Obedience Help - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Obedience Help

I have a a three year old GSD who is an amazing dog. I thought him a lot of the basic obedience commands myself at an early age. When I moved I began looking into Schutzhund clubs and learning and reading up on the sport.

My dog has been in the this club for about 9 months now (needless to say I seemed to have started my dog later than most in the club) and he still seems unfocussed/nervous at the club. Every time when do the obedience pattern he seems like he is uninterested no matter how excited I get to try and pump him up. When I practice the obedience pattern with him either at my house the park or else wheter he is perfect. I can get his attention and get him to focus and he will even work for his ball/treats. He recalls and heeling are crisp. Different story at the club. He seems like he is just going through the motions; lagging behind.

I went to take my BH a while back at this club and when it came to the off leash part we fell apart (I say we because I probably have something to do with this, but just dont know what). We ended up failing .

Should I try to find a new club? My trainer says he just needs to get used to the place, but its been 9 months. I dont know what to do. I know my dog probably wont be an amazing schutzhund competitor, but I know what he can do. Its very frustrating because of the inconsistency. If anyone could give me advice I would appreciate it greatly.

Please Help

Last edited by Kevin Washek; 04-15-2010 at 06:40 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 07:06 PM
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Hi Kevin,

What else do you do with your dog at the club, other than practice obedience for the BH routine?

When you practice in other locations, are there other dogs around? How is he in general around other dogs? Has he worked with the gunshots at the club? Any other situation/environment where he shows this kind of nervous and unfocused behaviour?


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 07:21 PM
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Hey Kevin, and welcome to the forum!

I have a 7 month old GSD that started Basic Obediance 6 weeks ago. Same for me. At home he was crisp and alert and full of play. When I took him to training, he was bored, would lay there and sleep. He would go through the motions, but with no zest.

I finally figured out that it was me that was causing him to behave that way. I wasn't real fond of the trainer, and felt that she didn't like me or my dog. I also was putting pressure on myself and my dog by wanting to out preform everyone in the class. Once I figured that out - and started having fun - my dog is a different dog. I even brought his favorite squeeky toy and would (quietly) play with him - keeping him motivated.

Perhaps if you look at yourself, see if you might be sending vibes to your dog.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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He is fine around other dogs; only really gets excited/nervous (i guess) when they really get excited, but that seems to get him to want to do it (if that makes sense).

During practice at the club we started to incorporate the retrieve, jump, and the wall/ He seems to really like it ,but sometimes he gets distracted and won’t bring the ball (transitioning to the dumbbell) after the jumps or the wall. When I tie him to the pole at the end of our routine he just lays there. At times there have been gunshots when he was tied up, but not during his routine yet. HE was nervous the first few times, but then got used to it.

Other environment situations that tend to bring out this nervousness/aggressiveness is people; although we have worked hard to socialize (maybe a little too late). For the first year we lived out in the country where he had free reign over the yard and not my people came by, then we moved to a neighborhood. He is slowly getting accustomed to people on our walks.

During training all the other club members are in the building away from the working grounds, so it just me and my trainer and the other team in a long down.

My trainer wants him to pass the BH before we move on to anything else (I want him to Pass too), but I think that he may be getting bored or has lost the "fun" that this should be. I think that he would really enjoy tracking; maybe I need another sport(?). It’s frustrating because I see other people working with their dogs and I know we can do it, but it doesn’t happen at the club. If the trail was at my house or the park we would pass. HA.

Hope this helps a little. I appreciate the help
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Lilie -

Your probably right. I kind of get that same impression sometimes. Maybe my frustration at the club is causing him to be unmotivated.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 07:40 PM
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I would try to back up a bit from the formal training and have him just go to the club training field and do some fun~ tugging/interaction, treats, short ob with you, then put him up.
Do this a few times(even at home, put him in his vehicle crate when you do this for a bit) so he associates the training with fun and being with you. You can always smush enthusiasm, it is much harder to bring it out.
I am working on this right now as well, fine at home, then we go to the club and his focus isn't on me as much.
I was encouraged to have him push me(actually push me) for the tug or food and reward constantly, whenever he engages with me by eye contact, he gets rewarded.
Then he'll push more, later if I don't reward right away and try to engage me instead of the other way around.
A few sessions of this may help, or you may have to work longer on it, but bringing him there when he isn't egaged with you will only cause things to stay stagnant. So backing up a bit may help?

