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We have a 6 month old GSD that we have had since he was 3 1/2 months old. We are buckeling down on trying to train him better. We recently purchased the Don Sullivan training DVD and are only a few days into that. I have heard on other forums that they prefer the clicker method.

We are also having a few other issues that we would like advice on.

Lately, he has gotten worse at submissive peeing - it isn't anything having to do with a urinary issue as we have had his checked by the vet for this. You can go to put his leash on and he pees, you can be playing with him and he pees, he can tell him no and he pees. What are some ways to help build up his confidence since I think that this may be the issue?

Also, lately, since he lost his "baby coat" he has been scratching alot - more than usual. He does not have fleas or ticks. It seems like it could be allergies. The only thing that I can think of is that we were using Iams pet food that had fish oil in it and we switched to Purina puppy food. But we switched at least a month ago. Any suggestions?

Thanks.
 

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I would definitely look into a higher quality dog food. Iams and Purina could both be the issue. You can research them yourself at http://dogfoodanalysis.com/

If you wanted something in a decent price range you could look at Diamond foods or Chicken Soup, im sure there are several others but both of those are easy to find in my city. I think a 40lb of chicken soup here is roughly $35 - 40, i think Iams is right around that price so you wouldn't be spending much more if any.
 

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Clicker Training - Big YES from me. I prefer it for most behaviors.

Submissive peeing - Notice when he does it and then don't do those things. :) Basically, don't approach him. Call him to you and be aware that if you lean over him or make sudden movements, he's going to pee. So find another way to put his leash on. Always reach slowly and from the side, not the top. Some dogs are fearful and require a "gentler touch" in interacting with them. The clicker training would take you a long way with this dog.

Scratching - Change foods. Go to a grain free food. Both of the foods you list have corn. Dog Food Analysis Go to that site and browse the foods that are 4 stars or more. I would recommend Natural Balance LID (Limited Ingredient Diet). It comes in several flavors. It's a 4 star food.
 

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The training method you're using can also play a big part in the submissive peeing. The Sullivan approach can be a little hard especially with softer dogs (no treats...lots of 'respect'). You have many other options to choose from...clicker...play training...positive/motivational, etc.
 

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Run away from Sullivan, IMO.

I do clicker train for new exercises, but I still stick with Koehler type methods for proofing. My dogs do ok.

It sounds like your boy is a bit soft in temperament, so going to clicker training could be VERY helpful. If you really don't think clicker training is for you after giving it a go, go back to LIGHT compulsion using a flat collar.

This breed has two extremes in temperament: Overly Fearful and Overly Aggressive....the former can feed into the latter if you're not careful.

I'd start taking him out more and more, socialize the crap out of him, and teach him that everything and everybody is GOOD. You will end up with a well adjusted dog.

Do LOTS of things where he can be RIGHT most of the time. Try not to correct if it's not a serious mistake and let him work things out on his own. That's what so many of us love about clicker training. The dog must think things through, and when he gets that click, not only are you reinforcing the behavior, you're building confidence in the dog "OMG I'm so smart! I get it!" and he should start throwing more behaviors at you that you can shape into things he want.

As for his coat, I too suggest switching to a much higher quality food. You don't have to break the bank (I can't, and don't), but there are many affordable foods that are better quality than Purina.

Daily/weekly brushing + a couple of fish oil capsules will help stimulate and distribute oils in the coat as well. I also find that putting conditioner on the coat every now and then during a bath will help to soothe dry skin.
 

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Agreed with the other about higher quality food. Personally, my family and I have been using Nutro ever since we had our first dog, who lived to be 14 years old. On most dog foods, you'll notice that their first ingredient may be some sort of by-product, which is no good for your dog and can often be a reason for some allergies.

I just want to point out that you should never switch your dog's food fully right away. Start off by mixing the new with the old and gradually taking out the old. Immediately switching a dog to a new food can result in allergic reactions resulting in hair loss, skin problems, etc. Dogs thrive on a set diet to stay healthy and happy :]
 

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We totally agree with everyone who suggest a better diet. Our first GS suffered from allergies and a yeast infection. The Vet strongly advised putting her down, but we put her on a raw diet of natural chicken breasts, organic ground beef, a little brown rice, Pro-Bitotics and Bac-pac plus from Nzymes, and Solid Gold's Steamed Bone Meal. I also gave her hydroliyzed White Fish from Seacure. She lived happily another 2 years.
THE WHOLE DOG JOURNAL has done extensive studies on dog food's for their very informative articles. We highly recommend this monthly paper journal.
Our GS pup is now 5 months old and is also on a raw diet with supplements and a little kibble from Trilogy, HealthyPetNet.com. This site also has excellent information. We also order the kibble for our cats and they're thriving. What a difference the food makes. Like us: they are what they eat. AND it's REALLY scary and quite sickening HOW they make commercial dog food. When you find out what's in it, you'll be aghast and absolutely disgusted with the powers that be to let this atrocity exist!! Horrors! Is it any wonder why so many suffer and are so sick with cancers?
The public is becoming educated, thanks much to the internet, and we can now make informed choices. Purchase the very best quality food and it will indeed be MUCH LESS expensive over the years health-wise.

P.S. We use Leerburg's training methods as he has the most experience raising GS's. leerburg.com He also advocates clicker training and offers advice on proper nutrition and diet. :D
 

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You have gotten lots of advice from the resident shepherd experts! I just wanted to say welcome from another GSD owner.
 
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