Where should I start? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Where should I start?

Hi folks,

We accepted a trial with a 3 y/o

The primary reason the current owners have to give him up is because they have had a change in family situation and the new home is too small and the dog was starting to get problematic due to lack of exercise and room to move.

We have lots of land and space but absolutely NO experience with dogs. Our farm has lots for the dog to do but where to start.

SO here is the coles notes on what I've seen so far.

The dog had been cramped condition for over a year.. likely close to a year and a half. I suspect much of his time has been spent in his crate when not being walked as the owner spent a lot of time working.

Temperament is great so far he is playful and friendly, always wants to play.

Here is the tough parts. (for me).

We decided to try and keep him close to his usual schedule until the anxiety of the change subsides. I am having a hard time evaluating what is bad habits and anxiety from the change.

So he has been sleeping at nights in his crate. He came with a crate, a toy and a leash.
He also spent the day in his crate when people not home.

He is absolutely calm and fine in his crate.. relaxed and not anxious at all.
If I get him out to come and spend time with the family, he runs around like its play time.. he won't settle down and will barely focus enough to sit or lay down. Even then it is only momentary and he is back to tearing around. He jumps up on the furniture.. usually paws up on it, grabs things like shoes or digs into things he shouldn't. Face up on the counters occasionally paws up on counters.

So figuring there was some transition required I have tried to consistently police him on these things by moving him away, telling him no, etc. Eventually he wears me down and I have had to put him back in his crate. The house is not dog proofed but my family has dogs and I've never had to move things before so I'm going to try and get him to mind the things he can't / shouldn't have.

He doesn't stay persay, but when not frenzied in excitement he will sit and lay... I think I can work on the stay thing.. and I'm thinking that is my first mission. not sure how to go about it yet.. google is my friend here.

Ok so outside when walking, he is ok, he has a pinch colar but he doesn't pull much, he likes to walk ahead and I suspect that is because in the city the sidewalks he likely always walked ahead. I would like to work with him to walk at my side ultimately slack free. But lots of room to improve here.. that isn't so much a concern atm.

Now it will be a bit complicated because I have a "walk" and then a "run" so a run is going to be less structured as it is in the trails where he is on a lunge lead. He gets about 15 feet of lead to run sniff play jump etc. I'd like eventually to get him to recall. He responds to a tug on the leash but has rarely responded to my call of his name followed by a 'come' command. so work there.

My question is what should I focus on and when.. should I give him a few more days.. I feel that putting him in the crate when I've reached my patience limit might be a bad thing.

I will admit that I was unprepared for this challenge and did not expect the house behaviour to be so off. I suspect that maybe he didn't get hang around time for a long time so every time he leaves his crate he thinks its play time because he has this chew toy always.. but this could be a security blanket too.. I don't know.

He is great with kids so far, and they said he has been socialized with other animals, but I can't say how much. I would like to train him to herd sheep / cattle in the spring (although it likely won't really be necessary as they are grazed managed).. wink he won't know that.

they had him on a 3 cups of dry food once a day (is that normal) I've always known my family to feed theirs twice a day. He didn't eat the whole bowl last night, so once he walked away I picked it up. (thoughts on that)

