Terrible teens are a-brewing! How can we survive it?? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Terrible teens are a-brewing! How can we survive it??

Amber will be 6 months old on May 1st. We got her at 8 weeks. She was a tricky puppy but we got through that with puppy classes and lots of at-home training sessions. At about the 15-week mark, something clicked. She got potty-training down to a T, recall was great, biting was at a minimum, and she was generally becoming a polite, sweet and well-behaved girl.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago and this started to change. She's discovered her bark and uses it at every opportunity. She barks at other dogs when on the lead or off. She's polite when they come close but other owners tend not to let her get close enough for that. She barks at birds, cats and people outside the window. She barks if I stand up off the sofa too quickly. She barks at figments of her own imagination. Her recall is poor - sometimes it works but not as much as I would like.

Worst of all, she barks and attempts to chase passing cars. Where we live, we don't have pavements so I have to walk her on the road. It's pretty quiet so at certain times of day we might not see a car at all. Right from the beginning I trained her that when a car comes and I direct her onto the grass verge, she should sit and look at me for further instructions, and if she stays still and quiet while the car passes she gets a treat. Throughout I trained her to do this as a car was approaching and sometimes also when there is no car, so she understands that she should do it whenever I tell her regardless of what us going on around her. It's my job to tell her when to do it, it's her job to do it. She got it pretty quickly! But now, she'll come to the verge but then she will ignore me completely, she will focus on the approaching car and when the car comes near she will attempt to chase it and bark. I have to hold her harness to prevent her coming to harm. She's pushing 22kg now so that's not always easy! I feel like telling her "NO!" when she does this will not reinforce that it is wrong, she may think I am just joining in. She doesn't do it correctly enough for me to reinforce the good behaviour.

There's a ton of other mischievous things she does that I won't go into here or we'll be here all day. She is really picky with her food and sometimes goes a day on an empty stomach besides treats for good behaviour because she has ignored her breakfast, which makes her behaviour worse. The car-chasing behaviour is the one I am most desperate to fix quickly as it puts her in danger and she did do it so well before.

I am going to try getting her into an obedience class soon. Other than being patient, consistent and exercising her properly, is there anything else I can try to make sure these behaviours don't get entrenched into adulthood? I can ride it out IF it will go away on its own, but that's a big IF!
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 09:24 AM
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You can ride it out and it will be absolutely worth it. Classes will help. Having a weekly outing makes a big difference. I basically used group classes to teach my dogs to work near other dogs without the expectation to go and play or meet and greet. With my big-boy the entire first class I was in a corner going "look at me". By the 2nd class he realized he wasn't going to get to play and settled into working. Out on the street you have to get a head start on directing your dog before they zero in on the other dog. That takes a lot of practice.

I personally switched from a harness to a prong collar at 6 months. You don't need to go prong but I find giving directions with a collar is more precise than dragging their body around with a harness. Also the type of harness you use makes a big difference. I use harness to ALLOW a dog to pull, not stop them.

As far as the barking goes, everything new MUST be tested, it seems. The new statue must be barked at, the motorcycle parked in a new spot must be barked at, seafoam wafting on the beach must be barked at...etc. But once it is tested it no longer needs to be barked at.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-10-2018, 11:16 AM
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I put Gunny in a Keeper collar, borrowed from his Dutch Shepherd sister, when he was about that age. Little less prongs than a prong collar. He is now going to get his own Keeper collar as you don't need to back them up with another collar. But he is also learning a full prong/pinch collar a the training building. If you do go prong/pinch make sure you back it up with a martingale or buckle collar. They will come undone at times. But they are a life and dog saver. Gunny is just 9 months, bigger than I expected, and I have compromised strength in my hands. I could not even get him to the vehicle from the house if not for his prong. If you are from country that has banded them (angry face) you might be able to get a Starmark plastic type (again back it up). A Keeper collar is not as adjustable in size for a puppy. She is making Gunny's with an extra long "tug" (what the lead hooks to) and extra long leather for the buckle. But they are not cheap. You can try to up your reward for redirecting with a super special treat, and if possible to back even further off the road.

dogbyte Cathy, Rossi ( the Dutch shepherd) and Gunny (the Czech/DDR GSD) with Zoey, Chance,Xara,Gracie, and Jaden snuggled deep within my heart
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