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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 14 1/2 wk old Purebred German Shepherd female pup.

I want her to be really I guess.. well disciplined.

For example, I want her to give me the focus and have the obedience that you see with say perhaps a police dog, or a border collie crouched waiting for his master to throw the frisbee.

I know she's too young to expect all of that from her now. But I want to start working towards that.

I live in the middle of nowhere 30 mins away from the nearest dog training place. With my two young children I don't have the time to commit 2 hours to dog training in a single day, nor do I really have the money to pay someone right now.

I've done a lot with her on my own, using positive reward and quick corrections for mistakes she makes so she knows what she's done wrong. She has a problem with urinating every time she is excited, afraid or submitting.

She knows how to sit, stay and walk on a leash well.
She knows come to some extent, however her desire to come to me, or continue with whatever she is playing with at the time determines whether she wants to obey that command sometimes. (yesterday she found something dead in the woods, and completely ignored our calls to her and dissapeared into the brush with her findings)

She looks at me when I am training her pretty intensely. She is very eager to please.
Sometimes she loses focus however, and that is something I would like to correct. If we are in public, getting her to sit is a challenge, she is very focused on whatever she is looking at in the distance that she doesn't even appear to hear my sometimes. I want her to be focusing on me at all times if I give her a command. If I want her to sit when a child passes by, I want her to Sit and STAY SITTING. Not sit, and then stand up when the child gets really close.
I guess my question is how can I get her to really focus on me more intently, especially when we are in public. I do carry treats with me, and I try to lure her back onto me with the treats, but usually she ignores them if she really wants the people walking by to pet her. She doesn't pull when people, dogs, animals, critters walk by at least. She does just stand with me and she doesn't usually bark at other dogs. She's only barked and pulled towards two large dogs once, any other dogs she ignores, for some reason she really didn't like these two dogs though.
Am I expecting too much out of her at this age? What sort of expectations should I follow for her age?
I just want to set her on the right path towards success and I am unsure as to what training I should be starting her with.
 

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Do you teach attention as a trained behavior? It's really the foundation for everything else you are wanting. Remember that you have a baby puppy, and it's going to take time to get the same kind of attention in public as you can get in the house. When you go to a more challenging environment you need to up the level (and possibly value) of your reinforcement. But this does NOT mean waving treats under her nose when she is distracted. (Ie - rewarding the behavior you DON'T like) Take baby steps. If she gets it wrong, instead of "correcting" (I hate that term), go back and figure out where you asked too much or were unclear. It's not easy for a dog to be at the same time working to get reward and worrying about getting it wrong. Recognize that you probably think a behavior is really trained before it is. Training until response to the cue is almost automatic is key. Create a habit. Create a desire for the dog to get to respond to the cue. For my dogs, the cue means the bar is open. You now have the opportunity to earn treats. I can't get that attitude if I spend a lot of time telling the dog he's wrong. So while my dogs might be interrupted from doing something dangerous, I don't interrupt them from trying to get it right. If there's something going on more exciting than our training, I will manage that situation rather than shoot myself in the foot by asking for something the dog is, at that point, unable to give me. When you are training, take advantage of environmental rewards. If greeting people is more exciting than getting treats, use greeting people as the reward. (People will only pay attention to you when you are sitting - otherwise they go away)
 

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Please don't correct a baby dog. It's unnecessary and counterproductive. You're already seeing the fallout in submissive peeing, it gets worse from here.

Look, I get wanting one of those awesome oh-so-obedient dogs. I do. Unfortunately, that's not something you can have at 14.5 weeks. That is the result of lots of hard work and time, and maturity on the part of the dog. You can no more force that with corrections than you can make a person love you by buying them gifts.

In order to consider a command learned, the dog needs to have performed that command successfully 300 times (at least) in varying places with varying distractions. Many people think that just because their dog came when called a few times in the living room, they totally know it and should be punished for not following through. So they figure what that dog needs is corrections, which just damages their relationship, confuses the dog and gets in the way of learning.

Please read Culture Clash. It's a great book and it will really help you understand your dog and her needs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Oh gosh, I didn't realize how awful that sentence "corrections when she makes mistakes" actually came out when I typed it. This is NOT what I meant at all! In correcting I mean just ignoring the bad behaviour in the correct circumstance, and simply rewarding and lavishing her with praise when she does something good! ie: Jumping up, turn away, ignore until all paws are on the ground. I know expecting her to be amazing at 14.5 weeks is waaay too much. I only wanted to set her up onto the right path. I know trying to correct a bad behavior is harder than just not allowing it to become a habit at the start. ie: you're not allowed on the carpet ever rather than. Well you're allowed right now because you're cute and small, but when you're older you're suddenly not allowed.

