Owning a German Shepherd

Owning a German Shepherd is unlike owning any other dog breed. German Shepherds bring unique challenges and rewards to dog ownership. As a highly intelligent large dog breed, a German Shepherd can either have military grade obedience and trustworthiness. Or it can be an unruly, out-of-control nightmare. The difference lies in training your German Shepherd […]

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Owning a German Shepherd is unlike owning any other dog breed. German Shepherds bring unique challenges and rewards to dog ownership. As a highly intelligent large dog breed, a German Shepherd can either have military grade obedience and trustworthiness. Or it can be an unruly, out-of-control nightmare. The difference lies in training your German Shepherd puppy. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to raise the perfect puppy if you take home a German Shepherd. But we want to drive the point home right away—you must be prepared, dedicated, and consistent with training your German Shepherd. Anyone who puts in the time and effort to properly train their German Shepherd is guaranteed to end up with the best dog in the world!

There’s so much to love about the German Shepherd dog breed!

An army officer stand with his seated German Shepherd on the shore of a river.


The German Shepherd dog breed originated in Germany. It was originally used as a cattle and livestock herding dog on farms. From the start, German Shepherds were natural protectors. Their innate ability to guard herds made them a top choice among farmers. German Shepherds have a fearless streak, which helped them defend their livestock from wolves and other predatory wildlife. 

A German Shepherd is being trained at a military base, as German Shepherds are one of the top choice dog breeds for the United States military.

After this dog breed had been established as a trusted herding dog, a German military officer named Max von Stephanitz further developed the breed to serve in the military. By using selective breeding, he solidified the fearless, obedient, and intelligent traits that the German Shepherd is known for today.

Ironically, thanks to Stephanitz’s work, the Americans and allied forces used German Shepherd in their own military during WWI and WW2 against the Germans. Today, German Shepherds continue to serve in the military. They’re also one of the top police dogs in Europe and the United States. And their popularity has expanded to home owners who want loyal companion dogs to protect their homes and guard their families. 

Owning a German Shepherd can even be considered more effective at preventing a break in than owning a gun. A well-trained German Shepherd’s presence within the home has the power to make a potential intruder pick a different house to break into! But with great power comes great responsibility. A German Shepherd can only fulfill its full potential if it’s properly trained. Let’s take a look…


A woman walks her 6 month old German Shepherd puppy, helping him to socialize to new environments and training him to behave in a calm, curious manner, as owning a German Shepherd requires diligent puppy training.

When it comes to training a German Shepherd, there are two sides to this coin. One side of the coin is positive and negative reinforcement training. The other side is frequent socialization. Petland Kansas City does not recommend using punishment as part of the training process. German Shepherds naturally seek praise and rewards from their owners. They’re fast learners.

Positive Reinforcement

Generally speaking, you can reinforce your puppy’s correct obedience to commands by offering verbal praise and a pat of affection. Simply knowing that they’ve succeeded at doing what you asked is a good enough reward for a German Shepherd. This is called positive reinforcement. 

Since German Shepherds can be bold and highly sensitive, they quickly benefit from “redirection” whenever they’re behaving outside of a command. Redirection is especially useful during socialization. If and when your German Shepherd puppy regards a new environment and person as a threat, you can prevent and stop reactive behavior with redirection. This means get his attention on you and away from the source of stimulation for a moment. A tug on his leash. Saying, “hey.” Walking him in a circle. These are all examples of redirection. 


Using redirection can help desensitize your German Shepherd puppy so that new places, people, and animals aren’t so stimulating. Redirection also helps your German Shepherd to understand that you are in control of the overall environment. He doesn’t need to think and act on his own, nor “defend” you. You’re handling it. By redirecting your German Shepherd’s attention away from the Pitbull that’s being walked down the street, for example, you’re sending your puppy the message that, “Yes, I’m aware of the other dog, but the other dog isn’t an issue, keep yourself focused on me.” 

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement can address unwanted behaviors. If you praise and reward your German Shepherd for his obedience, what should you do when he does something that you don’t want him to do? You can’t ignore it. And you also can’t “reward” him when he stops the behavior. He’s not a child that can understand the connection between stopping unwanted behavior and a gained reward that results from stopping the unwanted behavior. 

