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German Shepherd Corner

German Shepherd Training: The 7 Golden Rules & Basic Commands

I’m sure you’ll agree when I say:

A well trained dog is a pleasure to have around. If you own an untrained pooch you know the frustration it causes.

Whether you’ve just brought home your first German Shepherd. Or if you’ve finally decided it’s time to teach your old dog new tricks…

You’ve come to the right place to get the 101 on German Shepherd training.

German Shepherd Training

It’s no secret that German Shepherd’s are highly intelligent dogs

It is a fact that German Shepherd’s are among brightest and most intelligent working dogs.

Preceded only by the Border Collie and the Standard Poodle.

This is according to a book published by Stanley Coren in 1994 “The Intelligence of Dogs”.

You can read more about his study and the metrics here.

Thanks to their ability to understand new commands in less than 5 repetitions and obeying a first command 95% of the time or more.

And the desire to please you; most owners can succeed at training their dog on their own.

Because of their intelligence, German Shepherds can sometimes be stubborn. They need a firm hand and an smart approach to their training.

Training your German Shepherd is exciting. But sometimes dog training can seem overwhelming if you don’t even know where to begin.

So here’s the deal:

You’ve got to get inside your German shepherd’s head…

And I’m about to show you exactly how you can do this:

Use these 7 Golden Rules when teaching your German Shepherd to make training easy and fun but above all successful…

The 7 Golden Rules to German Shepherd Training

  1. Your Dog has a Built-in-Breed Specific Function

Your German Shepherd comes from a long bloodline of working dogs. In the case of the GSD the breed specific function is herding and guarding. German Shepherds also make excellent sniffer dogs and excel in search and rescue. And in the wild each member of the pack understands their duty to work for food and water.

Your dog still understands that today.

The bottom line is:

Your German Shepherd wants to be busy. Training is like killing two birds with one stone.

You have a polite and obedient dog while your pooch gets the stimulation and work environment he craves.

  1. Your Dog is not a Person, Your Dog is a Reflection of You

Your Dog is a Reflection of You!

Your Dog is a Reflection of You!

As humans we personify everything we love including our beloved dogs.  And in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with that.

As long as we remember that our dogs operate on instincts.  And our emotions affect those instincts.

For example…

There’s this Staffie names Apollo that has hydrotherapy on the same day as Charley.

Now, Apollo and Charley hate each other.  None of us are sure why though!

So, a few weeks ago Charley was at her weekly hydrotherapy session when Apollo strolled past her massage mat.

The moment I saw him I tensed up.  And within a split second Charley, who has just had hip surgery, jumped up on all fours and started barking madly.

She’s never had a problem with any of the other dogs around there.  Even the owners 2 Jack Russell’s hang around her with no problems.

Both myself and the therapist never saw it coming.  But looking back now, I should have known…

Charley was reacting on her instincts.

But…

My emotions played a big role in her final reaction.  Charley was responding to me, but the results were not positive. Because I was tense and worried.

You may be wondering what you can do to encourage your GSD to respond to you in a positive way.

Which brings us to the next golden rule…

  1. Your dog has one basic need – Understand this and training will be a breeze

See that cute puppy snuggled up on your sofa? See that old dog that needs to learn new tricks?

They look to you for guidance…

And Here’s the trick:

The most valuable thing you can do for your dog is to show him that you are a good leader.  If you’re thinking good leadership is establishing yourself as an ‘alpha’ – you’re wrong.

Your dog knows you’re not a dog and so will never see you as a dog or an alpha.

Being a good leader means your GSD can and will always look to your for guidance.

Think about it…

If your pooch is looking to you for guidance they feel comfortable and safe and that creates an environment of trust.

Being a good leader is about using brains over brawn to teach your German Shepherd.

  1. Your Dog does not communicate like a human

Your German Shepherd will respond to many different stimuli. Your body language and tone of voice being the two most important. In time, your dog will understand certain commands such as “sit”, “stay” and “come”, “drop” etc.

But, dogs only understand single direct commands. Use language your dog will understand. Calm, simple commands and body language will make your message crystal clear.

  1. Your Dog wants you to be consistent

For dogs, everything is black and white – they don’t understand compromise. Remember this and you’ll have less bad habits to break. Training your German Shepherd will be easier.

Here’s an example of the types of mistakes owners make:

Change verbal commands from “come” to “come here” keep your verbal commands consistent throughout.

If you’re trying to keep your pooch off the sofa, be consistent. If you allow it sometimes and other times not, you’ll confuse your dog and slow down the training.

How can you expect your dog to learn if you’re not consistent?

  1. Get Your German Shepherd’s Full Attention

You must have your dog’s full attention before he’ll learn anything. Pick a quite place, with little or no distractions. To begin with, your back yard is the best place since the smells are familiar and so also the surroundings.

If you were in a park for instance; you have no control over the distractions. Like other dogs and their owners, the scent of other animals, children playing or a Frisbee whizzing by.

Once both you and your dog are confident in the training, then you can step it up by moving it to a place with more distractions.

  1. Positive Reinforcement produces positive results

Your German Shepherd will respond best to training with positive reinforcement. Yelling or physical punishment will cause this intelligent breed to mistrust you.

Reward good behavior with treats or praise or both. It’s the best way to show your German Shepherd that he’s doing it right and it’s a motivator for him to continue with this behavior.

Remember earlier when I said that your German Shepherd actually wants to please you?

Well, once your dog has mastered the behavior, you can remove the treats and reward only with praise – he’ll relish in it all the same.

You know by now that there are heaps of different training programs. Each program has a specific focus, function and outcome.

We’ll take a closer look at some of these in future posts. So for now let’s look at two basic programs…

What is obedience training and why your dog needs it?

The sole purpose of obedience training is to teach your German Shepherd how to act at home and in social settings. Socializing, house training and basic sit, stay and recall commands will fall into this category.

Obedience training is essential to avoid the development of behavior problems early on. It’s also the only way to fix bad habits and behavior that have already developed.

What is trick training and why your dog needs it?

After you have established engagement in training and your German Shepherd has the basics under the belt. You should consider stepping things up with trick training.

Trick training will boost your dog’s confidence. It is also a great motivator and builds a strong bond between owner and dog.

Trick training will stimulate and challenge your German Shepherd. Remember, a German Shepherd has the capacity and intelligence to do just about any trick you can imagine. Just check out this video:

Let’s look at three of the most important obedience skills you should teach your German Shepherd straight off the bat:

Without these three skills, you’ll struggle to train your German Shepherd. Master these and the sky’s the limit…

The 3 Essential Skills you must Teach Your Dog

German Shepherd Training Master the Basics

Your dog must master these basics first

His Name:

If your dog doesn’t recognize or respond to his name, training him will be impossible.

Your German Shepherd will learn to recognize his name by hearing it a lot.

Use it often and in an excited tone when you speak to him or give him attention.

When he begins to recognize and respond to his name make a fuss over him and lavish him with praise.

“Come!”:

A simple way to train your German Shepherd to come is start while he’s doing something else like playing.

  • As soon as he looks up and acknowledges you, call his name.
  • When he starts moving towards you, say the word “come”. Once he reaches you, lavish him with a treat and praise – make a fuss and tell him what a good boy he is. Whether he’s prompted to come or if he comes out of his own, he learns the association. So saying the word “come” when he is approaching you just reinforces the behavior you want.
  • In the event that your German Shepherd resists coming when he’s beckoned, you’ll need to enlist the help of a long leash. Take him outside on the leash and allow him to wonder a little distance away from you.
  • Then kneel down and call his name. As soon as he gives you his attention say the word “come”. Give the leash a gentle tug and repeat the command if he doesn’t respond. But be careful not to be too forceful. Be patient and keep trying until he gets the message.
  • Again, once he arrives offer a treat and lavish him liberally with praise. Keep practicing on the leash until the desired response becomes routine, then try it again off the leash.

Remember, the recall command is the most important thing you can teach your dog. It may save his life one day.

“Sit!”:

To start out you’ll need treats for training your German Shepherd to sit, once the behavior has become second nature you won’t need the treat anymore.

Keep reading to see how…

  • When your dog is standing in front of you hold the treat just out of his reach. If he jumps up, you’re holding it too high – lower your treat hand.
  • Your German Shepherd will keep eye contact with the treat at all times and you’re going to make use of this focus.
  • Now move your treat hand as though you’re going to move it over your dog’s head towards his tail but be mindful to keep it in line with his nose.
  • The natural response will be for your dog to drop his behind so that he can keep eye contact with the treat. As soon as his butt hits the ground, give him the treat and liberal praise.
  • At this point of the game, you won’t be adding the word “sit” just yet. Keep practicing this without the command and only introduce the word after a couple of days.

Soon your dog will sit for food, treats and love without you even having to say the word “sit”.

A note of warning here, I do not recommend pushing your dog on his back or tail area to teach the “sit” command, for two reasons…

Pushing on your dog could lead to injury of the back, hips or hind legs if you do it too hard – rather safe than sorry.

Your dog could also experience this as something negative, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

It’s always better to train your German Shepherd to perform the desired behavior without too much physical interference.

So, there you have the 101 of German Shepherd training to get you started. With this new understanding your pooch will be well on his way to a reliable and well behaved dog.

The key take aways here are:

  • For effective German Shepherd training, you must be a good leader in your dog’s life.
  • Leadership is about using brains and NOT brawn to train your German Shepherd.
  • Understand what your dog is not (a human), learn to speak your dog’s language and get inside his head.
  • Always be patient and consistent with your training and reinforcement.
  • Aggressive methods are not effective when training your German Shepherd. You will see little to no results, it will cause trust issues and you’ll break your dog’s spirit. Always be kind!
  • Positive reinforcement and training will bring quicker, long lasting results. And build a strong relationship of trust and love between you and your German Shepherd.

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98 comments… add one

  • michael

    I loved reading this artical, hope you have some for high strung puppies thats always on the go. She drives me crazy at times.

    • Hi Michael,

      Ha! I can totally relate!

      I’ve mentioned this to other readers here…

      I’m putting something up that will be ready by Sunday 3 July that will help with your high energy pup.

      R

  • Miles

    Hi,

    Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how impressed/thankful I am for you. You created an amazing resource for GSD and other dog owners out there. More than that, you’ve given me a new benchmark for what my relationship with my GSD could be like. I still can’t even believe that video I watched – it’s incredible. I have never seen a dog with a drive and energy like that and, of course, his training is equally unbelievable.

