4 1/2 Month Basic Training and No biting - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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4 1/2 Month Basic Training and No biting

Hi everyone! New owner here to a female GS 4 1/2 month Puppy!
It's been interesting adjusting to the new life of having a puppy in the house and overall Zoe has been adjusting well to the new space.
We got her 2 weeks ago and she had not been trained at all before that.
Potty has been going well and we have started basic commands with treats.
I have watched some YouTube videos to guide me on best practices but figured I could post here for some insight.
I have never had dogs but would love to get Zoe into a nice trained companion.
A few hiccups I noticed and would love some tips are:
Biting - biting biting biting even after multiple 'NOs' she even bites when getting her treats after getting the commands right...
Ball fetching - she does great at sitting, staying and fetching when we tell her to but does not seem to learn to being the ball back or release it when we tell her to.
It could be the puppy behavior but would love to start the right way so would really appreciate all the wise words for you guys!

Thank you much!!!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 02:02 PM
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Congrats on your new pup! I'd strongly recommend finding a good local dog club and enrolling in basic obedience. It's great you're watching videos and online can be very helpful, but I don't think there's any substitute for classes. As for the biting, it doesn't sound like an aggression thing from what you're describing-just that she's a GSD pup who's likely teething, and hasn't learned bite inhibition yet. Biting when getting treats, is it TAKING the treats that she "bites"? I had to wear bandaids on my thumbs for awhile training my pup as he learned to "take gentle" because his shark teeth would catch on the folds of my thumb skin :ROFL:
Keep the treats closed in your fist and don't open it until she gently licks or noses your hand-THEN she can get her goody. Hand feeding parts of meals can help with this too.
Saying "No" multiple times will achieve nil because to her the word doesn't mean anything, likely because it's repeated, she's tuning it out. Give a command or a word ONCE, and make sure she knows what it means (tone of voice doesn't necessarily override the reward aka pleasure shes getting out of nipping.) Redirect the biting to something appropriate, and remember that puppies are drawn to movement. Moving hands, moving legs...all that is very tempting. If she get's in crazy shark mode, and redirection isn't doing anything, try a high yip, getting up and walking away, or putting her in her kennel to calm down (I don't get angry or yell, I just firmly say "nope" and separate for a short bit.) They learn that biting means fun stops. Being gentle means we can keep having fun.
Again, this isn't unusual behavior. It's not acceptable behavior, obviously, but no need to panic

In terms of fetch, shepherds aren't retrievers, so don't expect this to necessarily come naturally, especially at such a young age. She probably doesn't know that you want her to bring it back, and she likes having it, so why should she drop it? All this can be taught with patience and steady fun training. We have to teach them what we want before we can expect it from them. It will take time but it's so rewarding!
Enjoy her-it sounds like you've got a fun little fireball!
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 03:47 PM
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You have a bit of time left before the mouthing will slow way down...

All I can say to fetching is have another dog show her or work on a much smaller scale even in the house is a good idea. Reward her with treat when she gets close and then fine tune it.

I find it best to believe they will do it and be very patient and always end on a positive.

Last edited by Malibu; 10-06-2018 at 04:07 PM.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 03:56 PM
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Congratulations on your new puppy!

I always like to start with perspective. With a puppy you are working with a baby animal of a different species, and dogs don't have or use language, so the fact that they "can" learn to respond in a way that we want them to to spoken words at all is pretty amazing!

As Huckleberrysits said, say commands only once, twice at most after a pause, and then help them by showing them what you mean. With young puppies luring them to do what you want with treats is very effective. Lots of trainers suggest luring first without any verbal commands. Once the puppy gets good at following the lure into the position you want you can introduce the verbal command. I like to teach verbal commands along with hand signals, because dogs pick up on our body language very well, so to me it seems to ease their learning of a verbal command as well.

With a young puppy it's best to keep training sessions really short, and focus on a single thing. Make a game of it, be very animated and praise and treat profusely when they get something right!

On the biting thing, make sure you have ample things that are okay for her to chew and bite available at all times. I liked using recycle stuff, because the puppy can chew on it for a bit and then it can still be recycled! I made use of plastic milk and juice bottles a lot until my pup was 6-7 months old...she still loves the sound of plastic When she bites it! When she tries to bite you, or hopefully before she does, just pick up a chew toy and play with her. I found that keeping a puppy busy doing stuff you want them to do, is much easier than constantly trying to get them to stop doing stuff you don't like! Lead!

