mat on the floor, next to your sofa or favourite chair.
  2. Attach the lead to the harness.
  3. Sit down and switch your TV on, attaching the lead to the leg of your chair or pop it under your foot.
  4. You’ll need your puppy to stand up, lie down, and shuffle comfortably, so make sure that the lead isn’t too tight. At the same time, don’t let it stretch too long so  that your puppy wanders about looking for trouble. Especially if you’re watching something juicy like Love Island, you won’t be able to get your eyes off the screen to catch him sneaking off on time.
  5. Pop the Kong on the mat so that your puppy has something to do while you enjoy your show. 
  6. Watch TV for 10/15 minutes more after your puppy empties the Kong. At this point, they might carry on chewing the toy, be awake or asleep. 

Here, the goal is to have your puppy lie down and relax, but they might as well move around or stand up. But what this exercise will teach them eventually, is that sometimes they’ll just have to settle next to you. 

Lead walking

Teaching your puppy to walk nicely on the lead from a young age is one of the most important things you’ll want to do. To be honest, it’s important for everyone; walkies are always much nicer when you’re not pulling a lunging puppy from chasing ducks. 

Puppies are naturally very sniffy and interested in the world around them – especially when there is a collar and a lead involved. One thing you have to think about is that they’ll grow into very strong dogs and you don’t want to end up being dragged on the ground. So start as you mean to go on, and teach them that closely following you will predict huge rewards. Our article on lead walking training has more details you’ll find helpful.

Recall games – Playing tennis with your puppy!

No, they won’t be using a racket. 

To play tennis with your puppy, think of them as being the tennis ball for this one, and them having to pingpong between people to get their yummy rewards!

This is great exercise for a German Shepherd; even you will smile at seeing how much fun they’re having. They can actually put on quite a show when going after a tennis ball – try making it bounce high in the air to see a nice ‘Free Willy’ leap – just be mindful of their joints and do it on a soft surface.

How to play:

PS. You’ll need a friend to help you with this one. A human preferably, an imaginary one won’t do unfortunately.

  1. Go into a room with no distractions – probably the room they spend most of their time in.
  2. Have you and your friend kneel down at opposite ends of the room
  3. Call your puppy’s name and ‘come’. When they come to you, drop the treat on the floor for them to get.
  4. After your puppy has eaten the treat, have your friend do the same you did. And then do the same. And then it will be your friend’s turn again and so on.
  5. See? Your puppy ping ponging between the two of you now. Don’t forget to keep rewarding them for coming!

PRO TIP: Start reasonably close together and make the gap between you larger once the idea clicks for your puppy.

Husbandry Tasks To Do this week

Grooming a German Shepherd – next steps

You’ve made a great start on grooming – now we’re going to move on to more touchy areas. Pun intended. 

How to do it

  1. Start brushing your puppy as you did before – rewarding with lots of treats.
  2. As you’re gently brushing, run your hands over your puppy’s tummy and their paws – these areas tend to be quite sensitive for puppies; not great fans of being touched there. 
  3. Be aware of particularly sensitive areas – particularly legs and paws

TIPS

·   If your puppy is over excited, choose a different time for this exercise – you’ll end up overworked and unsuccessful yourself.

·   We want our puppy to love being groomed, so use plenty of treats!

Week 5 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Go to the pub – you deserve it!
– Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist
– Alone Training
– Recall – outside using a lead
– Lead walking – outside
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend nail clips
– Grooming

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Go to the pub – you deserve it!

 Ah, the highlight of the week.

Going for a walk on a Sunday with a special stop at the pub for lunch is definitely one of the favourite things dog owners like to practice during these first weeks with their new puppy. Wonder why.

We know you might be a little worried for how things are going to work out, but there’s no need to. Here’s how we’re going to make sure these visits are relaxing for everyone involved:

How to do it

  1. Go to the pub as part of your walk – your puppy will likely be tired and be more inclined to relax when you arrive.
  2. Take your puppy’s settle mat and a stuffed Kong in your treat bag with you.
  3. Find a dog friendly pub or café where you can sit outside with your puppy.
  4. Do the settle exercise, and enjoy a glass of wine!