    I rescued my GSD about a year ago when he was around 18 months. The poor guy didn’t have a name, couldn’t sit/stay, or do just about anything. I didn’t even hear him bark for the first two months.

    Since then, I’ve spent thousands of hours reading about dog theory and working with him on everything from the basics to some more advanced stuff. He is wholeheartedly a different dog today. He’s obedient, happy, confident, etc.

    All that being said, I would like to get your advice and maybe even a future article on a problem I have.

    I consistently practice most everything you talk about above. I do basic sit, down, down to sit, stay, release, come, heel work everyday. He knows “up” for the truck or surfaces, “off” people/objects, “search” for little rodents and animals, “passhof” for growling, working on “speak” (I can’t get that one unless he’s already wining or to keep him barking). I have him stay 5-10 minutes before he can eat every meal. Etc.

    The problem I have is more serious. It’s about the connection between me and my dog. I know training is supposed to be fun for the dog. I feel like I’m often too serious and rigid, so I’m working on being more positive. I want to have that playful relationship with my dog like you have. Or something 1/2 as good.

    I feel like my dog doesn’t listen when I’m positive though. It’s almost like I have to be Mr Serious to get him to do anything beyond sit/stay that’s mildly advanced. Take my walks with him for example. If I tell him “heel” in a positive voice he gets all excited and walks faster. Literally the opposite of what I tell him. Same if I say “good heel”; he’ll immediately break the heel. But, if I say it in a serious voice he’ll heel properly. So what’s the big deal, right? ‘Just say it in a serious voice’ someone might say… But, I think the bigger underlying problem is I don’t have that electric connection with my dog necessary to go to the next level. The type of connection separating a well trained dog from an amazing dog like you have.

    I know he loves and respects me, and obviously I love him too. I just get really frustrated recently because I feel like the training can’t go anywhere until I solve this issue. It can’t be serious all the time. It’s got to be fun and he’s got to want to do it. I see that connection between Schutzhund handlers or people like you and dogs and I really want that. I want him to want to heel next to me. Not just because I told him to. I want that deep level of connection and training where most people will never go with their dogs.

    So what should I do? Could it be possible I’ll never have that because my dog’s temperament or drive?

    Thanks in advance. Sorry I wrote a damn essay!

    • Hi Miles,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Okay, so it sounds to me like the underlying problem here is your boy is reaching his threshold of excitiement very quickly. And funnily enough I’ve had about 10 comments on my blog in the last week where this is the underlying issue.

      The short version of my advise is for you to go back a few steps and teach your boy to control his excitement. You can’t control it for him, you’ve got to give him the tools to do it himself, and it is possible.

      i’m going to share something about this because as I said many of the readers on this blog are struggling with the same thing. If you hold out, it’ll be ready by Sunday 3 July. I’ll drop you a comment here with the link.

      R

      • Alice Schaffner

        I just adopted a 1year old German Shepherd she has no training took 2 day to get her walking with lead comfortable she has learned to sit but how do I get her into the down position she not understanding any advice

        • Hi Alice,

          Good on you for inviting a fully grown GSD into your home. We need more people like you to help get this breed out of shelters. They don’t cope very well in places like that.

          It sounds like you’ve got a bright girl on your hands, from what I can tell she’s very responsive to you, this is a great sign.

          You can get her to sit by keeping a treat close to her nose and then moving it slowly to the ground so it ends up between her paws. Her nose will follow the treat. As soon as she’s down, release the treat as a reward for her.

          Of course you’ve got a whole lot of training on your hands still to come. If you’re interested in force-free, kind training I’d like to suggest a good training program I often recommend. It’s called Brain Training for Dogs and it’s made up of all the basic training behaviors which your girl needs.

          And it also has 21 great games for your girl to develop her mental agility. You’ll need all the basic training first to make the mental games a success. I own the program too and use it to teach my dogs fun game to keep them on their toes. GSD’s need a lot of stimulation to avoid destructive behavior and even depression.

          Check out the review I wrote to see if you’re interested and to make an informed decision. Brain Training for Dogs.

          I hope this helps. If you have other questions, just drop them in the comments.

          Chat soon.

  • morning,
    It was an informative article. I did learn some. I have been in many classes (Nose work 1,2,3 and traveling nose work, tested for ORT but got only one odor, obedience, reactive, agility, good manners classes) for my GSD that I purchased 2013 knowing she was fearful at 5 mths. Now signed up for traveling nose work and CGC but will most likely fail due to the hand shake with a person who has a dog. We have gotten past pretty much all but DOGS. She does have dog friends and I have brought a 1 year GSD in our home in Feb 2016 who is loves after a 15 min intro. I had to let my Siberian husky go in first for to see it was safe and walk them out in the open for about 15 min. They get along extremely well. We have been in steady classes since I got her as I was able to see there was something my 15 years ago dog class was not going to cover. I have not given up on her but I am not sure what else to do? I am open to any idea? Thanks!

    • Hi Marietta!

      Thanks for sharing your comment here!

      I can so relate to your situation. My 9 year old GSD Charley is a fearful dog too. She has been since I got her at age 18 months. Sadly, her background before me was very abusive which either contributed to or caused her fearfulness, which translates into dog-aggression. When I brought my GSD Ze home at 12 weeks she almost killed him!

      What I noticed with her after many, many attempt to help her overcome her fearfulness towards other dogs is two-fold.

      One: Charley is very much influenced by the vibes I give off in a tricky (dog) situation. The more anxious I am the more her dog-aggression shows. The calmer I am, the calmer and more focused on me she’ll be.

      I find being aware of what I’m thinking helps a lot. If I find myself imagining how badly a situation when facing another dog can end Charley immediately becomes edgy. But if I’m calm – in breathing, movements and voice the situation immediately changes to a more positive one.

      Two: Sometimes we as owners need to understand the limitations our dogs have and help them to live life to the fullest within the parameters they are comfortable with. In Charley’s case that means I need to think about the upcoming situation and plan accordingly. If it’s an unplanned situation like bumping into a dog while out walking I need to read her and anticipate what’s about to happen. And, if I can tell she’s not going to do well I’ll nicely tell the other dog owner that my dog is not comfortable and move on.

  • Curtis

    Hi, I like the blog thanks for the great advice. I am a new GSD owner I have a little boy names Bo Jangers who is now 5 months old (got him at 8-9weeks). He seemed to be a very fast eager learner at first; potty trained in a few days, sit, stay, and come learned fast but are now the problem. He has absolutely learned the commands, but chooses to follow them on his terms. I have removed distractions, tried treats/toys etc. but he seems to be more and more stubborn. I walk him twice a day, I live on two fenced acres with another 12 yr old border collie that he has taken to and he gets plenty of exercise mostly me hitting a ball with a tennis racket until he’s had enough…. I’m not quite sure how to keep him engaged with the training. Is it just more time needed? I’m consistent with my commands and try to be also of my demeanor…. It seems like he’s just testing me ALL the time! lol any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Curtis

    • Hi Curtis!

      Thanks for sharing your scenario here. It’s great to see more and more German Shepherd owners taking care in their dog’s training!

      What you’re experiencing is very common. Like you say Bo has figured it out. This is especially true for the highly intelligent German Shepherd.

      My advice is to start working with reinforcement schedules. This will keep Bo on his toes. You can read about how that works in this article: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/dog-learning-lupos-guide-german-shepherd-learns/

      I do suggest you read the whole article, even although it’s clear you use positive reinforcement. There’s a stack of useful information there. But to start resolving Bo anticipating the treats, just skip to “Reinforcements Schedule”.

      Rewards are ultimately phased out of training once the behavior is mastered. They should only be used to teach the behavior. It sounds like Bo is checking out and doing his own thing because he knows what’s coming next.

      Your next goal should be to start teaching Bo new and more complex behaviors. But before you start, first phase out treats/toys with the behaviors he already knows.

      In essence, you want to retrain him again on the behaviors he already knows – sit, stay and come.

      The key is to use the highest value treats here. You can ask Bo what his favorite treat is, just check out the section “The Power of Food in Dog Learning” in the article I mentioned above.

      So why should you retrain him with the highest vale treats?

      Because you’re asking him to do something he knows inside out. He’s not going to do this for cheap! I know retraining him sounds counter-intuitive, but, you need to remove the habit of anticipation in Bo, keep him thinking and working. Remember, the German Shepherd is a working dog first and foremost.

      Start fading out the treats soon after you see he’s engaged, on his toes and mentally stimulated. You always want to be one step ahead. One of the secrets with training a German Shepherd is to always quit before you dog has had enough.

      Then you can go ahead and start teaching new, more complex behaviors.

      Feel free to leave any questions in the comments. I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon,
      R

  • Lana Griffin

    Hi there

    I found this pretty useful, however I have a white shepherd and I have only just got her at almost three years of age. Although a extremely beautiful and loyal dogi, she as bonded with me instantly, she was never socialised or trained in anyway and is extremely fearful, of well just about everything… She is coming along nicely though and is pretty much a different dog to what we started with :-) however as she has also never had any training at all I am finding it very tough to get her to do even the basics of sit ( I have grown up with dogs and trained many in agility and all forms of obedience) I have taken a very, very mild approach with her and have given positive reinforcement, she is not food or prey driven which makes it difficult, she also doesn’t get overly excited more tends to be very mellow. I know that it has only been a few days five to be exact that I have had her but I would like to make training a daily part of our routine and don’t want to set her up to fail.
    Any help would be appreciated

    Kind regards
    L

    • Hi Lana!

      Thanks for sharing here!

      Sounds like your girl finds herself in very good hands – lucky girl!

      So, now you’ve had her for 7 days. And she’s probably still trying to find her ‘paws’ in her new surroundings. I can relate to your situation to an extent. My girl Charley came to live with us at the age of 6. She was abused by her breeder and in some ways he broke her spirit. So she was terrified of everything. It’s taken me 3 years to get her to the point where her beautiful personality shines through. I’m sure your journey with your girl won’t take as long. :)

      The first thing I did with Charley was to build up her confidence by doing things she was not frightened of. I couldn’t bring in any toys because she would run a mile or flinch if I threw a ball or frisbee. So we worked on the basics like sit, stay, down, heel etc. She’s still not very prey driven but I did figure out how to boost her drive for food. Which was the tipping point in working with her. I’ll get to that in a second. But it might be worth noting that your girl could be driven by physical affection to begin with or even exercise like a walk in the woods or at the park. So try those out too.

