Can you train 'neutrality' in pup as he grows? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 02-08-2015, 02:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can you train 'neutrality' in pup as he grows?

Hi all,

My guy is just over 5 months now. He is boisterous, confident, friendly and very playful, especially around other dogs. Of course, I want him to be a puppy, but is there a point at which he will adopt the "aloof" or neutral nature that his parents show toward other dogs? Is this something that comes on naturally, or must it be nurtured and trained?

When he is an adult, I would prefer him to be neutral to other dogs, but also to be well mannered and able to play well with dogs of my choosing. Right now, he will pull to meet other dogs, and his recall becomes shaky if there's a dog nearby (either at a play date, or a strange dog at the park while he's on a long recall lead).

I know he's a baby, but just wondering if I can look forward to some neutrality, or if he just missed out on this quality from his parents
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Old 02-08-2015, 02:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's really a little bit of both. As he gets older, you'll probably notice more natural aloofness. Mine was the same way at that age and I never thought he'd stop losing his silly little puppy brain anytime there was a dog. But now at a year and a half, he mostly ignores almost every dog he comes across unless I specifically invite him to greet or play.

And the other part will be training. If you let him lose his puppy mind over and over every time he meets a dog, then that will be his way to greet. If you want him to learn to be calm, it needs to be practiced now even if you can only get a little bit. When mine was five months, we worked on ignoring dogs we were not going to greet by either introducing the opportunity for more fun with me through treats or toys or by creating enough distance that he could focus. If it was a dog he could greet, I would always get a calm sit and focus before he was released to greet.

So my best advice is practice, practice, practice, and don't be afraid to walk away from a greeting if you aren't getting the behavior you want. If he is too ramped up to sit or focus before being released to greet another dog, then it won't help you any to reinforce that excitement by giving up and just letting him go greet. Be consistent and make sure you are using that greeting as reinforcement for good behavior, not bad!
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It also depends on his threshold level. Some dogs are very low threshold and it is genetic. That type will be more of a challenge to manage the neutral behavior. Sometimes making a dog 'sit' to calm is internally ramping them up and they explode instead of calming down. Giving the dog a toy to chew or tug with can help them put that energy into the toy, like a pacifier.
I wouldn't really expect my pup to greet other dogs all the time, they need to learn to just ignore them....the source of excitement should come from the handler, not other people or dogs.
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I find that around a year (or so?) my dogs tend to start getting a bit more into the realization that not EVERY dog and EVERY person is a long lost friend

But truthfully, I don't mind the friendly cause it's way better to have that then a dog that is possibly worried or overly reactive or whatever the other end of the 'friendly' scale is. I want to keep my dogs as a part of my life and able to go anywhere. And friendly assures that (and in my dogs tends to go more aloof but CONFIDENT as they mature.).
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the great advice everyone
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