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Hi all,
I recently got a German Shepherd puppy and plan to do a lot of training with him, so i have a lot of questions. In the end i want a dog that is obedient but fun, protective but not aggressive, and it would be fun to do some akc obedience trials with him. To make this extra interesting i am new to training a dog. So.... On with the questions:

1. The AKC STAR puppy program, has anyone been through this? What skills are learned? Does anyone have any complaints or praises about it? Would this be a good starting point or would my money and our time be better spent in a beginners puppy class?

2. The AKC Canine Good Citizen program, basically I have the same questions about it that I do about STAR. Is it worth it? Any cheers or jeers?

3. Can anyone give me an idiot's explanation of exactly how the obedience trials work? I have read over what is on the AKC site and it just makes things seem so.... Simple... I must be missing something.

4. Like i said, i want a protective dog, but not an aggressive one. I have read some about schutzhunde training but it seems a bit.... Extreme... Or am i wrong? I don't want my dog to be a mean junkyard dog or anything like that, but at the same time I don't want him to want to play fetch with the guy trying to steal my tv. Any advice there?

5. A potty training question, Jake is getting potty trained... Slowly. He PREFERS to go outside but still pees inside often. He gives no warning that he needs to pee, he just does it, sometimes while walking, leaving a trail across the house. Does anyone know how I can get him to whine, scratch at the door, do the pee pee dance, blow an air horn, anything that would let me know he needs to go out rather than having me guess?

Anyway, thats all I have for now. I thank everyone in advance for any help they can provide!
 

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The only section of your question I can help on is the potty training..lol.

If he's having accidents it means two things:
One: you are not supervising him enough/giving him too much freedom
Two: you are not ANTICIPATING his need to go.

When pups are young they do not have any warning themselves about urination...bladder gets full, they go. Period. It takes time and practice for the muscles controlling the urine flow to develop. It's not a mental learning thing at this point, but truly physical anatomy.
So, puppy needs to go before and after sleep/naps, any excitement, playtime, training, meals etc etc. Take him out every hour or so and keep a chart as to your successes, failures and times and places they occur in relation to meals, activity etc. This helps YOU guesstimate how long he can go at each juncture and when in doubt, take him out. Make sure to reward him each and every time he goes outside and don't punish any accidents inside (cuz they're YOUR fault). In the beginning I take puppies our every 45 minutes to an hour if they have NOT been active (ie in the crate, just hanging out). Over time he will get better at holding it and when you have some success THEN you can look at finding a way for him to signal you to go out. But some dogs just don't do it at all...I only get a death stare and an occasional whine if Cracker is having difficulty (ie diarrhea issues) and the rest of the time I just take her out whenever I think she may need to go.
 
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