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Bringing Home Your New German Shepherd Puppy

When you bring a new German Shepherd puppy home, you need to start out with the right attitude. The first few weeks of your new German Shepherd puppy’s life with you will be very busy and demanding. There may be times when you wonder if getting a new puppy was such a good idea. Things will go better if you have patience and keep your sense of humor. Remember that puppyhood only happens once. The extra effort you put into it now with your German Shepherd puppy will pay off in the future.

Supplies for your German Shepherd puppy that you will need:

  • Wire or plastic dog crate.
  • Stainless steel food & water dishes (4-5 cups size).
  • Buckle puppy collar & leash.
  • ID Tag with your phone number to wear on the collar.
  • Slick wire brush (Furminator brush after 8 months old.
  • ORIJEN Large breed puppy food
  • “Bitter Apple,” a safe spray-on product to discourage chewing.
  • A wire, wooden or plastic baby gate for blocking doorways.
  • Books on puppy care & training. Read through them before bringing your German shepherd puppy. Check out several of them for free from library.

Puppy Proof Your Home

Raising a German Shepherd puppy is a lot like raising a small child. They get into everything and anything you can’t think of!

Some of what they get into can be hazardous to their health, like electrical cords, or damaging to your possessions, like shoes and clothes.

You can make life safer for your  German Shepherd puppy by getting rid of hazards and temptations ahead of time. To a puppy, the world is brand new and fascinating! He’s seeing it all for the very first time and absolutely everything must be thoroughly investigated.

German Shepherd Puppies do most of their investigating with their mouths — “Look at this! What is it? Is it something to eat? Is it something to play with?” Murphy’s Law says that a puppy will be most attracted to the things he should least have — electrical cords, the fringe on your expensive oriental rug, your brand new running shoes, etc. Preventing destructive and dangerous chewing is easier than trying to correct the puppy every second.

Look around your home. What objects could be put up out of the way of a curious puppy? Bitter Apple spray can be applied to furniture legs, woodwork and other immovable items. Are there rooms your puppy should be restricted from entering until he’s better trained and more reliable? Install a baby gate or keep the doors to those rooms closed. Take a walk around your yard looking for potential hazards that your German Shepherd puppy.

If your yard is fenced, check the boundaries and gates for openings that could be potential escape routes. German Shepherd puppies can get through smaller places than an adult dog. If your yard’s not fenced, make a resolution right now that your puppy will never be allowed to run off lead without close supervision. He won’t ever know enough to look both ways before crossing the street to chase a squirrel. Keep him safe by keeping him on leash!

Keep Your Puppy On A Schedule

Work out a schedule for you and for your puppy. House training a German Shepherd puppy is much easier when the puppy’s meals, exercise and playtimes are on a regular schedule throughout the day.

German Shepherd puppies Own Place

Decide where to put the dog crate, and have it set up and ready for your puppy’s arrival. Where to keep the crate will depend on what’s most convenient for you as well as the puppy’s response. Many German Shepherd puppies don’t like to be isolated in one part of the house while their family is in another but some puppies won’t settled down in their crates if there’s too much activity going on around them. You might have to experiment with different locations until you learn what works best for both you and the puppy.

House training Your New German Shepherd Puppy

Baby puppies, under three months of age, have limited bladder control and reflexes. They usually don’t know they’re going to go until the moment they do! It’s not realistic to expect them to tell you ahead of time. If you’re observant, you’ll see that a puppy who’s looking for a place to go potty will suddenly circle about while sniffing the floor. The sniffing is instinct he’s looking for a place that’s already been used. If he can’t find one, he’ll start one! By preventing accidents in the house, you’ll teach him that the only appropriate bathroom is the one outside!

Ideally, you’re reading this before you’ve brought your new puppy home. If you already have your puppy, just pick up the schedule at an appropriate place.

Set up a dog crate or small, confined area (the smaller the better.) Using a dog crate will be more effective. The size of the crate is important because if it’s too large, the puppy will have room to use one end as a bathroom.

If you’ve bought a crate for him to grow into, you can also get dividers to reduce the inner space while he’s small. If he must be left alone while you’re at work, then a larger crate is okay. Put a stack of newspapers at one end for him to use when you can’t be home to let him out.

Also in the crate should be a water dish (you can get one that attaches to the side of the crate and is harder to spill), sleeping pad and a bone or chewing toy. Put the crate where he isn’t far away from the family. If you’re using a confined area instead, a baby gate across the doorway is preferable to closing the door and isolating your puppy.

