So I started this thread a few weeks ago: https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum....php?p=7700362
I got a lot of useful tips there, but many are far harder to incorporate than I thought. It seems fairly easy when reading, but that is only the case if my pup follows exectly what I expect, I simply don't have the knowledge to interpret what his behavior means if otherwise.
The eye contact is much better at this moment (pup is 4.5 months). I use 'kijk is' (pronounced kykis in English) and he can stare me in the eyes for a few seconds. He does so when I'm giving him food, before going outside (though I'm not consistently with this), and while walking outside. This part is the most important to me. I'm under a fair amount of stress lately and I really like my daily walks with him. The problem is I many times return much more stressed than when I left. I have a weak right shoulder at the moment and have injured it more because of his pulling force, especially when encountering other dogs. I use my left arm now, but still have to use my right one to correct his position.
This is my daily walking routine:
I only walk with him if he has gone potty in my back garden, I do that because I want to be sure he is not looking for a place to go potty on our walks. I want to focus on walking.
I walk 20 to 40 minutes with him, switching slow pace with fast pace (I incorporate a break when we're walking more than 30min).
I get his atention by saying 'kijk is', then saying 'naast' (next). If there is not too much going on around him he stays to my right side and walks while looking in my eyes. I hold a kibble in my right hand close to him and give him the treat when he walks around 10 seconds while not diverting his eyes from me (he stares at me automatically when in this position, but I still say 'kijk is'). After I give the kibble he immediately stops, pulls back, sits down (not always) and looks behind him and to the sides. Sometimes he starts to smell around him and look for something. I then have to pull him a bit and give the 'next' command again. It goes like this for the whole walk.
I cannot get his attention (without pulling) when: there are kids closeby, flying leaves, dogs, cats, unfamiliar sounds, or when we're in the woods. It's impossible to walk with him in those situations without dragging him along. When I drag him too much he starts to jump on me with a seemingly super happy face.
I started letting him go off leash three weeks ago so he could have his 'running around like crazy' moments, but he sadly injured himself. I can start letting him go off leash from this week on. I'm planning to do so at least twice a week.
I try and avoid other dogs while walking on a leash, but my aim is to be able to walk close to one while retaining my dogs attention (like user slamdunc explained in my other thread).
My question is: am I handling this correctly? Is what he does considered to be normal behavior for a pup his age? Is it too early to train him to completely focus on me while we walk? What can I do differently, and how?
My wishes: I want to be able to walk with him having his full attention when told to. I want to make our walks simply our walks, not the time for him to stop every few feet and smell everything, that he can do when off leash, or when going potty.
I am, as is evidently from this and my previous posts, a first time dog owner. Therefore I am open to suggestions and criticism, please be honest. I can only go up. The last thing I want is to get impatient with something that is hardly the time to correct/change.