Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Without seeing him it's hard to say, but I have three suspicions about what could possibly be going on here.
1. Your timing is off, and because of that he is confused and maybe isn't really motivated to respond quickly. This can happen with some dogs if you reward too slowly when they do listen, or otherwise confuse them or aren't totally clear about what they want. Clicker training is great for this, you have to practice your timing there too but a lot of people find it easier to click than to try to reward.
2. I'm sorry if I'm making assumptions here, but if you don't have time to a training class, my first thought is that you are not giving him enough exercise or stimulation. How much exercise do you give him every day, and do you do any sports or work with him? If he's bored or has pent-up energy, he may be more interested in checking out his surroundings than in whatever you want him to do. If this is the case, the answer is to just get him out more. Take him on lots of walks, different places, give him a job to do, etc.
3. It is also possible that you are just expecting too much, and that he doesn't know his commands as well as you think he does. Does he respond immediately every time at home, or do you have to work a bit there too? Do you work on obedience in the house as well as outside, or is the only time he hears most of these commands when he is on a walk? I suspect this is the least likely possibility because you say he is good with his commands otherwise, but it is a possibility. If this is the case, you just need to step up your obedience training, both at home where there aren't many distractions and outside where there are many.
I would really recommend that you make the time to work with a trainer. Owning your own dog is different from just being around them, and a working GSD is a difficult dog for your first dog. Even just one or two private sessions a month would probably be beneficial for when problems like this show up.
The rowdy dogs:
Hector-2 y/o GSD (mix?) rescue
Scooter-12 y/o ACD/Border Collie mix
Bandit-8 y/o ACD
Wooby-14 y/o ACD
Abutiu "Abi"-ACD puppy and hopeful future SAR dog!