I see he has intelligence, he is alert, but having no experience with GSD, what to you all think.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 03:40 PM
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How long have you had him?
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 04:11 PM
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3 years old...little to no real training. Anything outside of the crate is free-for-all play time. As you know you can't fix it all at once. You need to start with just good basic OB and manners. He needs to learn a firm Sit, Stay and COME. He needs to bond with you. That will take time. Lots of outside walks and training will burn off the energy so he can learn the house is the down time place. I would recommend no play in the house. You may have to leash him with you for awhile in the house so he learns to just be calm with you and not running around looking for the toy. Using the crate as a calm down spot is good...just don't make it a punishment. It sounds like he is good in the crate so that may not be an issue. You may need to go from the crate straight to outside to do some training before returning to the house to work on the downtime thing. If he is wound up needing exercise he will not settle well. FIND a good trainer. There is a saying that "a tired dog is a good dog" It can take a lot to tire out a GSD but mental training tends to tire them faster than all the running you can give. GO to classes. Learn how to train. If you are inexperienced with dogs you need the class to help yourself not just him. Older dogs do have habits that can be hard to work through. It is not hopeless...just be patient and persistent. Good Luck
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Last edited by SiegersMom; 12-15-2016 at 04:14 PM.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 04:59 PM
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Everything about his life with you is new to him. He is so happy to be loved and cared for, he doesn't know how to behave. You have to teach him what you want. Can you gate off one room where he can play and be a little wild indoors? Does he like toys or chewers? Does he have enough mental exercise to keep him busy? Find an area outside where he can run safely and wear himself out every day. Dogs are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, so try to get him outside at those times before he gets so out of control he can't calm down. After he runs, call him back for something wonderful. It should be you but for now, either a toy or a treat. Leash him and work on basic obedience. Do a lot of long sits and long downs so he learns to settle. While I think Place is overused, a good Place command or Settle command will show him when he needs to be quiet and where. Do that for a month and see if he calms down and learns indoors.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 09:41 PM
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I've fostered lots and lots of dogs who have no house manners and are bonkers at first. We always have the new dog on a leash in the house for at least the first week, maybe longer. They don't have free-run of the house. They can't get in trouble. They're always right next to me. I have a pocket full of treats, and when they're being calm and good, I occasionally drop one without making a fuss about it.

Keeping them on-leash in the house in the beginning makes a huge difference in the transition.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 11:17 PM
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I got a relatively untrained pup in september, he does the crazy run around grab shoes and play thing when i get home. I found being very calm when i get home, saying a calm hello and then walking to the backdoor and go outside, then celebrate me being home where he can run around, grab toys and go crazy all he wants, therefore house manners aren't being thrown out of his brain from being so hyper,teaching him to still stay relatively calm in the house, plus he does his business and such while we are outside. Get him out for the right amount of exercise, start with basic OB after exercise/ when the extra energy is out but he's not super tired. just keep working on making the basic solid and work up to him listening to them in the hyper time when you get home or he wants to play. work on the house manners with the jumping to counters and food. tying them to you always helps to keep them in sight and easy to stop them from doing anything easy to correct him when he does do things you might not want.
I've always fed twice a day I think its better for their digestion and stops them from getting hungry and such (in my opinion, maybe i'm being to "human" about it)
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-16-2016, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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We are nearing the end of day 3.

I'm pretty sure I'm able to get a read on the bad habits now, he is eating and drinking normally.
We are keeping him as close to his original schedule as we can.

He is getting tons of exercise.

Last night he finally settled down while we were all watching some TV and laid down on his own.
I found tonight the leash idea was spectacular. He was so much easier to manage. I felt that I was praising him with very little negative.

He is such a different dog on the leash. I am initiating some training now. We have also started looking for a local trainer that can attend our home.

It is an amazing transformation, when on the leash or in the crate. When everyone is settled he did last night, and I think he will regularily. But if there is moderate activity he gets in this play mode. If he doesn't have a toy you can watch his mind work to entertain himself. For example I have a stack of ruck sacks and I was working, he was watching, occasionally nosing in to see what it was all about (installed a water softener). I gave him some praise for being so good, and he spun around looking for his toy, wasn't there, so he pulled out a ruck sack and watched it drop to the floor. I said no, and called him, on the way back he reached out on the move and pulled out another off the rack as he walked back. it was purely a mischievous play thing that I've seen the same look when the kids are chasing him around outside for his stick.

I felt better about today.. I think we are both starting to relax.

I was watching videos on using the clicker as a training aid. Does this work well in general?

Thanks Magwart on the leash idea.
and thanks to everyone who responded, it did help to put some of this into perspective. I am going to continue in the days to come to separate playtime outside, with life inside. Until tomorrow, cheers
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