Want to teach your German Shepherd a new trick? The easiest way to get started teaching a dog a new behavior is to use lure-reward training.
You’ll need your dog and a big handful of tasty treats to get started. Start training in a quiet location, away from people and other animals.
Step 1: Use food near your dog’s nose to guide your dog into position (like sit or down, or spin) and feed. Your dog may need to lick or nibble the food while you guide. You can also start luring your dog just part of the way (as in spin or down), and feeding. Then gradually begin to ask the dog to do more before you feed the treat.
Step 2: Once your is following the food into position consistently, put the treat in your other hand. Use your empty hand to guide the dog into position, then reward from your other hand. This way your German Shepherd will discover she doesn’t have to see a treat to do the behavior.
Step 3: Now that your dog happily follows your empty hand into position, add a word (like “Sit” or “Down”). Say the word as you lure your dog with your empty hand, and feed as soon as your dog complies. Repeat this process over a few days, in different locations.
Step 4: Now you’re ready to say the word and pause slightly before you use your hand signal. See if your dog does the behavior. If she doesn’t, help her by doing your empty hand motion. Feed as soon as she performs the behavior. Be sure to say the word only once!
Step 5: With enough repetitions, your dog will do the behavior when you say the word, but before you use your hand signal. Be sure to heavily praise your German Shepherd and feed extra treats at this stage. Eventually, you can fade the motion as you say the word by making your movements smaller and smaller. Practice the behavior again starting at Step 1, in as many new places as possible.