TIPS

Your settle mat is your puppy’s safe space so let them relax and be undisturbed. Might be difficult with all the cooing pub visitors, so try to sit in a quiet area and aim to go at a non-peak hour for now. Either way, don’t be afraid to ask people to let him be! As long as you’re nice about it, you won’t get dirty looks.

Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

Every week we want our puppy to experience new things which are relevant to our lifestyle.

For this week, your goal is to check 3 things off your own list. How satisfying is it to check things off? 

Training To Do this week

 Alone Training

Working on home alone training is such an important thing to do – both for your own benefit and your puppy’s. We know you’d rather stay in and play with them all day, but how else are you going to afford all his yummy treats and Kongs?

This week, we’ll be practicing this exercise three times, and start increasing the time you leave them.

Recall – Outside, using a lead

Ooh, time to practice outside.  

Let us give you a disclaimer: The outside will bring huge distractions to your training – especially for an inquisitive puppy!

But it’s nothing you can’t handle. We’re sure you’re even turning into a pro now.

How to do it

  1. Walk with your puppy to the new location. Make sure you’re using plenty of treats so that your puppy isn’t pulling you in all directions.
  2. When you’re at a quiet corner, practice 6 recalls while they’re on the lead. 
  3. Right before you give them the treat, pop your fingers inside the harness – this helps later when you’re putting the lead on and stops them running off after they’ve collected their treat.

TIPS

·   Your puppy may find it very distracting with all of the smells, so try to make your voice sound extra cheerful and happy to get their attention.

·   Use your ‘come’ cue when your puppy is actually looking at you. That way you can make sure they’re actually starting to learn what the word means. 

Lead walking – outside

Once your puppy is fully vaccinated and ready to go for walks, it gets real. It’s time we teach them about walking on a loose lead outside. 

By ‘loose lead’, we mean that puppies should learn that if the lead goes tight, then walking (or moving forward) comes to a stop. If they walk nicely so that the lead is loose and not tight, then they get to move along and get rewards. 

We’ve got a full loose lead walking training guide here – but you can find more detailed advice available in the ZigZag app. 

 Push/drop/stick on known exercises

Refer to our Push/Drop/stick method to make some good progress on the training on when going through exercises your puppy is already getting to know.

Husbandry Tasks To Do this week

Pretend nail clips

Dogs will need to have their nails clipped from time to time; we don’t want them turning into tiny wolvarines. But you’ll soon find out that paws are very sensitive to touch, so you can just imagine what puppies may think about getting their nails trimmed. 

Because their paws can be quite a touchy subject for them, we first need to make sure they feel okay with us touching them.  

How to do it

  1. Sit on the floor with your puppy.
  2. Pick up their paw and check their nail – give them a treat to keep them feeling slightly distracted and comfortable 
  3. Once you have done this on one paw, get your nail clippers out. Drumroll please.
  4. Touch the claw with the nail clipper lightly and give your puppy a treat – no clipping just yet!
  5. Just do one paw and then put your treats and clippers away.
  6. On your next session, do the second paw, on the third session the third paw and so on until you have done all four paws

PRO TIP: At this point, it’s all an acting game. Ignore the temptation to clip just yet – all in good time!

Week 6 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist– Following on walks
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Check puppy’s mouth

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Time to tick 3 more things off your personal socialisation checklist! 

What will it be this week?

·   Market Traders

·   Horses

·   Boats

…if you happen to have all of those near your house. If not, no worries there’s really no need to go desperately looking for a horse in the city centre.

Training To Do this week

Following on walks

A great way to improve recall on walks is to play the ‘follow me’ game. Yes, we’re really original when coming up with names for games. Ooh, that last sentence rhymed though. 

The ‘follow me’ game will help keep your puppy focussed on you in places where there are distractions around – so literally anywhere else besides your home.

