Raising your voice...? Long post.
Sunny is 4 months and 10 days old and is extremely (fingers crossed) well trained for his age. His recall is almost a 100% even at a dog park and when there are like 15 dogs around him he wants to play with. Heeling is preetty good but we're getting there. (everything is ALWAYS done with his favorite treats)
When he's not listening to my commands properly I don't raise my voice too much. If 0 is the voice level I give commands in, (on a scale of 0-5) I raise my voice to 0.5 the first time he doesn't listen to me, then 1 and then I raise my voice to 1.5. And so far, he has responded quite well.
(Things I say are: HEY! AAh AAAH! HEEEY! they all mean 'no' in different levels, and I'm consistent with them)
- If, lets say, he doesn't heel and sit next to me when we're on a walk (command given at 0), I push his butt down to the ground to make him sit. A gentle nudge is all it takes.
- If he is whining at a starbucks when my buddy and I are sitting outside and he just wants to run around, I say a command at a 0 first and then at a 0.5...1. Then I just nudge his butt (if I had asked him to sit and he didn't do it), think of the nudge like as if someone is tickling you. Just to get his attention.
Scenario where I raise my voice to 3:
- When my little cousins are over (3 and 6 years old) and they run away from him. Him being a shepherd, he wants to chase them and he starts barking and running towards them (I have him on leash whenever they come over these days). Thats when I start from a 3. If he heels (heel said at a 3) and doesn't stop barking, I hold his mouth shut for about 10 seconds saying 'no or aah aaah' at .5 and he gets it (no pressure at all). The funny thing is, he is GREAT with kids except my cousins, I think its because they are extremely scared of dogs and he can sense it.
4 & 5:
- Before when he was a little landshark, a loud OUCH when he used to bite me (4 and sometimes 5, I have a few battle scars on my hand :P). He's not a landshark anymore.
- Happened today actually. He absolutely hates seeing his own video on a smart phone. Period. It's always funny and cute. Today I flipped my phone's camera to face the front and I was playing with him by showing his own reflection. As usual he started barking. At the same time I was petting his head and in the midst, he growled (not too much) and he snapped the air about a foot away from my hand, a bark snap to be more precise. Thats when I said "HEEEY" at a level 5. His reaction: tail between his legs and trotted away. I called him back put him in a down stay for 20 seconds and then started playing with him (didn't give him a treat).
Also, I'm training him with treats and clicker since he was 7 weeks old. I always have a fanny pack with all sorts of treats. As soon as he obeys my command (when he hasn't done something he isn't supposed todo) he gets a treat (or more, if the command is a recall and / or find).
My question is: Am I being too harsh on him? He is 60 pounds and all muscle. My goal is to have my mom walk him when he is fully grown (she is 5' 4" 120 pounds).
If I am being too harsh, what are the things I should change? As you guys probably know already, I and everyone else in my family loves him to death (me more than others).
Or am I just being overly paranoid? (happens pretty often with me regarding Sunny)