      The truth is all dogs are driven by something. It’s just a matter of figuring out what that is. And sometimes with mellow dogs, abused dogs or adult dogs with little or no training background this might take some time.

      I got Charley’s food drive up by figuring out which kind of treats held the highest value for her. I wrote about it in this article. Skip to the part “the power of food in dog learning”. There you’ll find the steps to help your girl tell you what she values most in treats.

      Once I figured this out, I used these treats only during training sessions. Even today, she only has access to dried liver treats when we’re working. Once you know what she’ll work for I suggest starting with the basic obedience which sounds to me like you know very well.

      This will build her confidence. And once her confidence is up you can slowly start desensitizing her to the things she’s frightened of. You can see a very useful graphic of how this works here. Just jump to the section of counter conditioning. Here I suggest going really, really slow. Help her not to become overwhelmed. If you notice she’s shutting down or becoming frightened, stop the training session or steer it in a different direction.

      As you know, in training in agility and obedience baby steps are always the best. Setting your dog up for success will always build their confidence and that’s what you want to do for her.

      Once you get started with this, please let me know if you have any questions as you go forward – I’m always happy to help.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Māria

    Had to transition my first 9 1/2 year old female GSD a few months ago. Despite some major life struggles that she saw me through, it is losing her here, that has been my hardest , most anguished experience that I have ever faced! Now I am very blessed to have reached a point in my healing to love a new GSD puppy and embrace this little ones own individualality! To commit to another GSD to me, is a tribute to how wonderful my deceased girl was and in doing so is also coming from a drive for me to commit to this outstanding intelligent, energetic affectionate,breed and welfare of!
    I am so excited to have found this forum as I am just potty training my new little girl! Thank you so much for sharing your profound wisdom!!!!

    • Hi Māria,

      Your comment has struck a cord with me. My Charley is turning 9 in a few weeks. On Friday our vet found a tumor in her abdomen. She’s having it removed tomorrow. I’m positive she’ll be fine!

      But losing a dog that has been there through thick and thin is a painful experience. And I’m sorry for your loss.

      It’s lovely that you’re at the point where you have let another beauty into your life. And you’re so right that it’s a tribute to your girl that has crossed over the rainbow bridge.

      I’m so please this article has helped you with potty training your new little girl. If you haven’t already, you should consider getting my potty training guide. It’s only a few buck and well worth it. I’ve used the same method to train my German Shepherds since my first boy – Lupo. And many of the readers here at GSC have had the same success.

      Here’s a link to the Potty Training Guide, if you’re interested in checking it out.

      If you have any questions just leave them in the comments, I’m always happy to help.

  • ikechukwu

    This article is awesome .I got a cross breeded German Shepherd puppy and I was happy .I went online to check how to train it and I came across this site .thanks a lot you God sent.. Its really work when I put it on practice and it’s doing fine

    • Hi Ikechukwu,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You made my day! I’m so pleased you’ve found value here. It means I’m doing something right.

      If you have questions as you progress forward with your training, feel free to drop me a comment, I always respond and I’m happy to help.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • George

    Hi, just stumbled across this website and thought id give it a go asking a few questions if you dont mind…..its abit of story so bare with me here.

    Weve always had German Shepherds as theyre the best dog their is, each one has been fantastic with our kids and always an excellent temprement however our current 4 year old white coated boy is doing something none of our previous shepherds have done. Hes extremely anxious, not at home but when we take him to our kids school for example tie his leash to a tree he constantly barks until we return where we duly get a telling off lol once we start to walk away from the school he goes back to being fine again.

    This also occurs when he sees another dog and because of his size people read it as aggression which as you know yourself im sure when you know the personality traits of your own dog you know when its aggression and when its a “hey come n see me” type bark.

    A friend of my wife walks to the school with her to and from each day and she also has a dog (boxer) and they get on great. It seems his anxiety has increased as we use to have a older male named Butch who sadly passed away in August 2016.

    We spoke to our vet and they said it could be hes grieving the loss of Butch as we got Max when he was just 8 weeks old. We were looking into getting him ‘done’ to see if that would calm him but it did nothing for our previous dogs and infact our vet recommended we get another dog as a companion for Max, we were undecided as it was abit soon after Butch passed away and it felt abit like we were simply replacing him which would be impossible as he was such a great dog.

    However for Max’s sake and ours to be honest as were so used to having two boys we went ahead and got ourselves a pup (8 weeks old) black and tan boy named Teddy, at present weve only had him two days and Max has taken to him fantastically well the excitement on his face when we bought him home was a joy to see as he has been a sad shadow of himself since his buddy passed away.

    Im hoping this will go some way to help Max’s anxiety although im worried it may increase it as he will want to protect the pup as it is his half brother also (same father) just wondering if there is any tips i can grab off yourselves to help mend his broken heart and calm his anxiety.

    Thanks, appreciate any advice you can give

    George

    • Hey George,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your scenario. I’m always happy to help, so no worries.

      I’m sorry to hear about your loss of Butch. It’s so difficult to lose a best friend. I’m pleased you’ve opened up your home to a new best friend and I think it was the right move for Max too.

      It sounds like a lot has happened in your household recently and also in Max’s life.

      The first thing I’d say is don’t neuter him yet. Because so much has happened recently and because you’ve got a new best friend for Max I think adding a general anesthetic experience and desexing him would be an extra load he doesn’t need right now.

      Rather hang on with that and see how Max gets on. I think now that Max has a buddy again you might not need to consider neutering at all once things calm down. Also, in my opinion, I prefer neutering males much later. Since you know the breed so well, you know that males can take up to 5 years to mature fully. I believe keeping their hormones balanced into maturity is a smart move.

      I have a couple of questions regarding his anxiety. If you could drop your answers in an email to me it’ll make it easier for me to help out.

      Was Max socialized to be comfortable around groups of people and in situations out in public or anywhere else he’s displaying separation anxiety?

      Did Max and Butch hang around together when you folks went out to the school for example? Or has Max always accompanied you alone with Butch staying behind at home?

      With regards to your concerns about Max wanting to protect Teddy, I’d keep those concerns on the back burner for now. Let’s figure out how we can help Max deal with what’s in front of you now.

      Here’s my email rosemary[at]germanshepherdcorner.com

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Alex Onwugbene

    I need training skills for my GSD posted to my mail box. He is only 3weeks old.

    • Hi Alex,

      I need to ask, why do you have a 3 week old puppy? I hope it wasa typo in your comment.

      It’s not healthy for a puppy to be taken away from its mother before a minimum of 6 weeks. With GSD’s I recommend 8 to 12 weeks. Unless you have some serious skills in raising a bottlefed puppy your puppy will either survive and have terrible health problems his entire life, or your puppy could die.

      Please, if your puppy is 3 weeks old and no longer with his/her mother, take my advice and go to a vet or an experienced shelter. Ask them to help you riase the pup or even better, leave the pup there until it’s at least 8 weeks old.

      Yes, that will cost money, but it’s the only way you’re going to have a healthy puppy in the future or even a puppy at all.

      also, if you haven’t done so already, sign up for ‘Dog Speak’. So once your pup’s healthy and strong, you’ll be the first to know about the latest articles. Also, you’ll gain insights into how you can apply the latest, cutting edge training methods into training your GSD.

      Here’s the link: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/sign-up-for-dog-speak/

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Daniel

    Hi. me and my girlfriend are thinking about getting a shepherd. we live in an apartment but we have alot of woods and stuff close to us plus I want to go out for long walks and jogs whenever I can. do you think that even if we live in a fairly small appartment for now, that we can take care of a shepherd and make her feel well?

    • Hi Daniel,

      German Shepherds are working dogs first and foremost even if you decide on a show line dog. They have high drives that need to be stimulated or they can become destructive and even depressed. Whether you live in an apartment, a house with a yard or even a farm, the commitment is big.

      If you want to invite a German Shepherd into your life and you live in an apartment, you’ll need to resolve to give your dog the stimulation he or she needs everyday. So for example, those walks or runs will need to happen everyday. Or daily trips to the dog park if you have one nearby.

      Just to give you an idea, my dogs need at least 90 minutes of physical play everyday and then there’s the mental stimulation and formal training sessions too.

      I’m not saying you can’t have a GSD while living in an apartment because there are people who have large yards who neglect the physical needs of their dog. So I think it’s more a case of how committed the owners are rather than the size of their home.

      But I do suggest you and your girlfriend sit down and work out a schedule, see how much time you both have available to ensure your girl gets what she needs everyday to be a happy well-balanced dog.

  • Heather Chappell

    My German Shepherd puppy is 11 months now. I got her as a rescue at 13 weeks. Her training is coming along, but I have noticed that she shies away with tail between legs and a low growl from certain women, whose only similarity has been large earrings! I am wondering if she had a bad experience before she came to me. And I wonder how to help her get past this f

    • Hi Heather,

      It’s very possible that your observation is correct. I have a similar experience with my GSD Charley. She was severely abused before she came into our lives and she is reactive to large men with gray hair.

      You could try to desensitize and recondition her using the method in this article. This method is used very successfully to curb barking but it can be used to help dogs get over other issues too. Further down the article is a great visual graphic you can use to follow the method. Just substitute the mail van for women with big earrings.

      Or, if possible and practical you could ask any visitors with large earrings to remove them.

      In Charley’s case, no amount of desensitizing and reconditioning has made her 100% comfortable with men that fit the description. She is less reactive but still shows some fear. I’ve made peace with that and respect her comfort zone. I help her by actively managing any situation that arises where she feels uncomfortable.

      I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Debbie. Rodríguez

    I have female Gsd that we rescued when she was a year old. We’ve had her for about 7 months. She’s doing well with her training we just can’t get her to stop jumping on people when they walk in the door. She just gets so excited. Do you have any suggestions

    • Hi Debbie!

      Jumping up is a behavior that has a lot to do with triggers and thresholds. So your girl is triggered because she’s excited to meet guests and this send her over her threshold.

