If your German Shepherd is hard to train you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be difficult to train and a number of things that you can do to stop it.
So, why is my German Shepherd so hard to train? Possible reasons are that you have been training it in a distracting environment, you haven’t been training it in small steps, you’re not using an appropriate training method, there is a problem with its diet or that it’s not getting enough exercise.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd is so hard to train. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your German Shepherd is so hard to train
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd is hard to train will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd is hard to train and what would make them more likely.
You have been training it in a distracting environment
The first possible reason could be that you have been trying to train it in a distracting environment. If you don’t start out by trying to train it when there are not many distractions around then it will make it difficult to keep its focus on you.
Instead of jumping to training it in distracting environments, it would help to start by training it in an environment without distractions and then to build up to one that is distracting.
You haven’t been training it in small steps
When training your German Shepherd it is important to train it in small steps. If you go from getting it to do something simple straight to something that is difficult then it is unlikely that it will be able to do it.
The main problem with this is that, when using positive reinforcement training, you will want to be rewarding it for succeeding in each stage. If it is not able to do the task then you won’t be able to reward it and it won’t learn what you want.
Instead, it would help to start out by training it to do something easy and then to build up to something more challenging gradually.
You have been using the wrong training method
The reason why it is hard to train might be that you have not been training it in an effective way.
The training method that I would recommend would be positive reinforcement training. This is where you gradually build up to training it to do difficult things by rewarding your German Shepherd each time it does a task correctly.
It might be the case that something in its diet is causing it to struggle to concentrate or that it is not getting the right nutrients. You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding it. If you’re unsure if its diet is causing issues then it would help to consult with your vet.
If you are unsure of what food to get for your German Shepherd, consider getting dog food designed specifically for German Shepherds. You can get a GSD specific dog food on Amazon here and one for GSD puppies on Chewy here.
A lack of exercise
If your German Shepherd is not getting enough exercise then it might be causing it to struggle to keep its focus on you when you are training it.
Generally, it is recommended for them to get an hour of exercise per day. If yours isn’t getting that much then it would help to make sure that it does. You will also likely find that it will be easier to keep its focus on you right after giving it exercise.
Related post: Ways to exercise your German Shepherd.
The training needs to be consistent
It won’t always be the case that you will be able to get your German Shepherd to do what you want on the first attempt. This is why it is important to be consistent with the training. By being consistent you will be able to see much better results over the course of weeks and months.
How to train your German Shepherd
Train it in small steps
When training your German Shepherd it is important not to ask too much of it too soon. If you do ask too much of it then it will be more likely to fail the task and it won’t learn anything.
Instead, it would help to start out with an easy task in an environment without distractions and then to build up to one with distractions.
As an example, I have written about how you can use positive reinforcement training to train your German Shepherd to stay here.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
Give it exercise
As mentioned earlier it is important to give your German Shepherd lots of exercise. If you have a particularly energetic German Shepherd then you will likely find that it will need more than just a walk for an hour. In this case, it would help to train it to play fetch since it will wear it out much more.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
Negative reinforcement training is where you reinforce bad behaviors by giving it things that it wants when it does something wrong. When training your German Shepherd it is very important to avoid rewarding it when it does something wrong. This is why it is helpful to start with easy tasks and then to gradually build up from there.
It might be tempting to punish your German Shepherd for not doing things correctly. However, it would be advised that you avoid doing so. If you do punish it then it will likely not know what you are punishing it for and it will be less likely to listen to you.
If you are unable to train it then you could get the help of a dog trainer who will be able to show you their training methods and you will be able to emulate what they do.
Things to consider
When trying to figure out why your German Shepherd is hard to train, there are some things that you can consider.
When it started being hard to train
If your German Shepherd was not always hard to train then it would help to consider what happened when it started being hard to train.
Things that might have happened could include:
- You changed its diet
- You stopped giving it exercise
- You stopped giving it attention
How old it is
It would also help to consider its age.
If it is still young then it won’t be as easy to get it to keep its focus on you since it will be full of energy. You can make things easier by training it after giving it exercise and using treats to keep its attention on you (while making sure not to reward it when it does it wrong).
If it is older then it will likely take more effort to get it to change its habits. This is why it would help to train it consistently over the course of weeks and months.
When it is easier to train
It would also help to consider if it is easier to train at certain times. If it is then it would help to consider what is different when it is easier to train.
Things that might be different, when it is harder to train, could include:
- You have just fed it (this would suggest something is wrong with its diet)
- It hasn’t gotten any exercise
- There are more distractions around
Most Recommended For German Shepherds
Best German Shepherd Training Program
Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient dog, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now.
Best German Shepherd Guide
Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.