What am I doing wrong? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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What am I doing wrong?

My girlfriend & I have a 14 month old GSD. We brought him home at 8 weeks. We are crate training & started puppy training right away. We are doing redirection & praise as well as training him on words like "Leave It" & "Off". For the most part he's been good. He can sit, stay, lay down, give a paw, leave it(sometimes), drop it(sometimes), loose leash walk, & come when called. He sleeps in his crate, when told "crate" he goes in. Our issues are biting & house training. We do leave it with praise for biting & also try to redirect to a toy with praise. Problem is sometimes he gets so worked up he will go after us despite a toy or what we say. It hurts bad & leaves bad marks. It's really frustrating at times. He will also pee in the house if we don't take him out every 30-45 mins, yet he can hold it for 5 hours while we work, & 8 hours over night already. What we were doing was making a fuss like stomping the ground when he pees inside & saying "outside", then taking him out immediately. Also, if he did let us know(ring the bells by the door) & went pee outside he gets tons of praise & then can stay outside for a bit if he wants to & then play when we get back in. It hasn't sunk in. Sometimes he will ring his bell & sometimes he will pee on the floor while I put the leash on him. I never wanted to use his crate as a punishment because he loves it & obviously feels safe there. BUT recently with some more research & out of frustration I've devised a new coarse of action that I think could work but I also am scared that it may be wrong. So right now if he pees in the house (since normally it's not a lot, he finishes) we immediately say "crate", then we clean it up & he gets let out in about 5 minutes once we've got rid of the smell. If he rings his bells or lets us know & he pees outside he gets heaps of praise outside, then when we get back inside we play with him & he gets free roam of the house. I've started using the same logic with biting, if he plays & doesn't bite he gets free roam of the house but if he bites & won't stop, I say "crate" & the play stops & he loses free roam of the house until he calms down. Is this right or is it going to build resentment & aggression. I just want my dog to be normal.

Thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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14 week old*
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 11:43 AM
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Re the biting, I had to go to a physical correction with my puppy. I was told that was okay but then got some force free advice that just didn't work out so well. It's a fine place to start, but it may not work for all puppies.

At that age I was advised to hold the puppy's muzzle and squeeze lightly and say, "NO BITE." You don't want to do it hard, just enough to get the message across that not only does biting not lead to fun stuff, it actively leads to not-fun stuff.

Someone else advised me to shove my fingers down the puppy's throat and gag her when she bit, but that I couldn't bring myself to do.

Mine was bigger by the time we actually addressed the puppy nipping with corrections (see: aforementioned bad advice), so it was more difficult to break her of it and I had to go to a tougher correction (pulling her to the ground and telling her "NO BITE" and holding her for a second or two) to get through. I hated doing that and wished I would have actively corrected her at a much, much younger age.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 12:29 PM
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Watery Tart had not seen your correction to the puppy's age, so at this age, no need to be forceful in corrections - it would do more harm than good.

I don't think you are doing anything wrong - your puppy sounds like a normal 14 week old puppy - you have done very well with him so far, and it sounds like he is a happy pup, eager to please. The nipping and bitting is something they will outgrow with consistent redirection, but it takes a while - patience is key.

Same with house-breaking - accidents will happen. Using the crate to stop and redirect his behaviour is fine - you are not using the crate as punishement, you are using it as behaviour modification. He'll figure it out eventually.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Castlemaid View Post
Watery Tart had not seen your correction to the puppy's age, so at this age, no need to be forceful in corrections - it would do more harm than good.

I don't think you are doing anything wrong - your puppy sounds like a normal 14 week old puppy - you have done very well with him so far, and it sounds like he is a happy pup, eager to please. The nipping and bitting is something they will outgrow with consistent redirection, but it takes a while - patience is key.

Same with house-breaking - accidents will happen. Using the crate to stop and redirect his behaviour is fine - you are not using the crate as punishement, you are using it as behaviour modification. He'll figure it out eventually.
The weird thing is, my brain actually read that as 14 weeks! At that age, I'd feel okay doing the light muzzle squeeze and the verbal, "NO BITE." Breeder had given this advice initially but I didn't follow it because I had heard you absolutely must go force-free and I believed that at the time.

We started with the lighter correction with my dog when a trainer started helping us address the mouthiness. It didn't work, so the trainer was the one who showed us how to up the ante appropriately. The dog was five or six months old by this time. And I didn't do the "gag the puppy" correction at all (that one just made me cringe hearing the description). Just in case that helps clarify. I wasn't pulling my 14 week old puppy to the ground!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 04:06 PM
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GSD puppies have earned the moniker “land shark” for their mouthiness. My latest pup did not come out of this phase until 7 months old. It comes from somewhere deep in their herding heritage, I suppose, but these are very bitey puppies. Redirect and be patient, the same for the house breaking. 14 weeks... you still have a long road to travel my friend.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your responses all!

I guess I'm wondering, can the biting be trained out of them using my method or is this just something that they grow out of?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 09:54 PM
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My new puppy is affectionately called "shark bite". Okay, she's not that bad, but she's nailed me a few times. She's 11 weeks old. Everyone around here has been instructed to shove a toy in her mouth if she gets bitey. Or redirect her by throwing her toy (she loves fetch). I'm hoping to show her at some point, and absolutely can't have people manhandling her mouth if I want a judge to be able to check her bite. No muzzle squeezing or jaw grabbing, or gagging. :/

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cccollinnn View Post

I guess I'm wondering, can the biting be trained out of them using my method or is this just something that they grow out of?
I think there is a lot of 'growing out of it' involved, but you definitely have to train it out of them as well; the training will kick in as they mature. Good luck, it is a painful stage but ultimately useful in teaching bite inhibition (if you want to look on the bright side )
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 10:27 PM
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Okay on this one I happened to have one of my kids friends over when my puppy finally got well enough to start to play and of course bite. She went through 4 H and also was a vet tech assistant if I remember right for a while. She was great every single time the puppy would bite she would take her and open fingers pointing up and like you are holding your hand telling someone to stop would lightly bump her in the front of her face (snout facing hand). With in minutes she was doing it less (biting) so I continued the process because I knew all the animal experience she had all the years being home schooled and 4 H deal. So she had more time than most to learn more and do more. Really helped me out. Don't know how much it might help you but I hope I explained it well enough.
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