How to prepare

  • Have that treat pouch stocked up with yummy, smelly treats.
  • Go somewhere safe, secure and quiet so that your puppy can go off lead – a fenced corner of the park is ideal.
  • Use a long line (or what we like to call a recall line – one that’s about 10 meters long is grand) if you’re worried about letting your puppy off lead, or if the area is not fully secure.

How to do it

  1. Go to the quiet area away from other people and dogs.
  2. Ask your puppy for a sit.
  3. When they do, say your marker word ‘good’ and throw the treat away from you.
  4. Wait until your puppy nearly finishes their treat and then run a few paces away from them – your puppy will most likely follow you!
  5. Stop just before they get to you, and ask them to sit again.
  6. Say ‘good’ and throw the treat again, then run!
  7. Keep repeating as often as you like, and run a bit further on each repetition.

PRO TIP 

·   Don’t start running until your puppy has almost finished their treat — you don’t want your puppy to feel conflicted between the treat and coming with you. Yes, it can be a tough choice. The treat will taste better than you.

·   This is a great game to add to your training games toolbox – it will keep your puppy focussed on you and ensure you have fun with recalls.

Push/drop/stick

Time for a push/drop/stick run on things they already know. Is it time to up the level of difficulty? 

Husbandry Tasks To Do this week

Check puppy’s mouth – First steps

You’ll want to get your puppy used to having their mouth checked regularly. Just to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy – not only because the inside of their squishy cheeks are oddly satisfying.

How to prepare

  • Have a treat pouch ready full of yummy treats.
  • Make sure your puppy is relaxed, and not over excited.

How to do it

  1. With your puppy in front of you, gently touch the side of their mouth, just on their cheek.
  2. Give your marker word ‘good’, and give your puppy a treat.
  3. Repeat this 5 times so that your puppy starts to enjoy your hand coming towards their mouth.

Easy peasy.

TIPS

·   Looking inside your puppy’s mouth is quite difficult to handle for them (I’m sure you’ve experienced the same at the Dentist – quite awkward) so you’ll need to get them used to it slowly.

·   If they struggle at all – go back a step and stay there for a while. Work at touching around your puppy’s muzzle and chin before you go back to trying to check the inside of their mouth.

Week 7 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Puppy Parkour
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Wait
– Walk with a friend’s dog
– Recall – off the lead
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend ear drops

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Puppy Parkour

Did you know that puppies love to climb? Not trees or anything crazy, but it is something that most puppies do, and is actually an important part of their development.

Since we’ve already been playing around with surfaces and obstacles indoors, it’s time to take it outside.

Besides all the looks in admiration, puppy parkour is brilliant for:

  • Engaging with your puppy when outside.
  • Giving them confidence to try new things.
  • For their physical development – getting all those puppy muscles toned.
  • For helping their vestibular system (fancy term for balance) and coordination.

How to do it

  1. Pick an area with plenty of logs or fallen branches.
  2. Find obstacles for your puppy to climb up on, walk on, or step over – low brick walls or logs are perfect.
  3. Look for different surfaces – crunchy leaves, grass and mud (yes, you’re probably going to get messy).
  4. Make sure everything is safe and not too high. If your puppy climbs up onto something quite high, give them a hand to get down – don’t let them jump off because their joints and bones aren’t ready to take on that kind of ninja level until they’re a year old.
  5. When your puppy interacts with new things like a particularly large fallen tree, remember to treat them!
  6. Try using a toy to encourage your puppy to climb over things – gently throw it over an obstacle and see if your puppy climbs over to retrieve it. Did they do it? What a lad.

TIPS

·   Don’t rush your puppy on new obstacles –  this is meant to be fun and not seem like an army camp.

·   Safety first! Always check your puppy can’t get hurt or scratched when climbing on top of things…that would really ruin the mood.

Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

How about

  • Going in a lift
  • Being carried up an escalator
  • Visiting a city farm – if dogs are allowed
  • Booking your puppy in for a swimming lesson

…it’s getting good now.

Training To Do this week

Teaching your German Shepherd puppy to wait

The practice of patience. What a lesson to teach…even for humans. On the bright side, waiting will actually come quite naturally for your German Shepherd –  their work ethic is strong. Lucky you, getting through this lesson should be relatively painless!

For your puppy, waiting means not moving when we move away. But you can also use this lesson later on for things like waiting at doors, before you let them out of the car, or in their crate. Unfortunately, using it for teaching them to wait on tables is way past their learning capabilities.

There are two aspects to teaching your puppy to wait:

  1. Duration: How long can your puppy wait for.
  2. Distance: How far away from your puppy you can get, and still manage to make them wait where they are.

First, we’ll work on duration.

  1. Ask your puppy to sit exactly the same as you have (probably) done many times before.
  2. Don’t give your marker word (good or yes) immediately. Instead, count to 5 in your head before marking and rewarding.
  3. Smile while you’re counting – not only will you look dashing, but it will let your puppy know that they are doing it right. To them, if you’re happy, it means they’re doing something right.  
  4. Repeat this about 6 times in each session. Over the next 2, days build up the time to 10 seconds – remember that you’ll need to keep practicing about 5-6 times per day in order to build that time up!

Now, let’s practice distance.

  1. Ask your puppy to sit as you did before.
  2. Give your puppy a cue with your hand which means ‘wait’ – we typically use a flat hand like a stop sign. Or a flat hand like paper when playing rock, paper, scissors.
  3. Take a half step backward with one foot – and immediately return and reward your puppy.
    • PRO TIP: If your puppy moves, it’s okay to break the exercise down further. Stay on the same spot, but just slide one foot away and back (as if you were line dancing).
  4. Now, try the same exercise but move to the side
  5. Repeat about 6 times.

TIPS

·   Your puppy will likely start moving about if you leave them waiting for too long – at this point patience isn’t really their strong point. Let’s trick them slightly by rewarding them a few seconds before you think they’ll move so that we get lots of easy wins. This will help them get the point of waiting.

·   Make sure you do this on a non-slip surface, it’s hard not to move if you’re sliding around the place! 

Walk with a friend’s dog

Remember that friend with the lovely dog who’s been coming to see your puppy? Let’s call them back. You’re going to go for a walk with them now. Fun!

How to do it

  1. Go to the place you usually take your puppy out for walks and have your friend meet you there.
  2. Walk for around 15 minutes together, each dog on their lead.
  3. Walk alongside your friend so that your puppy learns to walk near another dog without it being a game.
  4. Any time your puppy looks at you, give them a treat – this is brilliant!
  5. Every few minutes, stop with your puppy and do some training. Their name, or recalls are good ones to go over.
  6. Make sure the other dog gets treats too for being such a good helper!

Not going to lie, this is going to be a hard exercise for your puppy. You can’t blame them for being so excited! Keep up the frequent rewards (praise and treats) to keep them as engaged and focused as possible. 

Recall – off the lead

You what? You’re letting your puppy off the lead?! We can smell your fear from all the way over here. But everything will be fine! 

How to prepare

  • Take your puppy somewhere quiet with few distractions. It’s very important that you pick a safe place away from roads or traffic!
  • Get that treat pouch ready with super yummy smelly treats. The smellier the better.

How to do it

  1. With your puppy on their harness and lead on, practice 3 recalls like you’ve done before . 

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to pop your fingers in the harness! We don’t want that ‘keep away’ game to start up. Definitely not a good time for it.

  1. Once you’ve had 3 successful on-lead recalls, have some treats ready in your hand and let your puppy off the lead. Breathe. It will be okay.
  2. As you unclip them, drop some treats on the ground. 

