A new German Shepherd puppy is a bundle of energy, joy, and enthusiasm. They will love you, bite you, kiss you, cuddle with you and roughhouse with you. But they are also a huge responsibility and require the proper care to grow into mature, healthy, well-trained adults. If you are a first time German Shepherd owner and need some tips for how to take care of a new puppy, this list of tips should give you a strong foundation for you and your new dog to flourish.
1. Give Them A Nice Warm Place To Sleep
The first and most obvious care tip is to give your new GSD puppy a nice warm place to sleep preferably in your house. Buying them a crate to sleep in is the best option.
Not only does it provide them with a comfy secure place to rest their little head, it also can be used for crate and potty training which will benefit them in the future.
If you have an extra bedroom to put the crate in, even better. The puppy can have its own little space to run around and play. Give him or her a nice warm blanket and a couple of chew toys to keep them busy.
Can a German Shepherd puppy sleep with you?
You shouldn’t let your new GSD puppy sleep with you in your bed. It needs to understand that you are dominant. It also learns how to be independent when it has its own crate. You can however, keep the crate in your bedroom.
Can they sleep outside or in a kennel?
Young puppies should definitely sleep indoors until they are least one year old. You don’t want to risk them being cold, attacked by other animals or worst case stolen.
This is also the time when they need to be around you and forming a bond. They need to learn how to behave in the house and when it is time to go to bed. This breed especially loves being around people.
2. Give Them Age-Appropriate Food And Plenty Of Water
A German Shepherd puppy will need to eat a high-quality puppy kibble that is rich in nutrients, low in fat, and high in protein. 22% protein is recommended for a growing GSD. They should remain on puppy kibble until they turn one.
The amount of food and frequency of the feedings will depend on their age. This growth chart gives you instructions for exactly how much and how many times you should give your new puppy food throughout the day. It also helps you keep track of their height and weight to make sure they are growing at the standard rate.
A fresh homemade diet consisting of meat, fruits and vegetables is the best choice assuming you have the time to prepare the meals. Research has shown that a fresh diet is easier for dogs to digest than regular puppy kibble.
Important: Make sure that you know which foods are healthy and which foods are toxic for your dog. Certain foods can make them sick.
Use treats sparingly and mainly for training. Make sure that they are healthy and not too fatty. Too many treats can lead to obesity. A general rule of thumb is to not give them more than 10% of their daily calories in treats. Try to stick to 1 or 2 a day.
Make sure to give your new puppy a constant supply of fresh water. German Shepherds a large dogs that require more water than smaller breeds. The average intake of a GSD is 1 ounce per pound of body weight.
3. Crate and Potty Train Them
A new German Shepherd puppy will need to be crate and potty trained early on in their development for the best results.
Crate training your new German Shepherd puppy is the best way to potty train them. It will teach them to sleep in their crate at night while simultaneously teaching them that they can’t go potty where they sleep.
GSDs learn to control their bowel movements 3 weeks after being born. The best time to start potty training them is around 7 or 8 weeks old.
To begin you will need a crate that is the right size for your dog. We recommend getting an adult crate that your German Shepherd can grow into later as an adult. This will prevent you from having to up-size later on.
However, you don’t want your new puppy to have too much room. It will give them more opportunity to go potty in their crate. To prevent this, make sure you buy one with a partition. This will allow you to make their sleeping space smaller.
This will facilitate and make potty training easier since they don’t like to go potty where they sleep. You really only want them to have enough space to stand up and turn around if they need to.
Give your puppy some nice comfortable bedding, like a warm blanket to sleep on. This will also make it easier to potty train as he or she won’t want to go to the bathroom on their bed. Also give them a few pet safe chew toys for comfort.
Teach them to go into the crate at night time. Use a command such as “bed” or “crate” and reward them with a treat when they do. Repeat this until they learn that they need to go into the crate every night for bedtime. Never force them to enter the crate. Let them explore and enter when they feel comfortable.
Make sure to take them outside first thing in the morning to go potty. Try not to give them a chance to go potty in the house. Carry them out quickly if you have to.
You will also want to take them out after drinking, eating, playing, napping or getting really excited. Reward them with praise and a treat when they go potty outside. Take them out one more time for good measure before putting them to bed.