      I should write an article dealing with jumping but for now, here’s how I think you should work with your girl…

      The key is to teach all 4’s on the floor. You want to avoid jumping behavior from happening. You’ll need to prep your guests for this training and show them what to do.If she does jumps, they should turn their bodies away from her. And their faces too. Give no attention until all her paws are firmly on the ground.

      Ideally you want to stop the behavior before it happens.

      So, until your girl is 100% reliable in not jumping you need to carry a bunch of treats around with you. Each time your dog has all 4’s on the floor, drop a few treats. She’s got to have all 4 paws on the ground to eat the treats – which reinforces her to keep her paws on the ground. You can do this at any time you see her with all 4 paws on the ground. This training method is called capturing. So basically you’re capturing behavior you want when you see it. When you have guests, give them a bunch of treats too and let them join in the capturing.

      If you see she’s about to jump drop treats before she does. If you miss the cue you’ll be reinforcing the jumping. So be aware of her facial and body language. She must have all 4’s on the ground.

      Get started ASAP because she’s already 7 months old and German Shepherds are big powerful dogs, even the females.

      Let me know if this is helpful and if you have other questions.

      Chat soon.

  • Donna Charles

    Hi. I have had three GS in my life. My last one, Dakota, died back in April at age 11. She was a rescue found starving on the streets of Atlanta. My fourth, Cheyenne, is the problem. Also a rescue, she was never socialized (neither was Dakota so she hated other dogs and I just accepted that was her and would make her do commands like heel, sit etc if we saw another dog til it passed us or we passed it. But Cheyenne was just 14 montjs when we got her months old when we got her and we have just had her 2 months. She too hates dogs and was one of the reasons they let us adopt her. After her owner relinquished her for “being too high energy” she was kenneled for some months in the back away from all the other dogs. She is housebroken, I’ve taught her sit, stay, wait for her food and she is learning down. The problem is she is SO headstrong. We established ourselves as the leaders of the pack but sometimes she comes (96% of the time) and sometimes she doesn’t. And we live on a mountain and not only does she go completely berserk if we encounter a dog but also deer. She pulls, twists, barks – there is no getting thru to her. Totally disses me. I’ve taught her using soft training treats but that also is the problem. When I’m working with her she is totally focused on the treat and not me. If I put it up on the counter, she stares at it instead of me. If I put it in my hand, she will break out of sit to smell my hand. I can’t keep her attention. I’ve never had such a strong willed dog. Even Dakota barked etc at other dogs but Cheyenne goes from window to window running thru the house and I can’t get thru to her. She knows her name but we have lots of deer up here and it’s getting tiresome so we have resorted to either leaching her in the house or putting her in her crate til they go away. Please help

    • Hi Donna,

      I’m so sorry to hear about Dakota, she sounds like she had a wonderful life with you. I’m happy that you invited Cheyenne into your life and I’m sure you both are too.

      Firstly, I wouldn’t worry too much about establishing yourself as a pack leader. It’s been scientifically proven that dogs don’t count humans as park of their pack. What dogs do need is a kind, loving leader who’s willing to show them the ropes of living side by side with their human best friends. And it sounds to me like you’re already doing a great job with this.

      From what I can tell Cheyenne does have a high drive. Her previous owner was just too ignorant to realize what a wonderful dog she is. And a dog with high drive is a challenge but it’s so rewarding.

      The thing with dogs, especially high drive dogs – which most GSD’s are – is they need to be taught how to control their impulses. By teaching her sit, stay and wait for her food, you’re already on the right track.

      I recommend reading this article on triggers and thresholds which will give you a great foundation for understanding why Cheyenne is triggered by certain things and how working with her thresholds will help her control her impulses.

      In the same article, I’ve described how you can teach your girl how to focus on you when things get hectic for her. Like when she sees deer, dogs, other people or anything that sets her trigger off. Once you’ve got her to focus, then you can ask her to just about any behavior you like and this will help bring her back to her normal threshold. Cheyenne is high drive so the focus training might take some time, but keep at it.

      Then it terms of the treats. I really recommend getting a treat bag if you don’t already have one. I use this one by Mikki. It’s nice and big so I’m not fumbling for treats. I can fit a toy in there too even if it has treats inside. The inner comes out for easy cleaning and there’s a place for my phone and keys.

      If you do have a treat bag, slide the treat bag behind your back so she can’t see it. And then always remember to alternate your hands when delivering the reward. Never do it with the same hand over and over. Or she’ll do what she’s doing now. Keep her on her toes.

      Also, check out this article on how your dog learns, it’s got a great breakdown of how to phase treats out. It’s important to phase out treats as soon as Cheyenne is reliably offer the behavior you’re asking for. Keeping them in the game too long will make her dependent on them and then she won’t offer the behavior if there are no treats.

      Dogs are just like humans, we don’t do everything on cue as we’re ‘supposed’ to. For a high drive dog who’s still learning the ropes, not completely in control of her impulses yet and comes from a tough background 96% is pretty darn good. You’ll see this improve as you work with her. But never expect 100% reaction 100% of the time – that’s not possible.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

  • Debbie

    I appreciate the great tips. My GSD is over 7 years old and had obedience training when she was a pup. Other than a few behavioral issues due to her wanting to decide things for herself sometimes (like a kid), Abby is a very smart and loving dog. Just like our own natural child we cannot stand it when her feelings are hurt. Since she is afraid of riding in a vehicle it limits us to how far we can take her. We drove to TN to visit with our new granddaughter for a week. We put Abby in a doggie daycare/kennel for that time. She had been there many times before but for shorter durations. I was the one who took her into the facility and told her goodbye while my husband was in the car. She usually understands anytime I tell her I’ll be back but she must have lost faith in my statement. When we got back, it was me who picked her up. She went to her daddy with no problems but she totally ignored me. She seemed to be mad at me. I’m afraid she thought I was never coming back as I had promised. Thank goodness it only took a day or two for her to get back to normal, but it was so sad. About a year before that trip she acted the same way when we left her with friends for about the same amount of time, but her attitude was a little less severe. In a week from now we are scheduled to go on a 7 day cruise for our anniversary. We have no friends or family who can keep her so she will go back to the same doggie daycare/kennel. From what we’ve seen, they are the best in the area. I’m getting worried that our baby will go through the same sadness from when we left her there before. Is there anything we can do to prepare her?

    • Hi Debbie!

      Firstly congrats on your anniversary, I’m sure you’ll have a lovely trip!

      I totally understand your feelings about Abby’s emotional state. She’s family and no one wants to see their loved on sad. The one thing about German Shepherds is that they are not keen on being away from their family.

      One question that comes to mind is, does Abby do well when you leave her at home to go out for a while or an evening? If she’s fine being at home alone for a time, I’d say she might be responding to the separation more because she’s older.

      You have a very short time before your trip, but could you arrange with the kennel owners for a few visits before you go? This might help to settle Abbey in once she’s booked in.

      Also, when my 3 are kenneled I give strict instructions about a lot of things – I’m a pain but I don’t really care because I’m paying for it and they are my dogs. Make sure they understand Abby needs plenty of human contact and time out to exercise and interact with a human during exercise. But especially human contact. Send her favorite toys along, her bed and lots of blankets that have the scents of her home and you.

      They’ll tell you they do all that stuff. But be honest and tell them after her last stay she came home slightly depressed and since she’s older you expect that her social needs are met to a more than adequate level.

      It’s always stressful leaving our babies in the care of others. I’ve only ever kenneled mine for a few nights. But in April they’re being kenneled for 10 days. It’s the same kennels we always use but I’m stressed too. So I feel your concern too.

      I hope this helps.

      And I hope you have a great trip and that Abby has a lovely stay at her kennels.

      Rosemary

  • Deena

    I have a gsd puppy almost 4mo old, we’re having problems with behavior and training. We’ve tried positive reinforcement .
    I work with him daily on basic simple commands , he will not listen.
    Except one he will sit when he gets water or food. He knows his name.
    He won’t stop barking, and he does it with everything.
    This is our first GSD, we’ve always had Labrador retrievers.
    I would love to have a happy puppy that
    Listens and I know he will be happier to.
    I need serious advice.

    • Hi Deena,

      You’ve had great success teaching him how to sit for his food and he knows his name so you’re doing something right!

      Training takes a lot of time and especially training a 4 month old puppy.

      For the barking I’d highly recommend reading this article on how to deal with barking. there’s a great trick you can teach him to help curb his barking.

      You don’t say, but if you’re struggling with biting, here’s an article with some cool games to teach your pup not to bite.

      I can also highly recommend a training course that will take your pup from kindergarten to genius when it comes to obedience. And you’ll also learn ways to stimulate the highly intelligent mind of a German Shepherd. Check out my review of Brain Training for Dogs. It’s a worthwhile investment and it’s something I still use for my dogs today.

      I hope this helps.

      Chat Soon,
      Rosemary

      • Deena

        Rosemary,
        I will definitely read the articles ,
        Regarding the nipping and biting definitely an issue, especially when you tell him no. Just like if we take him out to go potty if you say no he’ll pee on the floor he was doing very well with no accidents. But the potty thing is not accidental . Jumping up on people is a problem too .
        He has major separation anxiety issues when I have to go out he’s never here alone someone is always home to play etc.
        As far as training class , we have enrolled him but has not been able to start he was diagnosed with Giardia when we got him .. and possible chronic carrier. Treatment has not been successful.So I have been trying to do this on my own no easy task.
        Thanks
        Deena

        • Hi Deena,

          I’m so sorry to hear about the Giardiasis.

          Sometimes it feels like pups do things on purpose but unlike us, their brains are not wired that way. So if he’s having a potty accident, it really is an accident. Although after us having to clean many accidents it can start feeling like a purposeful action to us. :)

          In terms of the jumping, the best method is to ‘make like a tree’. Just stand dead still and don’t make a sound. If you do any kind of moving, say his name or ‘no’ or give any kind of attention it will only reinforce the jumping.

          And yes, standing dead still means you will have muddy paws and a few scratches but in the long run it’s a small price to pay. It’s better to get this dealt with while he’s still young so bite the bullet, it won’t take long before he learns that jumping gets him no attention.

          Also, I’m not sure if your vet discussed this with you but any illness or infection can affect a dogs behavior and could also interfere with training. It’s the same way it’s affect us, when us humans are feeling under the weather it affects everything we do. So perhaps the Giardiasis is what’s causing him to take a little longer with the potty training and training in general.