PRO TIP This is good practice to stop your puppy racing off as soon as they are unclipped and it also lets you puppy know you still have goodies available

  1. Repeat 5 more recall exercises exactly the same way as before, rewarding your puppy for coming and putting your fingers in their harness before you treat them. 
  2. After you’ve completed your 5 runs, pop your puppy back on their lead and carry on with your walk. Phew! That went well, didn’t it? 
  3. Now, you know you can practice this every time you take your puppy for a walk.

TIPS

·   Don’t go too far! Couldn’t stress this enough. Keep the distances short so your puppy doesn’t get too distracted!

·   Think happy thoughts (yes, really). You’ve practiced this many times, so it’s going to be fine! If you’re relaxed, they’re relaxed. 

·   Have a secret stash of something REALLY amazing – Our Zigzag dogs are the biggest fans of dried sprats and dried liver – is your puppy the same?

·   Keep practicing this in your garden so they have the most chances to learn this. The more, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy running freely in flowery meadows!  

Push/drop/stick on known exercises

Let’s keep these little Einsteins busy.  Keep making the training exercises a little harder for them each week!

Husbandry Tasks To Do this week

Pretend ear drops

Ear drops? Why would my puppy need those? You never know with a puppy… but just in case they need some extra cleaning to hear your cues better, here’s how to get them used to them. 

Some German Shepherd puppies have particularly hairy ears where all kinds of things can build up if we’re not careful. This makes some prone to ear problems because they spend so much time playing in water and rolling the mud, so do make sure to clean and dry your puppy’s ears regularly.

Preventative exercises such as (pretend) ear and eye drop training can be of great help to teach your puppy that using them isn’t a big deal. When the day comes where you actually use them it won’t be so tricky as they’ll be fully ready for them.  

You’ll need

  • Yummy treats.
  • Something non slippery for your puppy to stand on.
  • An empty ear or eye drop bottle.

How to do it

  1. Show your puppy the eye drops and immediately give them a treat. Getting them to think drops are treat worthy is already great.
  2. Repeat this 5 times – bringing the bottle out should predict something nice. 
  3. Now to the good part. Touch your puppies ear with the bottle (not inside the ear – just on the outside) and give them a treat. 
  4. Repeat 5 times.

Week 8 – Training your German Shepherd puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Joggers and Cyclists
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Practice exercises in different locations
– Teach a hand target
– Introduce nose work
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Nail trims

Socialisation Exercises To Do this week

Joggers and Cyclists

Let us tell you now, joggers and cyclists bring a whole new level of distraction for your German Shepherd puppy. Those neon running shoes can blind almost anyone, to be fair.

People who exercise can (and probably will) trigger your German Shepherd to go into that eye – stalk – chase sequence. We know joggers could do a good job at running away, but it’s still not an ideal situation to get into. You’ll want to pay extra attention to this!

How to do it

  1. With your puppy on their harness and lead go on your regular walk.
  2. If you spot a jogger or cyclist, let your puppy see them from a distance – let’s not get too close just yet.
  3. While waiting for the jogger to run past you, ask your puppy to do some exercises such as sit, or recall on the lead. This will make sure that your puppy is focussed on you and not on the neon-colored person about to come by.
  4. If your puppy seems happy enough, move a little closer to where the joggers and cyclists are. Keep an eye on your puppy to make sure they’re not worried.
  5. As they go past, ask your puppy to ‘watch you’ and reward them for being such a good puppy.
  6. Every time you see joggers or cyclists go by from now on, you can do the same!

TIPS

  • You’ll basically be rewarding your puppy for ignoring them – if they try to chase them ( apologise to the person if they trip over them), take a step back in your training and practice lots of attention work.
  • If your puppy isn’t inclined to take treats, it might mean they’re feeling stressed. If this happens, there’s no need to worry. Simply go back a step so that they’re back to being happy in their surroundings.

Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

 Ooh, what’s it going to be this time?

Training To Do this week

Practice exercises in different locations

Practice makes perfect! Choose new 5 locations to practice exercises in this week with your puppy to help with generalisation.

