Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Denver Colorado USA
Re: Training an older dog
Actually, training him step by step like a puppy is exactly what you will have to do, because he has no foundation. He doesn't sound bonded to you or anyone in your family, which isn't surprising because you haven't invested much time in him. In order for dogs to form a partnership, they have to understand their position in the group, and have a human (or humans) spend a lot of time with them - training, playing with them, and exercising them. Shepherds especially need a lot of mental and physical exercise, and they were, and still are, bred to be with people. Your fellow, for 11 years, has essentially been on his own - you've been in the house but have ignored some of his basic needs. So no, he probably doesn't respect you - that has to be earned.
No dog however is too old to learn. I don't know how old you are (you sound young) but if you are serious about adding quality to your dog's life, you need to look for a trainer in your area and take him to a group obedience class.This will give him socialization with other people and dogs. You will both learn together. Other members of your family will need to go too -all people must be on the same page. You need to keep up the walks, for as far as he is able to go, not just around the block. Keep playing with him, he will get the hang of it. Dogs, like children, are WORK. But a relationship with one, based on love and respect,can be one of life's most rewarding experiences.
Conor GSD - adopted from this Board
Blue GSD - waiting at the Bridge