Akira does not pee with me or the children, she does pee when strangers reach out to pet her. I've been trying to teach her that strangers are not to be afraid of by giving new people treats to give her so that she will think, oh well.. when a person approaches my mommy and I at the door, it's okay and this new person is pretty cool.

Akira and I are getting along really well, she's a total mama's girl. Her father on the other hand is causing problems with her self esteem, and no matter how much I beg and plea for his patience in this tender matter, he will not listen. Akira is terrified of him, if my husband so much as looks at her, she submissively pees even if she's across the room. It's his fault, he is physical with her when she does something wrong, and he does it at an inappropriate time, so the poor thing doesn't even have a clue why this big scary man is scolding her.

ie: My hubby wants the kids to like the dog, right now they are sort of afraid of her because she has jumped up onto them a few times and scratched them up. This again, however is my husbands fault. He puts her into a situation where she is going to fail and then scolds her for failing. We get back from karate with the kids, the dog has been in her crate for 2 hours. We get home, and hubby decides he wants all of us to go play with the dog so the kids will like her.. now, at this point, I start trying to explain to him "she's been in her cage, she's going to be wound up and she is going to jump on everyone" can you at least let me get her out of her cage and calm her down a bit before you bring the kids in?" Now, while I do go down and do the initial "OMG I THOUGHT YOU WERE NEVER COMING HOME I'M SO HAPPY PLEASE HOLD ME OMG!" greeting from my dog. I open the cage, and point towards the door and say "outside" as I don't want her to pee. She happily trots along side me to the door, once we're outside, she may make an attempt to jump up, I turn and ignore until she is sitting and then I greet her. At that point, hubby brings the kids out. The kids grab her toys and they start running around and taunting the dog. Of course, what does she want to do? Run with them and PLAY. She's been in her crate for 2 hours and she needs to get out that energy. So she runs after the kids, and jump up on them both. At which point my hubby goes over, grabs her by the scruff, points at the kids and says "NO" I really don't feel like this is productive at all. It's unfair to expect a 14.5 week old puppy not to want to play when she gets out of her cage with two kids running around holding her toys. It's like bringing a 4 year old to the park and telling him he's not allowed to play with the other children and that he can only sit on the bench and watch. When my husband is at work and it's just with me the kids and the dog. Every morning we have our breakfast, get dressed and then take the dog for a walk on the nature trail by our house. I walk her first for a bit, then I let her off leash to burn off all that energy. Once she's pretty sonked, THEN I will put the leash on her and let the kids "walk" her. Really all their doing is holding the leash while she walks along side us, and I make them fix the leash when she gets it under her belly. The kids feel like they're doing something important. After that, we will go home, cool off, and then go play with the puppy. Now, this play is us in a large empty room. Akira is tired so she plays gently and slowly. She will quietly follow the kids around and gently take her toys from their little hands. She will lay on the ground and they will both go over and rub all over her. This way, the kids are interacting with the dog, they're all building a relationship, and no one is getting scared or hurt. THIS is how I think interactions should go until our pup matures enough to know the little ones are easy to knock down and hurt. If only my husband understood this...

My hubby has told me he's "Tired of my dog psychology bullshit" and he is just going to play with the dog the way he's done his whole life with his other dogs. That's great, and I get that it may have worked for your dominant tough pups, but Akira was the softy of the litter and she needs a lot of calm, patience and reassurance that she is doing a great job. I am constantly reassuring her and praising her when she does well. Like I said, she and I have a great relationship, but I'm afraid my husband is only destroying any progress I've made with her when he scolds her.

Yesterday remember how she ran into the woods with a piece of something dead and ignored our calls to come to us? When he finally caught Akira (Akira wouldn't even let either of us catch her, and it was only because of my 5 year old holding her collar that we managed to grab her) my hubby literally picked her up by her scruff, held her at his eye level and yelled at her as if she understood a word he was saying. Now, while she did then follow him after that like a good dog and came whens he was called.. I fully believe that the punishment was inappropriate and not understood by Akira.

I'm a horse trainer in the real world, and while I have limited knowledge on dog psychology, I've learned that similar equine training techniques work with dogs as well. Patience, understanding, and reward. I think the #1 foundation for training any animal is to have a deep understand of the way they think and interpret things.