Your puppy might not like the crate at first. Don’t give in to his complaining or tantrums! If you’re sure he isn’t hungry or has to go potty, ignore his yowling.
Eventually your German shepherd puppy will settle down and sleep which is what crates are for! If you give a tempting treat every time you put the dog in his crate, he’ll soon look forward to going in.

The crate is intended to be his sleeping and feeding place and is where he should be when you can’t keep a close eye on him. If you give him the run of the house at this age, you can expect accidents! Dogs instinctively keep their sleeping areas clean. If you’ve allowed him to go potty when he needs to, he won’t dirty his crate if he can help it. Once he’s developed better control, he won’t need the newspapers unless you’re going to be gone all day. Change the papers several times a day if they’ve been soiled.

Your Puppy’s First Night Home

Get off on the right foot at the beginning! Carry the puppy from your car to the yard. Set him on the grass and let him stay there until he potties. When he does, tell him how wonderful he is! After bringing the pup inside, you can play with him for an hour. Plan on taking the puppy outside every two hours (at least) while he’s awake. Don’t wait for him to tell you that he has to go!

Feed your German Shepherd puppy in his crate.

Don’t let him out for half an hour and when you do, carry him outside to potty before you do anything else. Wait for him to have a bowel movement before bringing him back in. Some pups get their jobs done quickly; others may take half an hour. If he’s being slow, walk around the yard encouraging him to follow you. Walking tends to get things moving, so to speak!

Always take your German Shepherd puppy outside first thing when you let him out of the crate and always CARRY the puppy to the door!! This is important. Puppies seem to have a reflex peeing action that takes affect the moment they step out of the crate onto your carpeting. If you let him walk to the door, he’ll probably have an accident before he gets there. Part of this training method is psychological you want the puppy to feel grass under his feet when he goes to the bathroom, not your carpeting!

After another short play period, take the pup outside before bedtime, and then tuck him into his crate for the night. If he cries during the night, he probably has to go out. Carry him outside to potty, and then put him back in the crate with a minimum of cuddling. If you play with him, he might decide he doesn’t want to go back to sleep! Puppies usually sleep through the night within a few days.

Establish a regular schedule of potty trips and feedings for your German shepherd puppy.

This helps you to control the times he has to go out and prevent accidents in the house. First thing in the morning before you have your coffee carry the puppy outside. He can then come in and play for an hour. Feed breakfast in the crate and don’t let him out again for a half hour. Then carry him back outside for potty. Puppies usually have a bowel movement after each meal so give him time to accomplish it.

Now he can have another inside playtime for an hour or so. Don’t give him free run of the house, use baby gates or close doors to keep him out of rooms he shouldn’t go in. (Puppies are notorious for finding out of the way corners to have accidents in keep him in an area where you can watch him). If you give him too much freedom too soon, he’ll probably make a mistake. After playtime, take him outside again then tuck him into his crate for a nap.

Read more about creating the right environment for your German Shepherd pup.
For the first few months , you’ll be feeding your German Shepherd puppy two meals per day.

Repeat the same procedure throughout the day: potty outside first thing in the morning, one hour playtime, potty, meal in crate, potty, playtime,then second meal,potty, etc.

The playtimes for your German Shepherd puppy can be lengthened as the puppy gets older and is more reliable. Eventually the puppy will be letting you know when he needs to go out but remember if you ignore his request or don’t move quickly he’ll have an accident!

I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is! The results of all this running’ in and out will pay off in a well-housebroken puppy and clean floors.

A word about paper-training:

It seems harmless to leave papers about just in case and for us who work all day, it’s a necessity. However, paper-training your pup will make the overall job of housetraining that much harder and take longer. By only allowing the pup to relieve itself outside, you’re teaching it that it’s not acceptable to use the house. Using newspapers will override this training. Also, be aware that many puppies get the notion that going potty NEAR the papers is as good as going ON them! If you must use newspapers when you’re gone, keep to the regular housetraining schedule when you’re at home. Get the puppy outside often enough and don’t leave papers out just in case.

Keep your dog’s yard picked up and free of old stools. Many dogs choose an area to use as a bathroom. If left to become filthy, they’ll refuse to use it and do their business in the house instead! If your dog has to be tied up when he’s outside, keeping the area clean is even more critical. If you could only move about in a small area, you wouldn’t want to lie next to the toilet, would you? Picking up stools helps you keep tabs on your dog’s health as well. Your German Shepherd puppy stool should be firm and fairly dry. Loose, sloppy stools can be an indication of Overfeeding , worms, health problems, stress or digestive upset after chewing something.

