Raising your Long Coat German Shepherd

bulletEarly Puppy Training

There still remains a belief that dogs should not be trained until at least six months to one year of age. All dogs and their owners CAN benefit when behavior, temperament, and obedience training begin as soon as a seven or eight week old puppy enters a new home. By six months of age, almost all problem behaviors are already in place, and solving them will be difficult, frustrating, and possibly not successful.

Nipping, chewing, digging, barking, mounting, etc. are all normal dog behavior, but if left uncorrected, can lead to problems. Dogs learn each and every day whether it be good behavior or bad behavior.

bulletChildren and Dogs

Parents have an obligation to monitor all child-dog interactions, until both child and dog have learned to play nicely together. There will be times when you will have to protect the pup from children and vice-versa.

Do not leave children alone with a new pup. Inevitably, the pup will view small children as littermates and will nip.

Do not allow aggresive play or tug-of-war with the puppy. This can lead to aggressive behavior and biting. Instead, throw a ball for the pup to chase.

Do not allow the pup to join in running games with children. The pup will be encouraged to think of children as "prey." 

Tell children to leave a sleeping puppy alone. Dogs instinctively do not like surprises, and a serious incident could occur.

Encourage children to think of the puppy as a sensitive, living thing, with needs and desires. It is not a toy.


A trained dog is not likely to be spoiled. Through training he has learned to look for leadership, has learned trust, and obedience. Indulging in bad behavior, catering to the puppy's every desire, allowing nipping, begging, stealing from plates, barking, etc. is another matter. The irritating, unpleasant spoiled dog has now become the "leader of the pack," while the trained dog develops into a companion; free to be with you wherever you go.

Growling, snapping, and nipping are an attempt to gain control or to become the "leader of the pack."

The destructive chewer has not been taught responsible behavior and should not be rewarded with the freedom to destruct further.

The food or garbage stealer has never been taught limits.

The dog indifferent to his owner's commands has learned not to respect the owner.

The dog which incessantly demands his owner's attention is over-indulged. Owners sometimes choose not to teach, preferring, instead, to "buy" the pup's love with permissiveness, over-petting, and coddling. Each pup naturally must find their place in the [family] pack. The owner must assume the "leader" position to provide the security the pup needs. Preventing problems early is easier than solving them later!


Dogs are genetically programmed to live in packs. A dog requires leadership to give structure and security to its life. From birth, a pup's mother corrects behavior firmly, swiftly, and instantly, by using a neck shake, her paw, or by pinning the pup to the ground. She was the "boss." 

In a new home, the pup will fill the role of leader if none is provided. This is usually shown through growls, nips, and other dominant behavior. Avoid excessive petting, as only the pack leader is entitled to such demonstrations. Once a dog is trained and under control the owner can indulge in hugging without fear of spoiling him.

All members of the family must agree to behave consistently. Do not allow the pup on the couch one day and scold him the next. This is very confusing to a pup.


At eight weeks the new puppy in the home should be accustomed to normal household sounds: the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, TV, radio, toilet, etc. Ideally, this will begin with the breeder. Invite friends and neighbors to your home to meet the new pup. Take the pup for short car rides to accustom the body to the motion of a moving car and to help prevent car sickness later on.

After a couple of weeks take the pup everywhere you can, choosing new environments each time. Examples are a park, a school yard, a construction site, a busy sidewalk, or a busy plaza. If the pup ever shows fear, do NOT pet it. The pup will view this as praise for being fearful. Remain calm and let the pup adjust the behavior.

bulletPraise and Discipline

As a leader, use a happy, enthusiastic tone when praising your pup for good behavior, and accompany your verbal praise with petting. Praise good behavior generously. Never reward fearful behavior by "soothing" it with a soft voice and stroking. This only reinforces the behavior as the dog thinks it is being rewarded.

Never pet or soothe a pup when he is aggressively threatening anyone. A full-blown case of dangerous aggression could result.

Use a calm, firm voice when disciplining. Do not plead with the pup. Discipline does not mean punishment and should not be harsh physical punishment.

Use NO to inform your pup that its actions are not appropriate. NO is an authoritative sound with the object of creating an immediate reaction. Do not use the word "no" combined with your pup's name.

OK is a happy-sounding, positive word. It gives permission and approval from you.

bulletHouse Training

Dogs are den animals, and a crate is readily accepted as a pup's private place. A crate provides a secure place to prevent the pup from undesirable behavior. Since no dog likes to soil its den, house training will be simplified by using a crate. The crate should be located in your bedroom to promote bonding with your pup.

The pup will earn freedom by demonstrating responsibility. Later, the pup can be provided with more freedom and the crate left with the door open.

As a rule, all pups will have to go outside upon waking, after eating, after drinking, during or after play or excitement, and whenever they are busily circling and sniffing.

Food remains in the intestinal tract for about 16 hours. Therefore, a regular feeding schedule will equate to a regular bathroom schedule. Dogs that free feed are eating all the time, so what goes in all day will come out all day. A feeding at 6:00am will produce elimination by 10:00pm and a 6:00pm feeding will produce elimination by 10:00am. Adjust the feeding schedule to times you can let the dog outside.