I've order that book you suggested Amaryllis, thank you.

Does anyone have a suggestion for what I should do with Akira now? I do continue to do our sit, stay, and walk on a leash without pulling every day for short periods of times. Should I be integrating some other techniques into our daily training sessions? I don't want her to get bored.
 

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You seem like you have a pretty sensible approach. Your husband, otoh, seems like ... well, .. like a caveman, sorry. I see THAT as the biggest potential roadblock to successful training. You'll probably need to work out the conflict if you want your journey to go smoothly.

Does anyone have a suggestion for what I should do with Akira now? I do continue to do our sit, stay, and walk on a leash without pulling every day for short periods of times. Should I be integrating some other techniques into our daily training sessions? I don't want her to get bored.
That sounds like a good amount for a 14 week puppy to work on. If the dog is succeeding well with the ones you mentioned, I might begin to throw an introduction to fronts into the mix, intro to heel position, maybe a play retrieve, ... and some stationary attention for sure. Keep in mind that, education-wise, she's just a pup with much more on her plate than meets the eye.
 

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Yesterday remember how she ran into the woods with a piece of something dead and ignored our calls to come to us? When he finally caught Akira (Akira wouldn't even let either of us catch her, and it was only because of my 5 year old holding her collar that we managed to grab her) my hubby literally picked her up by her scruff, held her at his eye level and yelled at her as if she understood a word he was saying. Now, while she did then follow him after that like a good dog and came whens he was called.. I fully believe that the punishment was inappropriate and not understood by Akira.

I'm a horse trainer in the real world, and while I have limited knowledge on dog psychology, I've learned that similar equine training techniques work with dogs as well. Patience, understanding, and reward. I think the #1 foundation for training any animal is to have a deep understand of the way they think and interpret things.

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Oh my. What a wonderful way to teach a dog NOT to come or allow herself to be caught. The last thing she did was allow herself to be caught, and since dogs tend to associate consequences with the last thing they did . . . Dog training is not that different from horse training. There are people who train very humanely in both areas - and people who don't. There are also people who think they have to act like the animals in order to communicate with them, and those who understand that we can share a third language (I use clicker training). We can work at understanding how they see things, but it's difficult to be sure our theories are sound, and not a projection of ourselves. It's much easier to study and understand the laws of behavior and learning (operant and classical conditioning). Once you have a basis in that, you can formulate ways to communicate more effectively.
It sounds to me like the issue is not really the training of the dog but your husband's lack of respect for your ability, feelings and wishes. I find that sad. I would also address that, and be careful not to allow the dog to become a pawn in your marital relations issues.
It's wonderful to have empathy for how animals feel, and how they are likely to intepret things. For real training though, I think it is at least equally important to understand how learning theory works and how to use it. Look at some of the Kikopup videos on Youtube for some excellent ideas on how and what you can teach her.
 

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She knows come to some extent, however her desire to come to me, or continue with whatever she is playing with at the time determines whether she wants to obey that command sometimes. (yesterday she found something dead in the woods, and completely ignored our calls to her and dissapeared into the brush with her findings)
Sounds like she needs more work in recall. I would spend time working on just that to build that behavior up much more strongly. I'd also work on a strong leave-it so you can direct her off such things before she can grab-and-go with them. Both can be taught quickly with positive reinforcement.

She looks at me when I am training her pretty intensely. She is very eager to please.
Sometimes she loses focus however, and that is something I would like to correct. If we are in public, getting her to sit is a challenge, she is very focused on whatever she is looking at in the distance that she doesn't even appear to hear my sometimes. I want her to be focusing on me at all times if I give her a command. If I want her to sit when a child passes by, I want her to Sit and STAY SITTING. Not sit, and then stand up when the child gets really close.
Different contexts require training during that context. I would work on the attention and such in calm situations and then try her in progressively more 'interesting' scenarios, going back to the beginning. Looking at you in the midst of training and looking at you when there's kids and people and other stuff around, that's a different challenge indeed.

Continue to work with focusing on you and then put a cue to the behavior so you can call upon it when you need it. Then you can use the interaction as a reward since that's what she truly wants. Rewards don't have to be treats - they are whatever the dog wants most in that situation.