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Last edited by onyx'girl; 04-15-2010 at 07:47 PM.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 10:33 PM
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We have very similar situations! I started SchH with Bison when he was 3.5 years old. We did basic obedience prior to starting too. Bison also acts different when we are at the club. I attribute this to two different factors.

1. How I feel- Lilie and Jane already mentioned this and I agree! When we first started, I was nervous because I wanted people to like me and was on edge. Bison is VERY sensitive to my moods. He picked up on me acting weird and it caused him to be stressed. Then by the time I was feeling comfortable, I was getting frustrated that he wasn't progressing. He would get almost manic on the field to the point where he absolutely REFUSED to let go of his tug. Then the training session would always turn into working on "out". It was very frustrating because he did this just fine at home. So again, he was picking up on me being unhappy with him and made his behavior worse. Two things helped tremendously. We started letting him hold the tug as a pacifier and made the interaction with me be the reward. This took the stress off the situation for both of us and I am able to approach OB in a more positive mind set. Huge difference. The other thing is understanding just how situational learning is for Bison, much more so than my other dogs. I realized this one day when we were working on stupid pet tricks at home. I was teaching him to pick up his toys and put them in a box. He was finally "getting it" when I ran out of treats and had to open a new bag. He wasn't able to do it any more and I think it was because the treats smelled different and he lost the olfactory connection. Understanding that he needs to almost re-learn everything when he gets to the field was a huge eye opener and it helps me be more patient when he doesn't perform to the level he does at home or at the park.
2. The amount of stimulation- Being at training is a completely different level of stimulation that Bison has experienced before. Sights, smells, training in drive, dogs his size... He doesn't have the advantage of being raised in that environment so it will take a while for him to adjust. What has helped TREMENDOUSLY is that I enrolled him in an indoor obedience class. It was just the right level of stimulation, between home and club. It provides a place to work on distractions that isn't as intense as club and provides a different situation to proof what we work on at home, kind of like a stepping stone. The last two weeks I have started to see some of it spilling over to club.

I know this is a long post, but my hope is that by sharing our experience, you may pick up some ideas that might help you.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 10:54 PM
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I haven't been in Schutzhund very long and am only training my first dog for it, but I think your situation could happen to anyone training for anything so I'll give my opinion.........which is mostly to second what other people have said. I know that it would probably be really frustrating, but if it were me, I would take a few sessions to just go out and play and bond and have fun and act silly together and not do anything else at all. If you live close to the training field and have time you could do it several times a week and probably get him over it sooner than if you just waited for the normal club training day each time.
Have you seen any of the Michael Ellis training videos? I love, love, love him and his methods. "The power of training dogs with food" is GREAT and it really helped me get my dog extremely focused and engaged on me, and I think this is partly at least because I make it fun and less like boring work. I actually sent an OB training video to my dog's breeder for her to evaluate and see our progress and she commented on how focused my pup was (and I've only had her like 2 months maybe now? she's almost 9 mths old), and this session was outside in our yard with numerous distractions.
When I first started working with my pup, I actually spent a few of the first training sessions just working on engagement, focus, and luring and even in subsequent sessions until just recently, I would start them with the engagement/luring/focus work for the first 1/2. I kept each session short, maybe 2-3 min to start and worked up to about 5-6 min now.
Positions, behaviors, tricks, etc. are relatively easy to teach really.......getting your dog engaged and focused on you is the hard part so I think it's worth it to spend time working on only that. My video is on youtube if you'd like to see it to get an idea of the way Michael Ellis teaches obedience.

I also know that when I start getting frustrated with my pup, she KNOWS and will act accordingly (which is not in a good way!). So if I ever feel that feeling coming on, I just start praising my pup even more, encouraging her to jump up on me (she really likes this), and petting her and keep moving forward.
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