People who are at home all day can easily monitor a puppy's behavior to learn when to take the puppy outside to use the bathroom. People who work part-time may crate the pup while working. A young pup should not be expected to remain in a crate for more than 10 hours at a time, though, to accommodate a full-time work schedule. If a pup must be crated for longer than 8 hours, ask a family member or friend to let the pup outside before your arrival home. When possible, try creating a bathroom schedule to aid in house training your puppy.  

Remember, very young puppies need to sleep a lot. Crate training takes advantage of this need by putting the pup in a crate to nap. Upon waking, take the pup outside on a leash until it "does its business." Encourage the pup with an expression, like "go pee" or "go potty" and then praise the pup happily when done. After elimination, the pup should be given play time with a feeding shortly afterwards.

What to Do:

  • expect a few noisy nights when the pup first comes home;
  • adhere to a rigid walk-play-feed-walk schedule;
  • feed on a regular schedule;
  • allow peace and privacy when the pup is in the crate;
  • allow the pup to sleep in your bedroom.

What Not to Do:

  • make the pup spend more than four hours in the crate at a time;
  • allow children to tease the pup in the crate;
  • leave destructible items in the crate;
  • give water after 7:00pm;
  • take the pup out of the crate if it is barking, crying, etc;
  • place rugs, pillows, etc. in the crate...use newspapers instead;
  • paper train the pup. Why teach it to go to the bathroom indoors?


All pups use their teeth to nip or chew to test their limits. The mother never permits the pup to nip her - she swiftly punishes and to the point.

Biting is usually the result of misbehavior that was never corrected. It escalates as the pup grows up thinking of itself as the leader of the pack. Corrections must be done instantly every time it occurs. Very young puppies generally respond to a piercing YIP! and will release instantly. Another technique is the hand-over-the-muzzle grab accompanied by a firm NO and a low, menacing growl. The pup will understand this just as it did the mother.

For those who are a little more determined, a firm, upward open-handed tap under the chin, a firm NO, and a growl will usually work. When the pup stops, take it to the crate and leave the pup alone for half an hour.

You can also keep a 4"x-6" grab lead on the pup, so it cannot escape from any correction.


The use of treats to train basic commands is generally not recommended. A pup is a pack animal and must learn through trial and error its position within the family pack. A pup's mother never rewards with treats.

The promise of treats is a distraction where the pup will concentrate on the owner's hand or pocket and not on the face and eyes. A pup that avoids eye contact will not learn and will not concentrate. A pup trained with treats will appear eager, but it is merely reacting in a mechanical way and not actually learning.

Training without treats reinforces the owner's dominant position over the dog. A pup that learns will be eager to learn more when it is properly praised.


Pups that are prevented from destructive chewing never develop the problem. Any pup left to its own devices while the owners are away will vent its loneliness and frustration on whatever object catches its attention. This is normal and to be expected. A pup who is crated during the owner's absence cannot indulge in such a destructive activity. The owner must keep the pup under close supervision at other times. Freedom of the house should not be granted. A pup will have to hear the word "No" many times before it learns that household objects are forbidden. If the pup mouths an object, clap your hands, stomp on the floor, etc., to attract it's attention. When the pup releases the object, offer it a chew toy and praise the pup when it takes it.


Begging usually begins with an indulgent owner offering food from a dinner plate or the kitchen counter. This easily leads to whining, barking, leaping at the table, etc. Never offer the pup food from your plate, table, or kitchen counter. This will prevent all begging problems. If the pup begs, simply ignore it, eventually the pup will give up and wander off in boredom.

bulletGrowling over Food

Pups should be prevented from growling over their food, especially if there are children in the household.

Sit on the floor, holding the food dish, and call the pup to you. Verbally praise the pup for coming to you. As the pup eats, talk to it, pet it, and perhaps throw in a treat. Have each member of the family take turns doing this at different meal times.

For young pups, if the pup should growl or indicate any defensiveness, it must be told No, then grabbed by the middle, and pulled backward away from the dish. Roll the pup onto its back and scold it. When it subsides, release the pup, and allow it to resume eating. Repeat if the pup growls again.

For older pups, the owner should stand near the dish with the pup on a lead. Should it growl, say No firmly, and pull the dog back away from the dish, administering a leash correction. In a day or two, you may hold the dish on your lap, while the dog is eating quietly.

An older dog who has developed this behavior should not be treated as above, but should be referred to a professional trainer/behaviorist.

bulletJumping on People

Start immediately to teach your pup to keep all four feet on the ground. With the young pup do not encourage it to stretch up to greet you, instead, crouch down to its level, assist it in sitting, then greet it.

The pup should be taught sit-stay. When visitors arrive the pup should be on lead and put in a sit-stay to one side of the door. The guests should be allowed to enter, told to ignore the pup, and when seated the pup should be brought on lead to meet them. The pup should be sat in front of each guest and then they can pet it. It is important that the sit-stay be mastered if the pup is to learn to keep it's feet on the floor.

Bergerhaus Long Coat Black and Red German Shepherds, Halifax PA 17032