Intelligence and Trainability | The German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent dog, one with a great deal of stamina and a “sharp” mind. In fact, most dog experts will agree that the German Shepherd is one of the most intelligent dogs in the world – certainly it is one of the easiest to train. The German Shepherd has a quick and retentive memory, allowing it to remember commands and words of importance, as well as tricks that you might want to teach him or her. This intelligence is a direct holdover from the days in which the quality of intelligence was necessary for a keen working and herding dog – the German Shepherd had to be logical, attentive, and sharp in order to watch out for the sheep in its custody. While not too many German Shepherds are literal “shepherds” these days, they still maintain the ability to be observant dogs, watching out for those whom they care about, and are quick to respond to stimuli. This makes them very good protectors.
This does not mean, however, that your German Shepherd will come to you magically knowing when to “start” and “stop”, when to “sit” or “lie down” or “roll over.” German Shepherds are fast learners; they are not psychic. So do not be surprised if it takes some time for you and your German Shepherd to learn to understand each other. Also be aware – German Shepherds are learning all the time – so be careful what example you set for your dog. If you are in a bad mood for a few weeks and push away your dog every time he or she comes to you while you're – for example – sitting in front of the television, your dog may “learn” from experience that the dog is not allowed near the television. Likewise, if you're indulgent with your dog about behaviors you'd really rather stop, the dog will “learn” that you are fine with these behaviors.
So respect your dog's intelligence and be sure that you're setting a positive example and offering both positive and negative reinforcements when trying to train your dog. Behavior is partially inherited, but it's also learned, and it's as much your responsibility as it is the breeder's to make sure that you have a “good” dog. “Good” dogs only come from “good” owners. Being a good owner will result in a good German Shepherd.