Other than that, the method Huckleberrysits suggested, holding a treat or food in a closed fist and only opening it when she's not biting, is the method I used too. But I liked to rough house with my puppy too, so I taught her to stop biting when told (usually so I could sop up the blood LOL)!

Teaching a puppy to stop biting on command is more about using the appropriate tone of voice and stance than it is correcting. Square up to them, with a firm expression on your face, and use a firm tone of voice. Your puppy will notice and respond by pausing, then lead her to do something else right away...a puppy that is bored, or not getting adequate stimulation will get into mischief every time! And they absolutely HAVE to bite stuff, so make sure there's always plenty of things she can bite when the need strikes!

My puppy also did not understand the fetch game at first. But she has a well developed prey drive so she loved to chase the ball, she just didn't bring it back. There are many different ways to go about teaching fetch, but what I did with my puppy was to keep the distance short and once she got the ball I'd get doqn and animatedly call her back. When she kept the ball in her mouth she got high praise and treats, when she didn't we'd just try again. It didn't take long for her to get it. But all puppies are different, essentially you need to do whatever it takes for YOUR puppy to get it...lots of suggestions about how to do this in numerous threads on this forum and in YouTube videos, just keep trying until you find a method that works for your puppy! Good Luck!
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for all the amazing tips and advice! I think this website and forum will become my favourite go to.
In response to the biting when getting treats, she will automatically bite my hand even before giving her a treat as a reward. She will also bite even if we are trying to pet her as a reward for siting or staying. I don't believe it's an aggressive bite I think she's just too excited but I would love to get her to stop.
I will be working on that with all your great advice.

Thanks!!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2018, 05:17 PM
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I am sure I will get hammered for this one..... =) I actually put a treat in my mouth "lips" and have them take it from me while I say NICE. I have even done this with other peoples dogs that say how aggressive they take treats. It really hasn't failed in 4-5 try. =)
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-07-2018, 02:12 AM
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My shepherd female is just over 10 months and, since she was my first, we have learned so much together. The biggest thing I would encourage you to do is lower your expectations; have an end goal and a goal for each training session but not one that is so rigid we lose sight of what is right in front of us. Don't assume because another dog is doing something at a certain age or you think your dog should know something by now, that it happens that way. Always take what she gives you and build on it. There were a couple of times when I have been more harsh to my dog than I would have liked, because I was so worried about where we were in the training process and what I expected her to be, instead of just taking what she was giving me and working from there. The deficiencies in the communication are usually caused by us, not in their ability/desire/drive to learn the desired behavior. Each interaction we have is either going to strengthen or weaken the relationship; a harsh correction for a nibble now could build into something we don't want later. Do whatever you can to build confidence and give lots of time for brain development. We build these small behaviors early on but it won't be until much later where everything comes together for them and they develop enough impulse control to carry them out consistently. Have fun and make sure she does too!
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-08-2018, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBjunior View Post
My shepherd female is just over 10 months and, since she was my first, we have learned so much together. The biggest thing I would encourage you to do is lower your expectations; have an end goal and a goal for each training session but not one that is so rigid we lose sight of what is right in front of us. Don't assume because another dog is doing something at a certain age or you think your dog should know something by now, that it happens that way. Always take what she gives you and build on it. There were a couple of times when I have been more harsh to my dog than I would have liked, because I was so worried about where we were in the training process and what I expected her to be, instead of just taking what she was giving me and working from there. The deficiencies in the communication are usually caused by us, not in their ability/desire/drive to learn the desired behavior. Each interaction we have is either going to strengthen or weaken the relationship; a harsh correction for a nibble now could build into something we don't want later. Do whatever you can to build confidence and give lots of time for brain development. We build these small behaviors early on but it won't be until much later where everything comes together for them and they develop enough impulse control to carry them out consistently. Have fun and make sure she does too!
You spoke to my heart! I do get pretty worried that we got Zoe after the early puppy stage and keep trying to make up for it and probably have pretty high expectations. Thank you for your wise words!
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