          Have you considered the possibility of private training at your home with a good positive trainer instead of a group session?

          Let me know if you have other questions!

          Chat soon.
          – Rosemary

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    Thanks so much for the quick response.
    The dead tree I’m going to give that a try I don’t mind alittle mud ?.
    He apparently had the Giardia when we brought him home , I knew something wasn’t quite right.and the diagnosis explained alot but I didn’t know that it may affect the training aspect.it certainly could explain other issues.
    I have spoken with a few behavior/trainers they’ve all said he needs to be Giardia free and I have to have verification from my vet.. since vet said it can be passed on to people and they don’t want to chance passing on to other dogs.which I understand but they wouldn’t be handling him I would.
    ANY suggestions on how to get him to stop trying to get everybody’s plate and food? Redirect doesn’t work , he will nip and bite and bark no matter what we try.
    Thanks again
    Deena

    • Hi Deena,

      You’re welcome!

      I agree with you on the lower risk the trainers will face because you’ll be doing most of the handling. It sounds over cautious on their part.

      So it sounds like your boy is begging for food from your plates! It’s not uncommon, especially if they have had a tid bit handed to them off a plate of food before. Or even if a piece of food fell to the ground and they got to eat it.

      So firstly, don’t allow anyone to feed him from the table or a plate. Secondly, if a piece of food falls to the ground make sure you pick it up before he does.

      A lot of training with new puppies involves ignoring the behaviors we don’t want. So if he’s nipping, biting and barking while you folks are enjoying a meal, either ignore the behavior or put him in a space outside the kitchen like in a crate, playpen or his den.

      Keep in mind though that the Giardiasis can cause some malabsorption of nutrients, so your boy might be hungry more often. So that could be why he’s acting out around your food plates. You might want to speak with your vet to find out if this is something you should consider as part of your pup’s feeding protocol.

      Either way though, the points about not feeding off plates and ignoring begging behavior is definitely a must.

      Here’s a video by Dr. Karen Becker from Mercola Healthy Pets, she’s a legend in my eyes! You probably know most of this already but she discusses some of the symptoms of Giardia which you might find interesting.

      http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/03/19/giardia-infection-on-pets.aspx

      Any other questions, just let me know!

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

      • Deena

        Rosemary,
        I to think the trainer’s are being overly cautious.
        Our vet. Did say he would be hungrier and it would be OK to give him more which we’ve been doing it just never seems to be enough . He’s been on a prescription diet since diagnosis of the Giardia. And I have the rule no table food . Which after talking with you lead’s me to believe it’s got to be the Giardia.
        He did his last dose of antiparasite yesterday and to be honest there’s a difference in his behavior.
        I’m going to look at the video you sent me
        I need to have a much better understanding of the Giardia so I can better understand and help him.
        Thank you so much for your help.
        Deena

        • Hi Deena,

          Happy to help! Let me know how things get on. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that your boy makes a full recovery!

          Let me know if there’s anything else you need help with.

          And if you haven’t already done so, sign up for ‘Dog Speak‘ so you’ll be up to date on what’s happening here and what’s new in the dog training world.

          Chat soon,
          Rosemary

          • Deena

            Rosemary,
            Thank you, on a positive note I am working on the hand signals for the barking and actually making a little progress, and I did watch the video and read the article on the Giardia it was most helpful.
            Thanks again for your help
            Deena

          • That’s awesome news on the hand signals! :)

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    In search of guidance ,I had my gsd puppy outside and he’s quite familiar with the little girl next door normally he greets her. I keep him leashed .Today he was pretty aggressive not once but twice.
    I realize he’s a puppy and training is important and I work with him every day
    I mentioned before about the Giardia.
    I had a difficult time calming him down he would not listen.
    This is a serious concern he will be 4mo on Monday.
    My husband is considering getting rid of him. If we can’t come up with a solution.
    Deena

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    I am very concerned about an incident that happened yesterday , I had my puppy outside (we have a fenced yard) leashed and normally he greets the little girl next door thru the fence.
    This time for no reason HIS hair stood up teeth showing growling and barking
    And started to charge the fence not once but twice fortunately I was able to get him under control . He’s 4mo tomorrow
    He scared the little girl, I don’t understand it. It was like someone’ flipped a switch. This is a huge concern.

    • Hi Deena,

      Often dogs are more aggressive when they are on-leash. And they are also more territorial in a place they see as their own domain, like their yard. I had an experience once when Zè my male pup was about 6 months old. We went to the dog park and he met an older Chocolate Lab. And out of nowhere my boy went for his snout. Now you situation is a more serious because the little girl is not a dog and the last thing you want is something bad to happen, so I totally understand your concern. And I’m sure the little girl must have had a scare too!

      The thing is that dogs don’t usually distinguish between little people and adults. My dogs bark at the young kids who walk past our gate every afternoon. But they also bark at adults that walk past.

      When you say your pup is familiar with the little girl. How familiar is that? Has he been properly introduced to her? Or does he just know her from meeting at the fence or seeing her around? Has he been introduced to kids at all? I think the catch 22 here is because of the Giardia, it’s going to be difficult to have him properly socialized with the little girl unless her parents are willing and will ensure the proper hygiene protocol after she’s had any contact with him.

      I think letting your pup go is premature, you’ve come so far with him and still working on treating the Giardia to get rid of it. If I were in your shoes, I’d continue working with him like you are now because you’re doing a stellar job. Once you have a negative result on the Giardia and your pup is good to go you can cross some bridges and expose him to situations he can’t be exposed to now.

      I hope this helps. Keep me posted. If you have other questions drop them in the comments.

      Chat soon.
      Rosemary

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    Thank you for getting back to me.
    The little girl and my soldier were introduced not long after we brought him home which was about 2 mo ago.
    Before he was diagnosed, she’s not a loud boisterous child very soft spoken
    He’s always greeted her licking her hand she’s petted him. thru the fence
    Always with. Her dad and myself right there.
    What concerns me the most was she was just standing there and said hi to me and to soldier and he went crazy.
    I do leash him in the Yard because I’m still working on the leash training he’s not really cooperative. And I can safely let him run off leash when nobody is around so I don’t have to worry about the Giardia issue.
    But I do take it off and just let him run and chase the birds and squirrels it’s funny.
    Socialization is definitely an issue because of the Giardia.
    He goes back in a wk for retest fingers crossed I will finally get him started in the class.
    I’ve also noticed that where he was alittle more cooperative, he’s decided he’s going to be.
    There’s been no changes in the home.
    Nothing that would cause added stress OR anxiety, what he has been doing and alot is mounting almost anything we thought at now 4mo alittle odd.
    But he was doing that alittle bit when we got him then it stopped . I figured stress new home at first because it stopped.

    Isn’t that to young for this behavior?
    Thanks
    Deena

    • Hi Deena,

      It might just have been a one-off reaction. It could be that Soldier was having an off day and not feeling well. I’d keep an eye on it. And also try to remember that our dogs pick up on our feelings too. So if you’re feeling stressed in a situation he’ll pick up on it. And since you and Soldier are so close he could become stressed too.

      And yes, humping is totally normal, even at Soldier’s age. It’s an annoying behavior I know but totally natural. And it’s not just males that hump, females often do it too.

      If you decide to neuter him in the future the behavior will likely stop, but there’s no guarantee that it will. The best advice I can give is to ignore the behavior.

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    I don’t want to get rid of soldier, my husband is the one that brought that up he’s that concerned about the incident with the little girl next door.
    I’m not going give up on him. ☺
    I think there’s factors that are playing a role in the behavior issue. And it’s not his fault he’s sick . Plus he’s just a puppy.
    Thanks
    Deena

    • Hi Deena,

      I understand your husbands concern. But you’re on the right track, you’re doing a great job and you have a good grasp of the situation. So I’m sure in time your hubby will relax about it.

      And yes, as you say the Giardia does play a role both in the limits it puts on socializing and also how Soldier feels within himself. When we’re sick or feel off it’s totally normal for us to act out of sorts and dogs are the same. Health issues really do affect them too.

      I’m rooting for you and Soldier that the tests next week come back negative for Giardia. Please keep me posted.

      Go Soldier!!!!

  • Hi.
    So, I am 14 years old and my mom and I own a full grown 1 year old German Shepherd. Now, I started walking my previous german shepherd who was very large and very old around 10 years old.
    Now, our dog trainer is telling me that I cannot walk her. I don’t understand why and I think it could possibly hurt our relationship.
    If I could have another perspective that would be great. Is my trainer right?

    Thanks,
    Izze

    • Hi Izze!

      Thanks for your question.

      If your dog has issues like aggression towards people or other dogs, or if your dog is anxious. Any of these can cause situations you and your dog might feel overwhelmed in. But if there are no underlying behavior issues, I see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to walk your dog. Have you asked the trainer to elaborate as to why they are saying you shouldn’t walk your girl?

  • Deena

    Hi rosemary,
    Soldier and I just got home from the vet for retest he’s still testing positive for Giardia.
    He’s not showing symptoms but just the same positive.
    Wanted to let you know.
    Deena

    • Hi Deena,

      Thanks for letting me know about Soldier. I’m still hoping for a negative test result at some point.

      But the fact that he’s not showing symptoms anymore is great, that means he’s probably not feeling ill physically anymore. Which is awesome news!!

      Happy Training!

  • Rosemary,
    Thanks for trying to be positive,
    Soldier started showing symptoms last night, ?. I’m just afraid that he’s going to be chronic.

  • Rosemary,
    Unfortunately soldier has become symptomatic again ?,
    Back to square one yet again ..
    Deena

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    Question, being as though soldier is symptomatic again as usual the mood’s and behavior change as well we’re having a difficult time calming him down and he’s worse than before when trying to get other people food and being told no.
    Nothing we’re trying is working.
    Ideas and suggestions would be great.
    Thanks

    • Hi Deena,

      I’m sorry to hear Soldier is not feeling well again.

      Could you describe to me how you’re handling his behavior when it comes to food and other people? That way I’ll have a better idea of how we can hash things out and find a way to help Soldier.

      Also, dogs are very sensitive to our feelings and pick up when we’re stressed or anxious. How are you feeling when he acts this way?