For more on German Shepherd puppy housetraining, see our article here.

Ready to be Pack Leader for Your Puppy?

If you’ve decided to bring home a new German shepherd puppy, you have to be the pack leader. If your puppy is going to develop into a well-mannered new addition to your family, instead of a burden you need to be a pack leader.

Dominance, and German Shepherd puppy pack leadership are important concepts that every puppy owner has to comprehend in order for you to be a successful owner. Puppies are animals, not human beings. They are pack animals by nature. Every pack has a leader, known as the alpha, who dominates and leads the other members of the pack.

The German Shepherd pack leader is the boss who makes all the decisions for the entire pack. Usually the pack will have an alpha male and an alpha female. All the other members of the pack form a hierarchy of dominance and submission where everyone has a place.

In your home, you and your family become your puppy’s pack, as do any other dogs you may have. It is your responsibility to establish yourself in the alpha position. If you fail to do this, your German Shepherd puppy or dog will do it as a natural behavior. Many people assume that they are automatically in charge just because humans are superior to animals. But are you really the pack leader? Does your dog know it?

Being the pack leader does not mean you have to be big and aggressive, Nor does it mean that there has to be a battle of wills after which you are the victor. Anyone can be the pack leader. It is an attitude an air of authority. It is the basis for mutual respect, and provides the building blocks of communication between your German shepherd puppy and you.

A pack animal becomes a full fledged member of the group by a process called subordination.

With dogs, subordination begins shortly after the third week of life and continues throughout early development. Most normal, healthy puppies are basically pushy animals, and will try to advance as far as possible within the social order of the pack. The key to successfully rearing a puppy is to establish yourself as the pack leader and then maintain that position for the life of your dog.

So how do you become the pack leader? In the wild, the adults of the pack begin early to teach the cubs the rules. The adults grab pups around the head or neck and gently, but firmly, pin them to the ground. The cubs learn to greet the adults with respect by approaching them using a slightly crouching posture, with ears back, tail down and wagging, and they lick the adults’ muzzles. The cubs do this as a sign of respect and affection, not out of fear. It is called the submissive display, and its function is to keep peace and harmony within the pack.

Leadership exercises can confirm humans as the pack leader of the family pack. Once you establish this relationship, your puppy will seek you out. He will want to be with you and will treat you with respect and affection and will obey you.

After he learns to submit to handling, all other tasks such as grooming, nail clipping, cleaning ears, and medicating will be easier to accomplish. But first he must learn that you have the power to handle him, and that handling will not lead to any harm. He must come to trust you entirely. These exercises will help establish leadership but should not be used with an older dog who has learned to use his teeth to get his way. Exercises one and two are recommended only for small puppies up to three months of age. Exercises three and four are suitable for pups up to six months of age as long as there’s no problem with aggression. Be gentle but firm with all exercises, as you would with a baby human.

There are many German shepherd puppy pack leader activities you can use as part of a daily training routine.

Probably the single most important command your dog can learn is “sit.” You can incorporate “sit” into everyday situations as a reminder that you are in charge of things. Tell your German Shepherd puppy or dog to “sit” before you feed him, play, or he goes out the door.

This shows the dog that he must respond to you before indulging in his own pleasures. If he is obedience trained, put him in a down-stay while you prepare his dinner. Your dog will accept you as pack leader as long as you are consistent and fair in your demands.

If he does, a scruff shake is necessary, followed by no attention from you for 10 to 15 minutes. The scruff is the loose skin around the dog’s neck. If your pet growls or snaps and you are not afraid to handle him, grab him firmly by the scruff with both hands, stare him in the eyes, and shake him. Then put him in his crate for 15- 20 minutes and ignore him. When the issue is settled immediately, it usually ends the matter.

Crate Training for your German Shepherd puppy

Most important for your dog to be well behaved, is to get him to exercise everyday; tossing his favorite chew toy for a few minutes will burn some energy and make him a happier dog.

Crate training can be a great solution for German shepherd puppies before they become housetrained, suffer separation anxiety, misbehave when they are left alone or just need a safe, secure environment that they can go to when they need to seek comfort.

When a dog becomes used to their crate, they will go there to “escape” from activities in the house. Dogs are den animals by nature, and it is important that they are not bothered when they are in their crate. Training should be done in a series of small steps.
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