If you own a German Shepherd then it will be vital to teach it to come to you on command. Thankfully, German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs so this post will show you a process to do it easily.
To teach your German Shepherd to come on command there will be three stages. First, you’ll teach it to sit, then to stay and then to come.
To teach it to sit do as follows:
- Get some treats that it likes and get your German Shepherd in front of you.
- Get it to sit by having a treat in your hand in front of it. Use the treat to lure it into the sit position by luring the treat above its head so that it naturally sits.
- When it sits reward it with a treat
- Repeat the process until it sits as soon as you raise the treat
- Now raise the treat and tell it to sit. If it sits reward it with the treat.
- Now get it to sit simply by saying “sit.” You might still need to show it the treat the first few times but wait for a moment to try and get it to figure it out. But reward it when it sits.
- Repeat the above until you only need to say sit once.
You can watch the video below the next stage to see how to teach it to sit in action.
Then teach it to stay by doing as follows:
- Get some treats that it likes and get your German Shepherd out in front of you.
- Begin by telling it to “sit” and then say “stay” then wait for less than a second.
- If it sits and keeps its focus on you reward it with a treat. If it doesn’t try it again but wait for an even shorter time period this time.
- Repeat the above. Each time you do it increase the time that you make it keep its focus on you before giving it the treat. Be careful not to make a large increase in how long you make it wait in successive attempts. Instead, you want to gradually increase how long you make it wait so that it doesn’t fail.
- Once it gets good at staying when you tell it to make it more difficult by distracting it with a toy. Start by simply showing it the toy and then build up to throwing the toy infront of it. The aim is to get it to keep its focus on you when you say stay despite the toy distracting it.
- Repeat step 5. Each time increase the time that you leave the toy in front of it and make it more tempting for it to go for the toy on each attempt.
- Repeat step 7 until it can reliably keep its attention on you when you tell it to “stay” even when the toy gets thrown in front of it.
You can watch below to see how these two stages are done. It’s not a German Shepherd in the video but you can still apply the same techniques with your German Shepherd.
Now that you can get your German Shepherd to sit and stay it will be much easier to teach it the “come” command.
You can teach it the “come” command as follows:
- Take your German Shepherd to an open area with some treats, it can be a park, backyard or even a large room at the start. If you go to a local park bring a long leash with you as well.
- Start by telling it to sit and stay and then wait for a moment to give it the treat.
- Repeat the above so that you can get it to stay for more than eight seconds
- Now you’ll tell it to sit and stay but this time by adding distance between you both. Start by telling it to sit and stay then retreat back a few steps then go back to it and reward it for staying. Don’t wait before going back to reward it (you can do that next)
- Repeat the above process each time adding a little bit more distance to how far you go back.
- Now do it again but start to wait before going back to reward it. Start by only pausing for a little while then increase the duration as it gets good at it.
- Now get it to stay while being distracted by a toy. Start by telling it to sit and stay then just hold the toy out in front of it for half a second then reward it for staying.
- Repeat step 7 each time making it more difficult by squeaking or throwing the toy.
- Now you’ll get it to come to you. Start by telling it to sit and stay then go back a few steps, crouch down and tell it to come to you. You might need to entice it a bit with hand movements and other gestures.
- Repeat step 9 each time adding more distance before telling it to come.
You can watch the video below to see how it’s done.
Why teach it to come on command
There are a number of benefits to being able to get your German Shepherd to come to you when you tell it to. Below I will mention a number of them.
Makes socializing easier
By being able to get your German shepherd to come to you when you tell it to you’ll be able to get it to be easier to control in social situations. Often, dogs will have a habit of trying to great guests by jumping up at them but you’ll be able to prevent that by commanding it to come to you when it looks like it might happen. This will help you to have a better relationship with your German Shepherd since it won’t be causing you so much stress.
You’ll have an easier time walking it
By being able to get it to come to you it will help you to prevent it from getting into trouble on walks. For example, if you’re at the dog park and it starts to go towards other people you’ll be able to get it to return to you by telling it to. This can help make walks a more pleasant experience and you’ll be happier to give your German Shepherd the exercise that it needs.
Prevent it from getting injured
You’ll also be able to keep it safer. This is because you’ll be able to get it to come back to you when it’s about to get itself hurt. For example, if it decides that it wants to bolt out the front door when you open it being able to call it back to you would be very beneficial since running out the door is how many dogs get killed.
It will be more responsive to you
Getting your German Shepherd to come to you requires a fair amount of discipline on your German Shepherds part this could actually help you to keep your German Shepherd responsive to you in general. This means that it should become easier to teach it to do other things as well.
Things to consider
When you’re teaching your German Shepherd to “come” there are some things that you should consider that I will mention below.
The “come” command is not an easy one to teach your German Shepherd. With that being the case you should take a long-term approach to it. Instead of expecting to be able to teach your German Shepherd to come in just one training session you should expect and be willing for it to take multiple training sessions.
Give it lots of exercise
German Shepherds are a breed that need a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. With that being the case it would likely make it easier for you to teach it the “come” command by giving it some exercise first. It will help because you’ll be able to get your German Shepherd to be more relaxed and to be able to keep its focus on you for longer.
Start in easy environments
The amount of distractions that there are around your German Shepherd will have a big influence on how hard it is to teach it the “come” command. With that being the case, it would make things a lot easier for you if you were to start out by teaching it in an environment where there are fewer distractions such as a large room or backyard and then to do it in harder ones like a park.
It would also help to train it in multiple different envoironments. The reason for this is that dogs don’t always carry their training over well into new locations so you’ll need to deal with this by training it in lots of new ones.
The age of your German Shepherd will also be a factor in how hard or easy it is to teach the command to your dog. If it’s still young then it will be a bit more difficult to keep its focus but you should still do it now so that your German Shepherd is well behaved as an adult. If it’s older then it might require you to be a bit more patient since it can be more difficult to change its habits but it can still be done.
Do it regularly
Even after you have taught the command to your German Shepherd it’s important that you continue to teach it to your dog so that it doesn’t forget the training and so that it will come to you when you need it to.
Why won’t my German Shepherd come when outside? If you can get your German Shepherd to come when inside but you can’t when outside then don’t be upset it’s not an uncommon occurrence. When outside there are a lot of things that can distract your German Shepherd which can make it lose its focus on you. To deal with this it will be necessary for you to train it outside again from the start if necessary.
Why won’t my German Shepherd come when distracted? If you can’t get your German Shepherd to come when it’s being distracted then you should try teaching it to stay when being distracted by following the steps above. Then when you teach it to come start out by doing it in a less distracting environment and then gradually build up to teaching it to do it in tougher ones. For example, start out by teaching it to come inside, then in your backyard and then in a park.
If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd Handbook