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    We have tried to redirect him, we’ve tried the firm but not yelling saying no.
    Finally we end up crating him.
    As far as people I’ve tried and tried to train him to sit when greeting people.
    He’s become very uncooperative.
    After a period of time and çonstant repeating I have to admit I get frustrated.
    We were making good progress on the barking he’s not cooperating with that either he barks at anything and everything and it’s not short bark’s.
    If he wakes me up to go out very late he wants to bark at 3.00 in the morning.and won’t stop.
    I’m at a loss.
    Deena

    • Hi Deena,

      Sorry, I was away on vacation.

      Can you make a video, upload it to Youtube and send me the link? If you could make a video of the situation you described where he’s unruly when people come over.

      Just send me the link so I can check it out.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Barb Warden

    Our 7 month old female is so full of energy it is hard to satisfy her daily need of exercise. She has chewed the carpeting on our staircase, chewed the wooden frame of a recliner, chewed 2 pair of eyeglasses and chewed a hole in the cushion of a love seat. Have had shepherds and labs but never one like this!

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    Hope you had a great vacation:) I will try to do the video, it may be awhile , I injured my right shoulder and sprained 2fingers on my left hand . Butt as soon as I’m able I will do that.
    We are going to be doing a GI profile test on soldier in early May. with hopes in finding out if there’s something else going on that may not be showing up in the other tests.
    Will touch base soon.
    Deena

    • Hi Deena!

      OMW! What happened?

      In terms of working with Soldier to sit when guests visit…

      You could try training him with one visitor at a time. He might be overwhelmed by several visitors at the same time.

      So if you could ask your friend over for a coffee and then practice her entering while he sits. It’d be great if she could also reward him with treats for sitting quietly.

      Then as be becomes more well behaved add another visitor and so eventually he’ll be super well behaved even if you have a bunch of people coming over at the same time.

      Let me know how the GI profiling goes.

  • Deena

    Rosemary,
    . Thank you , for getting back to me.
    The shoulder is frozen with impingement from a fall, and Soldier got a little too carried away with the lunging and nipping and I went to put my hand up to stop a lunge and hit the knuckle side under the coffee table I thought I broken them again.
    I will try the one visitor at a time I think you have a good point maybe he’s getting to overwhelmed and anxious.
    Yesterday although my adult grandfather that lives with us was sitting in the living room just talking to soldier and it was like someone flipped a switch he started barking and lunging hair up , for no reason. I hate to ask this question but can dog’s have emotional health issues?
    Because this is what has been happening with him, he’ll be fine and out of the blue it’s opposite jeckyll and hyde.
    I will definitely let you know what profile test says I hope it will give us some kind of answer if anything else is contributing to the Giardia issue.
    Deena

    • Hi Deena!

      Just checking in to find out how your shoulder is. And how’s Soldier doing with regards to the Giardia? And progress on treatment?

      How’s the training going?

      • Deena

        Hi Rosemary,
        Regarding my shoulder have to go to physical therapy, it’s still frozen and impinged shoulder blade (scapula) has started to become winged.
        Soldier unfortunately is still dealing with the Giardia, the GI profile test results say no other parasites presents and it tested for 9 different things. We did a snap test before hand Giardia still present but the profile test said in the notes if he wasn’t actively shedding eggs it would show no antibodies but he would still have it.and being as though snap test was positive. He still has it.
        As for training, I am having absolutely no luck at all, he’s not receptive. All he wants to do is constantly bark even at us he definitely doesn’t like the word no.
        He’s become increasingly demanding especially of my time and attention.
        It’s really starting to take a toll on my family.
        And sadly at this point , with amount we’ve had to put out and it’s been extremely expensive we at this point even if I could find a behavioral therapist to work with him it’s just not affordable anymore especially due to this last test.
        So we don’t know what to do.
        We all love soldier,
        Deena

        • Hi Deena,

          I’m so sorry to hear about the ongoing problem with your shoulder. I can imagine it’s not making things any easier.

          Okay, let’s take a step back. I’d like you to try something else when it comes to Soldier’s training…

          I think this will be a much easier way to train him and it won’t put strain on your shoulder.

          You’re going to need a clicker – it’s very important for this. If you haven’t ever used a clicker check out this article of mine about how to use a clicker.

          Also, watch the video on how you can quickly show Soldier what a clicker means. You can pick up a clicker at just about any store or on Amazon. Either way, if you don’t have one it’s super important that you get one.

          So once you have the clicker you need some treats. Stick to something bland so as to not flare up his tummy. Maybe something like seared steaks or boiled chicken breasts.

          Now set out 40, 50 or 60 small pieces of treats – these are going to last you the entire day. And you’ll have to carry them and the clicker with you during the day.

          Now every time you see Soldier doing something you like and want him to continue doing, click and reward him on the spot.

          For example:

          If he’s sitting quietly and he’s not barking – click and reward.
          If he’s allowing someone to stroke him without nipping or barking – click and reward.
          If he’s self-playing on his bed, mat or in his crate – click and reward.

          ANYTHING you like and want Soldier to learn, click and reward.

          Despite him feeling ill, he’ll quickly learn that these behaviors you’re rewarding him for are favorable.

          This kind of training is called capturing so you’re capturing all the behaviors you want as they happen. Instead of trying to put him in to a formal training session which seems to be backfiring.

          start with this as soon as you possibly can. If you don’t have a clicker, or you can’t get one right away, use one of those clicky pens. It’ll work just fine. But I really think you should start this as soon as possible.

          Let me know what you think of the idea.

          • Deena

            Rosemary,
            I like that idea I’m going to use the pen till tomorrow when pet store opens.
            I know him being sick plays a big role in his behavior and not being receptive but I’m willing to try anything.
            What I don’t understand is why it seems like I’ve not worked with him at all when I do .
            Thanks
            Deena

          • Deena muffley

            Hi Rosemary,
            Wanted to touch base with you on the clicker training, I don’t quite understand this but soldier for some reason gets annoyed with the sound.
            He’s been really touchy lately,
            Doesn’t want to cooperate except when he wants to,
            When I try him off leash in the backyard he refuses to listen won’t come when called won’t obey at all .
            Regarding the barking every tiny sound he barks and just won’t stop.
            Are there certain dog’s that are just not really trainable?
            My husband asked me that.
            Deena

          • Hi Deena,

            All dogs are trainable. But as you know illness does have an affect on them just like us.

            If you’re looking to get him to come when called, the trick is to make yourself the most interesting thing in his world. So speak in an excited voice make kissing noises etc. Calling him and running in the opposite direction also works. Dogs like chasing things, it’s how I taught mine to come. And make sure you’re armed with some treats to reward him when he gets to you.

            If he’s getting annoyed by the clicker try using something that sounds softer like a clicky pen. Or you can use your voice. I sometimes do that if I don’t have a clicker handy. And I use the word yes.

            If you want to go that route then you need to charge that word like you charged the clicker. Just follow my video in the clicker training article but instead of clicking and rewarding you say ‘yes’ (or whatever word you decide to use) and the reward.

  • Phyllis

    My husband and I have a german shepherd that is just shy of 1.5 years old. We are at a complete loss with her. She is a beautiful girl, and I know she is smart. But she is so high strung. She jumps on us all the time, and gets so excited when seeing us that she wets the floor all the time. I can be sitting in another room and when I walk through the room she is in, she’ll start whining, leaping on me, peeing on the floor and acting over excited. I’ve tried turning my back to her, telling her no, but she is so excited that I doubt that she even hears me. If I turn my back to her she will just jump on my back. When we wake up in the morning she does this to us also. It’s like we’ve been gone and she’s over excited just to see us. She acts this way also if you’re trying to give her attention. She’ll start whining, leaping and peeing on the floor.

    Reading your article I know we’ve failed her in many ways. Her behavior brings out aggressive discipline reactions from us and I don’t think that has helped. Aggressive in the sense of loud reprimands and we have at times reached our peak and have physically pushed or smacked her back from jumping on us.

    We have a large yard, but the weather doesn’t allow much outdoor time through this past fall/winter season of snow and excessive rain; so she doesn’t get out much. I know that we need to make some changes in our approach and she probably needs more activity. I just don’t know where to start. She is a strong girl and when I try to walk her she is aggressive with people barking and lunging at them, or she’s pulling me and that is not a fun walk. So I’m afraid to walk her and have stopped. She barks aggressively all the time and I’m afraid to have her around other animals or people.

    I’m at a total loss as to where to start with training her. She is smart like I said, and has learned her name and to sit. But when I try to train her with anything, her attention is high strung and distracted. She doesn’t focus well in her excitement.

    Do you have any suggestions or should we take her to a professional trainer? I think we need training as well as her. We’re in the 57 & 61 age bracket, so we’re not very active people and I think this is hurting her. I could go on but I’ll stop here. Obviously we need some guidance and help. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Phyllis,

      Thanks for your questions. Sorry my reply is so late, I’ve been on vacation and working to catch up! :)

      From what you’ve described to me it sounds like your girl needs a lot of training. Have you explored the idea of clicker training? It’s a great way to train dogs and there’s no physical punishment involved. I do recommend refraining from physical punishment because long term it will instill a sense of fear and distrust.

      It sounds like she’s go a lot of pent up energy that she needs to get rid of. At 18 months old she’s still very much a puppy.

      There are a bunch of great games you can play with your girl indoors. It’s tough when the weather is not playing nice but you’re right when you say she needs stimulation non the less. Mental stimulation will actually tire her out more than physical exercise does. And mental stimulation can be achieved through regular training and also mental games. Both which can be done inside. And a quick run around outside each day will help too.

      I usually encourage people to train their own dogs. Unless there’s some sort of aggressive or fearful behavior involved I think a trainer is not necessary.

      Just a quick tip about the jumping…

      Dogs see any reaction to a behavior as attention. So even if it’s a smack or a yell it’s attention. And they jump because they want attention. So even if you smack or yell it won’t make her stop, in fact it is a reward in her eyes because she’s getting attention.

      What I do with jumping is what I like to call ‘act like a tree’. I just stand dead still. I don’t move, look at her or make a sound. If a dog tries to jump up at my face I’ll turn my upper body in the opposite direction but still keep my legs firmly on the ground.

      It’s one way to teach her that jumping is not going to give her the reward she wants or is used to. Once I wanted 20 minutes for a dog to get the message and stop jumping. But that is an extreme case.