We suggest dog friendly places such as:

  • Pet Supermarkets
  • Train Stations
  • DIY Stores

Teach a Hand Target  

This exercise is a firm favourite for puppies and their owners. Hand Targeting or touching is the basic for more trick behaviours such as leg weaves and closing doors – it kind of feels like you’re using The Force. 

It’s also way fun.

How to do it

  1. Hold your right hand out flat with your palm towards your puppy at the height of their nose. 
  2. They will likely investigate it and go in for a sniff (they’re puppies – sniffing things is as good as life gets). As soon as they do, say your marker word ‘good’.
  3. Immediately give them a treat with your left hand.
  4. Repeat this at least 10 times. At this point, you should start to feel your puppy really giving your hand a shove with their nose once they’ve got the hang of things.

TIPS

·   To be honest, the first time is often a fluke. It can also just happen because your puppy naturally wanted to sniff, so be patient for the second time round as it may take longer

·   A key point here is that you want your puppy touching you – so they come to your hand, not your hand comes to their nose.

Introducing nose work to your German Shepherd puppy

Besides your puppy’s talents and impressive skills, for most breeds it’s actually their nose that deserves the most praise. Let’s play a game of hide and seek with a toy to spotlight their gift of good sniffs! 

How to prepare

  • Find an old towel to use.
  • Stuff a Kong or a toilet roll with some food

How to do it

  1. When your puppy is out of the room, hide the toy under a towel. 
  2. Bring your puppy in and encourage them to find the toy by using the cue word ‘find it’.
  3. Use your wonderfully cheerful voice to give your puppy some extra encouragement.
  4. Good job! There’s no better reward than finding a toy with food inside.

TIPS

·   Don’t make it too hard to begin with though…let some of the toy poke out from under the towel

·   Once your puppy has had a few practice runs you can start to make it more difficult. I could personally play this game all day. 

If only this could work so they help us find our keys….maybe we’ll teach them that trick when they’re older.

Husbandry Tasks To Dot his week

How to trim your German Shepherd puppy’s claws (nail trims)

The day has finally come. Today, we’re clipping your puppy’s claws.

Before you start, here’s a couple of important things you need to know:

  • In order for this to work, your puppy should be comfortable around the nail clippers. If you see them struggle, go back to the exercise from 2 weeks ago and have a go at it again.
  • This one is quite important. Dog claws have a vein running through them – this is called the quick. You don’t want to cut out puppy’s claws too short as we will nick the quick and this will bleed. And it looks scary and you won’t want to do it again.
  • If your puppy has black claws and you are worried about the quick ask your vet or groomer to show you how to cut them. 

How to do it

  1. Pick up your puppy’s paw as you did before, and check the claw. Give them a treat!
  2. Pick up their paw again , and slide the nail clippers right on the edge of the claw. Clip just the very tip off so that you don’t nick the quick.
  3. Give your puppy a treat! They’re going great.
  4. Take a break for a few minutes – you’ll need it too to bring your heart rate down.
  5. Continue as above, giving your puppy a break after every claw. 

TIPS

  • If your puppy has short claws they may not need clipping – you can always pretend!
  • Just do one paw a day – we don’t want to stress our puppy out!

So what’s next for your German Shepherd puppy?

Involving yourself in a Dog Sports Club and teaching your German Shepherd all the good stuff like agility, treibball (that’s code for herding balls) flyball, hoopers or anything similar with positive reinforcement will be the way to go to keep your German Shepherd’s brain ticking.

While your German Shepherd is young, it’s also worth working through other life skills and obedience training – like the ones we offer on the Zigzag app. Not only will it keep their brain nice and fresh, but it will also make you look extra snazzy at the park…having them do all these crazy tricks will surely make people think you’re some sort of magician. 

You’ll find a lot more in depth training, games and socialisation advice tailored for your puppy and their breed. If you run into some training hiccups, you’ll also have access to a team of experts to help you every step of the way. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask them any questions you might have, they’d love to hear from you! They also have great personalities.