Many people put off training a German shepherd puppy until the dog is an adolescent, believing the puppy to be young to train. The truth is, however, that many German shepherd puppies can start learning commands as young as three or four months.
While many people will hold off training German shepherd puppies until they are nine or ten months old, and spend the early months getting to know one another and building a bond, training can help to build that bond.
Training a German Shepherd Puppy to Lie Down
You should not start training your German shepherd puppy to lie down until he has completely mastered “sit,” otherwise he can get confused between the two and may not understand the difference. Once he has mastered “sit,” however, you can start on “lie down.”
Pick a Command
Pick the command you want to use. “Lie down,” “down,” and “lay down,” are all good, though some owners prefer to pick a word in another language that they can easily remember, but which the dog will only hear in conjunction with your desire for him to lie down, so he is unlikely to get confused about when you are speaking to him and when you are speaking to someone else.
Let Him Sit
Ask him to sit, but do not give him a treat. He should already be weaned off of treats for sitting. Kneel in front of him and use your hands to gently grip his front legs above his elbows. Lift them up and carefully pull them towards you. As you say your command word, lower his legs to the ground so that he is in a lying down position.
Verbal Praise and Treat
Give him verbal praise and a treat, petting him when he is lying down so he knows that is exactly what you want him to do. Do not use force to hold him down—this will frighten him and confuse the training process.
Repeat this process a few times until he starts to understand what you expect from him when you say your command.
Gently Pulling a Leash Down
Once he seems to have a good idea of what you want, put your leash under your foot and say the command, pulling gently on the leash so it pulls him down—again, very gently. Repeat this process until he no longer needs the physical impetus to lay down.
Now that you know the steps, take your German shepherd out and teach him to lie down!