      Another thing you can try is to keep some food rewards on you and when you walk into a room where she is start dropping a few on the ground as you go. Make sure you do this before she jumps or you’ll be rewarding her jumping. And as you walk just drop a couple here and there near you. There’s no way she can enjoy the food rewards if she doesn’t have a four paws on the ground. This will teach her that having all 4 paws on the ground means good things happen.

      If you’re interested to find out more about training here are a couple of articles I’d like to suggest…

      Clicker Training.

      Dog Learning.

      Why is my dog not listening.

      And if you’re interested in learning how mental stimulation can make her into an ace when it comes to manners, check out my review of Brain Training for Dogs. I use the program for my dogs and I highly recommend it.

      If you’ve got any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments. I’m always around to help.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Loriane

    My German Shepherd is 12 months old and a female. First off, she’s a wanted dog. We feed her, take her to the vet, cuddle her (when she doesn’t nip) and we don’t hurt her. I’ve always wanted German Shepherd because I like that they’re obeident, they can protect you and they’re fun to play with. I just love to play fetch with dog. She a sweetheart who wants to please you.

    We have the help of a trainer, and she’s gotten better. She has a lot of energy and sometimes she annoys me to no ends. When she was younger, she used to jump on me when I was sitting on the couch. She would nip at me really hard. I’d push her, but she’d come back even harder. She runs around the house a lot and jumps on furnitures (we’re working on that). She has separation anxiety, but with the help of a trainer, I believe it’ll get better. I seem to always be frustrated with her because of this behavior. I love her, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I wonder if I do. I used to have a Bernese Mountain, not the same breed, I know, but she was my baby. I just couldn’t imagine my life without her. I wonder if it’s normal to feel so frustrated with my dog. I mean, I just want a dog who can listen to your commands, not nip at you and not be so excited it’s difficult to handle her at times. Is it too much to ask? If she wasn’t that way, I wouldn’t be so frustrated.

    • Hi Loriane,

      That’s an excellent question!

      Just this morning I was having a chat with some friends in a private FB group about our naughty dogs. Yes, I have one of those exceptionally busy dogs! She’s a rescue and totally different to my other 2.

      And I can promise you, you’re not alone! All dog owners feel frustrated with their dogs at times. And that’s where good control over our emotions is important.

      But you’re doing the right things. You’ve got a trainer involved, you’re working on the issues one at a time and you will eventually get there. Also, it might help for you to know that the GSD breed matures very slowly.

      Charley is 9 years old this year but she was ripping and chewing stuff in my house when I adopted her at the age of 6. Zè is my 3.5 year old male, he still does naughty things like dig holes after it’s rained or drag dead tree branches out of the compost heap. An Lexi, my busy one, well she’ll do the wildest things!!

      We’ve always got to remind ourselves that our dogs aren’t robots. They have their quirks, their moods and personalities. Helping them develop is a life-long journey.

      Keep up the good work! You’re doing great!

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Diann Williams

    My daughters husbsnd got an germand shepherd but now he lives far away and dhe works 3 rd shift soo me and my other daughter take care of there dog i’m trying too teach different stuff but me and my fsughtrt butt heads on how i’m traing him we live in an apartment on the bottem floor I’m trying to teach him not too bark at the neighters when they come out of there door or just walking out side what doo I doo

    • Hi Diann,

      I really recommend starting with clicker training. It’s a great way to train and it’s kind as well. Here’s a link to get you started.

      Then for the barking, I recommend reading this article. If he’s a big barker you could teach him the bark/quiet command.

  • Natalia Cosgrove

    I am looking into a GSP, how long does it take to train one? Also, how long does it take to train it to be a farm dog? Can it be trained to be a farm dog? Does it have to be a puppy when you train it to be a farm dog? When is the best season to train a GSP to be a farm dog?

    • Hi Natalia,

      GSP’s are highly intelligent. But the length of time it takes to train them depends on you and your dog. Which training methods will you use? Positive reinforcement gives the best results and it’s kind too. Are you going to train daily? Regular training makes a big difference in terms of progress. Especially if you’re training a dog for working.

      You can successfully train a dog of any age. Even to be a working dog. Especially since the GSP is bred to work. Also keep in mind what the breed was originally bred for. GSP’s were bred as gun dogs for hunting. So I’m not sure what you mean by a farm dog. But keep in mind that their working genetics play a role too. So for example my German Shepherds might not make the best hunting dog since they are bred to guard and herd. That’s not to say dog’s can’t learn new skills because they can.

      I’m not sure what you mean by what season is the best time to train. Because seasons have nothing to do with training. You can start training at any time.

  • Eli

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve adopted a 1 year old German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois for over a month now. My sister told me that Nathan used to be in a cage and his previous owner doesn’t have enough time to let him out for an exercise. When he came home, he’s full of energy and we were thinking maybe because he was in the cage for a long time. We tried to teach him tricks like “sit”, “come here”, or just by calling him by his name. He’s now responding to sit but only if we have treats for him. He doesn’t always respond to his name. But I think the biggest problem is how he wants to play “roughouse”. Aside from my dad, Nathan bites me, mom and my sister. His bites don’t hurt but it’s annoying sometimes because he won’t let go.

    I know we lack something and I hope you can help. I also want to mention that my parents have different ways on handling Nathan. My dad uses “iron hand” against Nathan and because of that, Nathan’s kind of scared of him? Like, when my dad says no, he’ll immediately stop. But when it comes to me and my mom, Nathan would just stop if we call our dad or something. I’m desperate because I want to train Nathan that will be fun for the both of us. I hope you can give me some tips on this. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Eli!

      Thank you for reaching out.

      So firstly, the Malinois and the GSD are both very high drive dogs. And if your dog was caged a lot and didn’t get attention from his previous owner you do have a lot of work to do. I can see your genuine concern and love for your dog, so I’m sure you’ll do just fine in helping your dog adjust.

      Yes, part of the reason Nathan is so full of energy is because he was confined in his previous home. But take into account he is only a year old and he is a Mal/GSD. You’re going to have to work extra hard with Nathan.

      So you’re already using treats which is great! But you don’t say if you’re using clicker training. Using a clicker is the key to successful force-free, kind training. I recommend you read my article on how clicker training works. You can pick up a clicker for dirt cheap but you can also use one of those clicky pens to begin with. Follow the steps I shared in the article to get started.

      Also, be consistent, so I recommend doing at least 3 to 4 5 minute sessions per day. But make sure you stop before Nathan gets bored. This way he’ll always look forward to training.

      Now training will also tire him out which is a good thing. But he needs physical stimulation too. Taking into account his age and his breed he needs a lot of stimulation. My 2 young ones want at least 45 minutes in the morning and at a minimum 30 minutes at night. Teach him to play fetch so that you have a way of working him physically. Being mentally and physically stimulated will definitely make him calmer.

      Okay, so you can’t tell your dad what to do. But ruling a dog like Nathan with an ‘iron hand’ like you say is not a good thing. And yes, Nathan will be afraid of your dad because of it. What I do suggest is, that you start training Nathan with a clicker and exercising him through play. And hopefully your dad will see how amazing the techniques are and want to get involved in this kind of training.

      Now in terms of the biting. Nathan should already have been taught bite inhibition by now. But since his previous owner had no time Nathan is a little behind. But it’s not too late. I’ve raised 2 rescues that had no training and they are well-adjusted now. It just takes more work to train an older dog.

      So, check out the games I recommend for teaching bite inhibition. I recommend you start with the build-a-bridge game first. And once Nathan has mastered that then you can move on to some of the other redirecting games. But you must start by using the clicker training method. And I recommend you sit on a low stool when working on the build-a-bridge game instead of on the floor. Simply because Nathan is already a big boy.

      You and your mom should both work with Nathan on this game. Let your mom read the article on clicker training too, if she wants to.

      By the way, you can teach Nathan to respond to his name with a clicker too. Once you’ve taught him what a clicker means by following my video in the article all you do is say his name and as soon as he looks at you, click and reward.

      And then lastly, read this article on how dogs learn. It’ll give you a great foundation of understanding how Nathan learns things. The best way to teach them is to use science and psychology.

      I’m around if you have any other questions.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

  • Tracy Leber

    Hello.. thank you for your article. I have an almost one year old male GSD. It’s our first purebred and up until this one, we were used to large rescue mixes. We were not prepared for the built in added protection feature that comes with this bread. Quickly hiring an experienced trainer and discussing with the vet pros and cons of neutering sooner than later (4-5 months) we opted for earlier due to his high propensity towards aggression. We have socialized him from a very early age.. literally taking him everywhere we could, even to work on non-remote days. I’d like some advice on how to handle the aggression. Recently we had an incident where a stranger came up to him and (without asking) thought it was ok to pet.. our dog is particular about strangers ruffling the top of his head and got “snappy”. We had an earlier incident at the vet’s office with the vet and the vet stated it is behavior that should be addressed. I have a second trainer lined up to begin soon. He has the basics down. I’m committed to regular and consistent walking and training sessions and I’m curious to know how you feel about the E-collar. Thank you.

    • Hi Tracy!

      Thanks for your question.

      I’m not so sure I agree with your vet. I mean, as people we have our personal space and don’t like ‘uninvited guests’ just barging in. So why should our dogs? He’s obviously socialized, so that’s not the problem here.

      He’s just particular like you said and in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some dogs aren’t touchy-feely and that’s okay. My 9 year old GSD Charley is like that. She doesn’t like strangers so I make sure to manage situations where she’s likely to meet up with anyone new.

      Of course, you want to avoid getting into any kind of legal trouble if someone tries to pet him without asking – which by the way is bad etiquette in the doggy world!

      So I would suggest getting something like a harness with a ‘Do Not Pet’ sign on it.

      Here’s an example of what I mean.

      As for e-collars. I’m totally against them! Any kind of aversive training techniques where a dog has to do or not do something to avoid punishment, in my opinion is cruel.

      If you were to use an e-collar to try and train him to stop snapping it will almost guarantee to make him more aggressive. Dogs are super smart, so it’s very likely that he’ll start associating strangers approaching him with the shock, so there’s a risk of making him more aggressive towards strangers.

      I strongly urge you to not use these kinds of collars. If you want to get a behaviorist in find someone who uses only force-free, positive reinforcement.

      I hope this helps.