Am I expecting too much out of her at this age? What sort of expectations should I follow for her age?
I just want to set her on the right path towards success and I am unsure as to what training I should be starting her with.
Perhaps to a point, yeah. She's really young and really interested in the world around her. She's in full "absorb the world" mode. Focusing and such might be a challenge for her like it is for a lot of young human children. Still, it's not to young to work on these things and build these habits.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone, your input has been very helpful.
I understand that she is in full absorb mode, today for instance my kids and I were walking on the nature trail, and a bike started to approach. I stopped to allow him to pass, and Akira sat by her own leisure, at my side and waited. She is weary of new things/people, so I reassure her throughout the process. She simply wanted to sit and watch, absorb and learn. As the bike approached, the man told me "he had to stop and see my dog" (I get this a lot lol) he kneeled and allowed her to come to his hand (I could tell he was a dog owner) she licked and loved on him, happy to greet a stranger without fear as a friend. I feel like we all handled the situation well. She is not afraid of strangers, bikes, cars ect.. and when she shows fear, she looks up at me, and I calmy speak to her that it's okay. Upon hearing my voice you can tell by her body language that she is calmed. She always looks to me for protection and encouragement in new situations and I always praise her for being brave and good. She doesn't pull when my kids walk her. My 5 year old knows how to "become a tree" If she begins to pull, he will say "no!" and become a tree, upon feeling more tension in her line, she looks back at my son, and with a look of understanding, slows her pace and walks along side him as if she understands that he too is just a little pup. She has a wonderful maternal instinct. When we walk on the trails, she always checks to see if the little ones aren't too far behind. On many occasions, she will look back, disagree with how far they've wandered, and will sit or lay down in the road watching them intently until they get catch up. Once they catch up to us, she sniffs them all over, then continues walking. She's constantly checking us to make sure we're all still together and safe, and she really keeps a close eye on the little ones. It's a beautiful thing to watch.
 

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Is Akira a GSD? My GSD mix was like that with children. It was heartwarming to watch.

I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions. "correction" has a specific meaning in training. You sound like you're doing well. Your husband . . . Well, not so much.

Have you tried a challenge? Ask him to let you prove what works. Pick a new word for recall and train it hardcore. Make recall so rewarding, Akira will run to you. Don't let him know what the word is. train until Akira is great at it, then challenge your husband. Let him use the old word, then use your new word. When he sees how much better she responds, challenge him to master positive techniques. Turn it into a game- what cool thing can we teach our dog?

Maybe that will work. I hope.
 

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One thing I can give advice on is the recall...

Our former GSD Marshall (who we just devastatingly and unexpectedly lost 2 months ago) had a ROCK SOLID recall. I mean (and we've trained in this actual scenario) when running full speed the opposite direction from 100 yards away rock solid. For the record...we did LOTS of obedience classes. I miss that dog! Anyway...

The key to getting this is to start early (which you've already done) but more importantly to 1. never use the command when it can't be enforced (which you haven't done) and 2. never give the dog any reason to think that coming to you will result in anything other than lavish praise/delicious food/the start of her favorite game/etc (which you also haven't done)!

At such a young age the only time you should use the command is when she's attached to a long line. If she's outside and you need her in...go out there and get her attention and lure her in...don't use the command when there's a chance she'll ignore it. Build up distractions very very slowly. Remember...she's still SUPER young!! :)

You may want to even consider changing to a new word and starting over (I use 'here' because so many people who don't know your dog use 'come' as a default). I actually started by just treating every time my dog came to me (while on a long line) over and over before ever even introducing a cue for it. Every time she comes to you make it 100% candy and gumballs.

Lastly...practice practice practice!! But remember not to overdo it with such a young pup. Keep it fun and keep training sessions short. Good luck!
 

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Here is what I think you should do. I think you should find a good puppy obedience class (one that uses positive reinforcement and clicker training) and attend with...WITH your husband. This kind of obedience class is at least 50% about training the people. Going to obedience school and learning better ways to train will help both of you, and as a bonus you and your husband will be able to get on the same page about training methods. Plus it's fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone! The game suggestions for the hubby are a great idea. I certainly will try it. As far as obedience classes. I would LOVE to go to them, I really would. Unfortunatley due to our location (middle of nowhere) being 30mins from society, two kids, 4 and 5, a working husband. We don't have the time to take her. There isn't anyone to care for the kids (we haven't found a babysitter willing to come out to our home so far out. Which puts me in the position of training her. When I started I really didn't have a clue what I was doing and just used similar positive training techniques used with horses. When I became confused and wasn't getting a good response my Akira, I looked up techniques online, which worked flawlessly.

I'm sorry this is a stupid question, but I am new to dog terms. What is GSD?

