German Shepherd leash training…we’ve all been there at some stage.
There’s the pulling, stopping, anticipation or fear of other dogs and humans, no sense of roadways and cars…the list goes on!
The good news is that GSDs are known for their trainability and intelligence, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
Training your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy to walk on a leash needn’t be hard.
With the right tools and knowledge, you can make walks enjoyable instead of an army drill.
Always remember to train your GSD with positive reinforcement and ensure you are using the right leash and collar on your walks.
Here’s our top 3 problems and tips:
Common Leash Walking Problems and Training/Solutions
1) How To Train Your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy To Stop Pulling The Leash
Things To Consider:
- Your GSD will naturally walk faster than you. You aren’t trying to get your GSD to walk by your side, but rather keep the leash slack in front of you.
- The purpose of a walk is to allow your GSD (and you) to enjoy it – including sniffing, investigating, getting exercise and fresh air. Remember to allow your dog freedom within the constraints of your walk together – you just want some level of control as the pack leader.
- It is a German Shepherd’s natural instinct (developed in the wild before domestication) to pull when being restrained, or fight against it. This may be why, when you combat your GSD’s pulling with your own, it rarely ever works as a solution.
- Have some level of patience, and don’t combat force with force.
- You can perform this exercise in your front yard, back yard or a public park (or anywhere with some space) while your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy is on its leash:
Place your GSD’s favorite toy/object/piece of food a short-medium distance infront of you both and begin stepping or walking towards the toy or object (steps for difficult GSDs, and slow walking for more advanced).
It’s very simple – when your GSD pulls, you stop and firmly but kindly say ‘No’. If the pulling is consistent, you call your GSD towards you and go back to the start, taking your GSD further away from its goal.
When the leash is slack, you reward your GSD with treats, or allow it to walk right up to it’s favorite object/toy/food.
The whole purpose of this exercise is to reward your GSD with positive reinforcement, and not continue with forceful control.
2) How To Train Your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy To Stop At Roads
Things To Consider:
- Most dogs are not naturally afraid of roads or vehicles – cars, motorbikes, trucks etc. In fact, some dogs love seeing a speeding car go past and trying to chase it. It simply wasn’t built into a K9’s evolution to be wary of big mounds of fast moving steel and metal.
- Easiest of the three. In fact, you’ve probably figured it out yourself. Simply pick an urban area with preferably some traffic, and obviously roads. Walk towards the roads and practice getting your GSD to sit on the footpath – use a treat if required. You eventually want to get your puppy or adult dog to a stage where you don’t have to command it stop, but rather it naturally stops and sits upon approaching the road.
3) How To Train Your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy To Stop Being Aggressive with Other Dogs or Humans, Barking and Lunging/Jumping
Things To Consider:
- There is generally no such thing as a bad German Shepherd.
- There are various factors that influence how your GSD reacts around other dogs.
- Upbringing/how your GSD has been treated, and puppy training and socialisation early in life are two major keys.
- Not all behavior is aggressive. Barking at perceived threats, or jumping for example might just be signs of a good guard dog or a friendly dog trying to greet someone.
- You can identify the onset of aggressive behavior, or its triggers, by watching the body language in your GSD. Tight face muscles, heightened alertness, ears pinned back and change in the pace of tail wagging and barring teeth are all signs of onset.
- Your GSD is naturally aloof/not immediately trusting of strangers that it doesn’t associate with its pack. Being wary and cautious is normal. Loud growling, barking, snarling, jumping and biting is not.
- There are two main reasons why your GSD will bark loudly and incessantly: 1) It is scared 2) It is protecting it’s territory or pack (think about it for a second – how you would react to a big scary alien entering your house or approaching you while out in public?).
- Understand that even if you are able to curb your GSD’s aggressive behavior, you never know about the other dogs your German Shepherd is meeting unless they are a regular. Always ask the other owner before approaching a new dog, and approach slowly to identify any signs of aggressive behavior in the other dog.
- The absolute best training to frustrating or aggressive behavior on the leash is prevention. Getting your GSD early puppy obedience training, and socialising it with other dogs and humans as a puppy is a great start and can combat alot of aggressive behaviors. Contact your nearest dog or German Shepherd club for a referral.
- If you suspect your GSD is scared, read this DailyShep.com article about fearful behavior and try to identify the cause of the fear. We’ve included solutions/training to these fear triggers.
- If the aggressive problem already exists, you want to train your dog to be non-reactionary when other dogs are around, or greet other humans and dogs positively. It’s highly recommended you and your German Shepherd Dog or Puppy attend a class specifically for aggressive dogs (usually adult dogs). You’ll get professional training on identifying triggers, and how to combat them. Ask your trainer if they think there could be something more serious going on with your GSD, or whether they can help you fix the behavior in their classes. Contact your nearest dog club or German Shepherd Association for trainers in your area.
- The third approach is to avoid confrontations with other dogs altogether. As best you can, plan a walking route that has minimal aggression triggers for your GSD. This is also recommended while you are undertaking professional classes.
We will cover Off Leash dog training in another article at a later point.
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