      • Tracy Leber

        Thank you for your response! We have continued to socialize and use positive reinforcement while keeping our stress level in check. Today we started with a new Trainer (using lots of treats and patience) and it went VERY well. I’m both encouraged and hopeful. I’d like to find a vest that states “do not pet, without asking first” as I don’t want strangers to get the wrong impression. Thanks again.
        Tracy

  • Kathy

    I have a Gs who is 1 1/ yrs. Old all she wants to do is play. Xena knows all of her commands but I have to sometimes say them more then once, we have passed the stage of reward by treats. I’m having a hard time walking her, can’t get her to stop jumping on people, when she sees me she is out of control with excitement. She trust me but head no respect for me she thinks I am her okay toy and she is AlphA female hoe do I fix that. I’ve had her since she was 5 weeks old and she head aniexty when she isn’t with me. I try to bring her every where with me but can’t keep her focused on me when I give her commands and other things are going on. I try to do everything with her and she is frustrating me and making it hard. I really want to learn how to train her like the video I saw. She stand at 6′ something and 110 pounds solid very big for a female. I need serious help please

    • Hi Kathy!

      Thanks for your comment.

      The first thing you need to change is to make yourself the MOST exciting thing around. This will help Xena to want to focus on you. Also, you might need to start retraining commands if she’s not responding. But use high value treats, higher than you did before. And you should fade them as soon as possible. You need to get her excited about responding to your requests.

      Secondly, there is no scientific proof that dogs see humans as part of their pack and therefore try to dominate them. This is based on outdated studies done in the 30s and 40s. If she’s not responding and ignoring your requests it’s because she finds other things more interesting. And maybe she doesn’t know that you want her to focus. If she’s never been taught that she won’t know.

      Here’s an article on how to teach your dog to focus and why they don’t listen sometimes.

      Also, this article goes into great detail about the psychology behind how dogs learn. It also has a section on how to use food and how to get Xena to show you which treats she values highly. This will be a great help in your training.

  • Pat Patterson

    I don’t even have a dog yet, but have sent out a few requests for adoption, all for a female GSD. The one particular girl I’m serious about is currently housed in Iran but is supposed to be in Canada by the end of the month. I am happy to have found you and look forward to using all of your articles to help in training. I hope to bring her to Service Dog standard.
    Please, let me thank you and God bless you for the work you are doing; it is sorely needed.
    Fond regards,
    Pat

    • Hi Pat!

      Thanks for your kind words! And congrats on your soon to be new best friend.

      I’m always around for questions and requests.

      If you haven’t already, come and join our private Facebook group. You can get access via a link when you join ‘Dog Speak’. We all share pictures, videos and advice on the group. We’d love to have you.

      You can sign up to ‘Dog Speak’ here: https://germanshepherdcorner.com/sign-up-for-dog-speak/

  • Howard Barraclough

    My GSD, Buddy, will be 2 next month – I’ve had him since he was 7 weeks old and my daughter, who lives 140 miles away and we visit about once a month, has his sister from the same litter. The siblings romp and play and have a great time, wearing each other out before flopping down and resting affectionately together, and her other 2 dogs (an old lab and a shitzu) often join in. Happy family time.
    Buddy is perfect in almost every way, has responded well to training and obedience, and we have great respect and love for, and trust in, each other. There is one major problem however.
    While on our walks and as we meet others, he is accepting of and friendly towards most people – but he takes an instant dislike towards almost all other dogs. He barks aggressively, hackles raised, strains against his leash trying to get to them, and in all respects acts in an out of control and embarrassing manner. As I control him he acknowledges my presence but will not settle down, barking like crazy but almost always wagging his tail at the same time. He has never gotten loose, and never been in a fight, but being a GSD he scares the living daylights out of most of the other dog owners we encounter. When the other dog owners and I have agreed to let our dogs approach each other under tight control, it has always resulted in much wagging of tails, sniffing, and attempts to play. Most people however shy away from us with looks of fear, disdain and contempt.
    When he was about 7 months I took him to a nearby dog park, thinking that I’d integrate him into doggy society at a young age (there is a 6-month old minimum regulation). He entered confident and friendly and eager to play, but was quickly surrounded by about a dozen other dogs sniffing and attempting to be dominant, mounted by 2 or 3 of them, and ended up backed into a corner for protection and almost pathetically looking to me for help. Arguments with the other dog owners ensued (I was very angry!) but I managed to extricate him, and we left never to return.
    My question is, how do I correct Buddy’s inappropriate behavior when encountering other dogs on our walks, and stop him from barking at and attempting to lunge at the other dogs we meet? It’s almost as if he knows he’s grown up and knows he’s no longer going to tolerate being bullied, and looking to let that be known to everyone he meets.

    • Hi Howard!

      Thanks for your comment.

      It sounds like you and Buddy have a wonderful relationship and close family bond.

      So, the experience Buddy had with those other dogs probably has some kind of influence on how he acts towards other dogs now. But the fact that his tail wags and when he has access to the other dogs he’s playful shows me that it’s not aggressive behavior. But I totally get how other people and dogs who don’t know him can feel intimidated.

      It sounds like you already have a good relationship with some of the other dog owners you regularly meet on walks. So my advice is to first teach Buddy a solid ‘focus’ command. And then when you meet dogs on the road ask for a focus first – which will make him calm down. And once he’s calm give him a release cue to go over and meet the other dog.

      Over time, he should become more and more comfortable, even with complete strange dogs. But it’s going to take time.

      But you’ll need to get the focus mastered first.

      You can do this in 2 ways.

      The first is to mark and reward Buddy every time you find him looking at you. This is called capturing and happens randomly during your daily life. So if you’re watching telly and you see him looking at you mark the behavior and reward him. And so on.

      The other way is in a formal training session. I wrote about how to do this in this article on triggers and thresholds.

      I hope this helps.

  • Alejandra

    Loved this post. I have a 7-year old german shepherd that only listens when he wants to. Sometimes I get frustrated and grab him a bit hard so he can listen, but after reading this i realized that I’m doing things the wrong way. I am going to start following these rules and understand that he is not a human. Thanks a lot for this.

  • Dee

    I enjoyed reading and sent it to my son who has a German Shepherd puppy.

    • Hi Dee!

      Thanks for your comment!

      I’m so pleased you found this valuable. I hope your son enjoys it too.

      Thanks for the support! :)

  • Claire

    Hi,

    Fantastic article.

    I noticed the comment about how your dog reacted to your worried state and wonder if you can give me any tips.

    I have a beautiful 5 month old – not my first GSD – but all the others have been bitches. He is well socialised, calm and already very advanced in his training.

    He shows fear aggressive behaviour at random to people – because it is rare and he comes into contact with people on every walk – joggers – bikes -kids – men – women etc – it took me awhile to realise I am the problem.

    The first time was with a young couple on a picnic blanket – I was on guard and gauging the situation because of the food around. My focus was on the guy and Milo showed fear aggressive behaviour to him – would not let the guy touch him – but licked and acted all puppy to the female.

    The second time was an old lady – I was worried about her being knocked over.

    Another time I gave too much attention to a woman walking with a man – I could only see their heads over the long grass and was on guard for a possible dog being with them. If a dog is on a lead – I always put my pup on one just in case the dog is not friendly. Milo showed fear aggression to the women – but was fine with the man.

    At times – particularly in the park and he is off the lead (his recall is great), I will be on guard and need to gauge potential risks. I do not display worry or unease – just greater attention and focus – which pup is interpreting as danger.

    Is there any training I can do to signal that there is no danger? Except for these few occasions, he is good with everyone and will turn and ask me if he can go meet a person.

  • Jennifer

    Our puppy is about 4 months old and he gets very excited and bites. I have been trying to curtail it but we all have scars from his sharp little teeth. Any suggestions on breaking this bad habit of biting?

  • Nichole

    I just added an “un-adoptable” 1.5 year old GSD to our dog group. Un-adoptable because of his hip dysplasia and he is pretty wild (getting better on that). He is the long haired “old” style. We have 3 lab mixes that are mellow and older, a pit bull and another intense breed. We do well with training dogs — all these older dogs have gone to training and get along well. But Mason, our GSD, has a trait I have never encountered. He sometimes nips visitors – and it is definitely a nip. It is unpredictable. He is very loving and likes most people and all dogs he meets. He was obviously neglected and mistreated.

    Suggestions? We try to get him to meet a lot of people. Most of the time it is great and he is friendly. But as an example, he nipped my neighbor through the fence who was petting our pit, and he ran up and nipped another friend when they were leaving with my husband. May be males … not sure of course.

  • Liz Spata

    I need help my dog has anxiety very bad we have tried everything

    • Hi Liz,

      In what way is your dog being anxious? Because anxiety is so specific, it would be great if you could share a specific situation here. Is it when you leave home? Is it during the night?

      If you let me know, I’ll be happy to help.

  • Laura L. Smith

    I have a GSD American flat back want to train him as my service dog. He doesn’t like strangers to train him so I have been trying how do I get him started. He lays on my feet and when he lays in front of my chair he like when I put my feet on him he sits and gives my his right paw and when I ask him if he wants to go inside or play even when i ask him if he wants his food. Smoke sits and pick up is paw and bring it down as please that is even I give in. But now I don’t know what to do next he is going on 6 months. Can you help me.

    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Sounds like you have a smart boy there!

      So the first thing that comes to mind is that you need to teach him all the basics of obedience. You won’t be able to progress unless he knows sit, stay down, focus and has a good recall etc.

      The more complicated behaviors of being a service dog will require that he’s fluid and reliable with these and other basics.

      If you haven’t already, I highly recommend starting with clicker training. This is the best form of training because it’s kind and force free. It’s also based on the science of behavior.

      Here’s an article about how to use a clicker to train your dog. I think you’ll enjoy it since you’re his primary trainer, and it’ll help you get started.

      I also recommend an online training program called Brain Training for Dogs. It’s based on the idea of developing our dog’s intelligence through training, games and play. But for it to work they need to have mastered the basics like I mentioned above.

      And that’s what makes Brain Training for Dogs so good. It’ll show you exactly how to teach your boy the basics of obedience and then move on to more challenging stuff.

      And it also deals with how to stop behaviors like unnecessary barking and such.

      I still use the program with my dogs.

      Here’s a review I wrote on Brian Training for Dogs.

      I hope this helps.

      Let me know if you have others questions.

      Chat soon,
      Rosemary

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