When they are young, they will need to go outside to potty every couple of hours. For instance, an 8 week old puppy will need to relieve themselves every two hours. From there you can just tack on a half an hour for every two weeks older they get.
By the time they are 16 weeks old, they will only need to go out for a potty break every 4 hours. You can also apply this time frame for the number of hours you can crate your puppy during the day. They can also stay in their crate to sleep at night.
It shouldn’t take too long to potty train your German Shepherd. There will of course be some accidents but stay patient. They are quick learners. Watch them closely and make sure to take them out quickly if you sense they are about to go potty.
4. Socialize Them Early On
Socializing your GSD puppy early on is so important for their temperament in the future. The more they are used to other animals and people at an early age, the more comfortable they will be around pets and other strangers when they grow up.
Time is tight for socialization and experts say that you have about a 15 week window from the time they are born to instill socialization into their development. This means you should really focus on socialization from the period of 8 weeks until they are almost 4 months old.
What is Socialization:
Socialization means getting your new puppy used to interacting with as many people, places and things as possible. This will keep them more well behaved in new environments. This reduces the chance of your dog biting or jumping on someone as well.
How To Socialize:
- Introduce them to new sights that they haven’t seen before. Try to get them comfortable around a variety of people including different ages, gender and races. Make sure they are around children as well as other pets, people and especially dogs.
- Introduce them to new loud sounds. Get them used to the sound of doors closing, blow dryers, hair clippers, lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners. Also let them get familiar with the sound of cars, trucks and motorcycles.
- Show them lots of new objects. This can be a variety of different things including brooms, mirrors, mops, vacuums, toys and more.
- Take them on daily walks. This is a great way for them to encounter new noises, smells, pets and other people. Take them on new routes to change things up. The distance will depend on their age.
- Take them to new places in your car. Some good examples include the dog park, your friend’s house, or any local dog friendly events. The vet is another good place to get them used to other animals and people.
Important Note: Make sure that your puppy is fully vaccinated before they are in any public places around other animals or people.
Rule of Thumb: A good goal to shoot for is to make sure that your new GSD puppy is around at least 100 people in the first 100 days of their life.
5. Teach Them The Basic Commands
Teaching your new German Shepherd puppy the basic commands is essential early on. The older they get, the harder it becomes to teach them the basic word commands that they will need to know to be obedient and behave properly around you and other people.
You can start with 5 basic commands that every dog should learn early on in their development. We recommend training them when they are two months old.
5 Basic Commands:
- “Come” – This is a must to get your dog to come to you immediately when you call them. This is very important, especially when you are around other animals or people that your dog is unfamiliar with.
- “Down” – Teaching them to lay down is the next progression from sit. It gives you more control of your dog and they are less likely to make a run for it. It can also be upgraded to roll over.
- “Heel” – This is very important for going on walks and running with your dog. They need to learn when to slow down, walk calmly by your side and stop. This will keep them from running in front of you.
- “No” – No can be used for a myriad of reasons. This all-purpose command can be used to keep them from biting, chewing or scratching etc.
- “Off” – You definitely don’t want your dog jumping on any visitors you might have over to the house. This will also prevent them from lying on any furniture that is off limits.
- “Sit” – This is probably the first command you will teach your dog and one of the most basic. This will teach them to be patient when you are giving them a treat or about to go for a walk.
- “Stay” – Stay is a little more difficult to master but it will pay off. This is a must for when you are outside with your dog. Also, they won’t run off if they get loose in the street.
Teaching your GSD puppy these basic commands is pretty self-explanatory. Use positive reinforcement training by rewarding them with praise and a treat when they obey a command. Never punish them for not obeying a command.
Consistency and repetition are key. Stay patient and remember, German Shepherds are extremely smart animals with a high level of trainability.
If you need some help with these basic commands, you can check out this training article.
Any first time German Shepherd owner should do their homework and research how to take care of a new puppy. These tips should help you get started and teach you some of the most basic and necessary principles to raise a smart, healthy and obedient GSD.
Remember training is crucial early on for developing their future temperament. Start as early as possible and be consistent teaching them new commands for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any experience with training this breed of puppy? What tip would you give a first time German Shepherd owner? Let us know! We would love to hear your personal advice for someone with a new dog!