Instead, you can use negative reinforcement. Let’s look at an example. If your German Shepherd jumps up onto a table and places his paw on the tabletop, this is unwanted behavior. 

  1. Clap your hands loudly to “mark” the bad behavior, and you can also yell “no,” “down,” “leave it,” or even “hey” at the same time. Never use anger in your voice. The volume is all that is necessary. 
  2. If your German Shepherd doesn’t get down, pull him down, or you can press your fingertips into the side of his neck to push him down. Force isn’t necessary. Fingertips at the side of a dog’s neck feels “yucky” to them, and they’ll move on their own. 
  3. Once he’s down, walk towards him so that he has to back up, and tell him to sit. He must sit. 

This completes the negative reinforcement. Do this every time he jumps up on a counter, or does any unwanted behavior. He will quickly make his own decision that doing the unwanted behavior isn’t worth the “cost” of the negative consequence. 

By implementing an appropriate, well-timed combination of positive and negative reinforcements, your German Shepherd puppy will quickly learn basic commands, your specific house rules, and complex commands! 

A fully trained, properly socialized German Shepherd dog is gentle enough to interact with kittens, as pictured here.


When it comes to puppies, “socialization” simply refers to exposing your puppy to new people, places, things, and animals. All the while, the owner is actively shaping the puppy’s reactions and behavior to these new things, by using positive and negative reinforcements. 

You absolutely must frequently socialize your puppy. This is not optional. Puppies that are cooped up and do not meet new people, other dogs, or have new experiences regularly quickly turn into highly reactive, fearful, and even aggressive dogs. 

By nature, dogs are sensitive. If left to their own devices, their natural perception will be that anything “new” is probably a threat. This innate reactivity virtually disappears with puppy socialization. But if a puppy isn’t socialized, it won’t matter if it belongs to the most patient and gentle breed, it will respond to new people, animals, and places with fear. This can be dangerous for everyone involved, especially the fearful, unsocialized dog. 

When you have your German Shepherd puppy, every walk is an opportunity to socialize. Be friendly and invite pedestrians to meet your puppy. Remain verbal and corrective with your puppy as he interacts with the new person. You will be shocked at how quickly your German Shepherd puppy understands how to appropriately behave when meeting new people.


The same process should be used when you meet other dog owners. Introduce your puppy to the other dog. Take your time. And give your puppy ongoing feedback throughout the interaction, using positive and negative reinforcements. 

A beautiful woman holds her adorable German Shepherd puppy, happy to own a great family dog breed.


By now, you probably have a good sense about whether or not you have what it takes to properly raise a German Shepherd puppy. This amazing dog breed requires constant feedback as it happily lives its life. When you stay on top of your German Shepherd puppy, you can shape its long-term behavior. And you can quickly end up with the perfect puppy who grows into an outstandingly obedient, loyal, and loving dog! 

A properly trained German Shepherd is a joy to live with, and your dog can add an important layer of home protection. German Shepherds are also great family dogs. They love children. They can live in harmony with other dogs and other household pets. And they’re a great breed for active families and individuals who live running, jogging, hiking, camping, and other outdoor adventures. Your German Shepherd will have the energy to keep up, guaranteed!

Two proud German Shepherd dogs stands with their litter of healthy German Shepherd puppies for sale in Kansas.


If you’re convinced that owning a German Shepherd is right for you, our staff would love to introduce you to this breed! Petland’s Overland Park location in Kansas, on the border of Missouri, has German Shepherd puppies for sale that are ready to show their love for you! 

Experience first hand why German Shepherds are known for their trainability, intelligence, and loyalty! We also have a wide variety of purebred puppies for sale, hypoallergenic puppies for sale, and hybrid puppies for sale. Our available puppies are always ready, eager, and happy to meet our customers!

Petland Kansas City also sells these other purebred dog breeds for protection:

For large dog breeds that are great with children, come to our Overland Park location and meet:

When it comes to ethical puppy sellers in Kansas, Petland Kansas City is a trusted name. You can learn about the specific dog breeders we work with, visit their facilities, and also learn about Petland’s very high standards for ethical dog breeding practices

We hope you enjoyed this article about owning a German Shepherd. You’re welcome to meet our available German Shepherd puppies in Overland Park, KS, anytime! 

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