I am going to post a full body shot of her soon (my camera literally broke on me 3 days ago) She is beautifully coloured. We never saw her parents or litter mates. She has a full blanket, with light tan and red markings, a medium sized mask, with a very unique white stripe that forms into the shape of a harness. Very pretty! Perhaps I can get some opinions on her background. Her breeder is not responding to any of my E-mails so that is a lost cause >.<

Working on Recall will be our new focus :)
 

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Sorry, must hijack.

Unfortunatley due to our location (middle of nowhere) being 30mins from society,
You think 30 mins from society is in the middle of nowhere? Were an hour and a half from the nearest walmart (and in thus society) and its not even a supercenter, just a regular little walmart. Via the pizza hut rule we are officially in the middle of nowhere, I don't think we have one within 200 miles. We cant get milk on a sunday as the grocery store is closed without driving to the big city an hour and a half away. Our town just made it to the 500 people mark this year (Score!)

You may be able to see the middle of nowhere from where you are and if you can wave at those of us that actually are in the middle of nowhere, lol.

Hijack over. :D
 

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Guitar Guy gave you some excellent advice: use a long line when working on recall so that when you give the command you can make certain your dog will come to you. Keep training sessions short and fun -- your German Shepherd is naturally smart and eager to please, but still very young. If you're giving food rewards, you might try cutting hot dogs (raw is fine) into nickel-sized slices; they won't be chewed for as long as, say, a biscuit (so you can keep things moving), can be delivered quickly and are inexpensive. When my dog gives me the behavior I'm asking for, I say "Okay!" as a release and then treat him. Be consistent in your expectations and your commands -- if you get lazy, so will your dog; if you use confusing language, you'll confuse your dog -- and be patient. Most training errors are the fault of the trainer, NOT the dog. (On that note, I might add that your husband sounds as if he could use some education. I hope he doesn't abuse your children, too?) It's great fun when you're working with your dog and you feel rhythm and communication developing (and, in my opinion, you couldn't ask, overall, for a more receptive breed than a German Shepherd).

I agree with the person who recommended The Culture Clash and I also endorse The Other End of the Leash, a great book by Patricia McConnell. It's also a good idea, if you haven't already, to read one of the many good books available about German Shepherds, so that you understand the nature of your particular breed of dog.

Your GSD will give his/her life for you; be worthy of that!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes she is pure GSD. I will begin working on the recall today.

Kodi, I suppose you really are in the middle of nowhere! Like I said, it's really just a problem of not having anyone to look after the kids. I found a dog training place that has sessions at 8pm, but that isn't nearly late enough for us to make it to the sessions even if we had a babysitter! Hubby gets home late from work, kids have soccer and karate in the evenings (due to their age they're in different divisions, which fall on different days, ugh!)

And NO! he does not abuse the kids! He's simply ignorant to dog language. He wants to treat his dog the only way he knows how, which is a rough method he learned from his father, who in turn, learned it from his father. It's a cycle of ignorance, one which I've been set out to change. Hubby is starting to get the hint that things aren't working out between him and the dog. He's started to clue in and realize that I have an amazing relationship with Akira because I am doing something he's not!
 

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When my dog gives me the behavior I'm asking for, I say "Okay!" as a release and then treat him.
Not really meaning to nitpick BUT ... this is somewhat flawed, fundamentally.

example: if the dog is left in a sit-stay ... return to heel, "mark" and FEED FOR POSITION while still in the sit-stay, ... and THEN release. You can also pay the release as well, if you want (I usually pay this front and center, informally).

And .. since I'm already going a bit o/t ... a good trick for the hotdogs is to freeze them first before cutting, which will allow you to cut them paper thin with a good sharp knife. I prefer this to quartering them into pencil eraser-sized niblets as some people might suggest (which is actually ok), but if you make them paper thin they will lend themselves well to throwing and STICKING exactly where you throw them rather than 'bouncing' to a less desirable spot like the niblets are prone to do. Throwing food ACCURATELY can be a handy technique to use, in a mark and reward training program.

OK. Nitpick finished, lol.
 

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I am a huge fan of Pat Miller as a trainer. She has a great DVD series that you could buy. (Books, too, but DVD will show you what and how to do what you are trying to do). Also like Jolanta Benal's book and website, search her name and all will appear.

Positive training is 110% the way to go for an "Awesome" GSD. Don't believe anyone who pushes aversive training, yeah it works but at great cost to your relationship with your dog and your dog's eagerness.

Good luck!
T
 
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